A couple of years ago I was invited by Jeff Kline of Accrisoft to join a private group of digital agency owners called the Digital Mastermind Group. We get together in person every six months (and communicate via LinkedIn and webinars in between) to exchange ideas and talk about how we can make our digital agencies better. Being in an industry mastermind group is a great opportunity for any business professional; if you aren’t currently in one, I would strongly suggest you seek one out.

We met last week in Las Vegas, and we had the honor of having David Meerman Scott join us as a guest speaker. You probably know David as the author of many excellent marketing books, including the bestseller The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

David spoke energetically and passionately and gave us great insight on a number of digital marketing topics, including some prominent themes that form the foundation of his message:

“In marketing, speed and agility are decisive competitive advantages.”

“Transform what you’re doing by getting into real time and getting your clients into real time.”

Gone are the days when you plan months of content marketing in advance. Today’s successful marketers are much more agile and nimble and are able to respond at a moment’s notice. Years ago, David coined the term “newsjacking” to describe when marketers are able to take a real-time news event and tie their own marketing message to that event. You’ll recognize a few excellent examples below.

During the iOS 7 launch:

 

nokia-tweet

During the Super Bowl electrical blackout:

oreo-dunk-in-the-dark

Those are outstanding examples of savvy content marketers who saw an opportunity to tie their brand into a news event as it was unfolding. With how quickly content can be shared through social media channels, this type of “newsjacking” can produce an immediate impact, as evidenced by the number of retweets of the above examples.

One key here is that content marketers have to seek pre-approval from legal and PR to produce and distribute content quickly. If there is a bunch of red tape to go through in order to publish content, the opportunity will be lost.

Within 352, we are big fans of David’s, and we incorporate these types of real-time marketing techniques into our client marketing campaigns. David implored us and the other agencies in attendance to push our clients to overcome their fear of real-time communication. As any agency owner knows, it can be daunting to be that agile, but there we often miss many opportunities because of that fear of moving too quickly.

It’s worth noting that 9 out of 10 times that you attempt to “newsjack,” it may not catch fire or move the needle very much. But the 10th time could produce a huge result. You are trying to capture lighting in a bottle, and with enough consistent repetition and timely, well-executed ideas, you will eventually do it.

“Build your websites around your buyers – not your products or services.”

Amen, David. At 352, we couldn’t agree more. We have seen too many websites produced by other agencies that are not built with the buyer in mind. David evangelizes the need to create buyer personas, or stories that describe the needs, wants and characteristics of the different types of people who will be buying from the website you are creating.

To illustrate his point, David used the example of a hotel website. A well-designed hotel website would take many buyer personas into account, such as:

  • Corporate travel manager
  • Business person
  • Family choosing a vacation spot
  • Corporate event planner
  • Couple organizing a wedding
  • etc.

A truly great hotel website would have great content tailored to each of these personas, and an easy navigational structure to allow each persona to quickly find the content pertinent to them.

“Your customers are people – not businesses. Be human, please! It’s OK to have fun! Really, it is!”

In a sea of boring corporate websites with stock photography and boilerplate content, giving your website and marketing personality will help it stand out and bring deeper engagement with your customers.

It’s possible for every business to do this. Even big businesses in traditionally boring or technical fields can find ways to be memorable. For example:

Even though that video was from a large corporation, it was produced on a very low budget. Any company can and should be creating memorable content like this. At 352, this is what our digital marketing and video production teams do for our clients.

“Hire journalists to create content, not marketers. Marketers talk about products and services, journalists talk about news.”

We love David’s suggestion for a few reasons. First, most of the members of our eight person client marketing team have journalism backgrounds! We recognize that great content makes all the difference with any marketing effort so we intentionally hire journalists for marketing roles. Second, being a former journalism student myself, and seeing how difficult the journalism job market has been in recent years, I’m excited to see that the digital marketing industry is providing new job opportunities for aspiring journalists.

David gave one final tip that I wasn’t expecting, as he is a strong advocate for Hubspot: Stop requiring people to fill out forms before downloading a whitepaper or ebook.”

David says that companies which have taken the same content they used to protect by a form and made it free have seen 20-50 times more downloads of that content. They also received many more links to the content, which improved their search engine rankings, since incoming links are a big aspect for SEO. One compromise David suggested was to make the whitepaper available for immediate download without a form, but then inside the whitepaper advertise additional supplementary materials that can be downloaded, and those materials can be behind a form.

It was wonderful to have David speak to our group, and I know that 352 will be better than ever before as a result of it!

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