Book Review: Youtility | Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype

Author: Jay Baer
Publisher: PORTFOLIO/The Penguin Group
Year Published: 2013
Pages: 185
Topics Covered: Content Marketing, Social Media, Smartphone Apps

Youtility: Marketing that customers want. Massively useful information provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers. As Jay Baer states, “Like an endless game of informational hide-and-seek, Youtility consists of popping out from behind a tree to assist when necessary, then fading back into the woods to wait for the next opportunity.”

Youtility must read book for you if you want to create marketing activities that provide value and are all about serving your customers rather than just yelling at them.

As Jay outlines, there are 3 ingredients to useful marketing:

  1. Self-Serve Information: Giving customers the opportunity to inform themselves when and how they want rather than having the brand dictate it
  2. Transparency: Providing an answer before the customer even thinks of it
  3. Real-Time Relevancy: Using geolocation and other specific circumstances to become massively useful at particular moments in the life of the customer

What excites me the most is real-time marketing activation and Jay Baer mentions how you can do this with Youtility. You can be useful based on the customers location, useful based on the customer’s situation and finally, useful based on seasonality or external factors.

Jay Baer enlightens the reader when he states,

“What if instead of trying to be amazing you just focused on being useful? What if you decided to inform, rather than promote?”

This book reminded me a lot of Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing because it revolved all around creating marketing that customers actually want. Useful, helpful marketing that engages customers rather than marketing that just yells at them, is intrusive and just self-serving.

The reality that Jay presents is that customer’s relationships with brands are no longer at the brand/macro level but at the micro level based on a series of micro-experiences. One of the key drivers of this has been mobile apps. We have seen over the years the appi-fication of brands and this has been the result of the evolution of consumer awareness strategies. Jay Baer indicates three types of historical consumer awareness strategies:

  1. Top-of-Mind Awareness: The need to have a sustained level of marketing and messaging, so when the customer is ready to buy, they think of your product first. This method requires a substantial investment so only makes sense for brands that are already popular. Mass reach is key. To me this is old school marketing.
  2. Frame-of-Mind Awareness: Strategy of reaching potential customers when they are in an active shopping or buying mode. Involves inbound-marketing which is the process of creating text, audio, video, and other online assets, and optimizing them to appear when prospective customers are willing to pull the trigger on a purchase – simply fulfills demand that already exists.
  3. Friend-of-Mind Awareness:  Predicated on the reality that companies are competing against real people for the attention of other people. To succeed your friend must consider you a friend and to do that you must provide them with real value, Youtility, and if you do that you gain their loyalty and advocacy.

The following are a couple of quotes that I loved from this book:

“If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.”

“Stop trying to be amazing and start being useful”

“Youtility doesn’t always require creating helpfulness from scratch. Taking what already exists and putting it in an inherently more helpful format can be just as effective.”

“Content is fire and social media is gasoline.”

“Youtility is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Some examples found in this book displays Youtility in action:

Charmin ‘Sit & Squat’ Smartphone App

Finding a good public bathroom just got easier.


McDonald’s. Our Food, Your Questions.

Ever had a question for McDonald’s about their food?


Dan Deacon Smartphone App

Youtility doesn’t have to be all about business. Sometimes it means creating something that enhances the experience of a fan and connecting fans together.

Small bladder. No worries. Never miss the most important part of a movie again.

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