By: Jay Baer



Newsflash - marketing has changed in the last few years.

You already know this by now, but marketing has changed a bit in the last 5 years. We are over the novelty of creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and are finally starting to realise that how we market to customers has fundamentally changed.

For the longest time, marketing was about top-of-mind awareness. If you shout loud enough, for long enough, you eventually created a customer. It used to be a lot easier, because all of the eyeballs were in one place - glued to the television set after dinner.

Today, the eyeballs are everywhere, and they are not as easy to find as they once were. Heck - you can’t even rely on search engines anymore to find your audience. In 2011, only 61% of people used a search engine to find a website, compared to 83% in 2004. And even if you do find them, the brains behind those eyeballs don’t trust you like they once might have.

So what’s a business to do?

According to Jay Baer, you’ve got 2 choices.

The first choice is to be disproportionally amazing, interesting, human, wacky or timely. The only problem with this first choice is that while it’s very effective, it’s also very difficult to pull off. Creating an “amazing” brand out of thin air is a lot like trying to create a viral video - there are exceptions to the rule, but you wouldn’t want to bet the farm on it happening.

The second and better choice, Baer says, is:

Stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “informercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way.

There are 3 ways this book tells us you can put this to work in your business, but we are going to look at the first way, and then talk about a plan for you to get started.

Youtility Strategy #1: Self-Serve Information

There’s a great case study in the forward to this book that highlights this strategy perfectly.

In the beginning of 2009, River Pools and Spa was in trouble. The recession was in full force, and the last thing people were spending money on were luxury swimming pools. If Marcus Sheridan and his business partners didn’t figure out a way to revive their sales pipeline without spending money on advertising, they were going to shut their doors, forever.

Marcus had a mindshift during those troubled times. He had the thought that “success flows to organisations that inform, not organisations that promote.” So, after a full work day and with his kids and wife tucked safely in bed, he sat down at his kitchen table and thought about every single question he was asked by his customers over the years of running his business.

He turned each of those questions into a blog post, which eventually drove enormous amounts of traffic to their website, a large percentage of which turned into leads for their business. Here’s a remarkable stat: the average visitor to their site who eventually bought a pool from them viewed a remarkable 105 pages of their site!

Their website used to have 20 pages of information, and now it has 850 pages and growing.

By becoming a Youtility and answering every single question a pool buyer could ever imagine asking (and a bunch more to boot), they not only turned their business around, they managed to grow it throughout the worst economy the world has seen in decades.

Implementation Step #1: Identify Customer Needs

So just how did Marcus Sheridan figure out which questions he should answer for his customers? Your memory will only take you so far, and there are plenty of tools you can rely on to help.

Here are some of them:

  • You can search for keywords you think your customers are searching for on Google Trends, which will tell you the popularity of those terms over time;
  • You can start typing your company name into the search box in Google and see what other terms Google is trying to autocomplete it with.
  • If you are doing paid search advertising, you can take a look at all of the search terms people are using to reach your ads. Then, look at the content that you don’t already have on your website and create it.
  • Keep an eye on what your potential customers are talking about on social media.

But for all the technology at your disposal, one of the best tools you have is to get out of the office, and go ask your customers how you can be helpful to them.

Here’s an example.

CoachSmart is an app that helps coaches keep their student athletes safe. For instance, it would let them know when the heat index got to unsafe levels in their area, allowing them to tailor their practices accordingly. The makers of the CoachSmart app (Vanderbilt Medical Centre) sent their team out to talk to coaches and asked them the simple question - how can we help you make your coaching life a little bit easier, and keep your kids safe?”

The number one thing that came back to them was lightning. So now the app has the ability to warn coaches when there are lightning strikes in the area, before they get close enough to do any harm.

Implementation Step #2: Market Your Marketing

This isn’t really step #2, and we’ve skipped over a bunch of stuff from the book that might be important to your business. I suggest you head on over to Amazon and buy it if what you’ve read so far is interesting to you.

The number one mistake people make when it comes to Youtility marketing is assuming that once you build it, people will come. Not true. You still need to get your Youtility marketing in front of people. For most traditional marketers, this is a strange concept.

“You mean I have to market my marketing?”

In the traditional world, where your marketing is expensive to create and even more expensive to get in front of your audience through paid media, this doesn’t make sense.

But when you consider the relatively low cost of the Youtility marketing you will be doing, it pays (literally) to aggressively get your marketing in front of other people.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • highlight your Youtility marketing on the main page of your website;
  • send it to all of your employees on a regular basis and ask them to share it with their networks;
  • make it a regular feature in all email marketing you do;
  • send it to influential people in your space and ask them to share it (this one is tricky, but very effective if you do it right).

And that’s how you can get started putting Youtility marketing to work in your business.

One last thing - remember the little people when you are a big shot and are a case study in Jay Baer’s next book.

Onwards and upwards.