Scott Stratten on Building an Awesome Company
Interview by Dan Schawbel for Forbes.com:
I recently caught up with social media rockstar, Scott Stratten, who is the President of UnMarketing.com. His latest book is actually two books in one and it’s called “The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome.” He has guided companies such as PepsiCo, Adobe, Red Cross, and Saks Fifth Avenue through the viral/social media and relationship marketing landscape. Scott was named one of the top five social media influencers in the world on Forbes.com. Scott travels around the world sharing with audiences the “what not to do in business” stories we all can’t get enough of. In this interview, Scott talks about his new book, the importance of benchmarking your marketing campaigns, ways that companies can empower their employees, and more.
There are two ways of reading your book, UnAwesome and Awesome. Which is your favorite and why? What was your intent in having two sides of the book?
I don’t really know how to answer that! I get fired up by a company being awesome but equally crazy by a company pushing a customer around. I think at the end of the day I’m hoping for the Awesome to come out in all companies, so I’ll go with that side. I wanted originally to just write about all the awesome in business and how to find those nuggets in your company, but I and audiences that I speak to love the train-wreck stories and sometimes we can learn more from the bad than the good. Plus some of the most awesome stories in the book started off as unawesome events. When it hits the fan, it’s not time to hide behind the fan. It’s time to be awesome.
Do you think every campaign and interaction can and should be measured online and why?
I think campaigns can be if you set the benchmark properly. The problem I have is with every interaction. We don’t measure them in person, in our stores or offices. Engagement isn’t done in a petri dish. The best type of engagement happens organically because the employee truly wants to connect with the customer. Conversation isn’t a campaign.
What are some ways that companies can empower their employees to make a difference instead of limiting them?
It really starts off with hiring the right people. That’s actually one of your most important marketing/sales tasks: finding the right people. HR is as much a part of marketing as marketing is during the initial steps. Awesome isn’t trained or taught. One of the worst thing to do is hire great front-line employees and poor management. It’s hard to be awesome when your boss is a jerk to you. For employers who want to make that awesome step, you have to make sure employees realize that they matter. That your brand isn’t a logo or a brochure, it’s them. They change the brand daily depending on how they interact with the world. There is no such thing as a neutral brand interaction. You either improve or hurt it.
Can you give an example of a brand that is UnAwesome in your opinion? What about Awesome?
Both Awesome and UnAwesome are subjective. I can say I can’t stand an airline, when someone else swears by them. Delta recently was an UnAwesome brand to me because a flight attendant told me off in the security line, but then their Twitter account saved the day and the actual flight attendant on my flight was amazing, so now they’re awesome. Just because a brand is Awesome/UnAwesome doesn’t mean they can’t switch sides. And sometimes that’s in a split-second because of an encounter, online or offline.
What three tips would you offer a company based on your book?
1. You can’t plan awesome, you hire it and empower it.
2. Either be present on social media, or don’t use it at all. Automating social media is like sending a mannequin to a networking event.
3. Never upset mom’s or geeks. They will mess you up.
Forbes.com/July 24, 2012