Have You Been Useful Today?

I’ve been working on my review of Jay Baer’s Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype (Portfolio/Penguin, 2013) for several weeks. It’s not that it’s overly long or difficult; really, my problem has been the opposite. It’s so packed with great anecdotes and insights that I’ve been slow to pick out just what I want to say about it.

Credit: Matt Brown

Enter Chris Nichols. Literally. Nichols walked into our offices last week as the guest editor for the September/October issue of REALTOR® Magazine, and he came in to share some thoughts about the upcoming publication and the real estate industry in general. And he turned out to be just the kick in the pants I needed to write up my thoughts on Baer’s book.

In addition to being active in real estate, Nichols is also running for mayor of Orem, Utah. As a result, he had some interesting thoughts on using social media to achieve marketing goals both from a political and business perspective. So it’s no wonder that when Jay Baer spoke at a real estate conference Nichols attended this year, he was pretty pumped about the author’s message.

See, Baer’s whole theory on social media marketing is that people are not going to listen to your messages unless they are useful to them personally. He suggests that companies package information in a way that consumers appreciate:

“What if you decided to inform, rather than promote?” Baer asks in his introduction. “If you sell something, you make a customer for today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.”

Baer has a ton of stories about how companies—big and small—are pulling this off (and how others are doing the opposite). He also recommends some concrete tools for learning what your customers want and delivering it to them.

One of Baer’s most revolutionary ideas (and one of the most difficult concepts to convey to traditional marketing types) is that sometimes, providing information and being useful won’t directly line a company’s pockets with money. It’s a long game, Baer says, and you need to be willing to invest the effort (he notes that this type of marketing is never really expensive, just time-consuming) and be able to demonstrate the results in a way that’s more meaningful than just the number of hits on your web site (and his final chapter includes some concrete ways of achieving this).

But, as Nichols put it in describing his social media strategy to us last week, the most important thing is to be truly willing to bestow your usefulness on others, and be confident that the dividends will be forthcoming.

“So many people approach [social media] from a taker’s standpoint, [but] the ‘unfriend’ button is real easy to push,” Nichols said. “You look at the people who are successful with social media, and they are the givers.”

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

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  1. Meg,

    I saw Chris at the Prudential Realty even in Las Vegas this past March. He had a great presentation and it discussed his use of apps in Real Estate. He is a polished speaker and a great tweeter (it is amazing how many social media people have like 50 tweets, really?)

    I blog daily, I was on a local TV station this weekend discussing Historic Houses in Jacksonville, then the same day I saw my name in the local newspaper as the Top Lister for June 2013 for my office. To make it more fun, a local radio station host, who does a home show on Saturday mornings, took a picture of my TV appearance and discussed it on the radio the same time I was on TV. We say Jacksonville is the biggest small town in America.

    But back to blogging, I find it is never a dull moment in blogging. Real Estate is such a large purchase for people, I would rather help educate people on their largest purchase of their lifetime. I answer questions at Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, anything to help people with their issues in Real Estate. If you want to gain, you have to give and Realtors will not make it long in this business if they take, take, take from their fellow human beings.

    We love Realtor magazine and I hope to see you or some of your cohorts at the Florida Realtors meeting this week in Orlando! Great article!

    Liz Bobeck
    Prudential Network Realty
    Jacksonville, FL