Traditional marketing isn’t inherently flawed, but it hasn’t evolved much despite changing technologies.
Even with so many new tools with which to convey our messages to prospective customers, especially social media like Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, few businesses are actually doing anything markedly different than they used to.
Facebook is a fancy photo scrapbook for many businesses. Twitter is often just a tiny press-release machine.
Let’s look at three common marketing mistakes and how you can fix them using the principles in my new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype.
I present a defensible plan that will win hearts, minds, fans, and customers in a viable and repeatable way. That plan is Youtility.
If you create marketing that people genuinely want, you can dispense with the “shock,” “awe,” and “viral” and focus on solving problems, answering questions, and creating long-lasting customer relationships by doing so.
Problem 1: Your plan is to “be amazing” on Twitter hovering over the keyboard waiting for the next Superbowl power outage/Oreo opportunity
There are two ways for companies to succeed in this era: be “amazing” or be useful. The latter is very reliable and entirely viable.
While being amazing can work, it’s difficult to do and doesn’t produce reliable, linear results. So instead of betting all your money on “amazing,” what if you instead relied on a simple, universal method of marketing and business success — one that’s never been more important or easier to accomplish?
What if instead of trying to be amazing you just focused on being useful? What if you decided to inform, rather than promote?
You know that expression “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”? Well, the same is true for marketing: If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.
I call this practice Youtility.
Not “utility,” because a utility is a faceless commodity. Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.
Problem 2: You don’t really know what your customers want
For your marketing to be so useful that people want it and would gladly pay for it, you have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions, and how you can improve their lives by providing it.
A variety of free tools from Google can help you understand customer needs, based on what people are looking for, and when.
Google Trends enables you to compare search volume patterns across location and time frame, and provides related search terms and comparative volume for them.
A long-standing favorite of the content marketing community, Google’s Keyword Tool is often used to determine which search terms to include in a paid search engine advertising campaign. Starting with one, a handful, or hundreds of seed terms, the keyword tool will then recommend a swath of alternatives and display comparative search volume and level of competition (number of existing advertisers per term).
Problem 3: You’re using social media to remind people how great your products are
Today’s consumers are besieged with every company of every type, size, and description jostling for attention — making pleas to friend, follow, subscribe, read, watch, and click.
Unimaginative marketers attempt to stand out with message frequency, or by exchanging bribes for attention (resulting in an explosion of Facebook contests and giveaways, among other tactics).
You can’t survive by shouting the loudest and relying solely on anachronistic interruption marketing. You can’t proclaim you’re featuring the “biggest sale ever!” every day (I’m looking at you, Macy’s) or simply rewrite a portion of your online brochure and hope that Google funnels customers to your website.
Use social media to promote your useful information first, and your company second. High volume without quality or substance can do more damage than good in social media.
The way customers gather information about companies and make purchase decisions has changed. Consumers’ time and attention have never been more scarce, and their suspicion of lazy interruption marketing has never been more acute. In this climate, Youtility is not an option; it’s necessary.
Excerpted from Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype by Jay Baer, published in late June by Portfolio/Penguin. See YoutilityBook.com for other resources.