31 Mar 2010
David Meerman Scott is one of the pre-eminent thought leaders on PR and marketing. For those who are in the marketing or PR industry I can highly recommend his book “The New Rules of PR and Marketing”. I asked him six questions about his views on thought leadership and its role in building a brand. See what he had to say and the thought leadership case studies he nominates at the end:
1. David, when you were working for NewsEdge you ignored the advice of your PR and ad agency, in effect you ‘broke the old rules’ by publishing lots of free content online that resulted in hundreds of sales. Could you explain the link between thought leadership and sales?
“The Web gives everyone—B2B companies, consumer brands, consultants, nonprofits, and even rock bands, churches, and colleges—a tremendous opportunity to reach people and engage them in new and different ways.
“When you build content especially for your audience, you build a relationship with people before you’ve even met them. When it’s obvious that you understand your buyers and their problems, it jars your visitors into paying attention.
“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.”
2. You have written 5 books which have clearly driven a large part
of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field but what advice would you give to companies striving to become thought leaders where books may not necessarily be appropriate?
“Now we can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable (call it thought leadership if you like) and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, an e-book, a Facebook page. There are hundreds of different outlets for valuable information.”
3. Does content alone make a thought leader?
“The problem is that most organizations create content about their stupid products. What people need to realize is that nobody cares about your products (except you). What people do care about are themselves and ways to solve their problems.
“People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. And you must resist the urge to “control the message.” Create something interesting that will be talked about online.”
4. Do you have any advice for companies who don’t share content and
hold their knowledge and insights close their chests?
“It all comes down to the goals. For decades, marketers have had a goal of collecting names (via registration forms) so they can then sell and market to those people. You are measured on the number of forms submitted.
“But I think for many people a better goal is to spread your ideas. How many people can your reach? A million? Ten million? You can measure how many people have downloaded your stuff. How many bloggers are talking about you.
“When you lose control of your marketing by opening up and not requiring a registration, as many as fifty times the number of people will download it compared to the form requirement.
“This is a difficult one for people to make the leap to do, but believe me, it works.”
5. In a world where content is readily available and easily
accessible at the click of a mouse what will be the key things that differentiate companies/ products/ brands in the eyes of their target audiences over the next decade?
“My most important aspect of creating information is to throw away your own ego and instead create content, 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.”
6. What companies or campaigns stand out for you as thought
leadership best practice?
How Lisa Genova used social media to turn a self-published book into a NY Times bestseller http://www.webinknow.com/2009/01/how-lisa-genova-used-social-media-to-turn-a-self-published-book-into-a-ny-times-bestseller.html
Fun with Sharpies
Film producer builds pre-release buzz by making soundtrack available for free download http://www.webinknow.com/2009/01/film-producer-builds-pre-release-buzz-by-making-soundtrack-available-for-free-download.html
CENTURY 21 moves TV ad spend to online: Bev Thorne, CMO, tell us why http://www.webinknow.com/2009/01/century-21-moves-tv-ad-spend-to-online-bev-thorne-cmo-tell-us-why.html
How an active Facebook group drove 15,000 people to the Singapore Tattoo Show http://www.webinknow.com/2009/01/how-an-active-facebook-group-drove-15000-people-to-the-singapore-tattoo-show.html
Persona focused Web site leads to 4x conversions for RightNow Technologies http://www.webinknow.com/2008/12/persona-focused-web-site-leads-to-4x-conversions-for-rightnow-technologies.html
New marketing at work: BitDefender and the hip new Malware City site reach internet security geeks http://www.webinknow.com/2008/11/new-marketing-at-work-bitdefender-and-the-hip-new-malware-city-site-reach-internet-security-geeks.html
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