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.
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.”