The first thing you notice about “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.” besides its cheeky plain-brown wrapper is that it's readable. It's a rare business book that employs an easy, conversational tone and demonstrates the confidence to speak plainly to the reader. Scott Stratten doesn't overdress his 250-page tome in jargon and hyperbole, and he even cracks a few good jokes.
Beyond not making business reading a mild form of torture, Stratten has also produced a book that may be of particular interest to readers trying to develop a small business, or to solo contractors trying to raise their profile in the marketplace. The book is more valuable to the business executive, but many freelance artists and techies might be able to pick up a few tricks.
The September release is divided into short chapters. This makes it easy to skip the ones that don't interest you, and easy to go back and find the material you'll use again and again. He launches with a discussion of marketing in general (“Why do we market to people the way we hate to be marketed to?”) that leads to a philosophy of social marketing. “Your goal always needs to be engagement; business will result,” he writes. “Every contact matters.”
This could be the usual cheerleading pablum, but the more specific sections provide a good range of cases and lessons. A quick sample:
- He discusses how to focus your first foray into social media, and how to deal with inevitable (and highly public) mistakes.
- He details how a maker of coffee machines launched a Twitter campaign around a new product release, and developed measurable metrics of success, based on its share of the conversation about coffee.
- Specific tips for local businesses using Twitter are matched with the concrete example of some restaurants that “get it” — and some that don't.
- Tips on writing blog posts and web articles will help businessfolk who aren't professional writers—and maybe a few who are. (Best point: understanding your reader's core pains and desires.)
- Web design: Don't give potential customers too many choices, and focus your site on them, not on you.
The book is not perfect, which will be a relief to the million other social marketing experts out there trying to spin a blog into a book deal: There's still a little room at the top!
For the solo contractor, particularly one working overseas and perhaps in a field that's harder to promote socially, such as software development, there's less of value in this book. Of course, those folks aren't Stratten's target audience. Still, for the business leader, there are also some uncovered areas. Stratten doesn't address global distances. Say a company that makes a cool business software tool is based in Germany but has its biggest potential audience in the United States and other English-speaking countries? And what about other major global languages, like Spanish, Arabic, Hindi? There seems to opportunity for further discussion on broadening Stratten's approach for a globally connected working world.
Bottom line? If you're looking to understand business applications of Web 2.0, from site design to the latest tricks to maximize Facebook and Twitter, this book is a good crash course that will help you plan your first forays, whether you launch them yourself or hire a contractor to help. If you're a freelancer, you might not want to purchase the hardcover, but flip through it next time you're in a bookstore, and maybe keep up with Stratten's blog. Who knows, this social media stuff might take off someday...