Drive By Book Review: UnMarketing by Scott Stratten

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It’s been a while since I’ve done my drive-by book reviews, but I’ve been reading so many great new books, it’s time to bring them back.

For those who’ve never experienced a drive-by review, they’re short, sweet and to the point, answering 3 basic questions: what’s it about, what makes it different, who should read it. Also, I only feature books I can recommend, my life’s too short to finish ones that suck the life outta me and yours is too short to have to read about how bad they are.

Today’s Drive-by review is UnMarketing: Stop marketing, Start Engaging. This book was written by my friend, Scott Stratten, who goes by @unmarketing on twitter.

What’s it all about: Two words that don’t go down easy with Scott are old school. Two others are direct marketing. UnMarketing is about the changes that are happening in marketing and communications for businesses of all sizes. Ones driven in large part by the push for more interaction, engagement and transparency via social media.

Scott argues that traditional interrupt and sell tactics, like cold-calling and shotgun direct-response advertising not only don’t work, but are the equivalent to aggressive, off-putting behavior that alienates the very people you’re trying to befriend, then move to become customers and evangelists. Then, he offers up a cornucopia of strategies and tools to evolve your marketing into something that’s not only more effective, but more enjoyable and likely more impactful and lasting.

What makes it different: One, Scott’s voice. Scott’s got personality. In real life and in print. He’s a lot of fun to be around and to read and is incredibly smart and insanely passionate about his message. And, that means, like every good writer and marketer, his voice will either resonate strongly or repel strongly. There isn’t much middle ground. And, that’s a good thing, because nobody has time for wishy-washy these days.

Two, the message. We are in the very early stages of a potentially seismic shift in the opportunities available to market. There are now tools available to reach directly out to potential customers, engage them in conversation and offer them a ton a value before ever asking for a sale, in a way that’s not only potentially more effective, but more fun.

So, if you’re tired of running sales scripts designed purely as a numbers play with the goal of landing 1 out of every 100 calls to barely qualified leads, UnMarketing will arm you with a lot of alternatives. Social media is part of that equation, but the bigger principles about engagement resonate across all approaches to marketing.

And, here, too, is where Scott and I diverge a bit. For two reasons.

First, while while the trend is definitely away from interrupt and sell, that old-school mode of marketing/selling, done well, still works. It may be ugly, it may be disliked by many, but for a business that’s been built upon it over years or decades, I’m hesitant to remove any tool that’s generating substantial ROI in tough times until the new strategies and tactics have demonstrated their ability to not only replace that revenue, but exceed it. That’s going to take time and, for certain businesses, it may never happen.

And, second, really good “old-school” direct response list-marketing does engage and respect (granted, “really good” is rarely done). Without social tools, there was a lot less room for conversation, but great direct list marketers have always provided a ton of value to their tribes over time, then occasionally asked for the sale.

In fact, guys like Brian Clark of Copyblogger will gleefully tell you they’ve generated huge revenues online by transferring traditional direct-response list-marketing strategy into the digital engagement economy, essentially turning social media marketing into direct response 2.0.

So, when Scott says it’s not about the list anymore, it’s about engagement, my thought is it’s about having an “engaged list” and that comes from not only conversation, but value over time.

The big difference is that we now have tools to take that engagement and the ability to offer value to entirely new levels.

And, UnMarketing: Stop marketing, Start Engaging, does a great job of showing you how.

Who should read it: Anyone looking to understand how to market to, better understand, offer value to and truly engage both existing customers and potential customers in the name of turning them into long-term, loyal clients and evangelists for both your brand and your solutions.

[Disclaimer – Scott gave me a review copy of UnMarketing. I didn’t pay for it, even though he also said I was sexy, while simultaneously emailing me the PDF and I would’ve paid him the price of the book just to have him call me sexy. But that really doesn’t matter because it’s over now, the moment has passed. And, he has a lot more hair than me, too, which I’m kind of jealous about, but that’d make me more likely to give his book a bad review, unless of course I was still under the influence of the sexy comment, which may have influenced my review, though I don’t think it did. And, btw, the links are all affiliate links, which means if you buy through them, I’ll be rich, rich, rich! Oh look, a squirrel…]

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25 responses

25 responses to “Drive By Book Review: UnMarketing by Scott Stratten”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    I feel you can take aspects from both new school strong engagement and old school list building and integrate. Keep your mind on the prospect at all times, whatever approach to marketing you choose, and you can’t help to succeed in connecting with your niche.

    Unmarketing sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for sharing the fair and honest review.

    Ryan Biddulph

  2. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the drive-by review! I kept seeing Scott’s book everywhere, but for some reason I didn’t order it until now. Guess I’ll have to pay more attention to the signals that life is sending me:)

    I really like the part where you said “his voice will either resonate strongly or repel strongly”. I think that’s true of most people who create something valuable or something that is able to change how people think!

    All the best,


  3. Lorne Daniel says:

    Interesting perspective, Jonathan. I haven’t read the book yet – getting my copy at Victoria Social Media Camp w/ @unmarketing next month and looking forward to it. Your comments about ‘new’ social media engagement vs. old school marketing resonate. Every evolutionary trend is portrayed as revolutionary. There are many ‘game changing’ technologies & methodologies out there that aren’t, in fact, game changing at all. People are people. Remember after 9/11 when editorials said that terrorism / disaster / blow-em-up entertainment would never be the same? Surprise! Never say never, and never say that old ways are obsolete.

  4. EXCELLENT review on ‘UnMarketing’ Jonathan! I appreciate how you placed emphasis on Scott’s personality and passion. This is certainly evident in not only his words, but his actions as well. When you read a book like this, and you have really engaged with Scott, you will see with full force his desire and appetite to share his intense drive and energy in the premise of the book itself..’Stop Marketing, Start Engaging.’ That is what will make THIS book a success. It is not just ‘another’ marketing book, yet quite the opposite. There is nothing more than I personally love reading then something that is different from the norm. Having the courage to break free from the humdrum of ‘mainstream’ takes guts. No cutting corners here. Scott keeps it ‘real.’

    Love the disclaimer LOL – Nice personal touch there. 🙂

  5. Andy Hayes says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about the bromance brewing there in the affiliate disclosure, but great review, Jonathan 🙂

  6. Elle B says:

    More years ago than I care to admit, I was a business school Marketing major. Made it within two classes of graduating before deciding it was the sleaziest career choice ever, switched universities and declared for Anthropology.

    It’s absolutely amazing how the Internet has changed Marketing and even more fascinating how Marketing now intersects with Anthropology (tribal culture and all).

    Thanks for the review…definitely checking it out.

  7. Joel says:

    Love the disclaimer 🙂

  8. Lou Mindar says:


    Consider another book sold

    P.S. — I think you and Scott make a lovely couple 🙂

  9. Sonia Simone says:

    I wouldn’t say Scott has *a lot* more hair than you. *Somewhat* more hair, perhaps.

    I like your distinction a lot — an engaged list. Looking forward to getting my copy — Scott’s always got something interesting to say. 🙂

  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by debbiestier, Pablo Awad. Pablo Awad said: Drive By Book Review: UnMarketing by Scott Stratten […]

  11. Jonathan,

    Can I copy your disclaimer? ;p


  12. Thanks, Jonathan.

    Looks like a lovely book to get from the library and thus put to rest the effectiveness of good, old flattering as a marketing strategy :).

  13. Natalie says:

    An engaged list – well put.

    That’s no easy thing to build even with quality content, delivering value and being passionately relentless in serving others.

    I trust Scott’s book and his sexy hair talks about the many ways to achieve this?


  14. Oh, and an off top question – how does one change the picture on the posting? Not that I mind the weird creature, it’s just the color scheme that I can’t completely realate to 🙂

  15. GOOD! I hated the old marketing ploys, they felt artificial, painful and seemed to carve a line between Human beings and anyone marketing their product. But you are right; the proof is in the pudding and the pudding isn’t done cooking quite yet;)

  16. Oh yeah, and regardless of how sexy I am, I like my little green monster avatar;)

  17. Thanks for demonstrating the engaged list concept!

    I get it and recognise it is something I need to work on – will look out for the book.

  18. Jonathan,
    Nice review – I am looking forward to getting my copy and meeting Scott when he is in town in a couple weeks.

    Mind if I borrow the “engaged list” term? It’s exactly what I’m trying to get a few old school marketers to embrace.

  19. Rex says:

    Hey, where’s the squirrel?

    Loved the review, and the disclaimer.

  20. Thanks for the tip. Looks like a book I’ll enjoy. P.S. – Check out the review of your book I posted on amazon. 🙂

  21. Leisa LaDell says:

    Jonatha – really like the ‘drive by’ review. A lot of times I skip book reviews because I don’t know what they are really going to tell me. But your answering 3 questions layout made me want to read. Love the distinction of having an engaged list. And appreciate your respect for effective parts of ‘old school.’ Often there is a reason people have been doing things one way for years and years – because it works. And…I think new technology/trends are often too quick to throw out everything about the old, without making those useful distinctions. I like that you do. Best, Leisa

  22. […] to do an Unreview.  There are numerous reviews out there for his book (you can read some here, here, here, here and here).  It has been blowing up the charts since it’s debut and you would be […]