Book Report: Youtility

Youtility“If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life. Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.” (Youtility – p3)

Title: Youtility – Why smart marketing is about help not hype

Author: Jay Baer

Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin

Publication Date: 2013

Origin: I received Youtility as a Christmas gift from a coworker.

Summary: Baer describes youtility as “massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.” Sounds easy enough: be useful. But if it’s so simple, then why have so few organizations gotten it right? In Youtility, Baer explains how the informational needs of our prospects have changed, and what we must do to be relevant going forward. To do so, he breaks the book up into three parts:

  • Part I – Turning Marketing Upside Down explains that we’ve moved beyond top-of-mind and frame-of-mind awareness as being sufficient marketing strategies, and entered into an age in which friend-of-mine awareness will dominate
  • Part II – The Three Facets of Youtility explains the basic elements of our new approach: self-serve information, radical transparency, and real-time relevancy
  • Part III – Six Blueprints to Create Youtility provides a bit of a how-to guide towards producing marketing so useful, people would gladly pay for it

To build a convincing case, Baer provides plenty of summarized case studies and examples, and quotes from subject matter experts and various marketing studies. He also touches on the skepticism with which this new approach may be met, and the general reluctance to evolve that plagues so many organizations. So, knowing that he has a premise that some might dismiss as fanciful, he is ever the pragmatist and provides real-world advice.

My Take: Baer’s really preaching to the choir, with me. I’ve been pushing for exactly this kind of approach at my own company, just without a snappy name like Youtility. Consequently, I read Youtility not to be convinced, but to find some real-world tactics and tools that will help me in my day-to-day professional life. And I’m happy to report that I did indeed find such practical tidbits. Certainly, there were parts of Youtility that were less relevant to me than others, but overall it was quite a useful read.

Read This Book If: You want to be useful to your prospects and customers, and the same old approach is giving you the same old results.

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Notes and Quotes:

  • xi (from the foreword by Marcus Sheridan): “Consumers of all types expect to find answers on the Internet now, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales and loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.”

Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.

  • p3 reminds me of a saying I have at work that “Informed prospects become Sandvine customers,” because they will be able to assess comprehensively the competing solutions on the market and will realize ours offers the best value: “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life. Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.”
  • I summarized Part II – Turning Marketing Upside Down (p5-45) in The Third Age of Marketing; that post includes commentary not in the quotes below
  • p9: “Top-of-mind awareness is less effective than ever as a marketing strategy for two reasons: You can’t promote to people you can’t find, and distrust of business erodes its foundation.”
  • p19: “Frame-of-mind awareness doesn’t create demand…it simply fulfills demand that already exists.”
  • Despite its shortcomings, Baer defends frame-of-mind awareness a bit on p20: “That doesn’t mean frame-of-mind awareness isn’t an approach worthy of your attention – it is. But it’s only half the story.”
  • …continuing the commentary on frame-of-mind awareness, a few pages later on p25: “Frame-of-mind awareness has served marketers well…It will continue to do so, but it’s not all-powerful, and now it needs to share the stage with other forces that impact consumer recommendation and preference. Most important among them is a whole new way to market, Friend-of-Mine Awareness.”
  • p26: friend-of-mine awareness “is predicated on the reality that companies are competing against real people for the attention of other real people. To succeed, your prospective customers must consider you a friend. And if, like their friends, you provide them real value, if you practice Youtility rather than simply offer a series of coupons and  come-ons, they will reward your company with loyalty and advocacy, the same ways we reward our friends.”
  • How many marketing and entrepreneurship blogs have you seen that tell you the secret to success is to “be amazing!”? Here’s Baer’s take, on p29: “Telling someone to be amazing is like telling someone to make a viral video. There’s no such thing as a ‘viral video.’ There are videos that become viral.”

“Telling someone to be amazing is like telling someone to make a viral video. There’s no such thing as a ‘viral video.’ There are videos that become viral.”

  • p35: “Youtility doesn’t always require creating helpfulness from scratch. Taking what already exists and putting it in an inherently more helpful format can be just as effective.”
  • p42, to answer the question “Why isn’t Youtility universal?”: “In most organizations, there are two barriers standing in the way of this new type of marketing. One is psychological, and the other is operational.”
  • p43…hands up who can relate! Quoting Tim Kopp, chief marketing officer of ExactTarget: “I have that battle with internal executives sometimes who say, ‘This is crazy. Help me understand. Why are we doing this?'” Kopp explains. “I say, ‘I’m telling you this is the right way to do it. If I’m wrong, four pieces into it, we’ll stop and do it your way. But this is going to be the right way to do it, and the results will speak for themselves.’ But if I hadn’t already earned the credibility to do it, it would be much harder, because it does feel unnatural and counter-intuitive.”
  • I summarized Part II (p47-117) in The Three Facets of Youtility
  • p50, on the apparent impersonalization of things nowadays: 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.”
  • p57 continues: “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.”

“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.”

  • p57-58, something to keep in mind:“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.”
  • p69: 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.”

“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.”

  • p92-93: “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.”
  • p121 gives us the fundamental starting point: “For your marketing to be so useful that people want it and would gladly pay for it, you have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions, and how you can improve their lives by providing it.”
  • p125 points to this blog post that lists 12 powerful content research tools; I’ve already forwarded it on to several friends in digital marketing
  • p125-126 talks about using search data to determine where a company can be helpful (i.e., what questions prospects are asking). We’ve done this at work and had some good results; it can be tedious, but the pay-offs can be significant.
  • p130, with some pragmatic advice: “Sitting down in a conference room with an agenda item of ‘let’s be useful’ is 100 percent the wrong way to change your marketing mindset. True Youtility requires more understanding of the lives, desires, and fears of your customers and prospects than ever. Creating marketing so useful that people would pay for it isn’t a proactive exercise, it’s a reactive one. First, identify the problem, then find a way for your company to remove that problem.”
  • p140 hits on something that has been a thorn in many-a-marketer’s side…effectively marketing your own marketing! “You know what happens when most companies launch a new, branded mobile application or other content-rich marketing program intended to effectively combine information and promotion? Nothing.” Continuing… “When you launch the app, or commence blogging, or begin answering questions, you have not reached the finish line; you have reached the starting line.”

“You know what happens when most companies launch a new, branded mobile application or other content-rich marketing program intended to effectively combine information and promotion? Nothing.”

  • p141 continues this train of thought: “If you believe in your ability to sell more by selling less, and if you’re committed to creating truly helpful information that will add value to the lives of your customers and prospective customers, you also have to add the third leg of the stool. You have to market your marketing.”
  • When I see how many colleagues share, out of genuine interest and passion, our many press releases and product milestones on their personal social media profiles, I believe what p150 is saying: “In a world where personal relationships and social connectivity are the coin of the realm, your employees are your single greatest marketing engine.”

“In a world where personal relationships and social connectivity are the coin of the realm, your employees are your single greatest marketing engine.”

  • p163 notes that insourcing works best “if it’s woven into the fabric of the organization”
  • p164, drat! …and somewhat reminiscent of pages 92-93:“Youtility is not a project with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Rather it required an ongoing, never-ending, constantly reinvented and refined process.”
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Posted in Advertising, Books, Marketing
3 comments on “Book Report: Youtility
  1. […] Youtility – Why smart marketing is about help not hype (Jay Baer) […]

  2. […] about Influitive and advocate marketing (which I found quite reminiscent of much of the message of Youtility). Mark sees advocate marketing as a large, long trend, that will turn into a category in and of […]

  3. […] presentation that I’d used only the day before in a webinar. I had grabbed it from the book Youtility, which […]

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