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Q-and-A: Why it’s better for marketers to be “useful” than “amazing”

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

This e-mail Q-and-A is with Jay Baer, the keynote speaker, marketing consultant, digital pioneer and best-selling author of The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social and his new book, Youtility.

Your new book is called “Youtility” — can you explain what that term means?

Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. Of course, you probably won’t actually ask customers or prospects to pay, but it’s marketing that has so much inherent value, they would fork over a few dollars if you insisted.

What advantage does an educational marketing effort have over other approaches?

In this information overload era, companies only have two options to break through the clutter. They can be “amazing” or they can be useful. To me, the culture of “just be amazing” and “be viral” has gone too far. Most companies aren’t amazing, and viral is a strategy of hope. Being truly, inherently useful and creating Youtility is a repeatable, trackable, marketing approach that works.

What are some of the ways a business can learn what their customers are interested in learning about?

It’s incredibly important. The best Youtilities stem from real insight into customers’ lives. Today, we often look at data and call it insight, and we need to be better than that. These insights can be born from search engine information, social chatter, web analytics and the like. But the best way to know your customers is to ask them what they need.

Does the promotional strategy for educational content differ from other kinds of marketing? What’s the best way to get the word out about a brand’s educational efforts?

This is where social comes into play — at least partially. Content is fire. Social Media is gasoline. Smart companies use social to promote their useful content first, and use social to promote themselves second. Turning social into a tiny press release will not work long-term.

How can a business tell if these efforts are helping the bottom line or not? Any advice for how to measure the effectiveness of these efforts?

It definitely requires a longer time horizon than traditional, interruption marketing that centers on “buy now.” As Gary Vaynerchuk has said, most marketers want to be hunters, not farmers. Youtility is a manual for how to farm, with usefulness as the seeds. It’s definitely easier to track long-term in a B2B scenario than B2C, but it’s imminently doable in any company if you plan it out correctly. That’s why I devoted the last part of the Youtility book to walking through measurement programs in detail.