You start to sell when you stop selling. David Meerman Scott’s insights on Real-Time Marketing and Buyer Personas for eCommerce

David Meerman Scott - Keynote Speaker @ GPeC SUMMIT 2018The way people buy nowadays has completely changed. Pushing products and services towards a broad, shapeless audience will not advance your sales anymore. It will cost you loads of money and you’ll end up turning people off.

Instead, you need to focus on creating the right buyer personas for your business and start to sell when the buyer is ready. How do you do that? Digital Marketing Strategist and bestselling author, David Meerman Scott, has the right equation, which includes Real-Time Marketing, Newsjacking, being active in social media and taking part in the conversations that are happening online.

David Meerman Scott was our guest keynote speaker at GPeC SUMMIT, where he delivered a remarkable performance to an audience of eCommerce and Digital Marketing professionals. In the interview below, he sums up his stage presentation and his life-long experience in Marketing.

GPeC: David, where should an e-commerce start when developing its marketing strategy?

David Meerman Scott: For the marketing strategy I always suggest starting with buyer personas. Understanding the buyers you’re trying to reach and what their problems are. So, instead of marketing your products and services, what you’re doing is marketing to a particular buyer. And that allows you to create the kind of content that will be interesting for those buyer personas.

Always starting with the buyers is a great way to create the kind of thing that you’ll be able to reach people with.

GPeC: What are the biggest challenges when tailoring buyer personas?

David Meerman Scott: There’s two big mistakes. Mistake number 1 is that most businesses spend way too much time talking about their own company products and services. And that’s a problem because, when you’re talking about your products and services, it’s coming from a very egotistical kind of perspective. You need to get away from that idea when talking about products and services.

The second mistake people make is they truly don’t do the buyer persona research. Instead, they either make up a buyer persona profile, or they only go and scratch the surface. In other words, they’ll say: “I’m trying to reach 25 year old to 35 year old women who have a college education”. Well, that’s not a buyer persona. That’s a marketing demographic. They’re two different things. A buyer persona would be… somebody who wants to go on vacation, but they want to bring their dog with them.

GPeC: How can marketers create that buyer persona in detail?

David Meerman Scott: The main thing that’s very important is that you have to actually interview representatives of your buyer persona. For example, let’s say you’re in the hotel business and you’re selling your hotel rooms through e-commerce. You’re selling vacation packages, you’re selling spa treatments, those sorts of things. What you need to do is do the buyer persona research of the different types of buyers who will be visiting the hotel. For example, maybe there’s people who want to have a wedding reception at the hotel. Maybe there’s business travelers to go to that hotel, maybe there’s families going on vacation to that hotel. Each one of those is a different buyer persona.

In order to be successful, you need to interview people who are part of those buyer personas and understand what are their problems, their challenges, what words and phrases do they use to describe those problems and challenges. Because, if you’ve done that research, it allows you to occasionally create the kind of content that will be able to reach them.

GPeC: How many interviews with buyer personas representatives would suffice to create a real buyer persona?

David Meerman Scott: You try to get to the point where you’re hearing the same things pop up again and again. Usually, it’s around 20. Pay careful attention when sampling the buyer personas representatives. They are not your customers, it’s a different thing. If you’re already a customer of something, then you know too much about the product to be able to be a good buyer persona. Of course it’s great to talk to your customers, but that’s not great for doing buyer persona research, because you want to find people who are not yet your customers.

GPeC: “You start to sell when you stop selling”. Can you explain a little bit this famous quote of yours?

David Meerman Scott: People are so busy saying: “Here’s my product!”, “Buy my product!”. “Here, I’ll give you a discount 15% off” or shipping off or whatever. They’re so focused on selling the products, that people get turned off. All over the world, people are getting fed up with everybody trying to sell them something.

If you truly understand your buyers and you want to be helpful to them, then you provide information through videos, blog posts, photographs that’s interesting to them, that they engage with. Or you become active in social media and connect with them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Then you’re actually engaging people like humans. Having a conversation might lead to a sale. But starting with the sale doesn’t work.

GPeC: What would be the right marketing mix for an online shop just starting today on the market?

David Meerman Scott: Number one: focus very hard on creating background information on the various products and services that are sold. So, not just the product itself, but background information. How do you use it? How does it get set up? What are some of the things to think about to use this products?
So that, as people are searching for information, they find that background information which leads them to the place where they will make a purchase.

Number two: I would suggest being active in social networks, so that, when people are active, your potential customers are on social media, you have an opportunity to engage with them.

And third: be very wary of being too aggressive in how you sell, because it turns people off.

GPeC: What do you think will be the next big thing in marketing in the following years?

David Meerman Scott: I’ve been looking a lot recently at how people become a fan of a product, a service, an idea, or an artist and it’s very interesting to me that you have people who become very passionate about a particular product or service. They can become passionate about a particular hotel or the type of mobile phone they use, or they become very passionate about a brand of clothing or a music artist or other things that are part of their lives.

So, I’m interested in tapping that fandom and what is it that companies can do to attract fans. In the next 3 to 5 years, I think that people will start to get more and more frustrated with the online world, because it’s so noisy and it’s so polarising, us versus them, that people will want to go back to human connections and building fans. That’s what’s interesting to me.

You can watch the entire interview on YouTube or subscribe to our channel for more video content. Want to grow your eCommerce and Digital Marketing skills in 2019? Check out the great list of speakers who will stage Premium Know-How in Bucharest at GPeC SUMMIT May 27-28 and book your seat now.