Book Report: “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype” by Jay Baer

Jay Baer’s Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype addresses the importance of being useful, helpful business owners and marketing professionals for the long-term benefit of all parties. He reiterates the idea that when a company promotes more information to potential consumers rather than promote the company itself, it will see lasting effects on these practices. Not only does Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype cover various ethical marketing strategies and tactics, but it provides endless real-life examples of companies that have implemented Youtility throughout all their marketing goals. This book is directed at me, at you, at anyone in any industry.

Although it is a bit outdated and the media world has shifted drastically since its publishing in 2013, Baer addresses that Youtility is an ever-changing, ever-adapting practice. It remains relevant and important. Today I’ll be analyzing the book in three parts and give some of my observations on it.

Okay, but what is Youtility? Put simply, it is making your company useful without expecting immediate return. According to Baer, Youtility “requires companies to intentionally promote less at the point of consumer interaction, and in so doing build trust capital that will be redeemed down the road” (Baer, 2013).

Part I

The first part of the book outlines the history of the media landscape. Baer discusses the evolution from frame-of-mind awareness, dating back to the creation of the telephone directory, to inbound marketing, where different assets appear on our phones or computers when we are in a purchasing mood. Many think this is everything for marketing; however, it doesn’t create demand — it fulfills it.

What the world once thought had everything to do with marketing and purchasing behavior, and what many small businesses continue to deal with, is depending solely on search marketing, like direct searches from Google, to get visitors on their websites for sales. This is only half of the thinking because consumers often don’t explicitly say what they are in the market to purchase. Small businesses must adapt to this market on a smaller scale, creating additional effective strategies to persuade. Additionally, the overall use of search engines to find information has decreased significantly in the past several years because consumers can find company websites from anywhere, specifically through Facebook, Reddit or Siri, to name a few.

Friend-of-mine awareness is one of the main points Baer makes throughout the book. Companies are constantly competing for our attention on social media timelines against our real relationships, and it’s important for us to view companies similar to a friend in order to grasp our attention: trusted, helpful, interesting. The next two parts of the book focus on how companies can utilize Youtility and be viewed as a friend to potential customers.

Part II

This section of the book focuses on the three features to Youtility: self-serve information, radical transparency and real-time relevancy. He digs deep into these three ideas, which are listed below:

1. Self-serve information: giving people the chance to get informed about a product or service when they want.

2. Radical transparency: giving answers to every possible question a consumer could have before they even ask it

3. Real-time relevancy: using specific circumstances to be useful to a customer when they need it most, so that they will later remember your brand

Part III

The last part of the book focuses on the six blueprints to creating and incorporating Youtility in your brand.

1. Know what your audience actually needs. It goes beyond knowing who your audience is; you must know why they purchase from you. To do this, understand how your audience finds information, what their preferences are, what motivates them and what is being said on social media.

2. Understand how your audience consumes content. Create multiple pieces of content for the same idea on various platforms. It will increase efficiency and exposure.

3. Promote the product through hyper targeting on multiple platforms. Strive to be the company that asks, “how can we help you be more awesome?” Combine promotional and informational messaging with real-time relevancy.

4. Make employees a key target audience. They are the voice of the brand and can increase credibility significantly if done correctly. Involvement can come from circumstantial, voluntary, assisted and mandatory participation.

5. Incorporate Youtility forever. Adapt to the times and technology, and shift the tactics used.

6. Measure the effectiveness of Youtility through relevant data and numbers. Understand how your audience can rely on useful information from you.

Observations

Overall, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype is a helpful guide for marketing professionals or really anyone looking to have value-based relationships with their company’s consumers. Baer touches on multiple topics covered in class, like repurposing content on different platforms, actually knowing your audience and constantly refining strategies to fit the purpose.

All in all, people will keep coming back to your brand if you prove to be a helpful source in all situations, especially situations that have nothing to do with your brand.

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Sheila Cavanagh

Sheila Cavanagh

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