Interview with David Meerman Scott, Author, Cashing In with Content: How Innovative Marketers use Digital Information to turn Browsers into BuyersDavid Meerman Scott is a writer, consultant, conference speaker, and seminar leader specializing in using online content to market and sell products and services to demanding customers worldwide.
His writing has appeared in such diverse publications as Competitive Intelligence Magazine, StreamingMedia, North American Review and others. He has presented at industry conferences and events in over 20 countries on four continents. His web blog "Web Ink Now" can be found here .
In our interview, David talks about his book and the power of online content for SMBs.
David Meerman Scott Interview —Must Read Business Books
Q: Hi David, Can you give us the background on your book and why you wanted to write it?
A: I’ve always been fascinated with the power of online content and web sites to tell an organization’s story to the market. My background is with online news companies (I worked at Knight-Ridder and NewsEdge). There had been many books written on “how to create a web site” but all were focused on either the technology aspects (HTML and the like) or the design aspects (logos, colors, fonts and what not). I wanted to write about the content of sites — the editorial aspects.
Q: For the SMB’s which is primarily our audience, can you talk about how they can make their web site more “action” oriented for their visitors?
A: First, it is critical to know your goals for the site and to build a site around those goals. If you want to sell a product, identify who the target market is and why they should buy it. If the goal is to generate leads, then how will you generate them?
Next, one of the most important aspects is to write for your buyers. Most sites are egotistical and they fail to deliver what buyers want. Most sites are big brochures. If you are a SMB selling a product, don’t organize the site around “product A” “product B” and so on. If people don’t know your business, they won’t care about your products. Instead, figure out how to organize into pages for buyers. That might be based on their problems. Or it might be based on their job function.
Q: You reveal in your book the true importance of delivering great content, are there tips for making certain that any site delivers this?
A: The best content brands your business as a leader. Don’t sell too hard. Instead show you are an organization to do business with.
For example, if you run a catering business, you might be tempted to create a site about your “product” and include various menus and pricing and so on. Instead, how about offering content that helps people who might hire a caterer with their problems?
For example, you might create an e-book called “Planning the perfect wedding reception for 200 people or fewer” or something like that. Or maybe a set of landing pages such as “Ten tips for a great cocktail party” or “Indoors or out — how to entertain in the summertime.” These sorts of things are great for search engine marketing and they brand your catering business as smart and someone who it would be a pleasure to do business with.
Q: How important is it to keep a site’s content fresh?
A: It goes back to the goals. If the goal is to sell a product or get leads, then the content does not need to be updated often. Unless of course it is a seasonal item like clothing. However if the goal is to get people to come back often, maybe because the site makes money from advertising, then you need fresh content. No matter how often it is updated there are a few rules such as keep the copyright date at the bottom current. If you have a press page, make certain it is updated often. And check links and people’s names and so on regularly. Remove broken links and people who are no longer at the business.
Q: Your book also makes the insightful point about providing content about the way a company does business and how it sends a signal that says, “We have nothing to hide,”, why is this so important today in doing business?
A: I always tell people to put as much content as possible on the site. Some organizations resist because they don’t want to “give away secrets to the competition.” Guess what? You competitors already know about your company. But your potential customers do not.
Q: How does providing good and congruent content on your Web site level the playing field for SMBs in regard to larger organizations?
A: Every organization is equal on the Web. That is especially true of brands that are not famous already. If I find two surfboard dealers online and I need a surfboard, I will buy from the one that looks the best on the Web (best content, easiest to reach, and so on). I don’t care if it is one person in a garage in Hawaii.
Q. Finally, can you briefly cover three of the best practices from web marketers that SMBs can apply and as discussed in your book?
A: 1. Know your goals
2. Build content for your buyers
3. Understand your sales consideration process and build content for people at each stage.