In 2008, I picked up a book that changed the way I looked at marketing and led me down the path to helping businesses use social media to market their products and services. That book was The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. I was contacted a month or so ago asking if I wanted to review the newest edition of the book and interview David. Given the fact that his book is one of the reasons I wrote my own book and do the work I do today, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to get his point of view on the current landscape for the small business owner.
Beth: Many small business owners have a limited amount of time. On what would you recommend they focus that time?
David: Many small business owners naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services (except you). Yes, you read that right.
What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable.
The most important thing is to try not to talk so much about what you company does and instead focus on the problems that your buyers face. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.
Most online marketing is nothing more than an alternative channel for the PR department or product marketers to spew their “messages” and “product vision.” Yuck. To paraphrase Yoda from Star Wars, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” It is so difficult for people to get out of the marketing habits they’ve developed over the years.
By focusing on buyers, you pay attention to what’s important to your potential customers, not what’s important to you.
Beth: What has been the most significant change in the social media from when you wrote the first edition to now?
David: No question — the rise of real time is most significant change in the way humans communicate in our entire history. In the past 20 years, information has become essentially free and two-way. The big picture ramifications are huge. One thousand years from now, the only two things that will be remembered in the history of the time period we are living right now will be the first lunar landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 and the development of real-time communications instantly connecting every human on earth with every other human on earth. Now any person with an internet or mobile phone connection can communicate in real time with virtually any other human on the planet. Talk about a revolution.
When people can communicate in real-time with one another, it has fundamental ramifications for humanity.
A handful of people in Egypt can create a Facebook group that generates support from millions of ordinary citizens and brings down a government.
Anybody can do independent research on the web and choose what to believe about the products and services they consume. Gone are the days when you could plan out your marketing and public relations programs well in advance and release them on your timetable. It’s a real-time world now, and if you’re not engaged, then you’re on your way to marketplace irrelevance. What counts today is speed and agility.
Even now, nearly 20 years into the revolution, many organizations still aren’t communicating in real-time on the web.
Beth: Do you currently have a favorite tool or technology? If so, what is it and why?
David: I’ve been very interested in Periscope, a relatively new social tool. Periscope allows real-time video streaming from your smart phone.
Periscope turns anyone with a smartphone into a citizen journalist. And for businessws, the app opens up the possibility of sharing all kinds of life events that can serve as content to reach your buyers. A live operation at a hospital, a tour of a home for sale, a peek backstage at a rock concert, a manager’s pep talk before the big game, or a product design meeting at a company – all become shareable in an exciting and intimate way.
We’re in a new world where you can share interesting events with the world and this has important ramifications for businesses of all kinds. Live streaming is a new way to share content and many people love watching streams.
Beth: What is the biggest reason for a small business to run now and buy your book?
David: The rules have changed. If you are following the old rules, you are not reaching your buyers effectively.
Huge thanks to David for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer these questions for me. If you have not read the book, I highly suggest you check it out. David was nice enough to send me a copy to review and I decided I would love to give it to one of my email newsletter subscribers. I will randomly select a subscriber on February 3. If you are not a subscriber, you can sign up now. The content I create for my weekly newsletter is never published anywhere else, so you don’t want to miss out.