There are so many marketing books out there and from previous experience many remain in a static and ‘old skool’ approach to marketing where the concept is built around hype and shouting your message across to your audience. This was another book (similar in many ways to Grant Leboff’s Sticky Marketing book) which has tilted marketing upside down and given a fresh perspective on how you should market your content.
This ‘Youtility’ approach is a form of marketing that is desired by your customers, this might be by creating a website and thinking of all the questions your potential customers might ask you and putting the answers into a blog post or providing tips on social media channels.
River pools & Spas
Back in 2009 Virginia based company River pools & Spas were on the brink of a financial collapse, the demand for luxury pools had come to an all-time low due to the global economic crisis, Marcus Sheridan (the co-owner of the company) who writes about his company transformation using the youtility approach at the very start of the book. Marcus mentions that he was literally running out of ideas on how he could save his swimming pool business, but later put himself in his customers’ shoes. He brainstormed every single question that one of his customers had asked him and turned their questions into a blog post.
As a result, Marcus was receiving a lot web traffic from people who were looking for pool information. Over time his luxury swimming pool business doubled its revenue and also become the best place on the web to find information regarding swimming pools.
By being honest about what they do and using their years of experience to their advantage, River pools and Spas created trust and authenticity. As Jay mentions, “they’re not just the best seller of pools, they’re the best teachers of pools.”
— Hilton Suggests (@HiltonSuggests) September 4, 2014
One major tool to help add value is social media and in Jay’s book the Hilton Suggests example really stood out for me. There are quite a few brands that have a social listening strategy in place but none (that I can think of) are at the same level as Hilton Suggests. The guys who manage the Twitter account simply look for people who are looking for travel advice (as shown in the above embedded tweet) what stood out for me is that the person who is looking for travel advice or enquiring about job opportunities for example isn’t necessarily looking to stay at a Hilton.
What’s great about this method is that when they do need to look for a hotel there is a high chance of them staying at a Hilton hotel. As Jay mentions in his book, “they’re helping without expectation of immediate return.”
Jay features a similar example in his book with a low-tech youtility example, Taxi Mike created a pamphlet ideally for tourists on Where to eat in Banff. In a nutshell Taxi Mike is like a one-man Yelp as Jay describes, after exploring the many bars and restaurants in the Alberta town the chances are at the end of the night you will reach into your pocket and pull out Taxi Mike’s pamphlet and call for a cab.
How to utilise your Youtility
(Source: Meridian Group)
I have to say I have learnt a lot from Jay Baer’s book and if you are looking at reshaping your marketing strategy it is vital that you understand your audience and think about what your audience really needs and how to create value, the River pools & Spas is a great example of how a struggling company became successful by understanding the types of questions that there customers were asking. In addition, make lists of all the type of questions a customer could ask you about your product.
End of the day this is something that is not going to happen overnight, however, over time once you’ve got a solid foundation in place keep your creative juices flowing and tell your story in a unique and engaging way. One important quote that stands out for me from the Youtility book is the quote from above, “you have to understand not just want your customers need but how and where they prefer to access their information.” If your customers are using mobile devices more for example, make sure your site is mobile friendly; Jay mentions in the book that many companies remember the first part but fail to deliver on the latter.
Take your time with your planning and remember that Youtility is a marathon and not a sprint as Jay sums it up perfectly at the end of his book.