What Jay Baer’s book Youtility taught me

youtility_book_jay_baerAs a consumer, you probably don’t pay much attention to the profound impact that technology is having on our behavior. For example, wearable tech like the Nike FuelBand is improving our awareness of daily activity. And the more we monitor, the more easily we are encouraged to remain on track. But technology is also having the opposite effect on marketing. According to Jay Baer’s book Youtility, technology is making top-of-mind awareness, or keeping a product or service in front of a consumer, ineffective. This shift is forcing marketers to become more creative in how do they connect with consumers. Baer stitches together several arguments that have resulted in this shift:

  1. The media landscape has severely fragmented. Almost 40 years ago, a commercial airing alongside the #1 show Happy Days would capture the attention of 30 million viewer in the US. Nowadays, a “hot” show like The Walking Dead at best would have half that number of viewers. That number doesn’t seem so bad until one considers that in the US half of all cable/satellite subscribers have DVR’s and DVR users tend to skip half of all commercials. So the overall reach of TV has dropped by 75% over the past four decades.
  2. Consumers’ distrust of brands continues to grow. According to Edelman’s Trust Index Barometer, trust in businesses continues to fall year annually. edelman_trust_index_US_business_2014
  3. Consumers are extremely diligent in making buying decisions. On average, consumers rely on 10.4 sources of information before buying. While that’s a lot of research, brands have to be one of the go-to sources or miss out on the buying opportunity.

The issue at hand is the new friction between brands and consumers: today’s consumers are more elusive. And given that they are also less loyal than ever before, it is not surprising that marketers today are desperately looking for ways to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience. From Baer’s perspective, brands focus on being helpful have a fighting chance to connect with consumers. Brands can reach this goal by producing high-quality content. That requires more than an army of one — it requires brands to mobilize their entire team. One of the striking examples in the book is OpenView Venture Partners, a 30 person shop that publishes a tremendous amount of content:

  • Daily: 1 article, 1 video
  • Weekly: podcast, newsletter, interview with business or marketing expert
  • Quarterly: 2 ebooks, 2 case studies, 2 reports, info-graphic & online assessment tool

So does this strategy actually work? Beyond reading about the case studies in the book, I’ve successfully applied this strategy in growing awareness for my agency channel. In my line of work, I help deliver technology solutions to agencies so I need to know who’s who. Early last year, I created and published a slide to Slideshare that highlighted network and non-network agencies in Atlanta. And that version of the slide received over 3,000 views in just a month! Since then, I’ve updated the slide a few times based on feedback from the agency community. Collectively, the slide has received close to 6,000 views on Slideshare over the past year. That is why I think that Jay’s book is a must-have for anyone that’s serious about marketing! Thanks to Mathew Sweezey, a marketing strategy evangelist at Pardot, who suggested that I read this book!