You-tility >> The Difference Between Helping and Selling is Just Two Letters
If you’re wondering how to make your products seem more exciting online, you’re asking the wrong question… To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?” — You-Tility, by Jay Baer
Remember the phrase, “perception is reality?” The outdated notion that companies could tell people what to think and buy has gone the way of the dinosaurs. In today’s brave new world of democratized information sharing, people trust crowd-sourced opinions far
[Perception is Not Reality]
more than they trust advertising. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, and 46% trust online customer reviews from strangers, but only 10% trust advertising.
This shift has caused two new realities to emerge. One, people receive far more information and messages than ever before – from email to advertising to social media, which, in turn, makes it extremely difficult for messages to break through the noise. And two – in order for your messages to succeed, author Jay Baer insists that the information provided is useful.
The book, Youtility (ISBN 978-1-59184-666-6), promotes the idea of providing customers with useful information that they want.
There are three facets of helpfulness:
+ Self-Serve Information
+ Radical Transparency
+ Real Time Relevancy
Self-serve information can take many forms: user reviews, Google searches, price comparison, how-to videos, and more. With the rise of smart phones and fast, reliable internet, a world of information is literally at your fingertips. It takes almost no effort to find additional data about almost any subject. And in the corporate purchasing world, internet research is the most basic form of due diligence there is.
The Corporate Executive Board agrees. They recently surveyed 1,900 business-to-business customers to uncover insights about purchasing behavior. They found that customers will contact a sales rep “only after independently completing 60 percent of the purchasing decision process.”
[Evolving the Sales Process]
This shift in business-to-business buying behavior is huge. It means that the role of sales and marketing has fundamentally changed. Whereas those roles used to be gatekeepers of information such as pricing, today, the customers already have access to that information before you have a chance to talk to them. In a self-service world, sales and marketing
communications need to be extremely helpful in order to be relevant to customers.
The widespread sharing of vast amounts of information raises customer expectations of transparency as well. It was a seismic shift when Amazon began publishing ALL user reviews – including negative reviews of products it was trying to sell. When publishers asked Jeff Bezos why Amazon would publish negative reviews, he replied that he wanted to “let the truth loose.”
[Are You Transparent?]
And he did. The effect of this philosophy cannot be understated. It provided a shocking new level of honest information sharing, and importantly – trust – in Amazon reviews. Although it is highly tempting to sanitize information and to separate your organization from uncomfortable questions – transparency in all communications has become as the new currency to earn trust.
Finally, real time relevancy is the third leg of the Youtility triangle. It is also the most challenging. In the book, Baer likens real time relevancy to “an endless game of informational hide-and-seek, Youtility consists
of popping out from behind a tree to assist when necessary, then fading back into the woods to wait for the next opportunity.”
Instead of hiding in the shadows, there is an easier solution: apps. Apps provide users with on-demand information, and are smart business for the long run. A 2012 study found that Americans in the Millennial generation are four times more likely to have their purchases influenced by smart phone applications. Apps are clearly here to stay.
When it comes to apps that are critical to businesses, First American Equipment Finance has a cutting-edge example: CustomerConnect® a free, cloud-based application that helps customers manage their equipment. Features include handy tools such as information on lease end dates, the ability to track the physical location of unlimited pieces of equipment, and all manner of custom and standard reports. First American customers can even take action on their leased assets, including providing end-of-lease notice and customizing how they view information. This kind of helpful app – that lets the customer decide how, when and what information they want – is groundbreaking in the industry.
Customer needs will change, technology will shift, and new and better ideas will be developed. For these reasons, Youtility communication must be a never-ending, constantly reinvented and constantly refined process. Being useful can make a real difference.
[How to be Useful]