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Turning Marketing Upside Down With Jay Baer’s Youtility

Date published: June 24, 2013
Last updated: June 24, 2013

Jay Baer has long been known as a marketing thought leader. He’s also a speaker, consultant, author, entrepreneur and really smart guy. So, when I was handed a pre-release copy of Jay Baer's forthcoming book, Youtility – Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype, I was excited, to say the least. Then, when I saw the foreword was written by my favorite marketing speaker of all time, Marcus Sheridan (a.k.a. The Sales Lion), I knew I had to immediately carve out some time and crack the book open – and I’m glad I did.

One of the things I liked most about the book is Jay’s avoidance of nebulous concepts. Everything he writes about is backed up with concrete and real life examples. He addresses and calls to question common marketing belief systems, goals, strategies, and tactics. You’re not left feeling like you just read a book from a guy in an ivory tower. Instead, you get the sense that he’s rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty – been there and done that.

Below are eight high-level takeaways I found extremely valuable and believe you will, too.

1. Make a customer today, or create a customer for life – If I had to pick one phrase to sum up the entire book, this would be it. It’s not enough anymore for companies to market what they want to or what they feel they need to. People want smart marketing, marketing that’s so good and helpful consumers would be willing to pay for it on its own – it’s about help not hype, a Youtility.

2. Top-of-Mind Awareness – This is the first of three categories of marketing. It’s also the basis behind what most marketing professors teach in universities today – the Mad Men approach. Securing top-of-mind awareness in the heads of consumers requires a sustained marketing and messaging campaign so that when they are ready to buy, they will think of that product or service. This outbound approach to marketing isn’t necessarily bad—it’s just very inefficient. Add to that the changing media landscape and people’s ability to avoid brazen advertising altogether, and its value proposition is declining.

3. Frame-of-Mind Awareness – This is the second of three marketing categories. It’s about marketing being available at the moment someone needs it. An early example of frame-of-mind marketing is the Yellow Pages. When a consumer wanted something, she could simply open up the book and find it. The rise of the Internet saw the usefulness of this example decline. And as the Web became more pervasive in our lives, so did the rise of inbound marketing – finding what you need using Google, social media, and blogs. Jay describes inbound marketing as “serving marketers well” and “will continue to do so, but needs to share the stage with other forces,” like friend-of-mine awareness.

4. Friend-of-Mine Awareness – Jay writes about the merger of personal and commercial relationships for consumers today. Companies aren’t just fighting for the attention of consumers with their competitors. They’re competing for attention with consumers’ parents, husbands, and wives, children, friends, and colleagues. Jay highlights this entanglement by describing what his Facebook newsfeed looks like. There are two ways for a brand to stand out amongst friends and family – to be truly amazing (which is very difficult) or to be truly useful. It’s about building trust by actually helping consumers solve their problems. He says that his family is useful. His friends are useful. Companies can be useful, too.

5. Self-Serve Information – This is the first of Jay’s three facets of Youtility. For decades, successful sales people were effective because they built real relationships with people that fostered loyalty. Today’s technology and adoption has profoundly affected how people and businesses interact. As a result, it’s not enough just for sales people to build relationships that foster loyalty. Brands need to publish information that fosters loyalty.

6. Radical Transparency – This is the second of the three facets. Jay gives multiple examples of how companies can literally answer every possible question a prospective customer could have on a website or mobile app. He argues that this level of transparency has no downside unless it inhibits a consumers ease of use of the site or app. The upside is that brands become inherently useful (a Youtility) while building trust when radical transparency is embraced.

7. Real-Time Relevancy – The last of the three facets, real-time relevancy, is all about being useful when it counts. A map of a distant city can be very useful, but if you’re not in that city isn’t. When a consumer visits that city, however, the map will be used. The success of this type of marketing is scenario-specific. Marketing of this nature doesn’t necessarily have to be “found.” It generally already exists on consumers’ smartphones, in their inboxes and on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. When consumers need it, they’ll access it.

8. Six Blueprints to Create Youtility – include identify customer needs, map customer needs to useful marketing, market your marketing, insource Youtility, make Youtility a process, not a project and keeping score. This is the process Jay lays out for marketers to create, execute and track their own Youtility.

The above is a very high-level overview of Youtility – Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype. If you read the book you’ll find a wealth of examples of real brands using Youtility today and the powerful effect it has on their marketing campaigns. They contain many valuable lessons marketers can use and leverage right away. I not only recommend that you add this book to your reading list, but that you push it up to the top. It’s available for preorder today.

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