Book Summary: Youtility

Marketing has evolved significantly in recent years. We've outgrown the novelty of having Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. We now realize that the way we market to customers has shifted dramatically.

For a long time, marketing was all about staying at the top of people's minds. If you yell loudly and long enough, you will ultimately gain a consumer.

It used to be a lot simpler since everyone's eyes were all in one place after supper - riveted to the television set. Eyeballs are ubiquitous these days, and they aren't as simple to come by as they once were.

You can't even rely on search engines to locate your audience anymore. Only 61% of individuals utilized a search engine to discover a website in 2011, down from 83% in 2004. Even if you do locate them, the minds behind those eyes aren't as trusting as they previously were.

So, what is a company to do?

You have two options, according to Jay Baer.

The first option is to be unusually spectacular, fascinating, human, bizarre, or timely.

The only issue with this first option is that, while it is extremely successful, it is also extremely difficult to execute.

Attempting to build a "great" brand out of thin air is similar to trying to make a viral film - there are outliers, but you wouldn't put your money on it occurring.

According to Baer, the second and superior option is:

Stop attempting to be extraordinary and instead focus on being useful.

I don't mean this in the Trojan-horse sense of an "infomercial that appears to be beneficial but is actually a sales pitch." I mean in a sincere, "How can we help you?" kind of approach.

According to this book, there are three methods to put this to work in your business, but we'll look at the first one first and then speak about a strategy to get you started.

Youtility Strategy #1: Self-Serve Information

Self search information.

In the book's foreword, there's a great case study that properly illustrates this technique.

River Pools and Spa was in difficulty at the start of 2009. The recession was in full swing, and luxurious swimming pools were the last thing on people's minds.

If they didn't figure out a method to revitalize their sales funnel without spending money on advertising, Marcus Sheridan and his company partners were about to close their doors forever. During those trying circumstances, Marcus underwent a mental change.

"Success flows to organizations that enlighten, not organizations that promote," he reasoned.

So, after a long day at work and with his children and wife securely tucked into bed, he sat down at his kitchen table. And thought about every single query he had received from clients over the years.

He transformed each of those queries into a blog post, which resulted in massive traffic to their website, with a significant percentage of those visitors converting into business leads.

Here's a fascinating fact: the typical visitor to their site who finally purchased a pool saw a whopping 105 pages on their website.

Their website used to have 20 pages of content, but it now has 850 pages and is still expanding.

They not only turned their business around. They also managed to grow it during the worst economic downturn in decades by becoming a Youtility and answering every single question a pool buyer could possibly ask (plus a few more).

Implementation Step #1: Identify Customer Needs

A woman is solving what her customer needs.

So, how did Marcus Sheridan decide which questions he should respond to for his clients? Your memory can only carry you so far, but there are many tools available to assist you.

Here are a few examples:

  • You can use Google Trends to look up keywords you think your clients are looking for and see how popular those phrases have been over time;
  • You can also start entering your company name into the Google search box to see what other terms Google is trying to populate it with.
  • You can look at all of the search phrases people use to find your advertisements if you're conducting paid search advertising. Then, take a look at the material on your website that you don't currently have and make it.
  • Keep an eye out on social media to see what your potential consumers are talking about.

However, even with all of the technology at your disposal, one of the most effective tools you have is to go out of the office and ask your clients how you can use them.

Here's an illustration.

CoachSmart is a smartphone application that assists coaches in keeping their student-athletes safe.

It would, for example, alert them when the heat index in their region reached dangerous levels, allowing them to adjust their routines accordingly.

The CoachSmart app's creators (Vanderbilt Medical Center) sent out a team to talk to coaches and ask them a simple question: "How can we help you make your coaching life a little bit simpler and keep your children safe?"

Lightning was the first thing that came back to them. As a result, the app can now alert coaches when lightning strikes are in the vicinity before reaching close enough to do injury.

Implementation Step #2: Market Your Marketing

A woman is doing a marketing to increase sales.

This isn't truly step #2, and we've passed over a lot of information from the book that might be useful to your company. If what you've read thus far has piqued your curiosity, I recommend going to Amazon and purchasing it.

When it comes to Youtility marketing, the most common error is believing that if you create it, people will come. This is not the case. You still have to get your Youtility marketing out there. This is a weird idea for most traditional marketers.

"Do you mean I have to market my marking?"

This doesn't make sense in the old world, where marketing is expensive to develop and even more costly to get in front of your audience through paid media.

However, given the low cost of the Youtility marketing you'll be performing, it pays (literally) to be proactive in getting your message in front of other people.

To get you started, consider the following suggestions:

  • On the home page of your website, emphasize your Youtility marketing;
  • Send it out regularly to all of your workers and encourage them to share it with their networks;
  • Make it a regular part of your email marketing;
  • Send it to prominent individuals in your industry and encourage them to spread the word (this one is tricky but very effective if you do it right).

And that's how you may start implementing Youtility marketing in your company.

Last but not least, keep the small folks in mind when you become a big shot and become a case study in Jay Baer's next book.

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