Spring Inspirations: David Meerman Scott

So my calendar says Spring is here but the view out my window makes me think I am still stuck in a Maine winter. I’m so ready for Spring: color, energy and fabulous events, but Mother Nature is holding out on me… So to get all of us warmed up for Spring I have decided to do a blog series featuring some inspirational people on some Social Media topics.  Let’s get some internal sunshine going!

Davis Meerman ScottFor our first part of this blog series I had the honor to pick the brain of David Meerman Scott. David is a speaker, thought leader, viral marketing strategist, blogger, author and so much more. His most recent book World Wide Rave discusses how online buzz can drive customers to you and what makes certain things go viral and others flop.

I decided to ask David a few questions about Viral Marketing, what makes a World Wide Rave and using Video for your website.

Your most recent book World Wide Rave is about that sought after buzzzz online. In all of your research what in your opinion is the biggest determining factor between content that becomes a rave versus just a flop?

Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product advertising naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services (except you). Yes, you read that right.

What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.

At Hall we have been helping clients add videos and blogs to their sites for user conversion purposes. We get lots of opposition with clients thinking they ‘don’t know what to say’, ‘what to make’ and ‘no one will want to watch my video.’
Who do you think can make a World Wide Rave?

The most important thing is to understand what I call “buyer personas.” If you understand buyer personas really well, then ideas for video will come easily.

I think “buyer personas” are the king of marketing and a focus on buyer personas allows you to create the content. A buyer persona represents a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach. Targeting your work to buyer personas prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up about your products, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing.

Incidentally, my use of the word “buyer” applies to any organization’s target customers. A politician’s buyer personas include voters, supporters, and contributors; universities’ buyer personas include prospective students and their parents; a tennis club’s buyer personas are potential members; and nonprofits’ buyer personas include corporate and individual donors. Go ahead and substitute however you refer to your potential customers in the phrase “buyer persona,” but do keep your focus on this concept. It is critical for success online.

By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, ego-centric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.

Instead of creating jargon-filled, hype-based advertising, you can create the kind of online content that your buyers naturally gravitate to—if you take the time to listen to them discuss the problems that you can help them solve. Then you’ll be able to use their words, not your own. You’ll speak in the language of your buyer, not the language of your founder, CEO, product manager, or PR agency staffer. You’ll help your marketing get real.

I read somewhere that what inspired you to write this book was your desire to uncover why some YouTube videos are a hit and some just sit out there in cyberspace.
What specifically about video do you think is advantageous to a company’s marketing efforts?

I became fascinated with how and why ideas spread online. And the more I studied what made things spreadable, the more I ran across the sleazy aspects of “viral marketing.” So I wanted to write a book that helps anybody create something that people WANT to share. A World Wide Rave is when people are talking about your company because they want to, not because they were coerced or tricked by “viral marketing.”

Viral campaigns developed by most ad agencies involve buying access to audiences in the same old ways, such as purchasing an email list to spam or launching a micro-site that hosts a print- or TV-style ad. Worse, some of the dodgiest agencies set up fake viral campaigns where people who are employed or in some way compensated by the agency create reviews, videos or blog posts purported to be from a customer. For example, several publicists reportedly have written gushing (and anonymous) reviews on The Internet Movie Database.

Going viral via a World Wide Rave is more authentic–and therefore vastly more effective–than going viral via gimmicks, silly contests and dishonest trickery.

We work with lots of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Times are tough we all know that… do you need lots and lots of money to create content that people will want to share?

Posting a YouTube video is free. Promoting it is free. While it takes time to make a video or hire someone to make it for you, the actual publishing is free. How cool is that?

What about people who are afraid to give away their secrets? That fear of putting too much content on their sites because readers/viewers will take their secrets and either do the work on their own? …or go to their competitors?

It all comes down to the goals. For decades, marketers have had a goal of collecting names (via registration forms) so they can then sell and market to those people. You measured on the number of forms submitted. They clamped down control.

But I think for many people a better goal is to spread your ideas. How many people can your reach? A million? Ten million? You can measure how many people have downloaded your stuff. How many bloggers are talking about you.

When you lose control of your marketing by opening up and not requiring a registration, as many as fifty times the number of people will download it compared to the form requirement.

This is a difficult one for people to make the leap to do, but believe me, it works.

How do they get over that fear of losing control of their content and it just being ‘out there’?

Simple. Do you want people to talk about you? Or not?

Bloggers, podcasters, and people who Twitter will happily mention something that’s free because it’s beneficial for their readers or listeners. They’re providing something of value to people. But a blogger is very reluctant to say, “Download this. By the way, you have to enter your email address and they might spam you afterwards.”

Back to Spring inspirations – What inspires YOU each day to get up and write, speak, share your thoughts with the whole world about Social Media, this revolution in marketing et al.?

I have the best job. I speak all over the world about these ideas and meet fascinating people along the way. In the past month I had about a dozen speaking gigs in many countries — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Turkey, Croatia. And I delivered presentations to interesting groups such as all the Public Affairs Officers at the U.S. Air Force. On March 30 I opened the NASDAQ Stock Exchange by hosting a tweetup with my followers. How cool is all of that? And I get paid to do what I love.


I want to thank David Meerman Scott for taking the time to talk to me and I hope that his fresh ideas help you in some way jump start your Spring Marketing Initiatives!

Want to know more now?

Read: Any of David Meerman Scott’s Books on Marketing

Read: David Meerman Scott’s Blog

Read: Make your blog go the extra mile… or two.. or 13.1

Read: The Marketing Power Shift – Are You On Board Or Will You Be Left Behind?

Read: 5 Tips to Take Charge of Your Social Media Strategy