Scott Stratten is the bestselling author of Unmarketing and the recently published title, The Book of Business Awesome, which is actually “two books in one.” The first half outlines how to be awesome in business, and the second half outlines businesses that have been “unawesome” in business. Here are five questions Scott answered in an interview with his friend John Michael Morgan:
1. Sometimes there’s a fine line between “Awesome” and “Unawesome.” How does a business make sure they’re on the right side?
It’s not only a fine line, it’s a subjective one. If you put out a hilarious ad, but offend some people, it can be viewed as either. Pull the ad due to the angry mob, you’re now UnAwesome to the original Awesome group. Really, for a business on a day-to-day basis to be Awesome it has to do with actions. All actions. If your employees view every customer issue as a chance to be Awesome, that’s going to end much better than the employees who view customers as interruptions.
2. One of the things I tell businesses is that their employees can make or break their brand. You talk about this and how an employee reflects the brand. How does a business get their employees to appreciate this fact, and respect the brand?
It comes down to an awareness issue. If your employee doesn’t think they matter, then there is no brand repercussion to them when they don’t try. A basic human trait we all have is we want to feel we matter, that we make a difference. However, telling them they matter and then treating them like they don’t is worse. It’s hard for employees to be awesome when their manager is a jackass. The biggest brand impact to me starts right at the hiring decision. You can’t train awesome, you hire it. That’s the one thing I’d change if I went back to my hiring days, I’d have less of a weight put on years of experience, and more put on passion and personality.
3. My favorite part of the book is your “Third Circle” concept. Can you explain it and the reality of ‘true’ reach?
Picture three circles, getting bigger as it goes out. In the middle is you or your brand. When you push out content, it always hits a good percentage of your First Circle. That’s your brand fans on Facebook, your followers on Twitter, the creepy people still on MySpace. It can also be personal friends and family. A percentage of those in the First Circle will always share your stuff for a multitude of reasons. They know you, so there is more reason to find an inside joke funny, they think you’re attractive (that’s a hot logo you got there!) so they always “Like” whatever you share. That means your content can always easily reach the Second Circle. It’s getting the content to spread past that circle that is the difference between viral and spiral.
4. In the book, you talk a lot about the importance of mobile in business. Why are so many businesses Unawesome at all things mobile and how can they fix it?
I don’t understand it. The very same people who are making dumb decisions about mobile, are the ones that use their mobile phone the most. It can be either the wrong initiative, like a QR code going to a non-mobile friendly site, or lack of initiative that has a site running on flash and won’t even appear on my phone. Our screens are getting smaller, not larger. Over 500 million people on Facebook access it via mobile, and that number keeps growing. The answer? Understand all the tools out there, but don’t use them unless they make sense for your business and target market. Also, look at your site on other phones, not just yours. Have an iPhone? Look at it on an Android/Blackberry. It can and will look different. Also, just because you personally don’t use or like a technology shouldn’t come into play on whether you should use it for your business.
5. One big take-away I got from the book is that a business shouldn’t fear an Unawesome moment because as you explain, it creates an opportunity to be awesome. Can you elaborate on that?
When it hits the fan, it’s not time to hide behind the fan. It’s time to be awesome. You can’t change the fact after a screw-up that you’re in the spotlight, but you can choose how to react. I think we’re a forgiving species, if a company owns up to an error quickly and honestly. The problem most brands face is “quickly” is not a few days. Online reaction is now measured in hours. A lot of cluster-farks have occurred on a weekend and snowballed out of control because no one was listening online on a Saturday. Outrage does not take a day off.