New Rules Open Doors and Portals for Retailers

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"The New Rules of Marketing and PR for Retailers" was presented at BookExpo America on Saturday morning by David Meerman Scott. The hour-long session was based on Scott's new book of the same name subtitled, "How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly."

To a standing-room-only crowd, the articulate and expressive Scott presented the essential information about the brave new world of marketing and publicity on the web. His book, which was published by Wiley on June 4, is the result of Scott's own marketing and PR program developed through his blog and using the methods he detailed during the high-energy session.

Scott explained that, under the "old rules" for retailers, "you had to get the media to write about you or pay for expensive advertising" to interest consumers or to target audiences.

Advertisements are intrinsically demands for attention, interrupting the activities of the audience, he said.

With the influence of the Internet and the burgeoning universe of blogs, Scott told the booksellers, PR and marketing professionals, and authors in attendance, any of them has seamless access to target audiences by skillful use of the web. "The web is the only form of marketing that doesn't require interruption," Scott said.

"You are what you publish on the web," announced Scott. "Marketing and PR on the web is not about product, but about encouraging participation in a community."

Using websites as new outlets for traditional commercials is exactly the wrong approach," he said. Instead, web-based marketing requires identifying the desired community and becoming a part of it.

As an example he described his search for a new car, which first entailed visiting the websites of the major U.S. automobile companies. Frustrated with replays of standard television advertisements, he hunted for information in blogs and on other websites, using readily accessible search engines. There he found the kind of comprehensive discussions and data he had sought from the car companies.

As a collector of esoteric space mission memorabilia, Scott noted that in the "old, pre-web days," he was simply labeled a collector and was approached by marketers who sought Beanie Baby and Disney pin aficionados. Now, he said, one can find niches with extremely specific web threads in almost every possible area of interest.

Successful marketing to various groups, explained Scott, involves first identifying potential customers, investigating the websites and blogs that they are involved with, and then creating a customized site that will appeal to that group.

For booksellers he advised the use of content-rich sites that are easy both to search and browse. Author interviews, podcasts, staff recommendations, and store blogs all contribute to content. Guest bloggers and patrons' favorites can also bring free additional content to sites. To greatly increase the richness of a site while expending no money and little time, Scott recommended adding links to related sites, such as author pages.

"The web is iterative," he explained. "You don't have to invent original content constantly. Through links you can create a content-rich site and an information portal to aggregate like-minded people." --Nomi Schwartz