Putting YOU in Utility Marketing

Jay Baer,  a marketing expert has written a thoughtful book called YOUTILITY that articulates a clear and simple approach to marketing in the twenty first century. His clarion call is HELP not HYPEThe subtext is easy to digest for smart marketing professionals. 

Be useful. 

Be helpful. 

Be transparent.

The book is filled with examples of companies who are starting to behave through a marketing filter of usefulness versus one that is always pushing, selling and trying to force their way into your life.  And he makes some important points that businesses have invaded the private social space of places like Facebook to try and pitch you everything and anything.  Your attention is gold and everyone from your friends, family, customers, brands you like and unknown entities are all trying to impinge on your precious attention. 

Everyone wants you to notice them. 

But unlike your friends and families, businesses are trying to sell you stuff and they are doing it in a social environment. Imagine you are at a dinner party with your best friend and his wife, a couple who live across the street and two vendors who are trying to sell you carpet and tax services. Everyone wants your attention but who is really going to be useful and in context?

No Reservations
Companies like Hilton are listening on Twitter like a virtual concierge service to see how they can be helpful. @Hiltonsuggests offers a chance for the company to humanize and help individuals with problems that their team of social listeners can help. They are planting seeds for the long term of potential customers who will buy from them in the future. 

(For those skeptics who say but I need sales today- remember that not everyone can be a hunter (sales), someone (marketing) has got to plant seeds. My acquaintance Gary Vaynerchuk has been screaming this message out loud for years).

Or take Phoenix Children’s Hospital car seat helper App
that is built to help the new parent sort through all of the hundreds of options and confusing data about car seats. The app is a utility that over time provides a great service to Moms and Dads who one day may need to bring a child to an emergency room. Guess where they will be more inclined to go?

The Utility Company
How can you use this information in your business and marketing activities? Here are two thoughts for your consideration.

KNOW THE CUSTOMER’S LANDSCAPE:  Do you understand the landscape of your customers well enough to really know where they may have some pain, some problem or some need? If you do, can you craft a solution for them that provide a powerful benefit that doesn’t involve asking them to buy something? By knowing their world, you may see a way that you and your company (product/brand) could help them with a need. 

FRIEND OF A FRIEND: Can you add value in a genuine and really human way that a friend would give if they could? Maybe it is an act of kindness that creates an emotional bond between you that didn’t exist before. Think of meeting a friend of a friend. Your friend says, can you help me help Joe next Saturday move his mother out of her home? It will take an hour of your time and it would mean the world too him and his mom. That favor is a powerful bond and connection. Can you do this for people who someday might buy your product or service? Can you do some form of help that creates a powerful bond that over time can pay dividends? 

Youtility is a book worth reading. I urge you to buy a copy or get it out of the library. (you remember those places don't you?) 

My only criticism was that the hard cover copy of the book I saw in the airport in Raleigh looked like a middle school text book. It had no traditional cover and since I still read books the old fashioned way, the book seemed like a throwback to the 1970’s. It really struck me as odd not to have a jacket cover to this book. Without the cover, I felt like it cheapened the message and diminished its important message. 

What is that saying about not judging a book by its cover.

Note: When I am not reading marketing books, I'm writing about unraveling the mysteries of marketing and working toward being useful to those interested in marketing topics. 

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