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An Interview with Author and Marketing Guru Scott Stratten

An Interview with Author and Marketing Guru Scott Stratten

We chat with Scott Stratten, author of QR Codes Kill Kittens and president of UnMarketing.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Trying to market your business, brand, or undiscovered talent is difficult enough as is, but in this age of instant gratification and immediate social-interactions even the smallest error can be downright embarrassing.

That’s why we turn to Scott Stratten, author of the new mini-marketing book QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground, or just QR Codes Kill Kittens for short. Even better, he’s also the founder and president of UnMarketing, whose wisdom and cautionary lessons are on full display in said book.

Scott was kind enough to answer a few quick questions; no kittens were harmed during the making of this interview.

For those readers in the dark, could you explain the concept behind the term ‘Un-Marketing’? Is it more than just ingratiating yourself to potential clients to become a wellspring of trust and guidance for them?

I think you just defined it for me ☺ UnMarketing really is non-interruptive marketing. Content marketing, viral marketing, social media. Any type of marketing that doesn’t punch you in the face to notice it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that your new book, QR Codes Kill Kittens, was in itself an endorsement for the Un-Marketing brand, which stresses points made in the book in one nice, tight circular loop. Well played, sir.

Other than being hilarious (which it is), why should those who may or may not have an interest in improving, enhancing, or even creating an online marketing campaign have in snatching a copy, apart than having a bite-sized collection of funny memes, Tumblr, and other internet oddities in convenient book form?

I try! First, you should want to get it to see if your brand appears in it. It makes year-end performance reviews really awkward when you walk in unexpected and see my book on your boss’s desk with Post-It Notes. Honestly though, there are tens of thousands of business books out there that try to tell you what to do, I thought it was time to have one that showed what not to do. I think we can learn as much from mistakes as we can success.

As you mention in the book, QR codes are everywhere. But nobody seems to actually like or use the things properly. They’re pretty horrible all around. So why do companies continue to inflict them on unsuspecting customers?

The grand quest of “WE NEED TO SEEM HIP!” plagues businesses. In marketing we suffer from bright-shiny squirrel syndrome, jumping from one new thing to another. We forget to ask the important questions like “Does this make it easier for our customer?” or “Do they even know what this technology is?” It’s also a big distraction from what we should be focusing on: our core business. You shouldn’t be discussing a brand Instagram strategy if your product gets a 50% return rate.

I know there’s so many to choose from, but what’s your vote for 2013’s Twitter and/or Social-Media faux pas of the year?

At the very top of Moron Mountain on the UnPodcast, is Justine Sacco’s “I hope I don’t get AIDS going to Africa” tweet. (LINK) It’s the perfect recipe of racism, horribleness, intent and entitlement/ignorance. You stay classy, Twitter.

Speaking of socially-networked disasters, I’m sure you’re familiar with the recent failures of new albums by supposed social-media giants Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Brittany Spears to meet even modest sales expectations.

Conversely, the latest album from Beyoncé, launched with little prior social media buzz and without a prolonged campaign and has become a massive success. Is there a cautionary lesson here?

I think you’re cherry picking here. Most albums flopped, including Justin Timberlake, twice. I’ve always, always said that social media is not a sales tool, it’s a communication tool. Like I said earlier, if the core business isn’t right, social doesn’t help. You can’t have a crap product and it turns great on Twitter. Especially for music. If you don’t have hit songs, you don’t have a hit album. Miley did just fine with Wrecking Ball (such a good tune), but we’re in the singles generation now, where we don’t have to buy 12 bad songs to get the one good one anymore. Plus, Wrecking Ball brought us the greatest parody video in history (LINK).

I must admit I felt a little ashamed when I came across the mini-chapter Out Out/In: “Spammers confirm your email when you ask to opt-out, making it even more valuable.” Guilty as charged…

Are there any other ‘so simple it should be obvious’ tricks or schemes that fellow marketing luddites should be on the lookout for?

Slapping your social icons on advertising is a good one. Showing a Facebook/Twitter logo without your specific username is a recipe for ADD disaster. You expect someone to go on Facebook and then search for your company? You’ve obviously never logged into Facebook before. Once I log-in, I see my notifications, and I’m gone. Your company is forgotten.

A constant theme running throughout the book is that you don’t seem to care much for Google+ or LinkedIn. Any special reason for these two, or might there be others I missed?

They hold a special place in my heart for different reasons. I don’t have an issue with LinkedIn, it’s just not a social media site. It’s a digital Rolodex wishing it was social. Groups are a train wreck, people want to connect for the sake of adding to their connection count, and apparently I’m an expert of knitting from my recommendations.

Google+ is a different story. I’ve been “circled” by people over 20,000 times, I’m on there, but I just see repeats of content I’m already seeing elsewhere. It doesn’t serve a new need, or replace an existing one in a better way. But they’re forcing it down our throats. Want Gmail? That’s a new Google+ member! Want to comment on YouTube? That’s a new Google+ member! Soon it will be “Want to turn on your heart at home? That’s a new Google+ member!” It’s like the spoiled rich kid that has no friends at school, so his dad buys the school, and to attend, you got to give his son a friendship bracelet.

Twitter, like its social cousin Facebook, recently went public. Do you think the service and its, ahem, followers are due for any big changes in the near-future?

I see what you did there. What we all have to remember is that social media sites are still businesses, one way or another we have to eventually start paying. Whether that’s personal information, viewing ads or paid services, they need to eventually make money. I find it funny all the social media managers and consultants losing their minds that Facebook hints that if you want your audience to see your ads, you need to pay a bit. When you build your brand house on rented land, you have to pay eventually.

Any advice for those freshly embarking on a new mission to connect, maintain, and nurture a healthy relationship with customers who may not have come of age in this crazy digital world of hash-tags, selfies, status updates and their ilk?

Apart from avoiding QR codes and rushing out to pick up your latest book, QR Codes Kill Kittens, of course.

They should pick up my new boo….. no, wait. I really think it’s all common sense. Do you like people posting endless meme photos on a brand page? No? Then don’t do it for yours? Despise when people create fake events and invite you on Google+ to their “redesigned website launch party”? Then don’t do it yourself.

Oh, and listen to the UnPodcast. www.UnPodcast.com that’s where I really get mad 🙂


About the Author: Nathan Evans