Why Marketers Should Read The New Rules of Sales and Service

If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably been influenced by David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR. Originally published in 2006 (and updated several times since), it’s had a lasting impact on the practice of marketing.

Now he’s got a new book out, The New Rules of Sales and Service. Again, it’s a marketing the-new-rules-of-sales-and-servicemust-read. Although I read last fall and included the book on my list of marketing books last month, I haven’t reviewed it here yet. Until now.

Although the title doesn’t say marketing, I’d suggest you put it on your reading list. Because  sales and service interactions should be a continuation of marketing efforts and strategies.

Several of the new rules sound familiar to a marketing professional, but apply as well to sales and service organizations. For example:

Rule #1: “Authentic storytelling sets the tone.” Understanding the business story is critical for anyone engaging with the customer, including sales and service. If marketing is creating stories, we need to share them widely and build consensus throughout the customer-facing business.

Rule #2: “Content is the link between companies and customers.” Stop thinking of content marketing as simply a way to generate leads, and start thinking of it as a way to support and nurture your customers.

And another chapter heading reads: “We’re all in sales and service.” So true. The boundaries between marketing and the other parts of the business are blurring. Sales and service teams tend to own ongoing customer relationships, but that doesn’t mean that marketing’s job sends at the time of the sale.

This is particularly true in businesses that maintain a long-term relationship with the customer. Customer loyalty is the life blood of businesses with subscription-based business models. (That’s the topic of my latest focus, subscription marketing.)

The New Rules includes terrific examples, with instructions on topics such as interviewing customers to create buyer personas, engaging with customers in real time, and using great service to generate more leads.

To sum it up, again in David’s words:  “Break down the walls between sales and marketing, and your business will improve.”

9 Marketing Books That Would Make Great Gifts

Books make great gifts. They’re easy to wrap. You don’t have to worry about peanut allergies or gluten intolerance. And the best of them can have a long-lasting impact – the gift that does, in fact, keep on giving.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for books to give people in the marketing profession, based on my own, personal reactions. I’ve reviewed several of them already on this blog.

Branding Basics for Small Businesses by Maria Ross (NorLights Press). I read the book after hearing Maria speak recently. Despite the title, her no-nonsense approach to branding works well for businesses of all sizes. She offers great advice about brand consistency.

The Difference: The One Page Method for Reimagining Your Business and Reinventing Your Marketing by Bernadette Jiwa (The Story Of Telling Press). This book is a fast but inspiring read, calling us to create a real difference in customers’ lives.

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi (McGraw-Hill Education). Pulizzi compiles everything you might need to know about content marketing in one place. It’s the modern content marketer’s go-to source. I reviewed it here.

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley (Wiley). If you love Ann Handley’s writing, here’s your chance to find out why it’s so good. This book offers insight into how to make marketing writing both fun and personable. Even if you’re an expert writer, you’ll find things to love in this book. See my blog review here.

The New Rules of Sales and Service by David Meerman Scott (Wiley). David Meerman Scott redefined marketing several years ago with his New Rules of Marketing and PR. In this latest text, he highlights the challenges of ongoing customer engagement after the sale. The topic is relevant for marketing professionals, as the divisions between marketing, sales and service are shrinking.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). He may have won the Nobel Prize for Economics, but marketers everywhere should offer thanks to Kahneman for explaining our irrational (or lazy) thought systems. This book reveals the vagaries of human decisions and thoughts.

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books). This book is less about sales and more about human nature, empathy, and persuasion. It’s an entertaining read filled with useful insight for marketing.

True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business by Ty Montague (Harvard Business Review Press). With all of the buzz about storytelling, this book insists that brands must go further to storydoing. Montague describes how an authentic corporate metastory transcends marketing and informs business actions. See my review here.

Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs (Harvard Business Review Press). This book elevates marketing to another level, calling on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, cultural myths, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Sachs calls for an end to marketing through inadequacy, promoting instead an approach he calls empowerment marketing. See my quick review here.

I still have a long list of books I plan to read, and I’m adding more every day. If you have suggestions to share, let me know. I might review them here.

What’s your True Story? (Book review)

truestory-coverDavid Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR came out in 2007, which seems like a lifetime ago. Now it’s a “marketing classic.” As the world continues to evolve, marketers need to be lifelong learners to stay current.

In the interests of continuous learning, I’ve been reading a wide range of books and want to share the more interesting ones here. Ty Montague’s book True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business is a good place to look for marketing inspiration.

While marketers everywhere realize the importance of storytelling, Montague suggests that we take it further, committing instead to Storydoing™.

The strategy requires an organization to craft its own metastory. Doing so requires a deep understanding of the participants and the stage, as well as the business’ own capabilities. The fourth key component of the metastory is the “quest” – or the higher purpose of a company beyond simply making money.

To move from storytelling to storydoing, you need to let the metastory guide actions. The book offers illustrative stories of the theory in practice for inspiration.

The key takeaways are relevant to every marketing organization:

• Make sure you truly understand your prospects and market participants.
• Honestly assess your own capabilities and personality.
• Have a vision or purpose – and make sure it’s authentic.
• Let that purpose and story inform your messages and actions.

For another inspiring book, see the earlier post on Empowerment Marketing discussing Jonah Sach’s Winning the Story Wars.

Content Marketing: Long Term Results

I just finished reading David Meerman Scott’s book Cashing In with Content: How Innovative Marketers use Digital Information to turn Browsers into Buyers.

The book profiles 20 different organizations that use content-rich websites to achieve their goals. Scott then extracts useful best practices from these organizations.

While the best practices remain completely relevant today, I was curious about the profiled companies. The book was published in 2005 – in Internet years, that’s half a lifetime! I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit the different websites and see where they are now at the end of 2010, and whether they are still pursuing the same general content strategies.

Much has changed since 2005 – at least two of the profiled companies have been acquired, and some of the nonprofits restructured. Clearly, the Howard Dean campaign site from 2004 has closed up shop. But most of the profiled organizations have maintained their dedication to providing rich, fresh and relevant content on their sites. And for many, it appears to be working. A quick look at Alexa shows many with relatively low bounce rates, a larger than average number of pages per visitor, and several minutes spent on the site per visitor.  In other words, these sites are serving their targeted communities (whether large or small) with content that the visitors find relevant and interesting.

Since maintaining up-to-date content is an effort and investment in itself, we have to assume that the strategy is working for those companies, or they would have abandoned the effort and let the content go stale.

Long live content marketing.