Youtility: Be a farmer, not just a hunter

My colleagues and I recently attended the Hampton Roads American Marketing Association luncheon with guest speaker Jay Baer. The New York Times best-selling author and president of the marketing consulting company, Convince & Convert, spoke to the crowd about his concept of Youtility, the shift away from selling towards providing useful information and help to anyone, not just customers. Jay captivated the audience, changing how we view, treat and attract consumers. Here are three major takeaways from the luncheon:

Be a farmer, not just a hunter. I’m sure you’ve felt this way before: meeting goals set by your boss or company can feel like a legitimate hunt. Incessantly contacting the media for that one big hit, manning your client’s booth at a conference or even using stunt techniques like devil babies in strollers – these actions all are strikingly similar in one sense: they scream, “Me! Me! Me! Look at what I have!”

In today’s marketplace, people are overwhelmed by marketers and their constant efforts to be in front of consumers. Jay calls for a shift in how companies interact with consumers. When creating content, think to yourself, Would people pay for this content? Youtility is marketing that’s so useful, people would be willing to pay for it. If your boss’s mantra is, “Nothing is for free,” remember this: giving a person a recipe doesn’t make them a chef. Likewise, giving someone access to a free eBook doesn’t make them an expert in your field.

Anticipate needs ahead of time. If you’re offering a product or service, especially one that is expensive and/or complicated, address every question you’re ever received on your website. People nowadays turn to the internet for input on most decisions and would typically prefer to do their own research, on their own time. In fact, according to Jay’s presentation, 70 percent of a person’s purchasing decision is made before they ever interact with you, due to the research they conducted online. Be the most reliable, thorough source of information in your industry. Jay reminds us that questions create friction, so eliminating as many questions as possible before someone needs to ask is essential.

Take VCU Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery tour video, for example. The video provides expectant mothers a look into their exact journey to the delivery unit, from which garage to park in, what elevator to take, what will happen before during and after delivery and the options available should a problem arise. Expectant mothers put their trust in VCU, knowing the delivery unit understands their fear of surprises and has already provided answers to the multitude of questions they may ask, giving them useful information they can refer to before arriving at the hospital.

It’s not about you anymore. As with any relationship, putting the wants and needs of others before your own is crucial. It’s important to meet people where they are, even if that’s not where you are. Jay gave a great example of an app created by Columbia. The app gives a how-to on tying knots and explains the proper use of each knot for varying needs. Columbia does not sell rope, string or even knot manuals, yet they become a trusted source for people who enjoy camping, boating and being outdoors – their target customer. This app helps create a positive association with Columbia for any outdoorsman, not just current customers.

After his presentation, which you can find here, there was a Q&A sessions during which a man asked an interesting question regarding whether or not Youtility was just another “fad” that may soon pass. While Jay gave a great explanation to the contrary, I couldn’t help but think, “Is helping someone who has dropped their papers in the street a fad? Is giving an out-of-town guest your recommendation for a restaurant a fad?” Of course not! Youtility is about helping others – and I hope to God that never becomes a fad. Keep in mind, however, the more people choose to market using Youtility, the more sources consumers will have available. So, be the best and most thorough source in your industry and you’ll find customers will come to you before you have to hunt find them.

Check out Jay on Twitter and Facebook for more great tips!

How have you seen companies successfully use Youtility?

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