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Help vs HypeEffective marketing is about connecting people who want something with the right resolution for them. It involves providing them with information that serves them.  Jay Baer calls that commitment to helping the consumer “Youtility.”

“Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.”  the NY Times best selling author, top content marketer, and speaker, shared as he kicked off his entertaining and engaging discussion at SMCDallas about “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype”.  Baer’s philosophy and the premise for his latest book resonated with the crowd of marketers, PR, technology, and social media professionals.  “This is marketing that people want instead of marketing that people (brands) think they need.”  The intention is to win the hearts and minds of the marketplace with the hope that they will reward you eventually, on their terms.

Baer and Hilton Hotels“The difference between selling and helping is only two letters,” Baer said. “Help someone, and create a customer for life.”  He gave the example of Hilton Hotels and their team of employees who “listen” to Twitter and as @HiltonSuggests, respond to questions that travelers have about places to eat, party, explore, etc.  Their responses are not predicated on if the individual is a Hilton Hotels’ customer and they do so without the expectation of immediate return. Instead of top of mind awareness, this creates “Friend of Mine” awareness.  “To succeed, your prospective customers must consider you to be a friend who provides them with real value.”

“We are in an age of personal and commercial collision where our relationships have converged in unprecedented ways.” Baer referenced a typical Facebook feed where friends share personal insights, brands provide content and offers, and family members post photos and comments.  “We are at a point where we have to decide, is your brand more interesting to me than my own wife?” he asked.  You win by being useful. “People will stay involved with your brand forever if you are useful.”

But what does it take to be useful in an age where we are literally competing for attention against everything?  Jay Baer asserts that now we must build loyalty with information.

1. We are in an age of Self-Serve Information –

Bad Decision Just LazyThe Zero Moment of Truth is when you start researching a product or service you are thinking about buying.  Google determined that in 2010 an individual needed 5.3 sources of information to make a purchasing decision and in 2011 an individual needed 10.4 sources of information to make the same decision.  Why?  Because there is more information.

As Jay said, “We have access to all the world’s information in our pants pocket.   If you make a bad decision now, you’re just lazy.”  He shared the story of Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spas who increased their revenue 50% and became the resource for “everything about fiberglass swimming pools” by writing blog posts to answer every question someone might have on the subject.  Their research showed that a typical customer consumes 105 pages of their web content before they buy.  Now, when a customer contacts them, they know exactly what they want and are ready to purchase.

2. Radical Transparency –

Get in front of the truth.

“Trust is the prism through which all business success must pass.”  We all know about the Domino’s fiasco and their customer brand issues.  They have rebuilt their brand by admitting to past quality problems and continually focusing on product improvement.  Domino’s has made this the focus of their advertising and community outreach. The result is 8 quarters of improved earnings!

3. Real-Time Relevancy  –

You are either useful at the moment a customer needs you, or you are not.

Jay gave the example of Columbia Sportswear, who developed a mobile app to help people tie a variety of knots.  When he was in need of that information it was on his phone with top of mind awareness for the brand.  “Try to find a way to transcend the transaction,” he said.

So how do you create Youtility?

  1. Jay BaerIdentify customer needs
  2. Map customer needs to useful marketing
  3. Market your marketing
  4. Insource Youtility
  5. Make Youtility a process, not a project

Jay closed saying, “Youtility is all about being useful.  Is your marketing so useful that people would pay for it?  Make a commitment to being useful and creating marketing that your customers will actually want.” The Social Media Club of Dallas thanks Jay Baer for including us in his 2013 speaking tour. Please don’t forget that December’s event is the Jingle Mingle Benefiting the Dream Fund on December 12th at Gilley’s Dallas.  SMCDallas is one of the sponsors and we know it will be a wonderful and worthwhile event!  Happy Holidays!

Kathy F. CatoeKathy F. Catoe is the Vice President of KTO Group, LLC, a marketing consultancy specializing in brand and social media strategy. KTO Group also offers its customers Optionz, a consumer incentive reward program.