You probably heard Jay Baer published a new book, Youtility. I read some reviews before taking some time off and visit beautiful Hungary. Based on some reviews, it appears Jay did a great job emphasizing the importance for (content) marketers to be bloody useful and sell (for life) by putting the YOU of YOUtility (indeed, utility) back in the (content) marketing equation: customers and their networks who don’t seek hype but help.
It’s certainly not the first time customer-centric marketers call upon their peers to look more at usefulness and the importance of YOUtility. In fact, the whole social media and content marketing “evolution” was born out of the sheer must of customer-centric relevance and putting usefulness – in an integrated way – before the vague notion of ‘amazingness’, as often used in a marketing campaign context. If we look at how organizations and individuals can be useful and helpful, it’s pretty clear that content in the broadest sense plays a key role in it. Value and relationships, remember?
The roots of the whole evolution go way back but here it is: helping as the new ‘selling’ Jay says. Well, it always was but Jay looks at it more from the content marketing and strategy perspective. In the end, the best sales people always thought about how they could help their customers (and their customers etc.) succeed too. And, in the end, smart marketers understood the importance of caring and helping very (and I mean very) early on. I can’t help but invite you to read this first chapter of a 1999 book by Gerry McGovern again, including quotes such as this one: “That business needs to care about people if it wants long-term success“. Read Ram Charan as well, to name just one. By the way: you can also read a free chapter of Jay’s book.
So, why does it take such a long time to move from realizing the need to be useful to implementing it? We know the answers.
- Disconnected processes and silos.
- Fear and the desire to control.
- Let’s face it: despite the shift from selling to buying, brands often still know very well how to push sales without being helpful. Don’t underestimate branding and push marketing nor the impact strong sales people have on the bottom-line.
Probably that’s where usefulness comes in best: the combination of short-term musts and long-term business as in the mentioned quote, based on usefulness, relevance, service and an ongoing focus on customer-centricity, one of the reasons why I insist that each content marketing definition has this aspect of continuity in it.
Unleash your customer-centric fearless dragon slayer
The main challenge to be you-tile as always is one of processes, people and mentality. And connecting the dots through the holes of the silos. And not trying to implement the same old ways of ‘doing’ marketing (fear, remember) on channels and across touchpoints where it makes no sense at all (and then saying those channels don’t work). Context, connection, integration, footprints, data and action.
That’s why we try to keep separating good marketing, such as good content marketing, from projects that are sold as good content marketing but in reality often are short-term campaigns that in many cases have no impact because they are based on hype instead of common sense, usefulness, what your customers really want and relevance.
That’s the dragon we have to keep fighting. Disconnected silos and short-term selfishness, especially when all mid-and long-term customer-centricity gets killed by it. I hope ‘my’ depicted Hungarian dragon slayer makes that idea stick. Be useful when and why it matters in the journey. In fact, be useful anytime. But don’t be blind for the reality. Some stuff we declared dead works very well, it’s all a matter of balance and knowing thy customers.
Can you make your business a caring one and do you know how to be empathic and useful – in content marketing and beyond, even in your product marketing – without being just utilitarian about it and at the same time know when to get the business? Marketing so useful people would pay for it as Jay’s Youtility book page says?
Time to unleash the customer-centric and fearless dragon slayer that isn’t obsessed with control, sitting deep inside all of us. Jay’s book seems to look at it from the content marketing perspective. Others look at it from other perspectives. And in the end, repeating the message is part of the fight.
PS: fearlessness is a myth, you just have to feel the fear, know it’s there and wonder if it isn’t easier to slay the dragons we often created ourselves than we…fear. We are all Chief Customer Officers and paid by customers in the end. Customer-centricity, through usefulness or any other act/mindset, is never wrong.