The New Rules of Marketing & PR:
How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting,
Viral Marketing & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
David Meerman Scott
Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ©2007
In one very readable volume, David Meerman Scott has pulled together a useful overview-and-how-to for anyone making the transition from old-school (print, TV, radio) marketing to the fearsome world of the Wild, Wild Web. It's both comfort and concern to know that even someone as versed in the new media environment as Scott says there really are no hard-and-fast rules, that much is being made up as we go along.
Okay, then. Everyone into the pool.
New Rules does a great job of connecting the off-line and the on-line worlds. Yes, Scott references his website and blog for examples. But he also footnotes his sources, many of which are other useful websites and blogs, and his acknowledgements read like a Who's Who of online communications, complete with URLs. No better intro to this emerging field than what amounts to a self-study course in book-and-blog form, with enough humor to make it interesting.
Scott is also very pragmatic. He's interested in results (read: generating income, sales leads, or both), and he knows marketing and PR (public relations) in the off-line world have often been associated with smoke and mirrors. It's a strategy that doesn't work very well off-line any longer and on-line not at all. We're well past the days when people had time to "surf" the Web. If you're on-line, you want information quickly and easily, presented with clearly marked instructions about what to do next. As the title of Steve Krug's book on Web site design admonishes: Don't Make Me Think. David Meerman Scott concurs — and focuses his efforts on getting marketers (and the rest of us real people) to see that content is what drives on-line communications. Graphics, Flash videos, and funky designs are only relevant in certain spaces. Even sites with those attributes need relevant content or no one returns.
On-line is all about the user, all about the buyer, all about the customer or client. Let me in, tell me something I don't know, make it easy for me to talk to you, make it simple for me to get what I need from you, and let me out. I'll trust you if I know you as a real person, which may be the only reason I'll buy from you, stay in touch with you, and give you the opportunity to stay in touch with me.
The most difficult shift for businesses to make when realizing they must establish an on-line presence if they are to stay alive in the marketplace is to realize they are no longer in control of the messages about their own products and services. Buyers and customers have many ways to get past the filter of the messages you present and find "trusted sources" of their own — friends, family, bloggers, search engines, etc. — where they gather information and make decisions to buy or interact. Letting go of control is the big hurdle to jump.
Scott provides lots of encouragement for making the leap and lots of resources for how to do it. He spends a lot of (important) space on reasons and methods to develop "buyer personas" as a good method for appreciating your audience/buyer and figuring out how to put these key folks first, how to develop content they will find interesting and useful, that will make them want to return to your website (let alone your company or store), and, as importantly, tell others about what a great site they found. And Scott understands the critical link between on-line and off-line behavior: you must deliver the real goods and services you promise or the relationship with your buyer will break.
With sections on thought leadership and "how to write for your buyers," as well as the basics of blogging, podcasting, social networking, and search engine marketing, The New Rules of Marketing & PR is a great resource for starting or improving your business results in our brave new on-line world.