February 9, 2009
I traded email over the weekend with David Meerman Scott (pictured), best selling author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. David is speaking at this week’s Cisco Partner Velocity 09, an event in Miami designed to help Cisco Systems partners with their marketing and PR strategies. I asked Meerman Scott if the Web 2.0 craze was over, and also pushed him for a few new tips on marketing and PR. Here are some quick excerpts from our email exchange.
Q: I loved your book. But now that it’s been a year or two since publication, are there any new trends/updates you’d add to the book?
David Meerman Scott: Since The New Rules of Marketing & PR came out in hardcover in June 2007, it went through 11 printings and is being published in 22 languages… We published an updated paperback edition in January 2009, which has updated information on social networking including Facebook and Twitter.
Q: Is Web 2.0 over? Are we onto something new? If so, what’s new?
David Meerman Scott: Of course not. But people have a technology hangover. Most discussions about “Web 2.0” and “social media” focus on the technology. We hear discussions about blogging and blog software. We learn about YouTube videos and how to make them. Frequently, esoteric search engine optimization techniques are a big part of the discussion. And the relative merits of the various tools (such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace) are debated.
But what few people have figured out is what kind of content brings out the enormous potential of this technology. Without the right content, the technology won’t get one person to notice your ideas.
Q: What are the key messages you’ll be delivering to Cisco’s partners during this week’s Velocity event?
David Meerman Scott: My most important message at the Cisco Partner Velocity event will be about what I call “buyer personas.”
I think “buyer personas” are the king of marketing and a focus on buyer personas allows you to create the content. A buyer persona represents a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach. Targeting your work to buyer personas prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up about you products, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing.
Incidentally, my use of the word “buyer” applies to any organization’s target customers. A politician’s buyer personas include voters, supporters, and contributors; universities’ buyer personas include prospective students and their parents; a tennis club’s buyer personas are potential members; and nonprofits’ buyer personas include corporate and individual donors. Go ahead and substitute however you refer to your potential customers in the phrase “buyer persona,” but do keep your focus on this concept. It is critical for success online.
By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, ego-centric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.
Instead of creating jargon-filled, hype-based advertising, you can create the kind of online content that your buyers naturally gravitate to—if you take the time to listen to them discuss the problems that you can help them solve. Then you’ll be able to use their words, not your own. You’ll speak in the language of your buyer, not the language of your founder, CEO, product manager, or PR agency staffer. You’ll help your marketing get real.
Q: Are you working on any new books or projects?
David Meerman Scott: My newest book “World Wide Rave: Creating triggers that get millions of people to spread your ideas and tell your stories” will be released late February, 2009 (a few weeks after the Cisco gig). See http://www.worldwiderave.com/.
A World Wide Rave is when masses of people around the world can’t stop talking about you, your company, and your products. Whether you’re located in San Francisco, Dubai, or Reykjavík, it’s when global communities eagerly link to your stuff on the Web. It’s when online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep. And it’s when tons of fans visit your Web site and your blog because they genuinely want to be there.
I became fascinated with how and why ideas spread online. And the more I studied what made things spreadable, the more I ran across the sleazy aspects of “viral marketing.” So I wanted to write a book that helps anybody create something that people WANT to share. A World Wide Rave is when people are talking about your company because they want to, not because they were coerced or tricked by “viral marketing.”
Viral campaigns developed by most ad agencies involve buying access to audiences in the same old ways, such as purchasing an email list to spam or launching a micro-site that hosts a print- or TV-style ad. Worse, some of the dodgiest agencies set up fake viral campaigns where people who are employed or in some way compensated by the agency create reviews, videos or blog posts purported to be from a customer. For example, several publicists reportedly have written gushing (and anonymous) reviews on The Internet Movie Database.
Going viral via a World Wide Rave is more authentic—and therefore vastly more effective–than going viral via gimmicks, silly contests and dishonest trickery.
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