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November 19, 2009


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Jay Jaboneta

Great Interview!!! Keep them coming!

Chief Storytelling Officer

Gustav Bergman

Thankyou David,

I love the way you keep on introducing useful concepts and terms like Buyer Personas, Publishing Plans - and now M.S.U., Making Stuff Up!
Internet Business Advisor

Adam Forrest

I had a very recent passionate conversation about this yesterday and your post comes very timely. I plan on passing this through the department.

Thank you


Jonathan Kranz

I think you're on to something. When marketing campaigns go wrong, really wrong, it's rarely from a snafu at the execution stage of the process; it's almost always caused by misdirection from the very beginning, a failure, as you suggest, to get the hell off your ass and FIND OUT what prospects and customers really think and want.

Kellye Crane

David, I'm always amazed by your talent for expressing important concepts in such a straightforward ways. Makes me smile every time.

Graham Chapman

David, great points as usual. "MSU" is most definitely an issue when dealing with many marketing and PR professionals. At my company, 919 Marketing, we preach something similar - that most organizations dance around the numbers rather than trying to make the nunbers work for their clients. Bottom line is that to be successful you have to connect with consumers and produce significant ROI's. Instead of MSU and avoiding numbers, companies need to step up and show clients how they will make the numbers work for them.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks all. I love the concept of MSU - it really hits home with so many organizations. Thanks to Stacy at Cisco for asking a question that prompted my answer. I hadn't articulated MSU on video before.

John Nemo

David, you hit the nail on the head per usual. This is the core of what Social Media is all about - customer service. With one quick Twitter search we can literally find out what our buyer personas are thinking/saying/doing in regards to our product, brand, etc. Great stuff!

John Nemo, PR Director & Multimedia Storyteller

Wayne Cerullo

Great point -- Politically it's always easier (and faster) to MSU than FSO (Find Stuff Out)!

At INSIGHTING IDEAS, we always find that two things happen when we FSO:
- people internally get aligned around prospect reality and
- there is always a surprise that we didn't even know to ask about! (and it's usually a make or break issue)!!!

Adele Revella is a great resource on buyer personas (www.buyerpersona.com) as well...

David Meerman Scott

Adele is a great friend Wayne. Thanks for mentioning her. David


Great advice for any company. We did 23 interviews with our customers, and were surprised by some of their pains. These pains are now being translated into lots of little stories we're going to use for our launch. Andrew and I refer to the notes we took from New Rules and World Wide Rave routinely, as we develop our mini-campaigns. Thanks again,

- Axle

John Patella

The old Dale Carnegie quote: To sell Jane Doe what Jane Doe wants to buy, you got to see the world in Jane Doe’s eyes.

Stacy Spognardi

It was great to sit down with you to hear your thoughts around social media. I look forward to sharing your insight with my peers and hope to hear more from you in the future! Thanks again.



Could not agree more with your Michigan State University...oops Making Stuff Up analogy. One thing I've been advocating is something I call "zero based budgeting" for marketing.

Go talk to customers. Interview them. Ask lots of open ended questions. What social networks do they use? What blogs and papers do they read?

Only once you have all that data, can you determine where to spend your marketing funds. Spend it only where your prospective customers are.

Thanks for sharing, David.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Find New Customers

Toni Anicic

CISCO does great job in product development and product marketing.

When we were looking into different options for a camera for our videos, I insisted on Flip, mostly because I saw you and some people I follow on YouTube use it and saw it has great sound and video by default.


Great Video David! Thanks for sharing... Was there a specific event that caused you to create that "MSP" video? Curious? Sincerely,

David Meerman Scott

Brian - I do not understand your question.

I spoke with Stacy for half an hour in my office. They edited the discussion into six segments which will be published on the Cisco SP360 blog. This was segment two of the series.


John Pohl

David: We take a similar approach at 14th Floor Solutions, but often use online surveys rather than face-to-face discussions in order to get feedback from hundreds rather than dozens of customers. The trick is to construct the online survey in a way that allows people to open up as easily as they might in an actual conversation. Any thoughts on this?

David Meerman Scott


Surveys (and focus groups for that matter) are no substitute for getting out into the market and speaking with buyers one-on-one. I hope you don't think this is harsh, but surveys are another form of MSU.

You really need to have personal discussions because that's how you learn the nuggets of gold that you never, ever thought about in your wildest imagination.

A survey is only as good as the people who write it. And if you write it based on "Making Sxxx Up" in your comfortable office than it just serves your internal bias.

That being said, if you do some buyer persona research and learn some amazing things, you can test and further refine with surveys and focus groups.

Thanks for asking the question.


Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

Customer Profile Surveys are more valuable than gold.

I hired survey expert Jeanne Hurlbert in January to help me create a survey, and the results knocked me out of my chair.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that many of the readers of my nine-year-old ezine would be begging me to switch from text to HTML. Problem was, the other half wanted text.

I changed list management companies and now offer both, and everybody's happy. Previously, I'd rather swallow chards of glass than to have to hassle with HTML.

More imporantly, I now know what the top 3 problems are that my audience faces. I know what topics they want me to teach. And I have dozens of incredible testimonials that I can use at my website.

Jeanne, by the way, is now my new business partner. We're creating a social media assessment for people who are new to social media and using it for business. It takes about 20 minutes to complete. When done, you get a customized report that gives you specific guidelines on what to discuss, and how often, at social media sites.

How did we know people needed this? They said so in the survey.

Rick Braddy

Excellent post, David. We've all been guilty of MSU at one point or another.

MSU is also known as "Inside-Out" thinking, where we gather in a conference room, pontificate and pretty soon everyone is breathing everyone else's exhaust fumes and whoever is the most compelling or carries the biggest stick wins!

The biggest wins in my career came from meeting with real customers, learning what was going on in THEIR world, then verifying those findings project across the target market. Every Product Manager worth their salt knows this.

As always, thanks for boiling this down into simplistic terms.

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