In March of this year, we were lucky enough to sit down with content marketing expert Jay Baer to discuss content marketing and Youtility, the radically different marketing concept Baer focuses on in his latest book.
In this video, Baer defines Youtility and offers advice for organisations starting their content marketing journey.
Youtility is now climbing the New York Times Best Sellers list, and for good reason!
If you’ve ever wondered what’s the point of offering customers free information on matters that you would much rather have them pay for, this book is for you. At its very core is the message that “success flows to organisations that inform, not organisations that promote”. In other words, loyal customers will flock to businesses that have at some point helped them – not businesses that have made them pay when they were at their most desperate.
Another interesting idea that Jay Bear presents relates to the flood of marketing books in circulation that proclaim that all you have to do to be successful is “be amazing”, “be different” and “know your USP”. This is not as simple as it seems. While being the “most amazing” is easier when you are a unique business, for most business owners it ends up being a case of who can shout the loudest.
What if, instead of entering into this kind of battle, you were simply the most reliable and useful source of information around? Wouldn’t this be a better long-term strategy than constantly battling to be the most unique out there?
‘Youtility’ relates to this concept. It is the idea that, “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.”
Here are our top five takeouts from Jay Baers Youtility (you’ll have to read the book for more – there are plenty!)
Taxi Mike and the power of low-tech Youtility
If you think you don’t have the budget to be useful, then the story of Taxi Mike may inspire you. Mike is a taxi driver in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies – a tourist hub. Every three months, Mike prints a bright yellow pamphlet of where to go and what to do in Banff. He distributes this across restaurants, hotels, bars and other tourist haunts. For tourists, they are a near necessity – Mike’s recommendations are spot on and they make any time spent in Banff a fun time. And what happens at the end of the night when tourists need to stagger back to their hotels? They unfold their Taxi Mike pamphlet and call him to come and take them home.
In 2012, McDonald’s launched ‘Your Questions, Our Answers’ and invited their consumers to ask them absolutely anything. And they sure did! Within seven months, McDonald’s received 19,000 questions – from what drugs animals were treated with to whether they used beef snout/brains in the burgers. On the surface, it looked like a total PR nightmare. However, through this well-executed and completely radical amount of transparency, the result was increased consumer confidence in the brand, the food and the quality of their ingredients.
They merged the need to promote with the need to inform, and through doing so consumer trust shot through the roof.
“The conventional wisdom for years has to put the products that consumers want at the back of the store,” explains Todd Sherman, chief marketing officer at Point Inside, a mobile mapping tech company. The theory is that they’ll walk past a heap of other things and be tempted to buy them. However, by providing consumers with a way of mapping out their shopping route (and thus decreasing how much time they need to spend shopping), the trend is that they then feel like they have saved time and will spend this saved time buying extra items that they may not have thought about previously – an incredibly smart example of helping consumers in real time.
‘What Knot To Do’
One of the most difficult aspects of Youtility is knowing and translating your customers’ needs to an executable plan. And knowing whether this plan is a blog, an app or a video series, etc. requires research beyond consumer needs – you need to also know how they prefer to access information. Columbia Sportswear nailed this with their ‘What Knot To Do’ app. They conducted research and discovered that when outdoors, their customers carried smartphones. Merged with their need to tie knots when climbing, the ‘What Knot To Do’ app was a no-brainer. It may not always be so clear, but it requires a thought beyond just consumer needs.
Here’s an interesting one: regular employers and company experts are trusted far above company CEOs, yet most company information is created from the top down. Businesses have to start thinking of themselves like media companies and produce useful content from all members to gain trust with customers.
Youtility is a practice that your whole business should undertake, and one that takes time and motivation to execute. If you are planning to integrate Youtility into your business, it is worth reading Jay Baer’s book to get a full understanding of exactly how you can start helping and stop hyping.
Tracy Fitzgerald – Senior Content Strategist