Book Review-The New Rules of Marketing and PR

David Meerman Scott shares his view of how the rules have changed in The New Rules of Marketing and PR. There’s a subtitle longer than your arm that seems to include every possible keyword that anyone who is doing marketing might be looking for – I was not really interested in trying every possible approach to marketing. After all I’m not checking off items in a list. I want to try to figure out how to make my marketing effective.

To over simplify the message – you’re not trying to get attention – you’ve got attention – you’re trying to educate the market on your value proposition or build credibility through your content so that they’ll come back to understand your value proposition. Instead of building a site to sell to a prospect, you’re creating a place for the prospect to learn about you and what you know. As a consultant I can say that I learned a long time ago that there’s a certain amount of “spilling the candy” that has to happen when you meet a new client. That means that you have to give the client some of the answers so that they know that you’ve got the rest of the answers to their questions.

The interesting bit about this is that you can’t spill ALL the candy – you can’t solve every problem for them – but you have to create the credibility that comes with having answers to their questions. This would tend to leave you with the idea that you shouldn’t share everything you know on your web site or blog – however, this misses an important point (or two). That is that you’ll never be able to codify all of your knowledge on to your web site. There are nuances and details that can’t be communicated until you’re literally in the situation. I can tell you everything you want to know about SharePoint Workflow, professional SharePoint Development, Information Architecture, however, having to put all of the pieces together from a few dozen blog posts, articles, and presentations, there will be gaps that will refuse to be filled. (Sidebar: I’m spending a great deal of time refining my posts, articles, and presentations into the SharePoint Shepherd Presents series of DVDs to ensure that those gaps are filled.)

A key area of focus for the book is Personas and their power to help focus your marketing efforts. I was exposed to the idea of Personas through work with Microsoft. These fictional characters represented an anchor for product development – and they can do the same thing for marketing. It’s really hard to target everyone because so often in targeting everyone you’re targeting no one. So personas give you a way to anchor to a specific ideal person. Of course, the persona is fictional, just a made up person but the story of that person is the story of your target buyer or buyers. A persona consists of a bit of demographic data basis… including the age and gender of the person who buys what you’re selling as well as a picture and a made up story of their background to make them more real. There’s something magical about thinking about a specific person to focus your thoughts. Personas are a way to help you get to marketing messages with a target.

One of the other encouragements in the book is to learn the language of your customer and use those words – rather than the words that you would normally use – to improve the chance that the prospect will resonate with the message you’re sending. If you’re selling training (as I am) it might make sense to talk about ILT (Instructor Led Training) or CBT (Computer Based Training) rather than talking about training in general – or making the assumption that all training is ILT. Scott recommends researching the magazines the prospect is reading, reading the conference packets to understand what is being talked about, and anything that will help you better understand the concerns the prospect is facing and the language that the prospects are using.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I’ve been reading and reviewing social media books for a while. (See: Wikinomics, Blink, The Wisdom of Crowds, Linked, and The Long Tail) As a result I’m no stranger to the idea of using social media as a platform for driving business forward. Scott delivers more push around ideas for leveraging the power of social media from giving eBooks away to participating in the social networks that operate today.

The book wraps up with the idea of using press releases targeted to the consumer instead of the press as a way to get better search engine optimization and as a way to communicate with the consumer. I can say that I’m not a big fan of this approach. Having run a web site for Internet.com where I was reposting press releases as stories I can support the idea that journalists are hungry for content they can repurpose and use, however, I never saw much response to the work I was doing.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR is a good survey of concepts for marketing and a good read if you’re looking to sharpen your focus on marketing efforts.