In his recent blog on B2B Marketing Insider entitled 9 UnMarketing Tips For Online Audience Engagement, Michael Brenner outlines the online marketing essentials defined by Scott Stratten in his best-seller UnMarketing. Stratten is a marketing specialist who is well known for his quote that “whenever someone asks ‘what is the ROI of social media?’ a unicorn, a kitten, and a puppy all die!” Brenner was able to condense some of Stratten’s key points into a list that points out some fundamental strategies for engaging a customer base.
Marketing by Not Marketing at All
Brenner/Stratten’s first few points focus on the foundation of social media. Marketers are well advised to concentrate on the facilities of social media that allow them to communicate in a two way direct conversation with their customers about their experiences, not about nuts, bolts or checkouts. When the onus is placed on the medium itself as a means to advance a marketing message, the social media interaction becomes stilted and forced. Online participants have finely tuned senses of marketing discernment and they can smell a hard hype pitch miles away. In order to find that elusive success in your brand’s social marketing efforts, you have to embrace the essence of UnMarketing, which is imbued in the word itself: UnMarketing equates to marketing by not marketing at all.
Let the Product Speak for Your Business’ Value
Before you start to think that this is just some deranged and delusional kibitzing from an ivory tower business tyro, apply this concept to your own daily life. Are you more likely to adopt a (unicorn, kitten or) puppy from an ad in the town paper or because a friend has just brought home from a local breeder the most adorable tiny Chihuahua who is happy, healthy and hyper-spunky? In this case the local breeder didn’t market to you at all, but just let their product speak for the value that they provide in their business. There was no ad, indeed there was no direct contact, but sure enough… you’ll be heading to see that breeder this weekend!
Strive to Build Confidence, Trust & Credence
A fundamental truth of most modern human relationships is thus at play: We are more likely to trust and deal with parties that have already demonstrated their value to individuals within our social circle than we are to the most compelling, repeated, ad agency-crafted message to buy buy buy. That core merit of UnMarketing defines how social media interactions with your customer base should be conducted: through a process that instills confidence, stock and credence in your brand identity as seen through the eyes of your social media followers. All of that built-up reputation as being a responsive, sensible, approachable and first and foremost trustworthy company goes out the nearest window as soon as the slightest hint of merchandising rears its ugly head.
The Puppy Does Not Exist until the Customer Mentions It
Brenner/Stratten state that “social media is not a platform for sending out promotional messages,” and that phrase deserves being engraved on every computer screen in every marketing department across the country, and indeed around the world. Social media interaction with your customers can never be “hi, how are you, how are things, do you want to buy a puppy?” It has to take the form of “hi, how are you, how are things…” and then waiting for the customer to ask about the puppy! It may seem a bit existential, but the best way to sell the puppy is to imagine that the puppy does not exist until such time as the customer’s comment makes the puppy real!
The quintessence of Brenner and Stratten’s philosophy can be summed up as a simple caveat: If you really want to sell on social media the last thing you should do is project the appearance that you actually want to sell something!