Along came the Internet and the World Wide Web. The rest is history... and the present and the future. Marketers have many new tools to reach consumers, from web sites to blogs and social media to videos and podcasts. The tools are developing every day, and new tools are being created. Marketers are scrambling just to keep up.
When I first glanced at the schedule for Search Engine Strategies New York, David Meerman Scott's opening keynote presentation jumped out at me, and not because it comes first. David is a noted marketing strategist and author of the award-winning BusinessWeek best-selling book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use news releases, blogs, viral marketing and online media to reach buyers directly and the hit book World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories. He is also the former marketing VP of two publicly traded technology companies. David's presented at events and conferences the world over.
The crowd filtered into the main ballroom, coffees in hand. The dreary weather outside made it almost a requirement. Some chatted, some immediately went for their smartphone of choice. Mike Grehan, soon climbed on stage to give us a few words of introduction. He ran through some of the highlights to come. SES would be really impressive if it were only the sessions he mentioned. Of course there's so much more.
David started with a story of Cindy Gordon, the marketing executive at Universal Theme Parks who launched the Harry Potter theme park. She didn't do billboards or create TV ads to announce it, though I swear I've seen ads recently. She told only the seven most popular bloggers. And within 24 hours, 350 million people had heard about it. His point was that there are so many different ways to gain attention.
He questioned the audience about their experiences with advertising. The results weren't surprising. By a quick show of hands, and no formal system for counting,
• .5% have answered a direct mail advertisement
• 22% have gone to mainstream media to get product info
• 2% have used the Yellow Pages
• 100% have used Google
• 85% have tapped their social network and received back a url to a product or info
People answer these questions the same way all over world. A quick video of him asking the same questions at other appearances proved as much. Yet companies continue to use traditional means of marketing. I started to wonder at this point if I'd seen his presentation before, maybe on YouTube, which seems appropriate.
He went on to tell other amusing stories. One was of a Boston dentist who wrote an ebook called "Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!" and then gave it away for free... no registration required. People forwarded it around. Sites linked to it. She rocketed to top of search results. And when Ben Affleck chipped a tooth filming in Boston, movie staff found her by searching "Boston Dentist."
Meerman's point... "On the web, you are what you publish."
That's how consumers see you. It doesn't matter if you're a single person or a huge corporation. Website content should focus on the buyer's needs, not the product. It should speak to the buyer's persona in their language.
One example comes from HP. The company crowd-sourced an ad for a new product and got this:
Marketers - online and traditional - need to let go of the past, get away from what they're used to doing. Things have changed. And Meerman gave us some new guidelines for success to follow:
1. Nobody cares about your products. They care about themselves.
2. No coercion required. Don't try to fool your audience.
3. Lose control of your content, marketing, information.
4. Put down roots, know where your people are and how to get them.
5. Create triggers that encourage people to share.
6. Point the world to your doorstep.
It sounds logical in theory, and many companies are experimenting with some of these guidelines. Even stodgy B2B companies selling decidedly unsexy products are getting in on it:
But convincing your boss of a new marketing paradigm is the kind of thing marketing gurus tell other people to do. They're more about inspiration than execution. That being said, Meerman's ideas are sound. There was a lot of useful information presented in an engaging way. He's really thought all this through. Better still, he seems to practice what he preaches. And I suppose if his advice were easy to execute, he wouldn't have a soapbox or an audience. We'd all be doing things the right way, reaching our customers and selling them lots of stuff. Instead we need someone to point the way.
Marketing and PR are changing. Maybe you heard. For the longest time, companies bought expensive advertising and hoped it hit the target audience. Nobody really knew how successful a campaign was until the sales figures came in. And even then, it was hard to know how much of that success could be credited to advertising.
This guest post was written by Norm Elrod who is a Digital Media Consultant and freelance writer who contributes to Search Engine Watch, SmartBlog on Social Media and AOL. He blogs about his experiences in the job market at Jobless and Less, which has been featured in The New York Times and on NY1. His marketing and editorial experience includes positions with Acronym Media, The NPD Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Norm holds a BA from Franklin & Marshall College and an MBA from Fordham University. He lives with his wife and two cats in Queens.
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