Book Review – UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

If you’re a regular Twitter user, Scott Stratten can be hard to miss at times (ok, always). The self-proclaimed “Jedi for social media,” with a big online mouth and an even bigger following, Scott provokes strong reactions from people. I’ve known him for a while and, while I always enjoy sparring with him, I consider him a friend so readily agreed to take a look at his new book – UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging –  when he offered to send me an advance version.

Right from the first word, UnMarketing is an easy read, written in simple, plain language that is easy to digest and has made Scott so many friends online. The blunt approach might put a few people off, but frankly it’s refreshing to see someone finally put in print the responses that people *should* hear to bone-headed push-driven marketing ideas.

UnMarketing veers sharply back and forth between different marketing-focused topics, which is both a good thing and a challenge as you work your way through it.

On one hand the varied content makes for an interesting read that never gets dull. From the evils of the approaches taken to telemarketing and how many marketers have adopted similar approaches in other forms of communications, to what Scott calls the “experience gap” (similar in some ways to Gap Theory but simplified), there’s plenty to think about.

On the flip side, there are times where it sometimes feels like a series of blog posts strung together. Still, it’s also well-formatted for the gnat-sized attention spans of many people nowadays, and it’s easy to digest a chapter or two on the way to work.

The book is also replete with examples of companies who have “done it right” – from Cirque du Soleil’s Jessica Berlin, to the Freshbooks RV tour, to the culture of customer delight created at Zappos, there are plenty of anecdotes of companies adopting tactics which just “feel” right. They’re also held up against examples of companies doing it wrong which, while it may not make Scott friends at those companies, is refreshing.

If there’s one weakness here, it’s that there are relatively few examples of results to back up these examples (my issue with many social media-focused books) – you’re left to rely on the warm feeling generated by the empirical examples rather than the broader business results of these techniques over the longer term. The language is very much “within the bubble” – it’s written for people who know understand basic social media terms, rather than those who are completely new to things. While there’s nothing massively complex within, if you’re completely new then you may want to check out Shiv Singh’s Social Media Marketing for Dummies or something similar before diving into this book.

Scott’s sense of humour shines through throughout the book, which does a huge amount for the book as it could run the risk as coming across as arrogant and condescending were it not for that. Instead, Scott’s humour humanizes the book and he comes across as an everyday guy who has made mistakes, learned from them and – which is all to rare nowadays – is willing to share them with the rest of us. The footnotes throughout the book are simply hilarious, too. Believe it or not, they’re a highlight of the whole book, and had me laughing out loud in the middle of packed subway cars numerous times (thanks for that, Scott)

UnMarketing is aimed squarely at people who are new to social media, rather than people who’ve been around the block, and primarily at small businesses rather than larger corporations. For people in that bracket, UnMarketing is an easy and enjoyable read. Those people should pick up a copy today.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.