Return on Behavior Magazine
Home for marketing and customer service professionals


September 27th, 2009

Everybody is Wrong

What conventional wisdom that “everybody knows” can you challenge?

I’ve gotten tremendous pushback from thousands of people over the past decade on these ideas. But I’ve also had thousands of people reach out to me to say that these ideas have been incredibly helpful to them.

Some of the best ideas come from contrarians.

Here are some things I’ve challenged in the past ten years.

“Everybody knows that marketing is about promoting your product.”

Everybody is wrong. When you adhere to the famous “four Ps of marketing” and talk up your product (the first P) you end up with egotistical nonsense. Nobody cares about your products. They care about themselves and solving their problems. Marketing is about understanding your buyer personas and creating information that they want to consume.

“Everybody knows that PR is about pitching the media.”

Everybody is wrong. These days, journalists don’t passively wait to see what brilliant PR pitches are sitting in their email in-box. In fact, they increasingly see email pitches as spam. However journalists are looking for story ideas all the time by searching Google, reading blogs, and following Twitter. Are they finding you?

“Everybody knows that the press release is dead.”

Everybody is wrong. The press release is an effective media to reach buyers directly. When you craft a release from your buyers’ perspective and send it through one of the press release distribution services, your news hits people’s Google Alerts, is indexed by the news search engines, and is syndicated to hundreds of news portals, vertical market sites, and via RSS feeds.

“Everybody knows that newspapers are dying.”

Everybody is wrong. When television came around, people predicted the death of radio. Radio didn’t go away, but the ways people consumed radio content changed because people didn’t sit around watching the radio in their living rooms anymore. The Web will not kill newspapers. But individual newspapers like my hometown paper The Boston Globe have to change and adapt to survive.

“Everybody knows that working for a big company means you have job security.”

Everybody is wrong. Just ask people who worked for Bear Stearns or Enron or Worldcom or Lehman Brothers about job security. You make your own security by being excellent at what you do. I was fired three times. Now, by working for themselves, millions of people have the greatest job security there is. Here’s a new one I am hearing more and more.

“Everybody knows that social media changes everything.”

Everybody is wrong. Yes, social media is changing the ways that companies are communicating on the web. But that doesn’t mean that offline marketing and communications is changing. You still need to meet with customers. Sometimes attending or exhibiting at a trade show is a good idea. TV and magazine advertising can still be effective. And getting your company into the Wall Street Journal or seen on Oprah (or your trade publication) has tremendous value.

What conventional wisdom that “everybody knows” can you challenge?

About the Author

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of the award-winning BusinessWeek best-selling  book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use news releases, blogs, viral marketing and online media to reach buyers directly, which is being published in 24 languages and the new hit book World Wide RaveCreating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories. He is a recovering VP of marketing for two publicly traded technology companies and was also Asia marketing director for Knight-Ridder, at the time one of the world's largest newspaper and electronic information companies.

David has lived and worked in New York, Tokyo, Boston, and Hong Kong and has presented at industry conferences and events in over forty countries. Check out his blog at or download his free ebook The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free at



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