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UnMarketing, a book review
2011-10-01: I read "UnMarketing: Stop marketing. Start Engaging" while I was a tad poorly the other day.
The highlights? "Before you can fill a stadium, you have to fill a club" .. I like that. He means .. get good at one social media platform. And if someone follows you on Twitter, get to know them there, don't sell to them or try to get them to follow you on Facebook too. Just .. slow down a sec.
He recommends using Twitter Grader (I guess Klout is an alternative) to "find the best tweeters in your area". I'm thinking .. the best tweeters are the ones who you'll engage naturally with, aren't they? Or are we spotting important people whose radar we need to get onto? Maybe. So what we really need, then, is an automated tool that will show us who, of those we are following, we really ought to be engaging with. I could build that.
There's a story about a woman who ordered a pizza that turned up late and wrong, about which she tweeted, that resulted in a tweetback from the store, then .. shock .. a video of heartfelt apology from the boss and the outlet owner. The video went viral (great news for the pizza place), and later the store owner was at an event and provided free pizza for the woman along with some flowers.
That's a lovely, heartwarming, and very American story of great customer service. Customer service is always awesome, Tom Peters had his examples twenty years ago and Carnegie before that. I'm not sure American customer service works so well over here, America has (I think) a very sales-led culture in which sales build America. Great sales, fabulous service is to be applauded.
Here it's slightly creepy and we're a lot more grumpy and less forgiving. We're not likely to go "oh hey, a video, I forgive you". We're likely to go "Do these guys know where I live?"
But .. I was very pleased to get a sensible answer when I tested Starbucks UK MD (now of Clinton Cards). Sensible, good, fast, true, but not showy, might be the UK way.
Oh yes, the author does have a hierarchy of buying starting where you are not trusted and don't have a relationship, working up to where you are and do. Ergo the point of social media is to build trusting relationships.
Basically, if you cold call, you're working the bottom of the pile along with all your competitors.
People who search through ads, Yellow Pages, search engines and so on, they don't know you but at least they have a need right now, so these people are better, but you want to raise them higher.
If you are a recognised expert in your field, then you have some trust points there. So if people arrive from search and learn that about you, that's cool.
Next step is to have a relationship. The relationship comes before the purchase, and it's a real relationship, mostly brokered over social media. Through giving and talking, you build trust.
If you are recommended by someone the buyer trusts, then some of that rubs off on you. So, if you build relationships with people, you're likely to get more recommendations and that's really the best sort of marketing.
Finally, at the top of the pile are your current customers with whom you have a relationship, they are buying from you, and they trust you.
The main messsage is .. look after your customers. And for everyone else, try to move them up that hierarchy so you have a lot of great relationships.
That's a far cry from selling.
Another hero of customer service is Zappos .. check them out (I just did. How did our chat end? "Have a great day!" :-) )
Regarding content, here's a way of thinking about it. Imagine you're a TV repairman. People want you when their TV breaks, and only then. But, if you think of yourself as an expert in your field, then of course, you can position yourself as an expert before their TV breaks. 3D TV, surround sound, all that. Write articles and use the three Ps to do it: state your main Point, then provide a scenario to illustrate your point. Finally, show how the reader can Perform it for themselves.
Tips for viral marketing? Focus on one of these three things. Either it has to be painfully funny. Or it has to be wow. Not .. "wow, new haircut". Wow like W. T. F! And given that you don't get those every day, evoking emotion is the third way. Make the hair stand up on the back of people's necks. If you've got someone's emotion and take them to a place to do something, you're getting somewhere.
So those were basically my highlights from the book. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. You know, I've been around a while, this was basically a traditional American feel good, do better business book set in a web 2.0 world.
But the title, 'unmarketing' suggests something else. That's what I wanted.
The book starts out with thoughts about building genuine relationships that sounds like it could develop into a larger unmarketing strategy, but it turns into some stories about experiences developing viral videos and managing big mailing lists, and neither sound very unmarketing to me.
It's fun, you may like it, I did .. but it didn't change my life.

By John Allsopp
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