Helping beats selling. If you sell someone, you can make a customer today. If you help someone, you can make a customer for life. So says social media speaker, author and coach Jay Baer, in the opening of his “Youtility” presentation at NMX Las Vegas.
What is Youtility and why do marketers need to get on board? Audiences have become fragmented, there is far more competition for their attention, he says. Frame of mind awareness is all about inbound marketing, but this doesn’t create demand; it fulfills it. It’s half the cake – it’s a great thing for consumers for already know what they want. In 2004, 83% of people used search engines to find websites, but in 2012, it fell to 2011. The funnel of knowledge is fragmenting; there are so many more places for people to go to find information. We have Siri, Angie’s List, Cha Cha, etc.
Voice recognition is the next big battlefield in marketing, according to Baer. The keyboard will become a thing of the past as people learn to simply tell their device what it is they are looking for and use the results available to make purchase decisions.
Many struggle to identify social ROI, but Baer points out that more than 30% of Americans who use social media say social has driven a purchase. “The reason businesses need to embrace a new way of marketing, Youtility marketing, is that personal and professional lives have converged in a number of ways,” he says.
In social, companies are now forced to compete for attention against customers’ family and friends. The reverse isn’t true, says Baer; your spouse isn’t running out to buy print ads to get your attention. “If you are truly and inherently useful, your customers will help you close.”
Friend of Mine Awareness is critical; Baer notes that the company can now become a friend in the same way friends of his are useful. He cites the example of @HiltonSuggests on Twitter, which answers questions and even goes out of their way to be useful to people who may not even be customers.
This is all about treating marketing and business as a marathon, not a sprint, he says. You can’t close the deal overnight.
Taxi Mike is a taxi driver in Banff, Alberta. Baer shares the story of how Mike puts together a Dining Guide and delivers them around town. Each has a map and a list of places to eat and these can be found in most eateries and bars. This works for the smallest business; his fliers are all over town because they’re useful.
Baer lists three categories of Youtility marketers need to understand:
Providing self-serve information – In 2010, the average consumer needed 5.3 sources of information before making a purchase decision. Just one year later, in 2011, Google found that the average consumer needed 10.4 sources of information. We need more pieces of information to make a decision because we have more pieces of information to make a decision. If you’re not providing the information your prospective customers need to make a decision, they’re going to find it somewhere else.
Today, we talk to a real person as a last resort, not as a first step. We go out of our way not to be contacted, not to be hassled. This has particular ramifications in B2B, where customers contact a sales rep after 60% of the purchase decision has been made. Your customers are secret shopping you; much of their decision is being made before you’re even aware they’re interested. Smart companies are providing self-serve information.
Answer every question possible – River Pools, for example, grew their company from almost out of business to the largest pool seller in the US in four years. They set up a blog an used it to answer the most frequently asked questions, which then became a popular e-book. Now, 75% of their customers complete a purchase without ever talking to a real person.
Blogging, content creation and Youtility builds an annuity for your company. The atomic half-life of content is much longer than that of advertising; your content pays off far after you’ve created it.
Create utility for people when they need it, on their smartphones. Apps are an incredible form of Youtility, ie.: Columbia Sportswear’s app that shows you how to tie knots. Do I need to know that right now? No. But I’ll keep it on my phone for when I do, he notes.
How can you create Youtility that best resonates with customers? Baer outlines his process:
Find Out What Your Customers Need
How do you figure out what your customers want and need from you? Look at search keywords. Look at your internal search data from your site. Use your web analytics. Scan social chatter. The best way to figure out what customers actually need is customer surveys or interviews, according to Baer, who says, “If you want to know what customers want, just ask them!”
Map Those Needs to Youtility Programs
You could do articles, blog posts, videos, e-books, print books, or events. In some case, there’s no right answer for what form your Youtility should take. In the case of the children’s hospital app, they created it as a mobile app because parents of young children are disproportionately likely to have smartphones. They could have made different choices, but for them, a mobile app was just “more right” than the other solutions.
Market Your Marketing
Why do most apps fail right from the launch? Because the people who create it see it’s development end and launch as the finish line.
The convergence between social and content is so important. “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline,” says Baer. Every company would be a lot better off if they used social to promote their content and Youtility first and their content second.
Make Youtility a Skill, Not a Job.
Most marketing comes from the top down; it comes from the company, yet people don’t really trust the company. Everyone in your company has something that customers need and that’s knowledge; you have to unlock the knowledge that exists within your company and find a way to bring that together into a Youtility.
Make Youtility a Process, not a Project
This isn’t something you can start and have finished by the first quarter; you’re never going to be done. Customer needs change, the industry changes, trends change. Sometimes you have to continue with your Youtility program because technology changes. Cloth, for example, is an app that went from telling people how to organize their closet, to adding real-time weather data to help people pick the right outfit for current conditions. They had to adapt and rethink their strategy to meet the current needs of their audience.
If you think about Youtility as a project, the best idea will be one that exists within those people at that time. Be truly, inherently useful and your customers will keep you close.
Selling and helping are just two letters apart, Baer reminds the audience. The difference between the two, though, could make or break your business.
How do you offer value and solve problems for your customers? Share your experience in the comments!