Expo ‘Unheadliner’ will have you laughing your way to success

Watch Scott Stratten strut across the stage in his black tee and jeans, arm flailing as he shouts dramatically into the microphone, and it’s not hard to picture him performing the job he once aspired to: rock musician.

Today, this Forbes-named Top 5 social media power influencer and keynoter for Motorcoach Expo 2019 is a rock star of a different sort. The member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame has traded his guitar for a new instrument—humor—and a subtler message about growing your business by just being your best you.

Stratten defines his keynote topic, Unmarketing, as getting yourself in front of your target market in a way that’s not intrusive and no marketing ploy. When someone has a need for your product or service, they’ll choose you.

He shares stories of Unmarketing successes in several books he’s authored with wife Alison, the UnPodcast they co-produce and speeches like the one he’ll deliver at UMA Motorcoach Expo 2019. He and Alison met on Twitter, something he calls “my greatest social media ROI ever” and have five kids, two dogs and a cat. But you’ll want to head to his session to see if he’s on point when claiming these as the secrets to his speaking success: “A killer eyebrow—and my man bun.”

We asked him to elaborate a bit on both his speaking success—and how to parlay his expertise in human resources and social media into yours.


You’ve said in speeches that you knew at age 14 when watching a TV show that ‘speaking’ is what you wanted to do. What were you watching?

It was a video of [motivational speaker] Les Brown, on WNED Buffalo. I was mesmerized by his words, his voice and movements. I wanted to be able to captivate an audience like that. Until that point, I didn’t know speaking on stage was a thing someone could do as a job. I knew I could talk in front of others and loved it.


Where did you grow up, and was it in a family that told stories or jokes?

Born and bred a proud Canadian just west of Toronto, my grandfather loved telling stories and was the joker as well. The half-sleeve tattoo on my right arm is a memorial to him.


For how long has humor been part of who you are?

Humor has been part of my DNA from the beginning. One of the best things my mom did was to let Scott be Scott and that there was value in that. And one of those was being the clown/performer. I don’t really tell “jokes,” more play off things that are said and stories.


You’re a storyteller, a craft that’s making a comeback even as a travel destination—to conferences and competitions. Why is story such an effective way to get a message across?

We relate to stories, we remember stories and we share information the best through stories. It covers all the basic adult learning principles. One of the differences I always tell people who are new to the speaking world is that a keynote should be about the stories, not overstuffing the content like a workshop.


You’ve shared a story about a hotel laundry staff’s response to a child’s lost teddy bear, the way they took pictures of the bear having its own vacation (and shared that on social media) while reconnecting the toy with the child. What do you hope is the takeaway?

Company doing good things for a kid + stuffed animal + going even more above and beyond = gold. The moral is if you want word of mouth, you have to do things worth talking about.


Millennials are a perennial subject in your talk, one that generates viral YouTube views when you go on a rant. Why does this strike such a chord?

Since the beginning of time, every generation has hated the younger generation. We’ve gone all the way back to the year three. Seriously. The difference today is the rate of change is 10 times faster, which equals disruption. Millennials have grown up in it, while we older people have not.


We’re an industry—bus and motorcoach charters—that has been traditionally slow to embrace new marketing techniques or perhaps hasn’t felt like it has time to keep up. What kind of influence do you hope to have?

First thing is to realize you’re not unique in your resistance to new marketing techniques. The majority of industries are. That’s why we changed the subtitle of our first book to “Everything has changed and nothing is different” because it’s still about service.


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