Jay Baer on Youtility and Building Customer Trust Through Help not Hype

December 9, 2013
Jay Baer on Youtility

Jay Baer brings fresh ideas and a new concept to marketing with his new book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. His New York Times bestseller is based on the groundbreaking idea that companies should be helping consumers by giving them valuable information for free and earning their trust in return. Baer explains his concept in further detail in this month’s Brands with Fans Expert Series interview.

BWF: Where did the idea for Youtility come from? And what is the basic idea of the concept?

JB: Youtility is marketing so useful; people would pay for it if you asked them to. I originally started thinking about the concept in the summer of 2010. While vacationing with my family in Banff, Canada, I found the “Taxi Mike Where to Eat Guide.” It’s a great example of a business focusing on helping, not selling. I wrote about it here.

BWF: How will implementing Youtility help marketers?

JB: There is enormous competition for attention today. The best way to break through the clutter is to be truly and inherently useful. If your company is useful, and you create resources that the consumers WANT, they will do your marketing for you.

BWF: Why do you think it is more difficult now to reach audiences?

JB: Audience behavior doesn’t clump like it used to. Top of mind awareness is very difficult to achieve now, and in newer spaces like social media, companies are competing for attention alongside our friends and family members. That’s tough!

BWF: The Geek Squad reference was a great example of what you’re talking about. Please explain how giving things away for free actually builds customer trust? In other words, how do you make a consumer “want you”?

“…the point is to use valuable, free information to get inside the customers’ protective barrier.”

JB: Strategically, the point isn’t to provide resources for free (although you are), the point is to use valuable, free information to get inside the customers’ protective barrier. And then, if you really are of value, the customer will figure out that they should buy from you. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “We have to stop being hunters and start being farmers”. Youtility is the way to play the long game with your marketing, rather than the “buy now” game.

BWF: How much should a company give away for free? It seems Geek Squad was giving away an awful lot of valuable information.

JB: All of it! Give away information snacks to sell knowledge meals. Don’t be afraid to give away what you know, a bit at a time. After all, a list of ingredients doesn’t make someone a chef.

BWF: How do marketing companies help without using hype and still get noticed?

JB: Look at is this way; I started a blog five years ago with zero readers. 1,200 blog posts later, it’s one of the most popular marketing blogs in the world. You succeed by being helpful a bit at a time, over a long time.

BWF: What is the number one takeaway you want people to have after reading Youtility?

JB: When you expand your time horizon for success, helping beats selling.

BWF: Which brands do you see implementing Youtility successfully?

JB: Dozens of examples in the book, and I chronicle new ones often at ConvinceAndConvert.com and YoutilityBook.com. I’m a big fan of the new Youtility from Kleenex called Achoo that shows you how likely you are to catch a cold, based on your location and real-time Google search data.

BWF: What one big lesson have you learned that you wish you could teach others?

JB: We can trust customers to separate the wheat from the chaff themselves. They are a lot smarter and savvier than we think.

Meet Expert: Jay Baer

Jay Baer headshotJay Baer is a hype-free marketing strategist, speaker, and author and President of the social media and content marketing consultancy Convince & Convert. A digital marketing pioneer, Jay has consulted with more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Visit California, Allstate, Petco, Columbia Sportswear, and 29 of the Fortune 500.

He was named one of America’s top 3 social media consultants by Fast Company magazine, and his Convince and Convert blog is ranked as the world’s #1 content marketing resource. He’s also co-host of the popular weekly Social Pros podcast.

He’s the author of the forthcoming new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype, which debuted at #3 on the New York Times best seller list, and was a #1 Amazon best seller, and is the co-author of The NOW Revolution a best-selling book about social media’s impact on businesses of all sizes and types.

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