Book Reviews

New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

I got to see David present at the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco last year, he spoke about creating triggers that get millions of people to spread your ideas and tell your stories. It was a great session and I literally have pages and pages of notes! That session led me to this book (he’s also written other books) and a bunch of great FREE downloads on his blog.

The thing that strikes me when I read his book and saw him present was he not only does a great job of capturing all the fantastic new and exciting things that are going on in social media, with great case studies, he also wraps it up in the same strategic wisdom of someone like Seth Godin, and he goes one step further to give some practical tips on how to get started.

The whole book is written like a conversation about social media, how it’s changing the world and it’s impact on marketing and PR. The pace and tone is spot on, and it’s filled with great analogies that make it great for beginners, and enough case studies that make it invaluable for the more experienced marketers.

Even for us event marketers he included a fantastic case study on the Singapore Tattoo Exhibition and how they leveraged social media to exceed their visitors targets. He quote’s Andrew Peters, Asia Pacific Regional Director for Pacific West communications who launched his show via social media (His blog, Facebook and other sites) as saying “This ultimately becomes a collective of voices that cannot be ignored, and it becomes contagious as others want to be a part of the collective”.  Who wouldn’t want their event to be “contagious”?

He also briefly talks about the importance of actual events and meeting media makers in person, and how the new media channels can help make that happen.  He also introduces the notion of buyer personas with a great US college case study which is also very applicable to the events business.  Something I should have talked more about in step 2 of my 7 steps of to zen and the art of conference marketing. Anyway David did it better!

And yep there are even rules…the old one and the new ones. But you’ll have to read the book. David is dedicated to the cause, you can tell he’s passionate about marketing, hell, he even changed his name to improve his google ranking! It’s a great book, a really well rounded marketing book for the social media age, well worth the read, I downloaded the new edition on Kindle and have already written pages of notes and ideas for us to implement! It’s going to be compulsory reading for marketers!



I have read a lot of Seth’s Books, I consider Permission Based Marketing my marketing bible. I’m also an avid reader of his blog, and I just downloaded Linchpin. In many ways for me All Marketers are Liars is an extension of purple cow, and to some extent the notion that perception is reality. Essentially it’s about the need for marketers to tell a story that resonates with your target market. I think the story telling part sometimes get’s lost in all the digital media hype, or just the day to day grind.Preferably your story is something remarkable, something your audience will remark on, passing it onto other people with the same worldview. Openning up some word of mouth and letting your story grow organically.

According to Seth:

  • A great story is true, consistent and authentic.
  • Great stories make a promise.
  • Great stories are trusted.
  • Great stories are subtle.
  • Great stories happen fast.
  • Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses.
  • Great stories are rarely aimed at every body.
  • Great stories don’t contradict themselves.
  • And most of all, great stories agree with our worldview.

In terms of conferences, IQPC B2B conference, or any event – The desire to do what people we admire are doing is the glue that keeps our society together. It’s the secret ingredient in every successful marketing venture as well. So the notion of a great conference bringing leaders together that helps spread ideas, build networks and create knowledge should be an easy picture to create, if you make the effort and stick to the above guidelines.Your goal is not to create a story that is just full of active verbs, involves no risk and is without controversy. As Seth says “Boredom will not help you grow”. Your message still needs to break though all the noise and resonate. It takes solid research and a deep empathy for your target audience.

Trust / Delivery – You also need to find a format that will also help make it happen. People in a dark room watching power point presentations doesn’t get it done any more.

Seth’s books are not a how to guide on marketing, but unlike many of his books, Seth also gives us a story telling plan:

  • Which worldview are you addressing?
  • Which frame are you using?
  • How will you live your story?
  • What hard decision are you willing to make in order to keep your story real, pure and authentic? Compromise is the enemy of authenticity.
  • What are the short cuts your fans can use to tell the story to their friends? How can you help them frame the story?
  • How can you radically change your product or service so that the story is natural and obvious and easy to tell?
  • Whats the value of your permission asset?

The book is also jam packed with great stories from Kiehls to Vioxx, all of which help tell the story, and I am sure one or two will make you feel a little concerned, like the call from a telemarketer. It’s an excellent resource for marketers who want to tell stories. Story telling isn’t easy, otherwise we would all be doing it, but find a remarkable story that resonates with your audience and it will spread!


RELEVANCE, By Tim Mannersrelevance

One of my favourite words in marketing is RELEVANCE. You may have heard me go on about it before…and I just finished a book on the topic by Tim Manners. Whilst the book focuses mainly on B2C issues it has a powerful message:

What’s the point?

  • The point is, if we’re not helping people live better lives, we are not helping ourselves.
  • If all we are doing is interrupting people who don’t have time for interruptions, we can’t expect their attention.
  • If all we are doing is annoying people who have zero tolerance for annoyance, we can’t earn their trust.
  • If all we are doing is pelting people with endlessly irrelevant messages, we can’t claim their loyalty.
  • And if we can’t claim their loyalty, we don’t have a prayer of a positive return on investment.

We can run whatever media-mix model we like, but all we’re likely to achieve is a marginal improvement on what is other wise a downward spiral of failure. Relevance and success will come to those marketers who are listening more than talking, and delivering more that just advertising. The medium is no longer the message. It is the promise. The question is can we keep it?

I found myself reading this page over and over again (yes, I am a slow learner). At IQPC we strive to build an opt-in database through our online communities and add value through our marketing so this paragraph seemed to be throwing a challenge at us – how can we be relevant to our audience?

Tim also points out that relevant brands and products understand certain principles:

  • Insight – Relevant brands truly understand what their customers actually do, ensuring a strong VP.
  • Innovation – Relevant brands know the difference between what is purely remarkable and what actually works.
  • Investment – Relevant brands understand the customer experience and invest in it.
  • Design – Relevant brands live and breathe simplicity.
  • Experience – Relevant brands realize that it is more important to touch us in real life than just promotional channels.
  • Value – Relevant brands are more than worth every penny.

I believe our product (or service) at IQPC, conferences, and the way we market and produce them, when the whole thing comes together, are in a position to be highly relevant.  As marketers the challenge is to live up to the promise of being relevant in our communications.  As a business we all strive to be relevant to our audience, highlighting what works, building on the customer experience, and making it worth every penny. Are you keeping the promise when you communicate?

Re-read that last email, or the direct mail letter you are working on, and ask if it’s relevant to the audience? If not change it!


FREE, a new book from Chris “Long Tail”

The book is essentially about economics, or the economics of free, or more accurately the economics of free on the internet. It’s built on a couple of premises, the economics of scarcity vs abundance and the notion that information want’s to be free, essentially information was once scarce (pre-internet) and is now abundant online (& free).

Which prompts Chris to suggest 10 rules of abundance thinking:

  1. If it’s digital, sooner or later it’s going to be free. When marginal costs (processing power, bandwidth, storage) trend to zero free becomes not just an option but an inevitability.
  2. Atoms would like to be free, too, but they’re not so pushy about it. Outside the digital world marginal costs rarely fall to zero. But Free is so powerful, we find ways to redefince our business to make some things free while selling others.
  3. You can’t stop Free. Take free back from the pirates (or freeloaders) and sell upgrades.
  4. You can make money from Free. Free opens doors, reaches new customers, it doesn’t mean you can’t charge some of them.
  5. Redefine your market. Think Ryanair.
  6. Round down. If the cost of something is heading to zero, why not get there first.
  7. Sooner or later you will compete with Free.
  8. Embrace waste. “Your mail inbox is full” is the death rattle of an industry stuck with scarcity thinking, I have more storage capacity with my gmail account than my outlook, and….it’s FREE.
  9. Free makes other things valuable. Every abundance creates a new scarcity. When one product or service becomes free, value migrates to the next higher layer. Go there.
  10. Manage for abundance, not scarcity. Summed up best by the shift from “Don’t screw up” to “Fail fast”.

Another interesting point on managing for abundance, which he refers to as Max Strategies – whatever you are doing, do it at the max in terms of distribution, reach the biggest possible market and achieve higher adoption. Here’s an example I adapted for our business:

  • We start a new topic/event by blogging about it to build some attention before we launch
  • At the PM stage we start pushing some PR, some online buzz generators like face book, linked in and maybe some viral videos (interviews with potential speakers/leaders on you tube etc)
  • Once we launch/start producing we add updates to the blog or via text messages and twitter.
  • This drives people to our website, where they learn more about the topics and the speakers, which will get them more interest.
  • We get speakers to run regular webinars/podcasts to flesh out the topics, marketing testing the key ideas.
  • Then we also take leading speakers who said no, and get them involved online, putting up webinars, podcasts etc we could even have a contest to see which speaker, they would most like to attend next year.
  • we track down the online influencers (the high rated blogger on technoratti, the people with all the followers on twitter, the people with all the contacts in linked in) and we get them involved, getthem talking about us.
  • We also use last years or related content and put it up everywhere, linking back to us.
  • We basically find a way to take our core idea and distribute it into every possible niche of our target audience’s attention.
  • Post event we give away weekly downloads of the presentations, building more buzz for next year.
  • Potentially only the conference makes money, but all the other activities contribute to the success….. That’s a max strategy.

So how do you make money from free? Google has become a multi-billion dollar company, yet still provides most of it’s products for free. There’s a great section on price and price tests revolving around free and chocolate which I won’t go into. But price is something we don’t consider enough in our business, and free, or guesting, combined with the new economic reality is changing our business. It raises a question about what business we are in, do we give away information (presentations/content) and sell networking, do people come for free and pay a premium (freemium) for enhanced networking (one on ones, meeting with speakers, CEO briefings, membership, enhanced research, surveys, special seating, VIP access etc), or give away content and sell access to the audience (our standard sponsorship). Embracing the correct model and combining it with a max strategy to deliver for the customer is the key.

Another interesting case study particularly relevant for my industry from the book: How can an exclusive conference remain pricey if it’s free online?

One ticket to TED, the invite-only conference on tech, entertainment, and design cost $6,000. Each year, CEO’s, Hollywood elite, and ex-President flock to a resort in California, to watch 18-minute presentations given by the likes of Darwinist Richard Dawkins, Sims creator Will Wright, and Al Gore. In 2006, after years of exclusivity, TED started broadcasting the talks on its Web site for free. To date, TEDTalks have been viewed more than 50 million times. How can TED give away its crown jewels?


Streaming content online isn’t the same as being there. Watching the presentations is only part of the experience; an equal part is mingling with other attendees, who are often of the same caliber as those on stage. Come for the talks, stay for the hallway conversations. Plus there’s the allure of seeing it first. A ticket to TED isn’t devalued by delayed access to the talks, if anything each ticket is worth more now that people know what they’re missing. In 2006, the year TEDTalks were available to anyone with a web connection, the cost of one ticket was $4,400. By 2008, the price had jumper to $6,000 (double what it was in 1999). Granted the price hike included DVDs and special mailings for members, but let’s face it, the ticket is the real incentive. Last year, a ticket was auctioned off on eBay for charity and sold for $33,850. Sure the auction included a few ‘perks’, like coffee with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and a lunch date with Meg Ryan. But then again, regular TED attendees might do the same; both luminaries are regulars.

As demand for tickets grows, so does attendance. Since 1998, attendance at TED has nearly tripled, rising by 10% each year. In fact, 2008 was the only year in which attendance did not increase. The reason? The venue in Monterey was simply to small to fit any additional people. In 2009, 3 years after TEDTalks started broadcasting for free, the conference moved to a theatre in southern California with double capacity.

Sure makes you think….In my opinion it’s a great book, not done justice by this review, with lot’s of great practical case studies to ponder application to our business (Including a section on Fifty Business Models Built on Free). A counter point:  Not everyone agrees with Chris, Malcolm Gladwell has a harsher opinion, which also got this response from Seth Godin.

2 responses

21 03 2011
7 08 2015
James Wight

Jay Baer, Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan… ? 😉

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