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Author Interview with David Meerman Scott

New_rules_3I've read two books by David Meerman Scott, Cashing in with Content and Wiley's just-released The New Rules of Marketing & PR (reviews here and here).

As you can tell from my reviews, I'm a big fan of David's, but I was particularly intrigued with the way he's leveraged the blogosphere for his New Rules book.  Almost a year ago, David announced that he was starting work on this new book and asked for help from the blogosphere.  The result: 163 bloggers chipped in with their thoughts, suggestions, etc.  I thought it would be interesting to interview David on my blog, so here's what he had to say about the project:

JW: Where did the idea of leveraging the blogosphere like this come from?  Was it something you developed on your own?

DMS:  I came up with this idea with the acknowledgments on my own.  I wanted to implement a viral marketing strategy to promote my book. Viral marketing is the phenomenon of people spreading your ideas from one person to the next (for free!). And in my experience, viral marketing using blogs is one of the most effective ways to tell a story.

Several things had been going through my mind which culminated in this strategy.  I've always been intrigued with how authors select people to be in the list of acknowledgments. Even before I started writing books, I'd turn there first and wonder who all these people were. I thought it would be cool to one day be a part of someone's book in this way. Fast forward to my own blog. I've noticed (as I am sure you have), that shout outs, links, comments, and trackbacks are the currency of the blog world. Bloggers love recognition in the form of links.

As I was writing my latest book,
The New Rules of Marketing & PR, I did a lot of poking around for ideas, case studies, and other information on blogs. Separately, I blogged my ideas as I was writing my book and enjoyed seeing what people had to say about my ideas.

As I worked throughout the year it took me to write, I kept a list of helpful bloggers. Some are people I met or spoke with on the phone. Some argued with my on my blog (or their blog). Some I just read and they had never heard of me. But all 163 helped me in some way to clarify my thinking.

So I then combined the acknowledgment idea with the blog shout out and put the list of 163 bloggers into my book and also did a post linking to each one so they would know. And Wiley kindly offered me advance copies of the book for each of these people. All they had to do was email me with a mailing address. More than 100 did so.

What's so cool is that this group of people are now my champions. And importantly, I did not just send out review copies of the book and hope for the best. These were people who requested a book based on my blog post.

The idea worked brilliantly. And many bloggers have commented on how fantastic the marketing approach itself was. Of course based on the subject of my new book, more than 50 people said, more or less, "If Scott can pull off a book promotion like that using blogs and viral marketing, then his book about using blogs and viral marketing and other strategies must be pretty damn good."

Surprisingly, of the 100 bloggers who wrote about my book, 30 or 40 bloggers then posted on their blogs with links to all 163 of the other bloggers on the list. The result was people's blog rankings surging. And they all knew the reason for it -- my original post.

JW: Some might wonder how much of a management burden and time investment this has been for you.  Are you pleased with the results so far and would you do it again?

DMS: I would be fibbing if I said that this technique didn't take a lot of time. It did. During the writing phase, I kept an ongoing list of bloggers. While that only took a few minutes for each one, I did have to check and double check blog URLs. And I'm sure I missed important people. If they are reading this, I'm sorry! I hired some hourly help to package up and mail the 100+ books, so that wasn't so bad. But collecting the addresses one-by-one from bloggers did take a bit of time. And I personally inscribed each copy.

So my guess is that it took about $500 or so to mail books plus 20 or 30 hours of my time. This was the best investment in marketing I could ever imagine. What would it take to achieve similar results using traditional techniques? How much would it cost to identify and then send out books to enough bloggers that over 100 would write something? I don't know, tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars I would guess. Viral marketing is fantastic. And it works. I estimate that I have reached hundreds of thousands of people so far (the readers of the 100 bloggers who have written about the book).

JW: My own Technorati ranking surged as a result of being on your list. Have you heard from any of the 162 others that you listed regarding this phenomenon?

DMS: As one very famous blogger told me "That one post, with dozens of links to each blogger, lifted a lot of boats in the Technorati rankings." The way Technorati rankings work is that each inbound link is one authority point. So I generated 30 or 40 new points for each of the 163 bloggers (because of those bloggers who cut and pasted the list).  So if someone had an authority of 30 and I added 30 points, then that blogs authority instantly doubled. Your blog ranking was recently about 23,000 (out of all 77 million blogs tracked by Technorati). By adding 30 points, your ranking surged to 19,000. How cool is that?  And the benefit to me is that the blogger knows exactly why -- because of me and my book promotion.

Another very famous author/blogger wrote to me and said more or less: "Damn, why didn't I think of that?!"

JW: Have you come up with any other tactics that you plan to use after the book is published?

DMS: I have some other interesting viral marketing tactics and ideas that I want to try to promote the book. But I want to keep it a secret!

How intriguing...  I guess we'll all just have to keep a close eye on David and his book in the coming months to see what else he's got up his sleeve!


David Meerman Scott

Joe, Many thanks for doing this interview. It was fun. I'll certainly keep you posted on the results.

All the best, David

Cecil Vortex

Great interview -- the bit about technorati was especially interesting.

Nettie Hartsock

I think David should tell us more secrets! (wink-wink) He is amazing. Great interview Joe.

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