What David Meerman Scott’s success says about choosing a place to focus
Today David Meerman Scott launched his 8th book, “Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage.” I’ve just read it and am confident that it will be another huge success for David, who is best known for the bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”.
I first met David in 2005 when he was a relatively obscure marketing consultant. At the time I was leading the seminar I built for Pragmatic Marketing and we had recently won a very large contract. I was overwhelmed with too much work, so I put the word out that I was looking for someone who could take on a few classes. Jon Bachman suggested his friend David.
A quick talk on the phone and we struck up an agreement. For the next few months, David and I traveled and taught the seminar together. He frequently talked about his blog, but I was barely listening. The marketers in the seminar were not exactly engaged either. We had to work just to explain the concept and people fretted about whether it was a good idea for B2B marketers.
Then David released a little ebook entitled “The New Rules of PR”. Three months later, applying only his new rules to spread the word, more than 150,000 people had downloaded the book. A few months passed before Wiley Publishing asked David to write a “real” book that would expand on the ideas.
I thought that was very cool, but never anticipated the breakthrough that David was about to experience. A short six years later, The New Rules of Marketing and PR has sold over 250,000 copies, was recently released in its third edition, and is available in 25 languages. David is one of the industry’s leading keynote speakers, commanding a very impressive five-figure honorarium for a single hour’s work. CEOs and CMOs in the largest and most famous companies in the world meet with him and seek his advice.
And now David has published his 8th book, with another breakthrough idea that will soon be mainstream.
Watching David’s rise to fame and fortune has taught me a lot about the value of focus. In whatever topic they pursue, experts are always watching for a high-value issue that is not well-understood. Experts don’t wait around for anyone to tell them to solve the problem – they take the initiative before someone else can grab the opportunity.
Initially, the expert’s goal is to assimilate as much as they can from the information that already exists about their topic. This doesn’t seem to create more work for the emerging expert; it is simply a matter of prioritizing their thinking. Every activity is an opportunity to observe, to gain a fresh perspective or insight on the chosen subject. Every meeting is a chance to ask questions and listen. These people aren’t creating new ideas (yet), they are a central point of information for knowledge that is all around them but not aggregated, analyzed or appreciated.
Are you an expert on a topic that, in your company, is perceived to be both high value and rare? If you are in a tactical role, consider how much focus you have given to mastering a skill that can be readily outsourced or that few people respect. Or maybe you have devoted your energies to product expertise, which is more valued but certainly not unique.
Whether your company has identified the problem or not, it needs (and lacks) deep insight into the motivations, preferences and influences that drive buyers to choose your solutions, your competitors’, or to maintain the status quo. The role I call buyer persona expert describes a marketer who can articulate their target buyers’ priorities and perceptions with confidence and clarity. Is anyone in your company focused on this expertise? Can anyone predict, based on factual data, the likely outcome of a product or marketing strategy that has yet to be implemented?
David and his publisher know that his new book will be a huge success. David has so much focus on his buyer personas that winning is a foregone conclusion.