“Sixty percent of the decision is made before the prospect identifies himself. Sixty percent of the decision is made before a call, or an email, or an entry into your lead tracking database. Customers are ninjas now. They are stealthily evaluating you right under your nose.” – Jay Baer
A few weeks ago, in The Third Age of Marketing, I introduced and very briefly summarized Part I of the book Youtility. In that post, I explored how marketing has changed from being about top-of-mind awareness, to frame-of-mind awareness and, today, friend-of-mine awareness.
In this post, I turn my attention to Part II, The Three Facets of Youtility:
- Self-Serve Information
- Radical Transparency
- Real-Time Relevancy
While each is deserving of examination in its own right, you came here either accidentally or for the quick version, so let’s get going.
The book’s author, Jay Baer believes that, “We’ve reached a tipping point that fundamentally changes how companies can market their products, forever shifting the role of relationships and salespeople in just about every business. We’ve always tried to build loyalty with people, and we can no longer rely on that technique. Now, we must build loyalty with information.” (p50)
“We’ve always tried to build loyalty with people, and we can no longer rely on that technique. Now, we must build loyalty with information.“
Ultimately, thanks to the convenience of ubiquitous connectivity through broadband and exceptionally fast mobile data, your target audience (whether business or consumer) expects to be able to learn a great deal about your products, services, etc. without ever having a conversation with you. As Baer puts it, “We used to talk to a real person as a first step. To get familiar with the company. To learn more. To create bonds. Not now. Now we talk to a real person as a last resort.” (p57)
“We used to talk to a real person as a first step. Now we talk to a real person as a last resort.”
In fact, surveys cited by Baer indicate that in business-to-business categories, customers only contact a sales rep after they’ve independently already completed 60% of the purchase decision: “Sixty percent of the decision is made before the prospect identifies himself. Sixty percent of the decision is made before a call, or an email, or an entry into your lead tracking database. Customers are ninjas now. They are stealthily evaluating you right under your nose.” (p57-58)
So ask yourself this: if a customer set out to learn about your company, products, services, solutions etc., and then wanted to go even further and compare and evaluate, would you provide them with Youtility? Or would they become frustrated, or perhaps find what they wanted from a competitor?
Baer provides a number of examples of companies that have distinguished themselves with great self-serve utilities:
- Life Technologies’ interactive videos
- Clorox’ myStain app
- The PelletSmoking.com information website, produced by Big Poppa Smokers²
I’ve been an advocate of this educational utility approach for a long time, so a couple of years ago I advocated that my company¹ make our educational whitepapers freely available (i.e., no registration or forms) on our website. I’m extremely confident that if our customers truly understand the nuances and complexity of the problems they’re trying to solve, then they’ll be able to comprehensively evaluate all potential solutions…and in doing so, I believe that we’ll win. Additionally, by providing actual utility by educating people about incredibly complicated subjects³, we’ll create a brand identity distinct from our competitors and will foster loyalty. It’s perhaps worth noting that the results have been positive: for a wide range of very specific telecommunications topics, our papers are the only vendor documents on Google’s front page, and they drive valuable leads.
Naturally. I couldn’t agree more with Baer’s closing remarks: “If you don’t supply the information your prospects need to choose your company over the competition, they’ll get that data somewhere else, and the outcome might not be as favorable for you.” (p69)
“If you don’t supply the information your prospects need to choose your company over the competition, they’ll get that data somewhere else, and the outcome might not be as favorable for you.”
There isn’t much magic to this one: customers favour businesses that are open with information, whether through FAQs, blogs, online reviews, open forums, etc. Additionally, the more quality content you have online to contribute to this transparency, and the more you become a go-to resource for people in your market, then the more you’ll reap the rewards that come with search engine relevance and increased ranking through link-backs.
Baer cites some examples from media platform/company Hubspot:
- Both B2B and B2C companies with 101 to 200 pages on their website generate 2.5 times more leads than those companies with 50 or fewer pages
- Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than those that don’t blog
To continue my own personal example: our competitors are very stingy with information and are not at all forthcoming with technical details; by contrast, we’re happy to answer any question our prospects have, and to do so we maintain a fairly large (and always expanding) resource library. Again, I’m confident that our actions, and those of our competitors, speak loudly: we have nothing to hide, while they’re counting on you making uninformed decisions. In that scenario, who seems more trustworthy?
Baer explains it like this:
“Youtility today may not be Youtility tomorrow. In a particular scenario, your marketing may be so useful that your customers and prospects want it and might even pay for it if asked, yet in a different environment that same marketing has negligible value. With marketing of this type, your success is scenario-specific, which is why it’s so critical to be truly, inherently useful. If you are, your audience will keep your marketing close – on their home screen, in their inbox, in their Twitter and Facebook feeds – and, when they need you, they’ll access whatever it is you’re bringing to the information party. You don’t have to be ‘found’ – at least not after initial discover – because your customers and prospects already know where you are and what you offer. When they need you, they’ll engage.” (p92-93)
Now that sounds like a pretty nice situation.
¹ As in “my employer”, not “the company that I own”
² Not affiliated (AFAIK) with the Notorious B.I.G. song Big Poppa
³ What’s that? You’d like to know why Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect architecture is ill-suited to stateful packet processing applications? I’m glad you asked!