Author Jay Baer, an American swimming pool company owner, offers a refreshingly stripped-back approach in his best-selling book ‘Youtility – why smart marketing is about help not hype.’
Making your company useful without expectation of an immediate return is in direct opposition to what many people consider marketing to be all about – sell, sell, sell! However, by adjusting our strategies to be more customer-centric and with a focus on genuinely being helpful and useful, we can be smarter with our marketing and more successful as a consequence.
It is frighteningly easy to become complacent in our own comfort zones, keeping ourselves busy and just getting on with things as they are, day in and day out. But we must make a concerted effort to grow, develop and potentially change our strategies and how we deal with our customers.
Looking forward, being useful must be part of your company DNA. There should also be a commitment to constantly reinvent and refine the way you serve your customers. It is important to frequently assess where you’re at due to:
- Changing customer needs
- Technological shifts
- Changing market conditions
Often when we think about marketing our business, we fast-forward straight to promotional ideas to help get sales, such as offers and discounts. But marketing isn’t just about sales promotions; it is literally everything that you say and everything that you do in order to secure a loyal customer. Instead, we should be putting the customer at the heart of our business and making this the starting point – how can we best serve our customers? What can we do that will be useful to our customers? Not what can we say that helps us promote ourselves. And, as Baer says “Being useful is more reliable and viable than being ‘amazing’.”
Identifying customer needs
You have to understand what your prospective customer needs to make better decisions, and how you can improve their lives/business by providing it.
- Search engines, social chatter and web analytics data will help you understand customer needs.
- Ask your customers what their needs are.
- Find out how and where customers prefer to access information.
- Keep an eye on competitor activity and other market developments
We must ask “how can we help?”
Often, when we think about being useful, we think about being useful to our customers, not to our prospects. The concept of Youtility is real-time relationship-building. You’re either sufficiently useful at any given moment, and this can connect with a customer, or you’re not.
“If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you may create a customer for life.”
Re-assess your prospect/customer journey and look at all the ways that you can help and be useful.
Content is King
As Baer points out, online search is only part of the customer journey, it is more of a tool than a destination as being found online doesn’t create demand, it can only fulfil it.
By creating useful content you can actually create customers by answering their questions, which in itself carries remarkable, persuasive power that your business is the one for them. Unless it inhibits ease-of-use, there is no downside to providing detailed information to your prospective customers. In fact, according to Baer’s research:
Companies with websites with 101-200 pages generate two-and-a-half times more leads than companies with 50 or fewer pages
So, take a look at your website and look at it from a prospective customer’s point of view. Does it contain the information that they need? What else could you provide that would be of use to them?
Content is fire and social media the fuel
Marketing distinguishes between two kinds of promotional strategies: push and pull. ‘Push’ takes the product/service to the customer whereas ‘pull’ brings the customer to the product/.
To help ‘push’ your content out there, use social media as the fuel to get traffic back to your site. Ideally you should be using social media to engage with your audience and promote your useful information first and your company second.
Ideas on how to present your content:
- Q &A format
- Blog Posts
- Case studies
- Fact sheets
Must measure metrics
In order to see how effective your efforts are it is important to monitor and analyse the following:
- Consumption metrics
- Advocacy and sharing metrics
- Lead-generating metrics
- Sales metrics
By changing the way you view marketing to one of ‘help not hype’ you can build on your long-term competitive advantage; aligning ‘helping your customers’ with your business goals – working smarter and not just harder.