Unmarketing_Scott_StrattenEvery time there is stupid marketing, Scott Stratten hurts.  Of course, he’s not the only one injured – poorly targeted and ill-conceived marketing turns off consumers, restricts brand opportunity and shames marketers everywhere.

“Just don’t do it,” Scott said in the opening keynote of DMA13 (October 12, 2013) sponsored by Teradata.  Scott is the President of UnMarketing  and kind of a big deal in social marketing and brand strategy.  He was named one of the top five social media influencers on Forbes.com and has hundreds of thousands of fans, followers and friends.  He’s as irreverent as he is brilliant about improving modern marketing.   He’s the author of what he calls a “business picture book, QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground.

Many have heard the wonderful story of employee empowerment to live and breathe the brand values that tells how Joshie (the pet giraffe) was accidentally left at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. In short, Joshie’s kid left him at the hotel, and the expected panic ensued.  Instead of just packing Joshie up in a box, the maid found the toy, and overnighted him back (free of charge) with a letter from the hotel property manager, photos of Joshie at the spa (cucumbers on the eyes), by the pool (wearing shades), meeting new (stuffed animal) friends at the bar, and even with a new Ritz Carlton ID badge.

“What does the father do?  Besides change his pants? He tells everyone!   He tweeted the photos, he blogged, he lit up Facebook,” Scott said.

If you want to be shared, do things worth talking about, Scott advised. “That is what marketing is.  People telling other people about the brand. That is all it is. We need to do things that people tell other people about with no payment, no bribing; except that it’s awesome.”

Scott advised that marketers stand clear of the “headline data” that many “social scientists” promote.  The secret to successful social marketing, he said, is that “If you want your content to be shared, then say something worth sharing. That is the only reason that people share things.   The emotion and value of our posts is what drives the sharing, not tricks or self-focused information.  If people like it, then it will be shared,” he said.  In fact, the Facebook algorithms rewards success – the sponsored posts that are shared more, get more reach – and response.

By way of example, Scott ranted on the commonly held belief  that “82% of tweets are replies.”   This stat is misleading, he said,  because, “Reacting is not the key to Twitter, the secret is to understand that it’s a conversation.  Volume means nothing. It’s what we say and how we are saying it.  Replying to people creates a more personal relationship, but great conversations generates followers.”

Scott implored his audience to never inflate the way we measure marketing.  “We are doing a disservice to clients and the industry when we inflate,” he says, even if we’ve been doing this for decades (he cites the long-used magazine “pass along rate” as a false claim on rare behavior.)   “There is no one right answer, “ he says.  “The best time to send content – email, social, display – is when you have something great to say.   Put out things that people want to consume, not because of some artificial construct like time of day or frequency.”

If no one is reading or sharing your messages, then maybe the problem is the content, he says.  “We don’t want to blame ourselves. It’s not us. No, it is us.  See clearly if your content is self-serving or customer-serving.”

Scott also cautioned against what he calls the “Bright shiny object syndrome.” This is the basis of his well-known, signature QR code rant – and thus the name of the new book.  “The theory behind them is great, but the market is not ready,” he said.  By using them in ways that don’t make sense, “We are messing QR codes up,” he says.  He notes QR codes on billboards at the side of the freeway.   In airline magazines (when you are not allowed to use your phone).    In email (which is often read on the phone which has the camera on the opposite side).    On websites, which take you back the same website.

The title of the book is based on this anger he has around the misuse of marketing.   “We wrote the book as a gift book to your boss.  Stop the insanity.   We need to think before we QR or do other bad ideas,” Scott said.  It’s not only a horrible customer experience, he said, it’s also detrimental to the marketing channel.  Every time someone scans a code that doesn’t work, they are less likely to scan the next time (Only 50% have tried a scan, been successful and would do it again), he said.

If you are going to do a campaign that is accessible on mobile devices, he says, then:

  • Make it work
  • Make it actionable
  • Make it mobile friendly.

He also advised us to commit to social media, or forget about it.  After a long rant about a horrifying experience with a discourteous (okay, I will just call it and say obnoxious!) Delta flight attendant at JFK security,  Scott explained that his anger was immediately diffused because @deltaassist replied with a sincere apology in three minutes. “If you don’t have the time or resources to keep your Twitter account active, then close it.  Be in the game or get out of the game,” he said.

His last piece of advice:  Never piss off geeks or moms.    Nothing is hidden in our social, digitally connected world. Everything your employees do is reflective of your brand.  Focus there, and you will gain loyal fans, he says.

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