Unmarketing by Scott Stratten

Almost immediately upon opening Unmarketing, you're introduced to the idea of the hierarchy of buying.

Almost immediately upon opening Unmarketing, you’re introduced to the idea of the hierarchy of buying. This idea, created by Scott Stratten and his team, helps to answer the question “why do you buy?”. The theory is set up as a pyramid split into 6 parts with each side of the pyramid’s axis representing trust, relationship, and competition. Inside of the 6 parts of the pyramid are cold-calls, search through ads (so something like yellow pages or search engines), recognized expert in the field, current relationship but have yet to purchase, referral by a trusted source, and current satisfied customer. The idea behind this pyramid is that as you go up towards the point, you gain trust and build strong relationships through the different methods in the sections, and in turn have less competition. This theory proposed by Stratton serves as the foundation for his book and for the idea of unmarketing as a whole, and that’s what my book review focuses on.


  1. I really appreciate SEO because of the strategy involved. If the strategy is thorough, it will benefit the company’s awareness and overall reliability. I think it should be it’s own category, too! In terms of un-marketing, I think the use of memes is a current method of this. Not sure the relevance of it especially with most brands. But one that really got it right with being, oddly, on-brand was Denny’s doing OOH meme billboards.

  2. Natalie— I love your intro! I like that Stratten set up the theory in a pyramid with six parts. I actually pulled out a pen and paper to draw the pyramid to visualize the concepts you discussed in your podcast. I also believe that search should be in its own category as digital marketing tactics through SEO and SEM are extremely important in today’s digital landscape. I wonder if he will revise his “pyramid” if he writes a new edition of this book. Great podcast!

  3. Its crazy that things written in 2010 are already pretty outdated in regards to SEO, but I guess at the same time 2010 is almost 8 years ago… Agreed on the shift from traditional ads that we are used to, to the more experiences and quirky publicity stunts brands try to do now in the age of social media.

  4. There are 60 chapters in this book?!?!?! I don’t know if I want to read it simply because of that. I thought the cold calling aspect of your podcast was interesting and I agree with Stratton and you because 1) I hate cold calling and 2) why should someone trust you if you’re specifically talking about price? The cheaper things are, the less quality they usually have, yet it’s still challenging because you don’t want to overpay for a brand name if you don’t trust/like it.

  5. Unmarketing is a really unique term, yet we encounter it with each new campaign. Brands want to be more than “just a company”, they want to engage and inspire consumers. With many advertisers using the concept of unmarketing when solving business decisions for clients, advertising is more strategic and the message is unified.

  6. Stratten’s concept of the “hierarchy of brands” was an interesting way to categorize new and returning customers, but it just reminded me of the huge amount of things to consider when creating an ad campaign. We’ve learned about the customer’s purchase journey, the”touch points” that Stratten mentions, appealing to the sense and to emotions, and so much more. Most of the time it’s hard to imagine how an ad team can keep all of these things in mind when creating a campaign.

  7. It’s important for brands to focus on SEO to increase relevance. I agree that brands should capitalize on the products/services they provide by answering common questions and posting blogs about the category to make themselves seem like the leading expert in the field. This can help those in the ‘current relationship’ stage feel comfortable enough to move on to purchasing becoming a customer.

  8. The hierarchy of buying is interesting because I did not know the idea of unmarking and how there were steps to doing so. It’s interesting to know that in order for a brand to be authentic, they have to go through these steps. Although this process came out in 2010, it’s considered “outdated.” Advertising and marketing today is all about being interesting and engaging with their customers. You could be the best advertiser, but if your products suck, it won’t matter.

  9. I could honestly talk about SEO forever, it is so extremely important. If the Net Neutrality Act were to pass, the need for SEO and other digital marketing services will increase so much. It is important for brands to care about where they rank on a device that the average person uses at least 3 times a day… I think it is also important for brands to create their own content (yes this will help their SEO presence) but it will also show a different side of the brand, one more personal such as a blog or vlog. Giving the viewer real human insights is a huge benefit because in the end, people trust people.

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