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The New, New Rules of Business Marketing

Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott
Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott

When David Meerman Scott first published The New Rules of Marketing & PR (Wiley) in 2007, Facebook was still mostly for college students. The book helped Scott, then 46 years old, make a name for himself as a marketing strategist. Even so, he had to add new chapters and rewrite a considerable portion of the book for its recently-released third edition.

So what are the new, new rules now?

Reaching people online is no longer a nice-to-have -- it's a must-have, Scott says. When people search for products or services to buy, they use the big search engines like Google and Bing, as well email and other social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to ask their friends and family for advice on purchases. "It's essential for entrepreneurs do a great job at marketing their business using the tools of the web," he says.

But many small businesses are being left behind. Nearly half of small-business owners surveyed recently say don't use social media at all for marketing or any other business purpose, according to Hiscox, a business insurance company. What's more, only 15 percent of small-business owners consider mobile marketing "very valuable" to their operation, another recent report shows. 

Related: Six Tips for Mobile Marketing to Engage Customers

Here, Scott offers his top three tips for navigating the new world of business marketing.

1. Don’t hype your product or service. Instead, identify the people who have problems that your product or service can solve, Scott says. Then segment those prospects into buyer personas. Understand those people's problems so that you can create information online that helps to market your business to them by means of how it can solve those problems.

For example, if you own a hotel and only talk on your website about how nice looking it is or how great the location is, that only gets you a small part of the way, he says. The key is to create individualized content for each of your buyer personas, starting from the problems and the buyers. That will help get your business indexed higher in online search results.

2. Share useful content on social media. Once you create great content that addresses buyer problems, share that information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But don’t stop there, Scott says. You should also listen and respond to what people are saying on important topics and about your business.

Related: Is Your Business Ready for Video?

If you own a hotel, for instance, and a couple says on Twitter that they are considering a wedding at your hotel, offer a tour of your property, Scott says. You can also join conversations about your industry, even when it's not specifically about your business.

3. If traditional advertising channels are generating sales for you, don't pull back. "Marketing strategies haven't changed," he says. "Nothing is going away."

If you are still spending on offline campaigns, Scott recommends tying them to online efforts. One way is to include a URL or a scannable quick response code in a print ad that links to a page on your website. If you own a restaurant, you can send people to your menu page, for example.

For an example of a small business that's had success marketing online, consider this example that Scott cites in his book.

Related: How to Promote Your Business Blog with Social Media

A marketing automation software company called Eloqua sent a timely email last year after its biggest competitor, a company called Market2Lead, was acquired by Oracle. The owner of Eloqua heard about the deal as it was happening and wrote a blog post about why it was good for the industry. Eloqua then sent the post in an email to every company in its database that was a Market2Lead customer. They were so quick to send it, the email was the first many Market2Lead customers had heard about the acquisition.

As Scott notes in the book, Eloqua told him that emailing the blog post convinced a number of Market2Lead customers to become Eloqua clients, generating about $1 million in new business.

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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