"Learn to ignore the old rules."
Marketing is shifting. People are no longer passively sitting by watching commercials and allowing marketers to interrupt their media consumption. Instead, they are fast-forwarding through pre-recorded episodes (or downloading them online). Likewise, they have become conditioned to ignore other interrupting forms of advertising (magazine ads, radio commercials, etc.). Instead, as outlined by David Meerman Scott in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, these empowered individuals are turning to the internet for real-time information, and they expect to find the information they are looking for when they are looking for it. The company that has the information ready when the customers are ready is the one that will make the sale and thrive in the age of consumer 2.0.
Reach Your Buyers Directly
"There’s no doubt that getting the word out about an idea, a product, or a service is much simpler when you can rely on social media sites like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. The web allows any organization to reach buyers directly."
Citing a variety of examples, including a non-profit organization in Laguna Beach to the real estate behemoth Century 21, Scott lays out a plan for organizations who are looking to promote themselves. The first element is to demonstrate your expertise to your buyers. By increasing your online presence, you increase your access to customers when they are looking to buy. Most consumers are using the Internet to help make purchase decisions.
Having an online presence built around your area of expertise enables customers to see your abilities at a time when they are most likely to make a purchase decision, but the trick is to develop the type of “information your buyers want to consume”.
Be Buyer Focused
"Once you understand the audience very well, then (and only then) you should set out to satisfy their informational needs by focusing on your buyers’ problems and creating and delivering content accordingly."
Successful online marketing is buyer focused, not product focused. The normal person will only watch a product-focused promotional video for 20-30 seconds, but an online video that helps the customer solve a problem will garner much longer viewing times. Home Depot, for example, does a great job of providing valuable videos for home improvement novices (like me!). Their videos have saved me money by teaching me how to change the locks on my new home and fix the flow valve on my toilet. By being buyer-focused, not product-focused, Home Depot has earned the top spot in my mind for my home improvement needs.
The best way to remain buyer-focused is to develop a series of buyer personas (thumbnail sketches of your customers). They buyer persona begins by understanding what the buyer wants from your company and then moving to include the media they use, keywords they search for related to your business, how to reach them, what appeals to them, etc. Hubspot, who frequently works with Scott, has an online template for buyer personas here.
Become a Thought Leader with Content
"Organizations that use online content well have a clearly defined goal—to sell products, generate leads, secure contributions, or get people to join—and deploy a content strategy that directly contributes to reaching that goal."
We’ve all heard the phrase that content is king, but, for many of us, developing content (or even defining it) remains a troublesome proposition. Scott spends ample time in The New Rules defining the various different types of content and showing good and bad examples of each type. The range of content formats covered in this book range from (but are not limited to) e-books, blogs, white papers, newsletters, webinars, research reports, and wikis.
Scott acknowledges that not everyone likes to write. Rather than force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy (how long will that last?), you can create content with webcasts, YouTube videos, or podcasts. The key is to create engaging content that appeals to one (or more) of your buyer personas. Again, the key to creating engaging and valuable content (the type of content that brings buyers to your site) is to focus on their problems and provide solutions.
In the last 10 years, the world of marketing has shifted. Customers are now equals with large corporations, and a business owner of any size cannot afford to ignore The New Rules of Marketing and PR.