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August 16, 2007


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» You must unlearn what you have learned from VillageTalk Mediadesk
New Rule: Publish your way in with great content that your buyers want to consume. You must unlearn the use of gobbledygook about your products and services. Instead start from the problems and ne [Read More]

» The mass media aberration: What's old is new again from Web Ink Now
After I posted you must unlearn what you have learned yesterday, I entered into a mind opening conversation with Brian Clark that started on my blog and then went over to email. Brian helped me to realize something that I [Read More]


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Matt Rogers

David, you start your article by quite honestly asking whether the rules you detail in your book are "new or not".

Having read your book I think it is fair to say that the answer depends on the audience the book is intended for. If you are already a regular blogger and marketeer, then the rules are unlikely to prove useful as you've already been using them.

However for myself, anyone else who is in the process of getting a start-up off the ground (www.aroxo.com in our case) the rules have proved exceptionally relevant and, indeed new. Without your book we would have gone down the path of "New! Revolutionary! eBay is doomed!", although hopefully would have avoided "whiter than white". Your book (plus if I may say so, the complementary Beyond Buzz) are essential reading for any other founders.

I saw a perfect example of the old rules in action in the UK where there is TV commercial running in which a new moisturizer is being advertised as having “20% oxygen” added. If traditional marketing techniques have reached such a low point that marketeers are spinning the fact that they've converted their product into foam form to enable them to fit less into a canister, then I'm not entirely sure that the old rules are ones which anyone might wish to be associated with.


Brian Clark

But see, I've always thought this way, being an "amateur" and all. :)

But you're right... most "professionals" need to unlearn everything. They need to imagine the world before the printing press, when you had to talk to people as real people, right there in the market square. A time when your reputation meant everything, because everyone knew everything everyone else had done or was doing.

Yep, you're right... this stuff is all brand new! ;)

David Meerman Scott


Ha! Never thought about the angle of going back to the market square when people just talked with one another.

You're right, that's an "old" rule worth remembering.

None of us are "pros" at this stuff. We are all learning from one another.


Brian Clark

That's what I was trying to say in that post you keep referring to. I guess I should have just said what's in the comment. :)

David Meerman Scott

Sorry Brian, perhaps I was too dense to get what you had said in that post. I most certainly get it now.

You are absolutely right. From the days of the town square nothing has changed. People communicate with one another.

There was some weird aberration of mass media and mass marketing and PR for the masses that caused many of us to become kooky and forget how to communicate like humans. The aberration was from about the end of WWII (and the begining of TV) to now.

I admit that I got kooky. You were probably the only one who didn't.


Matt Gentile

Same rules, different channels, new messaging strategies. In regard to the 1 space, 2 space Yoda Moment; if you ever did any technical writing or picked up the MS Manual of Style, you would know this basic rule.

The heavy concentration on social media and its revolutionary new thinking for PR professionals may sound enlightening for techies trying to pass themselves off as PR professionals, but at its core PR remains a people business. Meeting the reporter (in person) find out what they are writing about and tailor your pitch. Have some fun with the new media, but don't forget the basic principles of PR.

Having said all that, don't believe for one minute that I'm anti-new media, it is another tool in the tool kit. Another channel by which to reach my target. Just like the expansion of all media has invited the information consumer to pick and choose what they want to watch, so it is with PR and the New Media. Create valuable, entertaining content with a good hook and push it through the channels. New media is a pull where old media is a push, but ultimately they both end up at the same place.

Sender - Channel - Message - Receiver, Same as it ever was.

From the Beach Chair,

Matt Gentile (FloridaMoves.com - 300 Days of Sunshine)

Kevin Grossman

Hi David. Great post. I've unlearned most of the old rules myself, except for the darn double-space rule (just look at my comment).

Sigh. There. Single space. And I fancy myself a writer.

There were some great comments to this post, but the fact is, online marketing, although in its infancy (i.e., what the heck are skins, bugs and tickers), are here to stay.

Traditional marketing and PR is still viable and should be included in your business plan (to what degree depends on your business, target market, etc.) -- but I'll tell you, I'd trade a mention in the WSJ for the viral marketing generated by blogging, distributing search-optimized releases, Webinars, podcasts, etc., any day of the week.

Mike Sigers

Great post ! You just gave me a nice intro for a marketing campaign I'm designing for a real estate developer.

Their current campaign needs to be unlearned before they can learn what would actually work.

Thanks David !

Jason Bradford

As a completely digital company, relying completely on digital distribution and marketing I've had to unlearn a ton.

I'm sure some are able to make the seamless transition to the "New Rules", however even when I feel like I've got a handle on it, I find a book that pushes me even more.

I'm relearning. Thanks for the book and the blog. Great stuff.

Brad Shorr

Hi David, I just learned the single-space rule last week. Old habits die hard! You and the commenters make excellent points about re-learning. I've been noticing that not only do companies have to change, but their customers do as well. In b2b, there are plenty of industries where people feel comfortable with and expect the traditional press release, advertising and marketing message. Should a business change its methods ahead of its customer base, and how do you know if you've changed too much or too quickly?

Daniel Hjelmtorp

Hi David, and thanks for an excellent book! One of my big favourites this year. After reading it I tried to use the knowledge and new ideas at my job to boost and improve our new website. But my words echoed in empty ears. They are typical "old-marketing-thinking-people" that don't know how to use the new tools internet give them. So I can really understand what you mean when you talk in your book that the old way of working with marketing is hard for people to let go and think new. Its most sad for them, but also a challenge for me to persuade them to see the potential! And all I want to do after reading the book is to start working with everything you talked about.


Hi David. I've read the book and love it. I've actually been in pretty good contact with some of the people in the book since I've read it. They also have been very helpful.

To your point of unlearning, however, it is my opinion that, if you are doing marketing correctly, you should always be in a state of learning/unlearning. On any given day, the landscape changes and influences the communication channels between businesses and consumers. Technology is certainly a factor, but so is sensitivity to factors surrounding social events (i.e., environmentalism, human rights violations, corporate greed, etc.). Any of these things can put businesses and their messages under a microscope.

I would argue that the only real constant in marketing is in knowing how your product or service is different from your competition and who needs to know about it. Outside of that, the ways in which we bring the two together is a never ending cycle of learning/unlearning. At least, I think it should be. Good marketers will be the ones who always stay open to new possibilities.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for the thoughts, Geoff and also for reading the book. You're right -- there are many environmental factors that come into play. And yes, those of us who are smart (occasionally I fall into that category, but I often lapse) are contantly learning and unlearning.


Dr Eddy Kloprogge

Unlearn, to be able to learn

Living on the edge of chaos

(A summary extracted from Professor Petruska Clarkson’s Study: “Learning to Unlearn”)
by Peter Gleeson and Dr Eddy Kloprogge, January 2007


Jeff Paul Internet Millions

I think it should be. Good marketers will be the ones who always stay open to new possibilities.

Buy Kamagra

trust me.. i love this blog!!!


A great post, and so true - even two years on. I completely agree with you and think organisations should create content based on customer demands and requirements. It sounds so obvious, but still there are so many major organisations that don’t seem to get that quite right.

I have referred to your entry in my blog and quoted that you may like the organisation’s business approach I’ve written about. Hopefully I got that right :)

Check it out:


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