This means marketers need to act more like sales—giving prospects more (and more specific) information earlier in the process, and sales needs to act more like marketing, giving contact more actual value, says Jay Baer.
“Last year, mobile usage doubled in 2013,” says Baer, president, Convince & Convert, and author of “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype.” “For some of you, the overwhelming majority of your customer have access to all the worlds information—in their pants.”
Today, if you make a bad decision, you’re just lazy, he told attendees last week at the BMA14 conference in Chicago. “All the information you need to make a better decision is in your hand, and people have figured that out.”
Baer—who will also keynote LeadsCon New York and the B2B LeadsCon Summit in New York in August—told the BMA audience that the difference between helping and selling is just two letters, and those two letters can make all the difference.
“You can sell to someone, or you can help someone and create a customer for life,” he said. “The marketing playbook of the last 50 years is largely invalid today. Customers are in charge of their decision making journey, and we can’t force them to interact with our messages.”
Customer interaction is no longer a “master and servant” situation, said Baer. Today, marketers have to operate on a peer-to-peer basis, because they’re not just competing with each other for attention, they’re competing with everything. This is especially true online, where everyone’s personal and professional lives have converged in an unprecedented way.
To illustrate this, he pointed to his own Facebook feed. A picture of a friend’s child making a windmill at Lego camp was followed by a company post from a brewing company. That was followed by a post from Baer’s wife, and then a pitch for a webinar from Eloqua.
“My Facebook feed goes something like this—friend, company, family, company —and guess what, you’re looks exactly the same. And so does your friends’ and your customers’,” he said—and the same goes for their Twitter stream, their email inbox and so on. “You’re competing for attention against people I actually love? Are you more interesting to me than my own wife?
“Friend of mine” awareness is replacing top of mind awareness, which means marketers must be useful if they want to connect. This is the idea behind Baer’s them of “Youtility.” The definition, he said, is quite simple: create marketing so useful that people would pay for it, marketing so good it could be a product unto itself.
“If you start to think about how to make marketing more useful, you will see examples all around you,” he said. “Once you are attuned to it, you will start to see it.”
As an example, he cited Columbia. An obvious choice for the brand would be to create an app about something like how to find the best type of jacket for a particular outdoor situation. What wasn’t so obvious—but was obviously more useful for outdoorsy customers—was to create an app offering tutorials on how to tie 70 different types of knots. It isn’t the kind of thing you’d necessarily use every day, but you would keep it on your phone for when such a need arises—and it keeps the brand top of mind.
“We’re surrounded by data but often starved for insights,” said Baer. “Customer interaction is the raw material of marketing greatness.”
He suggested marketers regularly do ridealongs with the sales team and listen in on customer service calls to hear what customers are really thinking. “You need to get past the data to insights.”
Jay Baer will deliver a keynote address at LeadsCon New York on August 14 at the Marriott Marquis. For more information on LeadsCon New York and the B2B LeadsCon Summit, click here.