The UnMarketing Conversation

You’ve probably heard it said that the toughest issue your company faces when dealing with social media is that you’re no longer in charge of the message or the conversation about your business.

Thing is…you never were. The conversation was always happening among your customers. It’s just that now they carry around the tools to talk to each other more quickly and more often while spreading the discussion further. That means your participation in the on-going conversation — as a business, brand, corporation, entrepreneur, artist, entertainer, fun-fact-finder, whatever — is more important than ever. And you must participate. Absolutely. No question. If your customers hang out at these sites, why wouldn’t you? Even if they might not be active online right now, chances are, that’s where you’ll find your future.

Make like a Boy Scout: be prepared. Before you jump into the pool, you need to learn as much as you can about the water, the potential undercurrents, how to keep paddling, and ways you might get swamped if you’re not thoughtful about how to stay afloat. Although the Internet and its offshoots are still in the wild and wooly, no-one-really-knows-how-to-do-this phase, Google never forgets.

So how do you dive into this social media conversation? Maybe by rethinking everything you thought you knew about marketing for your company, business, brand, idea. Maybe by not marketing. Maybe by being real, authentic, and engaged.

That’s the premise behind Scott Stratten’s “UnMarketing,” a spot-on idea from a sassy guy I’ve been listening in on for years. What started out as a website with a quirky and somewhat irregular e-letter has lately turned into the UnMarketing blog, still quirky and somewhat irregular. Now, much of Stratten’s hard-earned experience and wisdom has been collected in the UnMarketing book, plain brown UnWrapper and all. As the book‘s subtitle says, “Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.” Inside, you’ll find blog-post-size chapters filled with Stratten’s straight-shooting attitude (irreverent tweaks of conventional wisdom), lots of apply-it-right-now information (ways to cook up umpteen kinds of “awesomesauce”), and enough examples to make it real — many from his own encounters, good and bad, with the likes of Rockport, Zappos, Walmart, Tim Horton’s, and Lush. The chapter on “Viral Marketing” is worth the price of admission. And there’s much, much more.

No matter what, UnMarketing is all about trust. Being who you are so others can get to know you and trust what you say. (“If you are your authentic self, you have no competition.”) Serving your customer first, before you ever ask for anything. Providing excellent information as an expert in your niche. Reframing what you think you’re doing to put your customer’s needs ahead of your own. Either you “get it” or you don’t. And, because most businesses don’t, you can build a thriving organization if you do.

You’ll also benefit from Stratten’s description of “How Twitter Changed My Business” and eye-opening explanations of behind-the-scenes issues with tele-seminars, tele-summits, in-person seminars, trade shows, and affiliates. All good stuff.

With a smart perspective on how social media tools can help you build real relationships with your customers, UnMarketing — in all its forms — rules. Awesome!

©2011 Jill J. Jensen/Clarity from Chaos