Showing posts with label David Meerman Scott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Meerman Scott. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19

Changing Times: The New York Times

“The blogosphere is all about Internet links that move faster and more efficiently than the traditional word-of-mouth advertising.” Tracey Clark, May Papers

From Maria Piscopo’s article in Communication Arts, Tracey Clark believes in blog marketing. She's not the only one. And for good reason.

It took me less than a minute to find Clark’s e-mail and congratulate her on a prolific quote. The same day, she wrote me back, thanking me and mentioning that she didn’t know the article was up. I almost e-mailed her back to say I didn’t know if it was up on the net or not; I had read the hard copy version of Communication Arts. (How barbaric of me to say so, but Communication Arts is one of my few hard copy vices.) The assumption though is part of the story. The speed of being able to have a brief communication exchange took hours.

Do you remember how long something like that would take? Weeks? Months? Never?

In the article, Clark also mentions how quickly she understood the potential. Within her first month of blogging, she was featured as the “momtreprenner” of the month by a highly trafficked shopping blog for moms. Another featured blogger in the article, John Janstch, says he can track as much as $500,000 worth of business to his blog. There are more case studies to consider. We have a few here at Copywrite, Ink. too.

Social media works because as Clark’s quote sums, word-of-mouth marketing, one-on-one communication, or frontline communication have always been recognized as the most credible forms of communication. The down side was that it used to be slow – travel, meetings, follow-ups, phone calls, introductions.

Social media, blogs specifically, have a unique ability to create that one-on-one communication link between the blogger and the reader, which is reinforced by open participation in comment sections. It makes sense that individuals and small businesses were the first to employ them because blogs, unless overburdened by puffery, provide a better return on investment than other communication tactics on their own. Sure, it still takes some time and it is better to have someone on board who can write well; but that’s where companies like ours fit into the mix.

Ironically, this blogger-to-reader model is one of several hold backs for most businesses. Most executives don’t have the time nor the inclination to peddle their companies with a blog. And more than that, as I offered up on, is that any trepidation is not because of blogdramas or personal blogs as some claim. It is because of what David Meerman Scott and I pointed out some time ago: there is too much gibberish. When you talk to people who are not immersed in social media, their eyes glaze over if you rattle off traffic, rank, connections, and influence.

In contrast, you can see the lights turn back on when you mention that Southwest Airlines attributes $150 million in ticket sales to its widget, which is part of its social media mix.

So what is really going on? Social media gibberish is beginning to outweigh the significance that social media can add to business strategy which is an opportunity to communicate with the power of one-on-one communication, develop a dedicated online publication (as opposed to e-mail blasts), or whatever 5-in-1 tool you can dream up.

The more businesses hear about these possibilities, the more likely they will engage in social media. But, if you ask me, eventually, they will embrace it anyway. Because, you see, the times are changing.

Right. The New York Times is changing (Hat tip: Jane Sweat). Effective today, The New York Times is ending TimesSelect and opening its content, archives, and other features for free. Why? Take it from the Times.

“Since we launched TimesSelect in 2005, the online landscape has altered significantly. Readers increasingly find news through search, as well as through social networks, blogs and other online sources. In light of this shift, we believe offering unfettered access to New York Times reporting and analysis best serves the interest of our readers, our brand and the long-term vitality of our journalism. We encourage everyone to read our news and opinion – as well as share it, link to it and comment on it.”


Monday, June 18

Making Rules: David Meerman Scott

When David Meerman Scott first posted his long list of thanks to more than 150 bloggers (myself included) for adding something that influenced his book, The New Rules of Marketing & Public Relations, different bloggers had different reactions. They ranged from gratitude and excitement to bewilderment and feelings of obligation (some even called it “obligatory” in their headlines).

Before I toss in my one-and-a-half cents on Scott’s book (it’s more commentary than review), I want to briefly address the latter. Obligatory links, posts, comments, and reviews are a myth. Nobody has to write about anything they don’t want to. Just because someone sends you something or mentions your name doesn’t mean you owe them anything.

Sure, Scott’s original thank you post was part sincerity and part promotion, which certainly has its place in the world of social media. Only Scott knows how much he leaned toward one or the other. In doing that, it was interesting to watch how some people responded to it. Some posted links to everyone mentioned, some did not, and some (like me) tried to find a happy medium (I added the links in a comment because this blog was not well suited to include the list in my post). I did it because I wanted to; no other reason.

That said, there’s only one reason I have something to say about Scott’s book: it has merit to have something said about it. (Never mind the gracious inscription on the advanced copy I read, which I appreciated.) Scott did something with his book that is not easy to do. He hit the fast-moving target that is social media in such a way that his book will actually have shelf life.

I know it’s not easy to do this because when I look back on my first social media PowerPoint presentation (mostly blog focused) from 2005, I know that most of it has become but a snapshot of living history. Yep, time travels ten times as fast on the Internet.

But Scott finds the middle, offering up a mix on social media rules that will change and some that will not. In that way, it succeeds especially well in giving those interested in social media a crash course in catch up.

Any company interested in becoming more customer-centric owes it to themselves to take a long, hard look at social media because this is a medium about people. While some claim the risks are too great (because there can be unexpected consequences) and the reward too small (what does it do for sales, they ask), Scott makes the case that social media will soon be as common as a Web site, assuming it doesn’t profoundly change Web sites all together with added features. Right. Anything and everything from niche social media networks to full-length company-focused video programs.

The real benefit has been and continues to be a chance for companies to interact with consumers directly. Those that want to win with such an endeavor only need to conclude a few things — including that solid content will win over spin every time.

Done right, Scott says you can reach niche buyers with targeted messages for a fraction of the cost. Personally, I don’t think social media can replace every element of an integrated campaign. It’s a tool not a strategy in and of itself. But this idea is one that will permanently stick by year’s end.

Here, I’ll infuse one of my talking points on social media as an example. If you compare one post that attracts 10,000 to a direct mail piece that attacts the same number, assuming we use the lackluster 2 percent response rate on direct mail (our company does better than that average, hitting somewhere between 7-50 percent, depending on the company, offer, target, etc.), the cost savings is impossible to ignore. For the two hours it takes to write a planned post for a client, it would take 500,000 pieces to generate the same amount of traffic. At $1.50 to $2.50 per piece, what is the smarter investment? (And no, I’m not suggesting we dump direct mail completely.)

For public relations, where the best approaches are still being debated (as if it isn’t clear), Scott says that the audience is no longer a handful of journalists but millions of people on the Internet. He’s right there too; there is even a hierarchy of sorts and companies need to find the right mix of consumers, various bloggers, and journalists.

As Scott points out, bloggers tend toward promoting a single viewpoint as opposed to journalists who attempt to avoid their own views and focus on the views of others (bias aside). It’s one of the reasons I’ve likened blogs to op-eds as rather than reporting (though some of that exists too). Naturally, some are just diaries, etc. but more and more people are asking if anyone just blogs anymore. (Less and less, it seems to me, which is a shame.)

There is good and bad in this singular viewpoint. The best of it fills a void created by a growing group of journalists who think you always need two views. You do not. In fact, I still think the best journalists shoot for the truth, and sometimes that means two sides aren’t needed. (Do we really need to find wingnuts on either side of the issue every time?)

If Scott falls short anywhere in his book, it might be in that the choir of social media believers doesn’t fit the primary target audience. Sure, social media experts and seasoned bloggers could pull hundreds of post ideas right out of this book, but much of what is here can be found, well, from the blogs and sites many of us visit (including Web Ink Now). Yet, I’m the first to admit that Scott’s book was desperately needed, and only hope those who haven’t tested the social media waters will have the sense to pick it up.

Another area where my praise becomes a whisper is in the potential for some people to mistake excellent tactical examples as some semblance of a strategy or strategies. I hope not. It’s something to keep in mind if you are among the greater body of traditional marketers and executives who thought social media was a fad (some still do) but are now terrified that you somehow missed the train (don’t worry, there’s more than one stop on this ride). Instead, think of this book as a tool that will help you get your arms around many interesting ideas being tested today.

In sum, Scott’s book is snapshot of what is happening right now. It provides enough content to help convince executives that entering the sea of social media is worth the investment. It can bring traditional communicators up to speed. And, it can give experienced bloggers content ideas along with a roundup of details in case they missed one.

I like it enough to add it to our book shuffle weeks ago. It will stay there, at least until something better comes along, probably by Scott himself.


Monday, May 14

Generating Book Buzz: David Meerman Scott

With not much more than a single post, David Meerman Scott has single-handedly generated some much deserved buzz over his new book: The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

How did he do it? By employing the right mix of social networking, blog marketing, and smart content that has always graced the pages of his blog and other books. This time, by recognizing and thanking direct and indirect contributors in a post, he has well more than 100 bloggers talking about his book (including me).

It's smart stuff and seemingly much easier than the process employed when I contributed to Beyond Generation X by Claire Raines. Ten years ago, Raines and I had connected on a forum, where she was soliciting some insight into managing Generation X. Having contributed to several books, I knew the process well enough. We connected briefly, I penned a brief passage to specification, she published, and one day (after I forgot all about it), I received a copy in the mail. The end, without any real way to assist in the marketing of the book.

How very different it is today. Most of the contributors to Scott's book aren't exactly sure what they contributed because they had already published their work on their respective blogs. But because of social media being what it is, I know more about it than I ever did about Raines' book. I know when it will be published, how to purchase extra copies, and can even link to it using Amazon's associate program (Gee, I hope he included a "good idea" as opposed to a "don't do this" idea. Ha!).

I also know that Scott has given me (and others) a reason to write about the book and a reason to review it in the weeks ahead. Not everyone will, just like not everyone will list all the contributors on their blogs (I will in the comments as that works better for me). Yet, enough will (and have) to give his book some early momentum, making the marketing as interesting as the book.

His posting also comes at the right time because more and more people are trying to pin down some secret blogging formula and, personally, I'm just not convinced that one exists.

It seems to me that most blogs enjoy a mix of social networking, subscriptions, practical tips and tools (even some widget bling), and above all, content, content, content as recently wrote up this weekend.

It is one of the best posts I've seen on the subject, pinpointing what most of bloggers agree on: content is critical. Where some disagreement seems to exist is on the rest of it: what is right mix of social networking, SEO writing, etc.

I think the evidence clearly supports that content is where the emphasis needs to be. However, one might ask where that leaves SEO, links, social networks, and even The New Rules of Marketing & PR, which clearly demonstrates there is a lot to be said for several aspects of blogging beyond content.

The closest I've seen to anything making real sense is from Seth Godin, who when talking about analytics reminded everyone you have to ask yourself: "Why do you have a site? What's your goal? Is it to sell something? To receive email? To spread an idea? Whatever it is, you can probably measure it. And measure it you should."

Whereas some people might shrug this off as too vague, it's perfectly presented in that every site or blog might require its own strategy depending on what your measurable goals are, especially if you are hoping for any type of sustainability.

It's relatively easy to trade links and build short-term networks, but at the end of the day, the content will decide whether or not people will come back; just as your measurable objectives will determine if your site or blog is successful or not, despite links, traffic, or any other measure.

The same will be said for Scott's newest book. The blog posting — a combination of online marketing, social networking, and gracious crediting — will certainly give it legs on the front end. Long-term sales, however, will depend on the content. Knowing a bit of Scott's other work, it seems very likely he will deliver on that as well.


Thursday, March 15

Targeting Gibberish: David Meerman Scott

Most people would never know it, looking out over the vast expanse of desert, but Nevada's biodiversity ranks as the fourth highest in the United States, placed near Florida and Hawaii. There are many reasons for what some call an environmental paradox, but the simplest explanation is the combination of dramatic elevations and abundance of mini-ecosystems that were created when the ocean receded from the Great Basin.

Not dissimilar from business, each complete ecosystem provides a home for tiny pockets of unique animals and plant species that can survive nowhere else. Just as Devil's Hole pupfish adapted to living inside a limestone cavern, business people in every industry adapt to the language used by their company. Inside, it's a matter of survival to know the terms; outside, no one really gets it.

David Meerman Scott gets a hat tip today for sharing how an agency public relations professional, who obviously learned to survive in the "comprehensive electronic document management" industry, forgot that those survival skills might not translate into the real world. Scott didn't get what the company (Esker) does and I suspect that the pupfish, er, public relations professional, still doesn't understand why.

Scott goes on to ask that public relations professionals eliminate gobbledygook and try to speak like human beings. If your mother doesn't know what the company does, neither will the media that you are trying to pitch. He also defines that gobbledygook often resembles the meaningless terms he found in 388,000 news releases in 2006 alone; words like next generation, scalable, and mission critical.

I appreciate what he is talking about because there are many days I want to take down "Words. Concepts. Strategies." from our banner and put up "Translator." The only reason I don't is because some people will not appreciate the humor when I begin listing industries as opposed to foreign languages. You see, I believe that business communicators and writers are the ones who are supposed to translate all those inner ecosystem terms into words that everyday people can understand.

Usually, after I make this case, someone like Eric Eggerston will come along (he commented on Scott's blog) and say “Most administration managers or IT managers know what a document management system is, so I don't think the jargon will get in the way of communicating with their target market."

Hmmm... since when did the burden of communication become the responsibility of the listener and not the speaker?

The answer is never. As Scott points out, the media, analysts, employees, partners, and suppliers don't really want to learn a new language every time they turn around.

No, I don't mind learning new terms because I enjoy working in many different industries. However, when it comes time to communicate to a specific public (and all those other publics), I think it's best to drop the jargon and speak English. (I am not even going to touch on anacronyms, considering I recently spent 20 minutes discovering that "I-n-A," as pronounced, means "Information And Assistance," which is what you need when you first hear the term.)

One of the first examples I share with my "Writing for Public Relations" class is a very telling example: a writer working for us asked me my opinion about a sentence that started "The object of sequential inputs for counting..."

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "That's what they told me. Does it sound good?"

Yeah, well, um, maybe … maybe it sounds good to the five people on the planet who actually know what you are talking about.

The sentence was promptly tossed out. It's a good trick. If an editor with little or no experience on an account can understand the communication when they read it, then you are on the right track. Sure, naysayers will always come back to the idea that everybody in their ecosystem understands what they are saying. Fair enough...

However, if you go out into the world wearing your "burro" suit, don't be offended if someone thinks you're just a ... um, burro.


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