Help Rather Than Hype is the Key to Smart Marketing Online

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Chapter 2 review of Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars

CEO, author and keynote speaker Jay Baer doesn’t mince words in his opening statements in Chapter 2 of Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars. If you’ve been around very long, you understand that online marketing isn’t as easy as it first seems. Because of increasing competition, marketing today is much harder than in years’ past, and will only continue to get harder.

It’s easy to understand why Jay says what he does in his opening salvo – we’re literally inundated with all sorts of marketing messages from when we first wake up until we go to bed at night, both online and off. In the online space, just about every company imaginable is trying to get you like, share, follow or otherwise engage with their offer.

In the end, marketers are competing for attention “…against your own customers and against your own friends.”

So what’s a budding online marketer to do?

The first choice is to “be amazing,” which is a common recommendation found in the litany of articles about marketing products and services online. As Jay says, this isn’t a strategy, but hope, and it’s something that won’t work too well in the end.

Your other option is to be incredibly useful – create marketing that people actually seek out and value rather than tolerate. Doing so will build a long-term foundation for attention, sales and loyalty that will long outlast other marketing tactics based on hype or hope.

Jay refers to this as “Youtility,” which he defines as:

Youtility - marketing so useful, people would pay for it if you asked them to. Click To Tweet

Breaking this down further, Jay explains three different types of Youtility:

1. Self-Serve information – Instead of pushing information to people, allow them to learn more at a time and method of their choosing. There’s an old phrase “Your customers don’t want to see the sausage being made” that simply doesn’t apply anymore. Customers do want to see how it’s being made and all pertinent facts on the what, how and whom of your profession. As Jay explains, consumers are researching more than ever before. According to a study by Google from 2010-2011, the amount of information a person required before making a purchasing decision went from 5.3 to 10.4 sources IN JUST ONE YEAR!

This fact is even more profound in the B2B space where 70% of a purchase decision has been made before the visitor ever talks to a representative (…according to research from Sirius Decisions).

How you go about producing the self-serve info depends on your audience, but it can consist of a comprehensive blog, a video series, an authoritative podcast or a combination of all three and more.

In the long-term, “self-serve information,” or high-quality content people can access at any time of their choosing, will turn interest into action.

2. Radical transparency – The second type of “Youtility,” radical transparency, essentially means providing open and honest answers to all of the questions your customers may have before they have a chance to ask them. This probably isn’t shocking news, but a large number of people simply don’t trust business. This presents a big problem since trust is a key ingredient for success both online and in life in general. Too often, most marketers will have a page that’s too pushy or an email list that isn’t “opt-in”

These and other shady activities reduce trust….

To earn and further build trust in a world where the vast majority of the population is carrying what amounts to a mobile TV studio in their pockets (i.e. smartphones), forward-thinking companies are being proactive and transparent. By providing incredibly helpful and transparent answers to their pressing concerns, the visitor doesn’t have to wonder about the company’s motives.

Trust is the prism through which all online marketing success must pass – Jay Baer Click To Tweet

3. Real-time relevancy – The third and final type of “Youtility” is real-time relevancy, or “being massively useful at particular moments in the life of the customer, and then fading into the background until the next opportunity to help arises.”

To put it another way, it’s much better to be very useful in a specific circumstances rather than partially useful in a broader context.

You can provide this relevancy in one of three ways:

  1. …based on location
  2. …based on the customer’s situation
  3. …based on the season for some other external factor

Location-based answers are particularly useful in the context of mobile apps, which is the most common, but by no means the only one.

One example of providing relevant information based on a situation is the CoachSmart app, which provides coaches with real-time information to help them determine if it’s safe to practice outside or how they can prevent heat exhaustion among other things. While developed for coaches, many believe this “anticipatory computing” will be more and more useful to other groups in the future.

To wrap up, Jay explains how there are so many tactics, techniques and technologies for online marketing that it can be easy to get confused. In order to make sense of what methods or technologies you should use and which ones you should ignore, he recommends asking one simple question to cut through the fog:

Is your marketing so useful that people would pay for it? Is your marketing a Youtility? Click To Tweet

My comments:

Well, I can certainly attest to Jay’s comments about most online marketing being pushy or not very useful. In my years of experience writing for the web, most sites focus on gloating about their products and services rather than providing useful information that will help visitors find a solution to their problem.

Also, Jay’s comments in the beginning of the chapter about “creating great content” are true as well.

Literally thousands of articles out there tell you to create remarkable this or remarkable that. I believe this advice just frustrates people and fails to address the deeper question of how to take someone from being a visitor to being a customer.

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