Transcript of Sonic Branding and the New Rules of Marketing and PR

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John Jantsch: One of the pioneers of inbound marketing, of the new rules of marketing and P&R, David Meerman Scott, joins me for this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. David and I have been friends, colleagues, for over a decade writing about all of this crazy world of marketing. He’s out with the sixth edition. He’s also got a new project where he’s building sonic branding: branding using sound and if you check out this episode you’re going to hear an amazing story related the Grateful Dead towards the end. Check it out!


John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is David Meerman Scott. He is an online marketing strategist, author of a whole bunch of books, including the sixth edition of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Probably one of the best-selling books of the last decade, with anything to do with marketing, been translated into all kinds of languages some that I don’t even know who speaks those languages.

DMS: (Laughs)

John Jantsch: David, thanks for joining me.

DMS: It’s great to be here, John. Like Albanian. I wonder how many people buy the Albanian edition of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. But it’s all good because occasionally I get a chance to speak in those wonderful countries. It’s fantastic. And you’ve been there since the beginning with The New Rules of Marketing and PR. I remember when we first started talking about it ten years ago, which is an amazing amount of time. It’s like twenty decades in dog life.

John Jantsch: Well, and you know I’ve been podcasting that whole time because I think you came on the show with the first edition.

DMS:Absolutely I did, I’ve been on a couple of times. You must be up to multiple thousands of episodes by now.

John Jantsch:  I am, and I bet money – I will bet money – that I’m the only podcaster on the planet who can say that he interviewed you for the first edition and the sixth edition.

DMS: There you go, well look at that. How cool is that. So you are, actually, at the moment that is true. So thank you for that, John. I appreciate that.

John Jantsch: So, what is new in New Rules?

DMS: New for New Rules. Well, what’s not new are the strategies. The strategies are: understand your buyers and create great content to reach those buyers, and reach them in real time using social networks and things like newsjacking. What is new are pretty much the tools. So the first edition was funny, I wrote the first edition in 2005 and 2006. It had, as you know because you’ve done a bunch of books, it’s due to the publisher and then it goes into this black hole for six months and then eventually emerges. And you’re like, I wrote a book? That seemed like so long ago. And when it came out, somebody immediately somebody emailed me and said “Dude, I just read your book. It’s really good. But didn’t you know there’s something called Twitter.”

John Jantsch:  (Laughs)

DMS:  And it was so embarrassing because Twitter didn’t exist when I wrote it and it did when the book came out. It’s all about the new tools and in the sixth edition the newer things are Snapchat and Facebook Live, which were not in the older editions. I mean, Snapchat did exist in the fifth edition but the Snapchat story as part of it didn’t. I’m always looking for the newest tools that people need to use.

John Jantsch:  So one thing an observant fellow like myself who has all of the editions of your book is that somehow you’ve pulled off making it shorter.

DMS: Ooooh, yes! You know what I did to make it shorter? Some people think it’s radical until I actually say the reason. I removed the chapter on mobile marketing. And people say, well, gosh, people say mobile is so important. The reason I removed it is I don’t think mobile is one chapter out of 24 in a book about marketing. Mobile is ubiquitous so I interspersed the bits that were important about mobile throughout the book. So that chapter disappeared and then I also just went through and ruthlessly cut stories even if I liked them if they weren’t appropriate any longer in this day and age. I still had some stories in there that I had written more than 10 years ago, and I liked the stories but it’s like, ahhh, I gotta cut it. I gotta put a new, fresh story in there. So that’s why it got shorter.

John Jantsch: That’s funny. Remember, we talked about mobile marketing for 10 years before it became a thing. And I think you’re right. It’s just … you know, your website has to be mobile-friendly and everybody’s on a mobile device and so it is ubiquitous, as you say.

DMS:  I think it is. I also think, although I didn’t really write this, but I also think that online marketing is marketing. I don’t really think there is any demarcation anymore. I mean, if you want to reach people with your product, your service or your ideas, you have to be out there using the tools of electronic communications. When the first edition of the book came out, it was “Hey, there’s this thing called the web.” (Laughs).

John Jantsch:  (Laughs) Right.

DMS: And now it’s like, duh, everyone knows that. And marketing is marketing, no matter what tools you’re using. It’s not like this is new and different, it’s more like okay, well how to do I do this effectively.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I’ve actually, for the last couple of years, really been referring to it as your online presence. Because it’s also not just a website, it’s an integration of all of your activity online, which may end up being the hub of your business in general.

DMS: Yeah, that’s right. Absolutely right. And I think it’s really important in this world of social networking that every organization, every person, have either a website and/or a blog because that’s real estate that you own. So many people, they have a LinkedIn, they have a Facebook, that’s great. Or they have a Twitter, that’s great. But ultimately that’s not real estate that you own and it can go away. Those poor people who staked their online reputation on the Vine social networking platform, which many people did – I had a Vine account and posted some online videos on Vine – it’s gone now. Disappeared. No longer.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

DMS: I don’t think Facebook is gonna go away but they can always change the way they do business and change their algorithms and start to charge. Or maybe they’re gonna say I’m sorry, your old posts are no longer gonna be kept unless you give us money for them. But your own website, your own blog, is real estate your own that eventually people who find you, they go to you and you alone.

John Jantsch: So for many years, we marketing folks kind of put the cliché Content is King out there forever. To the point where people said, okay, okay I get it. But I’ve been, for the last couple of years, I really think content has moved to the status of air. You almost can’t play in any channel without content. How have you seen content evolve in the time period you’ve been writing about content?

DMS: I have, actually, seen that as well, John. But for me the thing that I’ve noticed and I’ve actually written a lot about it including a couple of books solely on this topic. The thing I’ve seen is that content has gone from where it started – which is that you publish content on a timetable, you do a blog post every week, or something like that, or you plan that next month you’re going to have two infographics come out, or you work on your email newsletter a couple of weeks ahead of time – to now content being real-time, instant engagement. And that’s really changed the dynamic because Twitter is real-time. When somebody posts something on LinkedIn or Facebook it’s real-time. Not next week but right now.

And then the concept of newsjacking – and we actually did an entire podcast on newsjacking a couple of years ago – the idea of newsjacking, which is linking your expertise to a breaking news story to generate attention. That’s clearly real-time. So, yes, content is like air I agree with you. But where a lot of people make a mistake is they don’t focus on creating content instantly right now through social networks, through streaming video like Facebook Live, through Twitter, whatever it might be. Creating a blog post but writing that right now when the moment is right, rather than writing it ahead of time or thinking about what you’re going to do next week.

So that is an area that most people, the vast majority of people, are not doing right.

John Jantsch: And I would contend there’s a bit of an art to that though. Because I get pitches all the time when people are trying to tag or peg their expert to something that just happened in the news and it comes off really kind of made up.

DMS: It comes off as sleazy when they don’t have a legitimate tie to the story.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

DMS: And I agree with you. I get them all the time myself. It’s kind of funny because newsjacking has become so ubiquitous. I’m really glad I named that concept. It’s a nice way to drive people to your brand. But when someone just says, Oh President Trump said this so you should buy my product.

John Jantsch: (Laughs). Right.

DMS: Or, or Hey there’s an eclipse, buy my product. That doesn’t work so well.

John Jantsch:  Yeah.

DMS: But what does work is if you’re an eye doctor and there’s an eclipse coming and you put out the Top Ten Tips for how to protect your eyes when you’re viewing the upcoming eclipse. That’s valuable information and because you’re an eye doctor and because the eclipse involves looking at the sun in some way or another, you are clearly an expert in what’s going to be happening in that news story. Or what did happen in that news story if you’re writing post that event. That’s where the idea of real-time and instant and newsjacking really comes into play is if there’s a legitimate tie to that story rather than just some made-up, hey we’re thinking about this and in a sleazy way tie our brand to it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and you get the bonus if you’re that eye doctor because President Trump apparently did look at the sun without glasses so …

DMS:  He did … I can’t even believe that he did that, after everyone told him not to, he still did it. Oh well.

John Jantsch:  Okay, so let’s talk about … your brand is very tied to the idea of inbound marketing. I have been pushing out for the last couple years and I get some pushback on this but I think that outbound marketing has never been more effective. In fact, I think outbound marketing is a great way to actually make your inbound marketing even more effective. Your thoughts on that?

DMS: I would agree with you that a combination of both is really great. It partly depends on definitions here. HubSpot invented the concept of inbound marketing. They wrote a book called Inbound Marketing that came out, I’m gonna guess it was 2010, I forgot the exact date. I wrote the forward to that book. Brian Hal ligan and Dharmesh Shah, the two co-founders wrote that book. And inbound marketing is using content to create something of value that drives people into your business as opposed to the concept of outbound marketing of what’s traditionally been thought of as interruption techniques of advertising and whatnot.

But I would definitely agree with you that a combination of pushing stuff out as well as creating the content that will bring people in is a valuable strategy. One neat little way to think about those two things in action would be on Facebook. On Facebook, you can create a post, you can post a photograph, you can post a couple of paragraphs of text-based content, or you can do a Facebook Live video, or you can create a video and then upload it to Facebook. All of those are ways that you can use Facebook to send a message to your audience.

But you can also then boost that post, and that’s using the Facebook advertising program. I would argue that’s outbound marketing in the sense that you’re paying for that advertisement, and you’re using it to reach people that you don’t yet know because when you choose the demographics of Facebook users that you want to reach, you pay a bunch of money and then all of a sudden, your message, your video, your photograph, whatever, gets shown in the stream of people that you don’t know. I think from … Many, many marketers have told me that strategy has been working for them. They create something, it goes to their current followers, their current fans, and then it also goes, if they boost it, it also goes to people that don’t yet know. So I’d agree with you.

John Jantsch:  Yeah, and I mean the key to that, really, is that we’re producing the inbound assets. And so you can even take that to the physical world and salespeople are much more effective now if they’ve got good content. [inaudible 00:13:39]

DMS: Yes. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I’ve …

John Jantsch: (Cough)

DMS:  I’ve said for years now that marketing is creating content that will reach many people at once fails at using that exact same content to curate that content one buyer at a time.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah

DMS:  And, and, absolutely. It’s interesting you said that’s a combination of inbound and outbound. I think you’re right. I’ve never really thought about it that way. It’s a nice way to think about it.

John Jantsch: All right, let’s move to social media. Obviously you’ve covered it in every edition of New Rules including the sixth edition. How, in your mind, has social media evolved for the good or bad in the last couple years?

DMS: Actually, I don’t even know that social media was in the first edition cause I’m not sure that eleven or twelve years ago we used the term “social media”.

John Jantsch:   Yeah, that was about the year 2005, 6

DMS:   I might be wrong but I think that term grew in popularity around 2009, 2010 or so. Do you remember?

John Jantsch:  Yeah, I mean … It’s not in … 2007, spring of 2007 Duct Tape Marketing came out, first edition, and I did not cover social media.

DMS: Right, right. So now it’s everywhere. So I think what’s interesting to me about social media is that the big, big, big social media players, and I’m thinking Google, Facebook, Twitter, arguably Snapchat, are all islands.

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

DMS: And they don’t like one another, they don’t play nice with one another. You know, you’ve got North Korea over here, and you’ve got the U.S. over there, and you’ve got another state somewhere else. When you’re playing in Facebook, LinkedIn is a completely separate island. So when social media first started it was very interesting that Google would show tweets in the search results. The social networks kind of played nice with one another. And now it’s like, they’re just trying to beat one another up. They copy one another’s features and it just feels like they’re trying to encourage people to use only one social network ,and I’m not sure I like that.

So what does that mean for us as marketers is that we have to make a decision. Are we going to focus on one social network. Hey, you know what? For me, LinkedIn is really important. I’m going to focus on LinkedIn. Or does it mean kind of what I do, which is create a piece of content and push it out on a bunch of networks. My typical pattern is, I’ll write a blog post, I’ll put it on my blog – – and then I will send a link to that blog post on my Twitter. I’ll usually post a link to that blog post on my Facebook. Then I’ll copy and paste that blog post into LinkedIn as a LinkedIn post. It’s kind of like, okay, I’ve got to send an ambassador to each one of those islands to tell them I’ve got this thing going on. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s the reality of social networking now, I think.

John Jantsch:  I believe that in the last couple years people have come around to this idea of social media, social networking, actually being social. I see a lot more … A lot less focus on building large followings and a lot more focus on engaging in, say, Facebook groups.

DMS: Yes. I think you’re right. I think you’re right about that, John. And, and … I think that too many organizations are in broadcast-only mode.

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

DMS:  They are just pushing stuff out one way and aren’t engaging in two-day conversation. And the other thing is that many, many organizations have a sort of a company Facebook page and a company Twitter account. Even if they’re a tiny company with three employees, they’re still doing it that way when, I think, it’s much better … I think it’s okay to have the company one. But also have a personal one. And if you’re the CEO of a company, have a personal Twitter, a personal Facebook, a personal LinkedIn, that you use to communicate for the most part. The company one is fine. But people don’t really wanna engage with companies unless they’re enormous brands. For example, I engage with American Airlines on a pretty regular basis. I also engage with individuals at American Airlines like Jonathan Pierce, for example, who worked there, who I met through social networks.

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You told me about a new project that you’re working on, something called Signature Tones, a sonic branding studio

DMS: Ah, yes …

John Jantsch: So tell us about that.

DMS: So think about the elements of branding. There’s visual branding, which is things like logos and colors. There’s branding using text, so the written word, as a form of branding. You can use video as a way to brand your organization. Great customer service is a great way to brand an organization. One of the least used and least understood form of branding that I know of is branding using music, using sound.

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

DMS: And I’ve for a long time wanted to start an agency. Actually for 15 years I’ve thought about starting an agency and I’ve always rejected it because there’s people much smarter than me who are great at having, for example, a search engaging optimization agency or a public relations agency, an advertising agency, a content creation agency. I didn’t want to do any of those things cause there’s a lot of people doing em. But almost nobody has a sonic branding agency. So I started this company with my friend, Juanito Pascal, he’s a composer and a touring musician and he has a bunch of CDs. He’s done music scores, he’s done film scores, he’s done television scores. We create sonic logos as well as original music for companies. A sonic logo is between, say, five and 15 notes …

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DMS: …that’s used as a recognizable sound, that people remember a brand around. So, for example, when you shut down your PC it makes a noise and that noise is a sonic logo.

John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

DMS: Or the Skype ringtone is a sonic logo. Or the NBC chime or Intel Inside. Those are all sonic logos. We create those for companies. We also create original music that might be used for – hint, hint – podcast theme music.

John Jantsch: Right.

DMS: Or original music might be used as background in videos. Or walk-on music for public speakers that might be used as they’re walking onto the stage. That might be used on the trade-show floor, or on-hold music on the telephone. And that is music that’s perfectly represented in a brand. Most people, when they think of using music in those applications, do one of three things: they either steal the music, popular music, which you can go to jail for; or they use music that they get from a stock music house, pay a hundred bucks for but somebody else could have that music and it doesn’t really represent their brand; or they try to work with a recognized musician and have to spend huge bucks to get a popular song licensed for them. So we provide a wonderful alternative, which is get your music composed especially for you.

John Jantsch: I think you need to get a couple baseball players for their walk-up song. You know the [inaudible 00:21:49]

DMS:  (Laughs). Yeah.

John Jantsch: They could be your endorsements.

DMS:  And it’s been really fun because, as you know, I’m a huge music geek. I wrote a book called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. I love the intersection of music and marketing. I wrote a book, that book, which was a fun tome about the intersection of music and marketing, and this sonic branding studio that I built with Juanito is another way that I can link music and marketing together in a really cool way.

John Jantsch:  Yeah, I was going to ask you how many Dead shows you’ve seen this year.

DMS:   I have seen Dead & Company a couple of times but oh, man, did I have fun a couple af weeks ago. Brian Hal ligan is the CEO of HubSpot. He’s a great friend of mine and my co-author in Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. A couple of months ago, Brian purchased Jerry Garcia’s favorite guitar, named Wolf, at an auction for $2 million, a little bit under $2 million.

John Jantsch: Wow.

DMS:   So Brian now owns Wolf and the Garcia family reached out to Brian because it was Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday celebration at Red Rocks out in California, one of the best music venues on the planet. And they wanted to use Wolf in the celebration and have some musicians play Wolf. So I actually escorted Wolf to Red Rocks in Colorado myself. We had two first-class seats. I had one seat and Wolf had the other.

John Jantsch:   (Laughs)

DMS: We flew out to Colorado and Wolf was played and we had backstage passes and we went for sound check and met the musicians, John Mayer and Bob Weir and Oteil Burbridge and a bunch of other cool people. And then enjoyed the show. It was absolutely fantastic. I Grateful Dead geeked out on that big time, John.

John Jantsch: I tell ya, carrying a $2 million guitar would have made me nervous.

DMS: I was nervous. I was nervous. But that was the only way the guitar could get out because Brian had a meeting in a different city before that and another meeting in a different city after that. I was going Boston-Denver-Boston and so I was the designated Wolf wrangler.

John Jantsch: So is that a Strat? What is that?

DMS: No it’s a custom-made Doug Irwin guitar. It was made especially for Jerry to his specifications. There’s only one like it in the world. It took about a year to make. It was Jerry’s favorite guitar. And unlike most guitarists who change their instruments constantly … I mean, you watch, for example, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He’ll play five or six or even ten guitars in one concert.

John Jantsch: Oh sure

DMS: Jerry Garcia played the same guitar for a decade. It was his favorite and it was totally custom-made. For Deadheads, it’s incredibly famous. There’s thousands, well millions, of photographs out there of Jerry with that guitar.

John Jantsch:  If you’ve ever been to an Eric Clapton Concert he has no less than about 40 guitars on the stage. (Laughs).

DMS: Yeah, that’s right. And Jerry was the complete opposite. He’d go out and play the same guitar the entire show. And then the next night he’d play that same guitar for the entire show. And the next night, and the next night. He had about six go-to instruments over the course of his career and they had about four of them at the show that we went to at Red Rocks. Actually have an awesome picture of myself with the four guitars. Travis Bean, Tiger, Wolf and Rosebud are the names of the guitars.

John Jantsch: That’s awesome. Well, Dave, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully, we will get to see you out there on the road. Obviously, the New Rules of Marketing and PR is available anywhere people choose to buy their books. But anywhere else you want to send anybody to learn more about you?

DMS: Sure, if anyone’s interested in that concept of sonic branding we’ve got some stuff on and DM Scott on Twitter. Always love to engage with people. So thanks, John, I really appreciate it. Keep up the good work, my friend.

John Jantsch: You take care.

Hey thanks for listening to this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Wonder if you could do me a favor. Could you leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and, I promise, I read each and every one. Thanks.



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