June 25, 2013

Interviews: Thinker in Residence: Jay Baer

By: Sally Haldorson @ 6:53 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Jay Baer is a hype-free digital marketing strategist, speaker, and author. He founded Convince & Convert in 2008 where he oversees big picture ideas for corporate clients, helps agency customers understand and profit from social and digital services, and spreads the gospel of social and content acceleration with dozens of speaking engagements annually. Jay has consulted with more than 700 companies on digital marketing since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, California Travel & Tourism Commission, Billabong, and 29 of the Fortune 500. He was named one of America’s top social media consultants by Fast Company magazine, and the Convince and Convert blog is ranked as the world’s #1 content marketing resource. He’s co-author of The NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social (Wiley, 2011) a leading book on social business. His new book, Youtility is now available.

“Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that's needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that's wanted by customers.”

Our Take on Youtility:

Do you want to help, or do you want to sell? Where do you draw the line between give and take? These are complicated questions that all companies have to answer. According to Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype, helping is definitely the side to favor if you want your business to survive and grow.

“It’s simply this: stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean in a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way. This is Youtility, and, quite simply, companies that practice it are followed, subscribed to, bookmarked, and kept on the home screen of mobile devices. Companies that don’t…aren’t. Not because they are worse companies, but because they are trying to create customer connections based on product and price, and customers are both tired of it and able to filter through it more than ever.”

It’s a simple concept, but how often do we actually see it in action? Selling has become part of everything, and we’ve definitely reviewed more than a few books on this blog about how selling is human and part of our very beings. That’s what makes this book so interesting. Baer encourages us to put the sales urge to rest, and instead focus on being helpful. Not helpful because you are trying to sell a product to "help" your customer, but helpful because you have put yourself in your customers' shoes and are simply motivated by a desire to give them what they are looking for--not for your benefit, but for theirs. Baer’s book goes deep and stays practical, from usable social media practices and how customer’s search for companies and products, to mapping customer needs to create better marketing. He talks a lot about trust and reliability, and how those traits carry over into technology and spending. Part III of the book: “Six Blueprints to Create Utility” is an in-depth guide to putting the concept into practice. Web analytics, surveys, and employees are three of the keys to success Baer says all companies have access to, but few utilize.

“The numbers that you use to determine effectiveness will vary somewhat based on company type, size, data availability, and the type of Youtility you’re providing. Categorically, however, there are four distinct types of numbers used to measure the impact of this type of marketing: consumption metrics, advocacy and sharing metrics, lead-generating metrics, and sales metrics. It’s important to understand these four categories and to recognize that there are many specific measures available within each segment. To do this right and to do it well, you will need to track multiple data points. There is no “magic number” when measuring this type of marketing.”

You’ll need to read the book in full to see how he guides us through each of those categories, but trust us, this is interesting stuff, written via personal account, case studies, and other expert opinions in a way that’s logical and inspiring. Yes, part of Baer's message is to be authentic--an amorphous rule we hear often these days. And another part of it is to be informative--even in an age when Google is at everyone's finger tips. But what separates the concept of Youtility from other marketing devices is its continual focus on being useful.

“At this point…you may be thinking “Youtility is interesting, but nobody in our industry is doing that kind of thing, so why should we start?” Here’s the secret: Your industry isn’t relevant. What matters instead is that other companies are embracing Youtility, and, in doing so, they are changing the expectations of your customers [and] training consumers to expect this type of lightly branded information that helps them solve problems and answer questions without buying a thing...”


Check in with us tomorrow as we continue our Thinker in Residence series on Jay Baer with a Q&A interview on marketing without hype, but with help.

About Sally Haldorson

Sally Haldorson's job as 800-CEO-READ’s General Manager is to make 800-CEO-READ a great place to work for our employees, and a consistently high-performing customer service organization for our clients, authors, and our partners in the publishing industry. In addition to her General Manager duties ensuring collaboration, integration, and quality, she reads, writes, reviews, curates, and edits for the company. Helping craft The 100 Best Business Books of All Time used parts of both skill sets. Outside of work, she is most likely to be found hitting a tennis ball around or hanging out with her boys (husband, child, dog) at home.