Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire Podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have David Meerman Scott on the show. David is a best-selling author and speaker and he is on the cutting edge of PR and marketing and growing your business with speed. So thank you so much for coming on today, David.
DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT: Hey my pleasure, Jaime, thanks a lot.
JAIME TARDY: So first let’s get into the people who haven’t heard about you before. What’s sort of your background and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now.
DMS: So I’ve been in B2B marketing my whole career. I was in charge of Asia marketing for a company called Knight Rider. I was based in Tokyo for six years and Hong Kong for two years. Came back to North America in 1995 and I was Vice President of Marketing for a company called News Edge that was acquired by Thompson and that gave me an opportunity to start my own business, which I did ten years ago and since that time I’ve been writing and speaking about how businesses can harness the web to achieve success.
I’ve got eight books and I speak approximately 50 times a year all over the world. Just in the last couple of months I’ve spoken in Sweden and Finland and Bahrain and Australia, all over North America. So my business is helping people succeed by understanding how to tap the web.
JT: Excellent. So can you tell me a little bit about what you say in those speeches? What are your core principles that you really talk about?
DMS: The main thing is that reaching people on the web is all about creating excellent content for the web. It’s about creating valuable videos, text-based information which can be in the form of blog posts or websites, even photographs or charts and graphs or any type of content and the reason that content is important is for two things. Number one, it’s what the search engines reward with high search engine results. The better the content the more people that look at it. The more people that link to it, the better the search engines rank it.
The second reason why great content is important is because that’s what gets shared on the social web. People share on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or other social networking sites the information that they find to be valuable and that’s the best content out there is the stuff that gets shared the most. What I see so often out there are companies that take their kind of traditional advertising model talking about their products and services being very egotistical and transferring that to the web.
But that approach just doesn’t work very well and so it requires that people change their thinking and instead of talking about themselves, instead of talking about what their wonderful products and services do, which frankly people don’t really care about, what they need to focus on is creating things of value on the web, giving it away for free which helps to solve people’s problems so therefore they want to do business with you.
JT: Great. See, I have been hearing that a lot where we need to give away content. That’s one of the reasons why I have my podcast too and it’s where you can start building up subscribers and followers. Is that what you suggest for companies also to really try and have followers and fans?
DMS: Well that can be a part of it. Certainly that can be one of the goals but I think the more important thing is to say well what are your goals? If you want to have followers and fans that can be a goal. If you want to sell products that can be a goal. If you want people to share your information so that you reach a broader audience of people that can be a goal. But ultimately and clearly you know this because it’s the basis of your podcast, the major goal why most people do this is to generate revenue, is to ultimately be a millionaire, is to get more business. So there’s a number of routes to getting more business.
One of them can be the more fans you have the more those fans share your content and that can lead to your ultimate goal. But I think sometimes people lose track of the ultimate goal and instead focus on a secondary goal which may not necessarily be all that appropriate. So sure you can develop a whole lot of fans but if no one is buying your stuff eventually what good is that?
JT: I’m really glad you said that because I hear it often and people will email me and go ooh I want to make tons of money but I’ll start blog and I’m like well the blog is a platform for something that you sell. I mean you can additionally do advertising don’t get me wrong but, in general, it’s not about how many followers and fans we have. It’s generating revenue. At least the people that are listening to this podcast care about that.
DMS: Yeah, I mean I want to have, as my followers, the people who will eventually buy something from me and having a whole bunch of people who don’t eventually buy something from me that’s also okay because any one of them could talk about me to someone who could buy something. So I think some people focus on the wrong goals. Like, for example, many people create videos on You Tube, which is great. I’m a huge fan of creating You Tube videos myself; I do it myself. But when I ask them about their goal they’ll say, “I want to get a 100,000 views of my video or want to get a million views of my video.”
Now that’s great. I mean there’s nothing wrong with getting a million views. I’d like to have a million views of my videos too but ultimately what really matters is getting people to see it who eventually will give you some money because you’ll end up selling them something. So the challenge really becomes how can you create a video that doesn’t get a million random views but instead gets it could even only be 100 views of the people who really matter for our business, the people who really matter in terms of becoming your customers.
JT: I think that’s a huge point. It’s funny, I have friends who had a viral video online – the Diet Coke and Mentos videos, right – they live a couple minutes up the road. They’re from Maine just like me, ten minutes away from me, they’ve been my friends for a long time and they went hey somehow we created this video; it now has a million plus views online in a week. They were on David Letterman and they went we have no business, this doesn’t make us any money pretty much in any way except for it was on Rever so they got ad revenue but that’s pretty much it.
It’s kind of amazing that you can still get all this press and all this amazing stuff but if you don’t have a business model or anything to sell behind it, you can be a viral video hit but not necessarily create any revenue from it so I think that’s a really huge distinction that we need to make too that it’s not necessarily all about the views if you’re trying to build your business. So really having it be the right people. So the question though that I want to ask you is I know you said give away it for free and I feel like there’s this line between too much or not too much. I mean this is what I hear a lot on the web. How much is too much of giving it away so that people will expect to get it for free instead of paying for it? What are your thoughts on that?
DMS: Well, I think you have to draw a distinction of are you in the content creation business and that’s the actual thing you sell versus not. Now I am because I write books, I give speeches. I am essentially a one person publishing company. I’m just like a rock band. I have free content that I give away. I give away my blog content, my videos, my tweets. I have some free eBooks on the web that I give away for free. One of them, by the way, called The New Rules of Viral Marketing has been downloaded well over one million times. So I give content like that away totally for free.
By the way, I give it away with absolutely no registration required whatsoever and I’m a strong believer that if you’re going to give something away for free, you got to give it away completely for free. None of this half-baked stuff of yeah I’ll give it to you free but in order to get it you have to give me an email address. I’m not a believer in that. The reason is that it sets up an adversarial relationship with people. If you give them something, you have to give them something. It has to be a gift. You don’t go giving somebody a gift and saying I’m not going to give you this gift until you give me something in return. A gift is a gift is a gift.
So I’m a huge believer of that when you’re offering something like a white paper or an eBook or some other piece of valuable content, the goal of giving it away is to get more people exposed to it. The only way to get more people exposed to it is if you give it to them with no strings whatsoever attached and don’t require an email address. So the next thing I do personally is then I hope that some percentage of the millions of people who have seen my free stuff will purchase some of my books and on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and other places I sell my books, they range in price from a low of $6.99 for my most recent eBook, which is called News Jacking up to the hardcover books I think are $24.95 retail.
Now as a result of all the free content I have given away, my books have done very, very well. I’ve got eight books altogether. My most popular one is called The New Rules of Marketing and PR. It’s currently in its third edition. It has sold over a quarter of a million copies in English and it is published in 25 languages around the world from Arabic to Vietnamese. So it sold a lot of copies. I look at it as like a ladder. The first step is a bunch of free stuff then people can pay a few dollars and get a book. If they like what they see in my book, then they can write me to speak. I charge $25,000 for a one-hour keynote and $40,000 for a full day seminar and I do about 50 gigs a year.
So that’s where I make the most of my money is through my speaking engagements. So in my case, what I’m personally selling and by the way I’m not a consultant so I don’t do any consulting. It’s all about books and speeches. So what I’m selling is content either in person live content or text-based content in the form of a book. I’ve also got audio books and other types of books, eBook versions as well. But all the free content is driving the sales of those books. So in my case, some of my content is free and some of it is not. Most people, however, are not in the online content business.
Most people are selling a product or a service that’s not really a content product or a content service. They’re selling real estate, they’re selling cars, they’re selling consulting services. They’re selling other things that aren’t strictly a piece of content like a book or some music or a piece of art. So my suggestion to people who are not selling content for a living is to give everything away. There’s no reason at all to, in any way, put gates on the stuff that you’re offering to people because ultimately what you want to do is make it completely easy for people to download it. If somebody takes even one second to make a decision about whether they are or are not going to give you an email address, you’ve just lost a potential sale because a lot of people won’t.
JT: Okay, so I have a ton of questions having to do with that. First is how did you get your eBook to be downloaded a million times because normally a lot of people I talk to and actually I even just launched a manifesto just last week and going without any opt ins or anything like that and you really want to get it out there. You of course want it to spread virally and all that fun stuff. But how do you actually do that because a lot of the times you put it out there and go great, 500 people got it, how do I even come close to a million?
DMS: Well there’s a few things that I did and a few things that I recommend. The first thing is that it needs to be well written and I am in no way suggesting yours aren’t. I haven’t seen them. But number one it has to be well written. You have to have it professionally edited. You can’t just hack something together and hope for the best. It has to be a very well written piece. The second thing is it has to have terrific design. Unless you’re a serious designer yourself, don’t do it yourself. Don’t just go to Microsoft Word and push the print button. I mean it doesn’t work.
You’ve got to hire someone to help you to do the design who is terrific. People have to look at the design of the eBook and go “Wow, that’s great!” The next thing you have to do is format it for a screen. What that means is it should be landscape orientation. It should not be portrait orientation and the biggest mistake I see and it’s so simple to fix is people make these wonderful reports and white papers and things and they format them looking like in a portrait orientation so that it doesn’t fit on a computer screen. That means that people get frustrated. They don’t even know why they’re frustrated. The reason they’re frustrated is because when they press the down button it either goes to the next page and they miss some of the text or it goes a little bit down and it gets all screwy. So if you make it landscape format kind of like a Power Point slide, it fits perfectly on the screen; it makes it really easy to read.
The next thing you need to do is you need to put what’s called a creative commons license on your eBook. A creative commons license, you just got to creativecommons.org. Gives people permission to download and share and even, if you make a special license, allow them to mash up your content. Now what that does is it gets rid of the sort of onerous aspects of copyright law that do not allow people to share your content. It gives them absolute permission to be able to share the content yet you assert your copyright ownership over that piece of content. So I highly recommend that you create a creative commons license to put onto the eBook or whatever, white paper, whatever piece of content you’re putting out there.
You got to have a really good title. Hopefully something related to something that people are searching on. Now in my case of the eBook I mentioned that has had a million downloads, I noticed that a lot of people were and this was well before I did this eBook, a lot of people were interested in the concept of viral marketing and so viral marketing was a pretty common search term. I’m just doing a search for viral marketing right now. There’s 16 million results when I type in the phrase viral marketing into Google. I see on the top there’s a couple of people who are advertising on Google, against that phrase as are a bunch of people on the right side of that. I see number one is Wikipedia.
I see a couple of other things and there’s my eBook sitting there on the very first page for the phrase viral marketing and because I have absolutely no registration requirement at all, lots of people link to that eBook from their blogs and from their sites and the more inbound links I get going to the eBook itself, there’s no landing page, it just goes right to the eBook, the more people who point to it, the better Google ranks that. I don’t know what you are seeing on your screen, I’m seeing position number three but in any case, it’s almost always the first page in the Google results. Not bad 69 hits and you’re on the first page.
JT: Yeah, no kidding!
DMS: So that’s really about creating something that’s valuable. Creating something that people will want to share with their friends. They’ll want to talk about it on Facebook. They’ll want to talk about it on Google Plus. They’ll want to send a link to their friends through email. They’ll want to blog it; they’ll want to tweet it.
JT: Great. So it seems like as far as the eBook goes and I completely agree with yours specifically it’s like an experience. It’s not just oh it’s another eBook that I’m going to look at like twice. It’s really about creating the whole experience with an amazing design and all that stuff too. So most of it was through SEO too as far as people finding the eBook besides the social sharing? Was the core mostly SEO?
DMS: Well I mean when you say SEO, I’m not sure what you actually mean by that. I know it’s search engine optimization. There’s aspects of search engine optimization because I made the title, The New Rules of Viral Marketing. You see the actual URL that I used includes that phrase. I’m just going to it now.
JT: So it’s not as though you had someone doing all your SEO for you and all that fun stuff?
DMS: It’s DavidMeermanScott.com/documents/viral_marketing.pm. No, I didn’t use anybody to do my search engine optimization. I just did a few things that you should do. Whatever search term is important to you that should be in the title. That should be in the URL and there should be no barriers whatsoever to people getting that content. But no, it’s not done through SEO. I mean SEO I think is a myth in some regards when it comes to content. You’ve got to have great content. If you put some search engine optimization against some great content, you’re going to have a winner. If you have crappy content and put some search engine optimization around it, it’s just slightly less crappy.
It’s not going to make you succeed, it’s just not. It’s all about the content and a few SEO things that help it along. I did offer it to some bloggers and some other people I thought might write about it and some of them did. I did a press release around it I’m pretty sure, I can’t remember exactly because it was a couple years ago I put it out, but I think I did a press release around it and I talked about it in some of my print books so that people knew about it. I had it, this is important, I don’t anymore, but for quite awhile I had it in my email signature. So anytime that I emailed somebody they would see a link to it in the email signature. The way you get a million views is you do a thousand things well and each one of those thousand things generates a thousand views.
JT: I love that. That’s great. So I know we need to really sort of pay attention to time so what’s one action that listeners can take this week to move them forward towards their goal?
DMS: It’s about creating this fantastic content as was my theme we’ve been talking about. But that really is about your passion. The best content, the best information that people create and it doesn’t matter whether it’s audio-based content like we’re doing right now or video-based content or text-based content or graphically-based content, photographs or a combination like my eBook we talked about which is both graphical and text based. It has got to come from passion. You got to create content around something that you really like, something that you really enjoy and then, if that passion comes through, people will want to share it and when they share it that will get you well known.
That may even get you to be so well known that you become the guru of your industry, you become the thought leader of your industry and when that happens, you basically can choose what you want to do. I mean in my case, I’m lucky because I could have started a company around what I do. I could have created an agency and done a lot of marketing work for people. What I chose to do is write books and give speeches. I couldn’t have a better lifestyle. I travel where I want to, when I want to. I say no to people that I don’t want to go speak to. It’s all about enjoying myself and having fun and I think that comes from passion.
JT: I love it. Excellent. Well thank you so much for coming on today. Where can we find more information online? I’m sure I’ll link up to everything but where can we find you on Facebook and Twitter and online?
DMS: I am on all those places. Another important aspect of what I did was I used my middle name professionally so my name is David Meerman Scott. I’m the only David Meerman Scott in the world so Google my name, you’ll find me. What’s interesting about that by the way is that there are thousands and thousands of David Scotts. There is a David Scott who walked on the moon. There’s a David Scott who is a member of Congress from Georgia. There’s a David Scott who is an ironman triathlon champion. There’s me. There’s a bunch of others of us.
There’s only one David Meerman Scott in the world so interesting sidebar here is, as you’re creating content, as you’re generating a brand for yourself, you need to be unique. If you’ve got a name that’s extremely common, maybe think about how you can make it uncommon. A lot of actors use stage names. I’m not suggesting that’s the right approach for everybody. I chose to use my middle name professionally as well as my first and last name and that’s worked brilliantly for me. So just Google my name and you’ll find me.
JT: Beautiful. The other quick question is that really is, that’s the middle name that your parents gave you?
DMS: That’s correct.
JT: So you could probably thank your parents that it’s such an awesome middle name and not like David John Scott or something like that.
DMS: Yeah but that might have worked too. I mean David Scott is like the most gosh darn boring name in the planet and so you throw the middle name in there and it works out really well.
JT: Well thank you so much for coming on today, David. I really appreciate it. We’ll make sure to link everything up in the show notes and everybody take a look and download some of his books because they’re amazing. I can vouch for it. So thanks so much, David.
DMS: My pleasure, Jaime. Thank you.
Hey guys it’s Jaime again. I just want to let you know about my free webinar series coming up. When I asked you what stops you from getting your business to where you want it to be, I heard three things – I don’t have enough time; I don’t have enough money and I don’t know what to do. Well I’m here to help. I created three webinars each addressing these topics. Millionaires don’t let their excuses stop them and you shouldn’t either. So sign up at eventualmillionaireacademy.com/webinar. The first one is on Tuesday, January 17 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The second is Tuesday, January 24 at 8:00 p.m. and the third is January 31 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Pretty much the rest of the Tuesdays in January, you can hop on a call with me. Like I said, they’re free but they’re already filling up fast so go to eventualmillionaireacademy.com/webinar and I can’t wait to talk to you then. Thanks!
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