Follow the New Rules or Fall Behind

If decision-makers from top Fortune 500 companies were willing to immediately implement one of your concepts, what would it be and why?

David Meerman Scott: To absolutely rethink the way they do their communications, marketing and public relations and stop the inane focus on traditional channels that don’t make sense. I’m not saying that they should stop doing trade shows or traditional advertising. But it’s absolutely critical for businesses to be thinking about how people are looking for them on the web and how they can reach those customers. That means that they need to create really great content in all of its forms: video, audio or blogs. Businesses need to understand that the ways people are solving their problems and the ways people are researching products and services are utterly different now than they were even ten years ago because of the Internet.

What are the new rules of PR and marketing and why are they relevant to big corporations?

Scott: The old rules of marketing and public relations were that you either bought your way into people’s minds with advertising or you begged the media to cover you if you had good news to tell. The new rules of PR and Marketing mean that you have to be thinking like a publisher, not an advertiser and you have to be able to create information that people want to consume and not coerce them into doing something using the standard techniques of advertising.

I think all businesses exist for one purpose − to solve problems for their customers. If customers prefer to communicate on the web, then your business has got to be on the web. Because they also prefer to find the companies that they want to do business with on the web, they prefer to research products and services that they’re interested in on the web, and they prefer to find answers to the problems they have on the web.

So what does the marketing world look like in 2010?

Scott: The companies that are creating programs to solve problems for their customers by creating content on the web are the ones that are going to be the most successful. The companies that understand 100 percent of their potential customers are using the web to find answers to their problems and 100 percent of their potential customers do some form of product research and service research on the web.

The companies who are living in the old world believe they don’t have to deal with the web except having a rudimentary website. Because they believe they can still convince people to buy their products by doing a Super Bowl advertisement or sticking a billboard in the local airport.

How are trust and authenticity affected by the convergence of content and technology?

Scott: People want to do business with human beings. For decades marketing has been nameless. Faceless organizations created messages and delivered those messages to millions of people, trying to coerce them into some kind of call to action. People are fed up with those kinds of companies − companies that if you try to send them an e-mail, you go into Never-Never Land and disappear. And if you try to get somebody human on the telephone, you go through 800 levels of a phone tree and then you end up getting a voicemail.

The web gives us an opportunity as marketers, as communicators, and as people who work in large companies, to become much more human. Businesses can create chat rooms, blogs, videos, interactive forums and online customer councils − things that bring the human touch back to businesses, particularly to big business, that has been so lost in the past few decades.

In today’s market, what is the biggest factor in determining a company’s success?

Scott: Borne out of the data I’ve collected, when people are researching problems or looking at a particular category of product or service to buy, they go to the web. They go to a search engine and enter a phrase, maybe your company’s name, maybe your product’s name, maybe the category of product you sell − and they’re not really sure what company or what product name might solve that problem for them. Whatever comes up in Google is the data: That’s all that exists to the person searching. Businesses have two choices. They either let a blogger or analyst firm deliver content and data to potential customers, or they create the information that people will find on Google to help them make a decision.

How will social media and Web 2.0 change the face of how enterprise systems deliver information?

Scott: Anything that makes it easier to communicate is a real big positive thing. It’s interesting to see how large organizations are beginning to adopt some of the tools that even just a few years ago were considered outrageously cutting edge. So, for example, SAP is adopting things like wikis and blogs to communicate with people outside and inside the company. That just makes it easier for employees in far-flung parts of the world to be able to communicate and share information.

Things like The SAP Marketing Community Meeting [a world-wide virtual marketing community meeting held online in April 2008] are very encouraging. I think it’s encouraging that SAP is using the tools of social media to educate and collaborate. A lot of companies would have done that as a physical meeting and then have people up on a podium talking, but SAP did it with using the tools that they were actually talking about. But I think that’s only a very small start. Most companies really aren’t focused on Web 2.0 and social media because they’re still focused on doing other things they’ve been doing for years and years and years.