In the past, staying top-of-mind with potential clients was easier than it is today – ironic, considering we now live in a hyper-connected world where it is presumably easier to stay on their radar. And yet, many businesses will be forgotten about entirely if they do not change the way they communicate with their audience.
Here’s why: As Jay Baer explains in his new bestseller, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, major shifts in how, where and why consumers access information have spawned a new marketing method, which he calls “friend-of-mine awareness.” It’s predicated on the reality that companies are competing against real people for the attention of other real people.
Most of us get our personal and professional information in the same place. Whether that’s Facebook, email or some combination of online platforms, as Baer points out, “companies have to compete on the very same turf as our family and friends, using the very same tools and technologies and media and messaging as consumers.”
This means that your biggest competitors, when it comes to staying on the radar of your clients and prospective clients, are their friends and family!
You can’t beat them, but you can join them. If you want to maintain any kind of meaningful communication with your prospective customers, they need to regard you as a friend – or at least someone who shares information that’s as relevant to them as what their friends share. If you make yourself useful to them and provide real value, Baer indicates, “they will reward your company with loyalty and advocacy, the same ways we reward our friends.”
If everything you send your clients and prospects is promotional, they will phase you out (if they haven’t already). They’re even getting help. Facebook uses an algorithm to keep a company’s posts from appearing in the news feed of someone who actually “liked” them, but never engaged with them.
Email is heading in the same direction. Google recently added filters to automatically put any email you send using a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact into a “promotions folder.” I have previously shared how I use Sanebox for this.
Essentially, your clients and prospective clients now have to go out of their way to allow your communications to show up in their inbox, news feed, etc. It’s a conscious choice, and it’s up to you to get them choosing in your favor.
So how do you get included in their circle of friends? By providing “Youtility,” of course.
I am in total agreement with Baer when he says, “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.”
Do your clients look forward to your emails, posts, etc.?
Instead of sending emails that promote discounts for your services, could you share actionable advice or ideas instead? This could mean providing information that is useful, but not directly tied to your product or service. Have you considered sharing a great article, authored by someone else, that your audience would find interesting?
Putting your focus on being helpful and relevant is part of relationship building, so it involves taking a long-term view. In Baer’s words, “Being useful, or providing Youtility, requires companies to intentionally promote less at the point of consumer interaction, and in so doing build trust capital that will be redeemed down the road.”
Youtility is one of the best business books I have read in a while, and this particular use of Youtility is just one of many ideas Jay Baer shares in the book. We can’t wait to learn more from him at our upcoming event, YOUniversity, on September 25th.
In the meantime, I would like to leave you with a question that Baer asks: “My family is useful. My friends are useful. Companies can be useful, too. Will yours?”