Insights into the New Landscape of Marketing and PR from Viral Marketing Specialist David Meerman Scott

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A short while ago I interviewed David Meerman Scott, author of the number-one bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” (Wiley…published in 22 languages) and his hit new book “World Wide Rave” (Wiley). David is an internationally recognized viral marketing strategist and speaker at conferences and corporate events around the world.

As David makes clear in both books, the rules for marketing and PR have changed, and everyone, from marketing executives to business owners and entrepreneurs, needs to understand the new landscape if they want to stay relevant in today’s online world.

I am personally excited about his ideas and I’m delighted I can share them with you! I have separated the interview into 3 parts, and below we start with Part 1. (Part 2 and Part 3 are now available.)


David Meerman Scott: Interviewed by Marsha Friedman
Part 1

Marsha Friedman: David, there are so many questions I want to ask you! But to start off I’d love for you to tell us about your new book, “World Wide Rave.” Can you explain exactly what this is?

David Meerman Scott: A World Wide Rave is when people are talking about you or your products, services or ideas. It’s really fascinating…it can be an unbelievably successful way to market because, ultimately, if other people are talking about you in a positive way, you’re reaching a whole new audience of people.

MF: Who would benefit the most from the “World Wide Rave” strategy? Is there a certain type of market, industry or individual that is the best fit?

DMS: I’ve seen it work for all different sorts of businesses: large global organizations, small local companies, for B2B, for consumer brands and everyone in between. I’ve even seen it work for very small, local businesses, like dentists. Ultimately, every single person who’s reading this interview is capable of creating something on the web that has potential for people to talk about it, whether it’s a YouTube video, a really interesting blog post, a series of photographs on Flickr, or even an e-book or a research report.

There are countless formats for how you can trigger people to talk about you. I’m convinced from several years of studying these phenomena that anybody can create something that has the power to spread.

MF: Sounds like a nonfiction author could be a good candidate as well?

DMS: Again, I think anybody. For authors, I’ve had tremendous success with what I call e-books. This is a simple PDF document which provides valuable information on the topic that your book is about. The way it works best is you that you offer if for free, with no registration required, and everyone sees instantaneously that it’s valuable because it’s well designed, well written and because it clearly articulates answers to a problem that people have.

And then they say, “Wow, this is pretty cool! I’m going to share this. I’m going to either email it to a friend or colleague, or tweet about it, blog about it or share it on Facebook.” Then one person sends it to another, who sends it to another who sends it to another.

The reason this is so effective for authors is that within that e-book, typically the second or third page (and then again at the end) you reference your printed book. You can say, “This e-book is written by the author of…” including the title of the printed book and links to purchase the book on your own website, or wherever appropriate.

To put it in perspective, last year I put out an e-book called “The New Rules of Viral Marketing.” So far, that e-book has been downloaded over 600,000 times.

And I point them to my published book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” as the place that I want people to go if they enjoyed reading that e-book. And that is one of the important reasons that “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” continues to make the Business Week Best-Seller List, even two years after its initial release.

It’s not like people talk about you for five minutes and then you’re history. If you offer something really valuable, it lives on.

Another interesting point that is particularly true for authors of business books is that it allows you to get an important search term into the search engines. Then if you do a clever job with an e-book, you can actually own those search results. So as an example, an important search term for me and for my business is the term “viral marketing.” And actually viral marketing is the term that most people use for the phenomenon that I call “World Wide Rave,” and we’ll talk a little bit later about the differences.

So viral marketing is an important search term for me, and I purposely named my e-book “The New Rules of Viral Marketing” because I wanted to get that term into the marketplace. Now before I did that, if you enter the term viral marketing into Google, you’d probably have to go down to page six or eight before you got to anything that was written by me…which is Siberia when it comes to the search engines because very few people go beyond the first page.

But now because of the e-book’s popularity, if you go to Google and you type in the phrase “viral marketing,” you see something like 5 million hits, and that e-book, “The New Rules of Viral Marketing,” depending on the day that you look, is somewhere between five and seven on the very first page. The fifth, sixth or seventh position. So absolutely, business book authors can use this tool!

MF: David, that is really interesting. How would you define the difference between World Wide Rave and viral marketing? Is there a difference?

DMS: Viral marketing is a term that’s been around for a while and it refers to information that spreads like a virus. There are a couple of reasons why I tend not to use that term very much these days. One is that virus has negative connotations in terms of health and well-being. Not to mention the negative connotations by way of the computer world. I mean, a virus is a bad thing. Right?

You don’t want a virus in your computer. The other issue is that there are many unscrupulous agencies that have jumped on the viral marketing bandwagon, claiming to be viral marketing agents or viral marketing experts and offering to create programs for people around viral marketing initiatives. I have found that a lot of those, not all as there are certainly some great agencies out there, but a lot of them are based on bait and switch contests and games and other odd practices.

That isn’t the form of viral marketing I’m talking about. The World Wide Rave is based on the idea that you create some really valuable and interesting information that people want to share. A lot of viral marketing nowadays has become “Want to Win a Free iPod? Click Here!!!” And when people do click that link, it doesn’t send you them to valuable information. The result is that you don’t get people who are interested in what you’re doing. You get people who are interested in a free iPod.

MF: Great point, David. Speaking of sharing valuable information, what is the value of a blog and a landing page to your online marketing strategy?

DMS: I think that some place that you point people to is always important. Getting people to talk about you is fantastic, but you want to point them somewhere where they can either learn more, buy something, join a mailing list or whatever it might be. There are many different ways to do that.

It could be your page (for authors), your blog, your website or a landing page. If you have an email newsletter, you can point them to the place where they can sign up for the email newsletter. But it is important to provide people with somewhere they can either learn more, buy something or get into your lead-generation program.

MF: That makes total sense, David. Bottom line, all businesses need to make sales, and at some point their marketing efforts need to result in leads and sales.

~~~~~ End of Part 1 ~~~~~

Part 2 of this interview is now available and can be viewed here: David Meerman Scott Interview, Part 2.

And Part 3 is also now available: David Meerman Scott Interview, Part 3.

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