Jay Baer has some bad news for us…and some good news.
Bad news: In the age of information overload, you’re not going to keep your company at the top of people’s minds by constant advertising.
Good news: You don’t have to. Getting the ear of the right audience is better than paying for name recognition by the masses.
Bad news: Just because people can find you online, it doesn’t mean they’ll become your customers.
Good news: Recommendations from their friends influence people’s decisions. Word of mouth has always been important, and today, it has a new address: on social media.
Bad news: Getting people’s attention is hard. You’re competing with their friends, the latest cute cat video, and photos of their grandchildren (who are probably a lot cuter than you!)
Good news: People will pay attention when you solve problems for them or provide them with information they need. That’s what Baer calls “Youtility.”
Help, Not Hype
If you have the resources, you can help people exactly when they need it. Baer talks about the @HiltonSuggests program, where Hilton employees who really know the city they work in will go on Twitter looking for questions they can answer or recommendations they can make…for free.
They are not trying to make a customer today. They are trying to win a customer for life. The return on investment is huge.
Not all of us can be Hilton, but could you be Taxi Mike? This Canadian cab driver personally creates a “Where to Eat in Banff” brochure with his personal recommendations and delivers them to hotels, bars, and tourist traps all around his city. When visitors need a taxi and they have this guide in their pockets, who do you think they’ll call?
What Does It Take to be Useful?
I hope you’re thinking just about now, “What about me? How can I help the people who I want to be calling me?” Baer suggests three ways you can make yourself useful to your audience.
- Self-serve information. Be like Angie’s List. Put the information out there in a ways that’s easy for people to find and use for themselves.
- Radical transparency. Be like Holiday World. Answer every question people ask. Answer questions they haven’t thought yet of asking. Answer the tough questions. Do it where everyone can see it.
- Real-time relevancy. Be like Scotts Miracle-Gro. Provide information that’s keyed to the location or the situation of the customer or what’s going on at that season.
How Do I Start?
Read Baer’s book for details about the six blueprints you can use to build Youtility.
- Identify customer needs.
- Map customer needs to useful marketing.
- Market your marketing.
- “Insource” Youtility.
- Make Youtility a process, not a project.
- Keep score.
The Value of this Book
My take: this is a great book because it pulls together a lot of lessons learned over the past few years. If you are not getting what you want out of your marketing or communications, read the book, and think about how to give others what they want.
Two reservations: Baer doesn’t often address nonprofit organizations. His idea of a small organization is still a lot larger than many community-based businesses and nonprofits I know. I’ll try to translate Youtility for these audiences in other posts.
Have you read Youtility? Do you plan on reading it? What do you think of Jay Baer’s approach?