social media book reviewsWhen marketing consultant Scott Stratten worked with the owners of a new restaurant, he recommended inviting residents of a nearby condo complex to a free dinner. Over two nights, the owners could get 150 people to start the buzz about the new restaurant in town.

But the owners balked at giving away free food, which they estimated would cost them several thousand dollars. Yet they had spent $5,000 on a magazine ad!

“How many customers did it bring in?” Stratten asked. “We don’t know,” they replied.

Does this sound familiar? Stratten calls this the “push and pray” marketing strategy. You push your ad out to thousands and even millions of people, and pray that some respond.

unmarketing“The food cost and my fee would have been less than the amount they paid for that ad,” Stratten writes in his book, UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. And in just two days, the restaurant owners potentially would have created 150 satisfied customers to spread the word about their restaurant.

But the owners just didn’t get it. They refused to implement the strategy, and eventually they went out of business.

Stratten believes business is about creating and managing relationships with current and potential customers. Find people who are already talking about you, engage them and give them something of value. He calls this marketing strategy “pull and stay.” Pull potential customers to your business by engaging them, trade something they value for their name and contact information and stay in touch with them.

“If you believe business is built on relationships,” Stratten writes, “make building them your business. UnMarketing is all about engagement at every point of contact with your market.”

Use Social Media to Enter the Conversation

Stratten believes social media is the best way to find and engage potential customers. “If I told you that I had a room full of current potential customers all talking about your products and your competitors, would you not show up?”

If you’ve read our articles, you already know how to do this. Download TweetDeck and set one of the columns to monitor tweets containing keywords related to your business or your company name. When you see such a tweet, respond. Try to provide value in every tweet.

A self-described Twitter fanatic, Stratten decided in March 2009 to ask his 16,000 Twitter followers to help him raise money for a charity that focuses on child hunger. Together they raised $12,000 in just 5.5 hours.

Facebook and LinkedIn are permission-based, but there’s no barrier to communicating with anyone on Twitter. So he recommends starting on Twitter and using Facebook and LinkedIn to “go to the next level.”

He even uses Twitter to find out more about local businesspeople before he goes to a networking event.

This book essentially contains 55 ideas for “unmarketing” your business. Each chapter is one idea. And they’re in no particular order. So you can read the chapters in whatever order you want.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

  • Trade shows – “pull and stay” works extremely well.
  • Tele-seminars and tele-summits – how to do them right.
  • Social media – the pros and cons of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Websites – they shouldn’t just be an online brochure.
  • Content is king – how to create and deliver valuable content.
  • Viral marketing – Stratten made many mistakes and you can learn from them!

In fact, “IMHO,” the chapter on viral marketing (at 26 pages, the longest chapter in the book), is the best part of the book. Stratten is humble enough to describe in detail all the mistakes he made. Essentially, he wasn’t ready when views of his video took off and people started subscribing to his newsletter.

That’s why he says, “Not being prepared for success in viral marketing is worse than never having success at all.” Because, “once it goes, it goes” and there’s no stopping it.

Stratten also writes about companies that really care about their customers, like:

  • Zappos, which once let a customer return nine pairs of unused shoes even though the return period had long since expired
  • FreshBooks, which once sent a couple of boxes of Triscuits to a current customer in Fiji
  • McDonald’s, whose coffee lured Stratten away from Tim Horton’s coffee after 20 years of patronage
  • Lush, a soap store whose saleswoman treated Stratten so well that he bought $65 worth of soap

Customers Are Not an Interruption

If you’re in retail sales, are your salespeople that enthusiastic about your products? Instead of thinking of customers as an interruption, think of them as “a word-of-mouth machine that can spread the word, good or bad,” Stratten writes. “Do anything to show that you are interested in my potential business with you rather than treating me as an interruption to your busy day.”

Do you spend most of your time trying to get new customers? Do you treat new customers better than regular customers? If you know that it takes five to ten times the amount of effort to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, why would you do this?

Creating current satisfied customers is your highest priority. And why would you risk losing a current customer? It just doesn’t make sense.

Stratten uses coffee as an example. After drinking Tim Horton’s coffee for 20 years, he switched to McDonald’s coffee. They had solved some problems that Tim Horton was ignoring. Dissatisfied customers won’t necessarily complain, they’ll just go somewhere else.

Stratten also recommends surveying your current customers periodically. If you’re thinking of offering a new product or service, consider creating what he calls a “Stop Start Continue” campaign. Send all current customers an email with a link to an online survey. Let them answer anonymously. Ask your customers:

  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we continue doing to meet or exceed your expectations?

Most people would be thrilled to know that a company cares so much about them, it values their advice. Another benefit of doing a customer survey: “Every point of contact is an opportunity to engage with your market,” writes Stratten.

Social Media Examiner gives this book 4 stars.

We have written so much about the new way of marketing, and now we’d like to hear from you! Have you implemented any of these ideas? Are they working? Please add your comments below.

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  • Christie

    Excellent article! I love trying new & different ways to get the word out about what I am marketing. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m a big fan of Scott and his concepts. You can see that he cares deeply about his ideas and how we need to build relationships with people.

    It’s harder doing it Scott’s way, but it works a lot better. We create a business that will last for the long haul instead of quick profits.

    My business has really improved since I’ve used Scott’s techniques. I actually enjoy marketing again.

  • Another great article and proving that you can get better results but you’ve got to be imaginative, brave and look long term. Thank you Ruth.

  • wonderful article and thx for the book recommendation – it’s already on my wish list, actually.

  • Great post Ruth. High value. I think the pull strategy also works in relation to fellow businesses. If companies / others retweet my tweets, I started to act like this recently: I read their tweets, visit their website or Facebook page. I send them a ReTweet stating something that their company excels. Previously I only said: thanks for the valuable retweet. So now I’m trying to add something of value for them as well. I have the impression that this strategy works well.

  • You have no idea how much these posts are helping me get up to speed on such a fascinating new world…it’s making me braver to get the results.
    Thank you so much !!

  • I must say, it might work for a restaurant, but it sure didn’t work for my business. I own a local tai chi school – not, that’s not a local adult ed program, like the way most tai chi is taught – but an actual, very in-depth school. With the restaurant example, it’s like fast food vs. home-cooked gourmet food – LOL. Well, I had one heck of an Open House party last year – LOTS of local people showed up – we had free food, free workshops, nice decorations – the works. Offered some free-class gift certificates. My regular longtime students thought it was a smashing success. End result – not a SINGLE local person wanted to join. The majority of my students still find me on the internet and come from farther distances. I offer them a few trial class sessions. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am in a low-income area, though. If people want and expect Kia, you can’t offer them Mercedes Benz. No matter how many free test drives and take-aways you offer. 😉

  • AngieVanDenzen

    Cool! Just bought this one.. tho I paired with another book and they won’t ship to me ’til June! Will be a nice surprise when it comes I guess!

    Quick note that the author describes it very well in his video at the link Ruth provided above. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Angie VanDenzen
    Community Manager at Circus Strategic Communications

  • We are all familiar with the give-some-away-so-ppl-will-talk-about-you approach. How do you identify your opinion leaders? Suggestions?

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  • PhillipaKiripatea

    I love this article. I had heard of this book before but never crossed my mind to buy it.
    Now that I know what it’s about I’ll have to get it.
    There are some great strategies. Thanks for the post.

  • Victoria Ipri

    Very interesting…and puzzling too. Sounds like you had many of the right steps in place to create a ‘smashing success’, and yet, for you, it was a failure. So let’s reverse-engineer the outcome somewhat, based on the cliche that failure is simply one try that didn’t quite take.

    You mention you’re in a low income area. I’m gonna to take a wild guess and say most people showed up for the freebies, with no real intention of signing up for classes. So the question is…what could you have done differently? At its core, the issue seems to be you failed to reach the hearts and minds of this particular audience.

    So, what do you think they really want? Did anyone who received a certificate for a free class cash in on that opportunity? Is your community confused on some level about core issues, such as what tai chi is, or what the value of such a regimen might be to them personally? And given that the community is low income, what does this mean in terms of how you could structure your classes or prices so more people would begin to focus on benefits instead of costs?

    I’m not telling you how to run your business. You’ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know about tai chi! Just throwing down some provocative questions that might help you get to the core of what actually sent things south.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    Thank you so much for this example.

    Did you get the name and contact info of every person who showed up? Did you offer to stay in touch with them somehow? That’s what Stratten means when he says, “pull and stay”. You pulled all those people to the open house, and you should have gotten all their email addresses so you could stay in front of them. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t “ready to buy”. If they came to the open house, they are definitely prospective customers. So what are you doing to “stay in front” of them?

    It may be too late for that group, but keep this in mind if you have another open house.

  • Clearly the restaurant wasn’t thinking about long term strategy. Excellent example for my consulting business: We were approached by a bigger agency to do white label work, and the agency asked us to help them with their social media, which requires a significant amount of time. To charge or not to charge. We ultimately decided not to charge for the fear of jeopardizing the relationship and future business. If we weren’t thinking strategically, we would have charged them full price.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    This is an excellent example, especially if you’re a B2B business.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    How about starting a conversation with everyone who contacts you? How did you hear about us? Do you use our product/service? What do you think? What could we do differently?

    Another way is to download TweetDeck and monitor all mentions of your company or product name on Twitter. People who talk a lot about you are obviously interested, either for good or bad. Respond to any tweets you can.

    You can also search blogs for specific keywords. When you find blog entries that mention you, leave a comment. If people know you care about them, you can create trusting relationships. And people prefer to buy from people they know, like, and trust.

    Does anyone else have any other suggestions for Serena?

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Yes, building relationships is hard work! But you’re really creating trusting relationships. And as I said in another comment, people are more likely to buy from people they know, like, and trust.

    And it takes a lot more time, energy, and money to create a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer. You can stay engaged with existing customers and do whatever you can to keep them happy. You’ll be talking with people who already love your product or service. You might even enjoy marketing again!

  • cool points! will check it out

  • David

    Great discussion header. As to marketing we are now into the third year in the United Kingdom where broadband has been stable enough to carry quality streaming HD video. We set our company up three years ago and are still developing as a pure Internet Video Marketing provider. The pull marketing is easily delivered through video or am I going in the wrong direction. All comments appreciated.

  • Well, aren’t you two scoops of awesomesauce!!! Thank-you for this Ruth, so glad you liked the book!

  • Michael Heipel

    I read the book and got a good idea of what could work and what not on social media.

  • Incredible article, just what we are trying to implement, taking excellant care of our existing clients!♥
    Thanks so much!

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    Here’s another idea from Stratten’s book:

    Make a booklet titled, “Top 5 Health Benefits of Tai Chi.” The next time you have an open house, give a copy to everyone who shows up. For that matter, carry copies with you that you can give to anyone you meet. For free. And make sure your contact info is included in the booklet.

    This is one way to establish yourself as an expert.

    Also, offering free classes does not establish trust. Stratten uses the term “trust gap.” This is what you must overcome to earn someone’s trust. And he lists “wellness practitioners” as having a large trust gap. Along with lawyers, accountants, and life insurance salesman!

    That’s why I recommend publishing some kind of booklet about the health benefits of Tai Chi. People will be more likely to trust you if they perceive you as an expert.

  • I first read Scotts thoughts on this subject on twitter. Then i went to his website and started reading his blog. After this i knew i needed more content from him. I orded his book with a few others from amazon that i could not get over here in Australia. I read unmarketing in about 3 days. I could not put the book down.
    I have now started a marketing degree that ties into my job and am excelling in my classes and having marketing debates with my teachers.

    This book gave me direction.

    A BIG thank you to Scott Stratten for showing me that not all marketers have to be wa#*%rs.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Thank you for writing it!

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Perhaps you can help me understand what you do. Do you help people market their business using videos? In other words, if broadcast on TV it would be called a commercial. Commercials are definitely NOT “pull” technology. They are traditional “push” technology. Stratten calls it “push and pray.”

    What you can do to “unmarket” your own business is to use social media to find people talking about the problem that you solve. You can search for the keywords “video marketing.” Start a conversation with people who talk about it. Respond to their comments and answer their questions. Start a blog and give people valuable content about video marketing.

    You can definitely start a vlog – a video blog. Is that what you’re asking? Make high-quality video blog posts and people will be “pulled” to you. You will establish yourself as an expert. If anyone contacts you, get their contact information and stay in touch with them. Whether they buy anything from you or not. They may know someone else who needs your services!

  • LyubovS8

    I absolutely agree with Scott Stratten that trust is foundation for personal and for business relationship. I couldn’t refer my clients business till I become first customer of my client. You don’t really building friendship but understanding, respect and trust. I will separate friendship from business. It is very risky and painful when you loose a client and friend in the same time. I have situation like that and it took years to fix it and it is almost impossible to build trust again.
    Competition is great tool to make us better, stronger, and intelligent. I think marketing today become more like a journalism because you have to find key word, right statement and engaged your readers and viewers. I believe that every marketing person using Social Media tools become journalist, writer and publisher and sending information to thousands people. It is very thin divine line between professional reporter and marketing expert. We live in world pf power of communications which we named different and depend what tool of information we are using.

  • LyubovS8

    I absolutely agree with Scott about idea to invite 150 people living close to the restaurant and offer free dinner. I have my own advertising agency and the restaurant is the most difficult client to use unique ideas. Idea of FREE food makes the owner of the restaurant angry.
    But the best advertising is referral. ” I like their food, and you will like it food. Delicious” will bring hundreds, and hundreds of clients.

    People like restaurants if another people like it. Only few chef could have unique talent and passion for food, and they artwork is great. The restaurant doesn’t need thousands of dollars to spend on advertising if they have delicious great quality food which bring the customers back.NEW High quality unique product could be sale immediately after few referrals.
    This is why Scott idea how to advertise a new restaurant was excellent. Print ads doesn’t work well for new restaurant customers. Print ads, coupons will bring existing customers back.

  • Saptarshi Sarkar

    It’s an interesting and pragmatic perspective!

  • if it turn out to be that good, it can solve a lot of things for a newbie marketer for me and open a new horizon
    just ordered it, keeping my fingers crossed

  • Hi shipley, its one of the great article about unmarketing. I would like to thanks for written a great article on here.

  • Hey the points you have put are really very important..You should keep posting blogs on such important topics so that everyone would come to know about the new stuff whatever has come in the market.

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  • Thanks for the reply! I do use TweetDeck but I’m not to the ‘people are talking about me’ stage yet. I’ll have to start looking, though! Thanks for the feedback.

    I’d love to hear from other small businesses or emerging authors, like myself.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Blog platforms allow everyone to be a journalist. And what you’re doing it establishing your expertise in whatever topic is your specialty. But many people are auditory learners and right-brain visual learners. So the auditory learners would benefit from podcasts, and the right-brain visual learners would benefit from videos.

    So you could start a video blog, or vlog. Pick up Steve Garfield’s book, Get Seen, if you want to follow this route.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    NOTHING works as well as word-of-mouth advertising.

    But many people are so used to traditional advertising, they have a hard time switching. It takes a lot of education to change their minds. Which is exactly why we started Social Media Examiner!

    The authors of the book, Inbound Marketing, say that a lead generated by social media is 61% cheaper than a lead generated by traditional marketing techniques. I was very impressed by that statistic! Too bad those restaurant owners didn’t know it.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    If you are a newbie marketer, you’re very lucky! You don’t have to “unlearn” traditional marketing techniques and learn something brand new.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    You’re welcome!

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    That’s what Social Media Examiner is all about. We have an e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date.. And you can sign up for free! The subscribe box is at the top of our home page on the right, directly below the search box.

  • Nice one Scott. We are eating from the same cereal bowl. Good to know customer engagement is back on the agenda.

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  • Ruth M. Shipley

    Customer engagement never should have left the agenda!

  • Great post, I actually advised to “Pull” rather than “Push” (although I can’t take credit that I actually called it that) to a friend of mine who opened a Vintage clothes shop recently. She was going to place an advert in a local paper but has a limited budget so I suggested that she approach her son’s school and offer them the opening night as a school fund-raiser. So instead of giving away the clothes at a discount she donated 15% of each sale to the school. It meant that the school wanted to help her promote the opening and the target customers already knew people going so were more likely to show up due to the pressure of not wanting to look like they were not supporting the school. They also influenced each other to buy more than they would have usually!

  • What a great article! I’m going to go out and buy the book. But what happens when you don’t want to sell anything on your web site? When you just want visitors?

  • Arymla

    Great article, nice informative one.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    What a great idea!

    In a way, it’s too bad your friend had just opened her shop. A shop that has been in business for a while could try a newspaper advertisement and put something in the ad that makes people tell them where they saw the ad. Like “mention this ad and get a discount!” Then you can get some kind of statistics on how many people saw the ad (based on circulation, readership, etc.) and how many responded.

    Then they could follow your idea and get some statistics from that. And then they could compare the two methods.

    Of course, it’s not an exact science and we really have NO IDEA how many people actually look at a newspaper ad.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    What is your site about? It must be about some topic. And why do you want to draw people to it? Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert on that topic? If so, why? Do you want to get speaking engagements? Influence people? Change people’s attitudes?

    You don’t have to “sell” anything to use these techniques. But if you have a web site, you must have a reason for putting it out there. Think about what you want people to do when they find your web site.

  • I want to comment on your opening example: One of the most successful restaurant groups I’ve worked with used to always run 3 nights of free dinners prior to their opening – first night for family and friends of staff, second night for local Media and journalists, and the third night for those they considered VIPs. None of their restaurants ever went out of business, although yes, it did cost thousands of dollars to run those events!

    I’ve heard that customers will come back 4x more often if they had great service and felt valued but not so good food, rather than great food but terrible service.

  • Great advice. Social Media is definitely a good way to enter a conversation and then you need a good websites or follow-up product/service to then keep the momentum going once people have engaged you.

  • David Harris

    Fantastic concept, down with loud commercials hawking junk. Instead entice and have a conversation. Great article

  • Thank you Ruth. Today data is king. We no longer subscribe to push marketing since there are so many opportunities for our clients to measure their results and it can make us look like we have not done our job. Today we’re are using Cross Media Marketing to gain valuable information for our clients. Here’s how it works.

    In the hospitality world our focus has been using GURL’s Generic URLs’ with QR codes to capture information about their patrons and use this with email marketing and social media. Our most recent hospitality campaign was a Facebook party for a local restaurant. The campaign was built around our clients Facebook campaign. Using social media to announce a party to celebrate our clients 1,000th Facebook fan, we were able to drive traffic to their restaurant for food and draft specials from a local brewer. There were door prizes and other giveaways, and in order to win those prizes they had to be a Facebook fan and provide us with their email address. Now our client is connected through social media and email marketing which is driving sales.

    David Houston
    Delta Marketing Group

  • Great point, Ruth. I offer free seminars to small biz folk now and then. Attendance is always good and after my 2+ hour free talk, I hand out “stuff” with my contact info on it. As a result, I am perceived as an expert (god help those folks!) and now, from as long as 3 years earlier, I occasionally get calls from people needing my help, who turn into great clients. They kept the literature I handed out and called me or emailed me as a result. It’s like the plummer’s magnet you have on your refrigerator.