Saturday, January 14, 2012

Unmarketing--marketing for the future?

My daughter, Heather has a habit of giving me mind opening books. "Unmarketing" is yet another example for which I am grateful.

Scott Stratten is known as a social media expert. I think he has gone beyond that and has much to say to anyone who thinks they are engaged in selling. Engagement is the key. Marketing seems to me to be two things--numbers and refined numbers. Numbers is straight forward--whatever you do, do more of it to reach a bigger audience more often. Refined numbers is trying to categorize people and develop a pitch or presentation that is tailored for profitable niches.

Oversimplified perhaps, but Scott has taken his experience with social media and put it back towards traditional marketing. For some people social media is just an extension of regular marketing where if you send out more messages and maybe fine-tune what you are saying and to whom, you will increase sales. Misses the point. Social media is an opportunity to engage prospects. Engaging essentially means a two way conversation that might not always directly deal with what you are trying to sell. Building relationships is really what you are trying to do.

A key quote from Scott is "If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business." Always look for opportunities to engage.

In many of his chapters he puts himself in the role of the potential buyer. As knowledgeable salespeople we often figure we know so much more about the product we are pushing, that other people are a bit dumb if they don't understand the opportunity we are offering them. At the same time in reality we try to avoid rejection and are reluctant to waste our time on obviously unlikely buyers.  Another perspective on understanding prospects:

If you are always preaching you are turning away people who potentially have an interest in what you are selling or know someone who does. Every contact point is an opportunity to engage.

His advice can apply to big companies or small start-ups. Asking your audience what you need to stop doing, what you should start doing and what you should continue doing will tell you what you need to think hard about.

Trying to build a following can be demanding. Quantity and quality can make a difference. To start conversations you need to reply to other people's concerns, raise questions and be authentic. Some people find it is too demanding and resort to automatic tweeting where your tweets are spaced out. Scott feels if you aren't there to respond your audience will soon realize you are not authentic. Honesty is the best way to deal with this. It is ok to delegate to someone, but it is necessary that they be identifiable.

He is very comfortable with a retail environment. A common occurence in retail outlets when approaching people looking around your store is "I'm just looking." Scott sees this as an opportunity to engage with minimal pressure. He suggests you hand out general interest sheets along the line of "10 things to look for when considering buying...." Have a newsletter that gives consumer tips that anyone can benefit from.

He has some interesting things to say about trade shows. They too are opportunities to engage. Make your booth a welcoming place, one that will make passers-by not feel you have other things you would rather do. Every person going by is somehow connected to someone higher in the buying chain. Scott has some practical ideas how social media can be used to draw interested people to a show and also when at the show to attract traffic to your booth and engage your fellow exhibitors. One of the interesting possibilities is that some of the "strangers" visiting can turn out to be your social media acquaintances.  Some other thoughts on trade shows:

Social media is not isolated from other efforts to promote your business, but can not only support your marketing, but can also help guide it. My little review does not really do justice to the book where you will find a strong underlying philosophy with lots of practical advice. Get the book by all means and check out his website; On there you can get his current thoughts and follow him on social media.

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