useful arts

Summer Luu over at Atomic Reach has an excellent, tweet-worthy recap of Jay Baer’s keynote at this year’s Content Marketing World conference. “Youtility,” Baer’s content philosophy and book by the same name, drives home again how important it is for brands to provide useful service as part of modern marketing strategy.

Among the quotes:

It’s not about creating content, it’s about improving your business through content.

Sources of info needed to make a purchasing decision rose from 5.3 to 10.4 in just one year.

Worry less about selling better and more about teaching better.

My favorite gem: “Stop being amazing, and start being useful.”

This last one drives right to the heart of the matter. The old approach to marketing was to “primp and present” — a one-sided affair meant only to make the brand look as good as possible. The customer’s role was that of observer, not participant.

Of course, today customers expect to be participants. They expect personalized attention and answers to their questions. Brands are not expected to be distant and removed, they are expected to be present and involved.

Besides: Usefulness lasts longer than amazement.

As Baer further explains “Youtility” to Jesse Stanchak:

Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. Of course, you probably won’t actually ask customers or prospects to pay, but it’s marketing that has so much inherent value, they would fork over a few dollars if you insisted.

Here are more ways to rethink utility in marketing:

1. Being useful does not automatically mean being bold, brash, or big.
Many marketing and sales circumstances value privacy above all else. If you sell a pharmaceutical, for example, it is more useful for your brand create content that can be accessed anonymously than built around social networking.

While this recommendation is apparent to most thinking marketers, many still succumb to temptation to “add on” social media (for example) in situations where it isn’t welcomed. Do people really want to discuss their gout or goiters on Google Plus? Encouraging social sharing is useful for you (the brand), but not for the customer.

2. Being useful can mean less is more.
Simplification sells because overload stresses. Marketers who can synthesize content and present solutions into one place simplify the sales pipeline. A specific response to a specific need is always appreciated. Marketers tend to veer toward overwhelming their audience.

3. Being useful is speaking naturally.
The best content is written by and for the people it serves. This ensures that messaging, even subtly, speaks to people using their own words. Speech like this can flatten the learning curve. It also works to establish trust. Don’t underestimate the power of speech to persuade and convert prospects. Content should be personalized so it speaks to the groups it serves.

Image by Richard.

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