At 'BtoB's' Digital Edge: Marketing as a 'youtility'

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New York—Despite technology options, new media, the adoption of pull marketing with content and other trends, marketers often fail to gain the attention—and loyalty—of newly empowered customers, said Jay Baer, president of marketing consultancy Convince & Convert, in a keynote address opening BtoB's Digital Edge virtual trade show on Thursday. In “Youtility: How Smart Companies Sell More by Selling Less,” Baer said the solution is to create campaigns that are “utilities,” selfless sources of information that are “so useful people will pay you for it.” “We used to build mindshare with people in one-to-one situations; now we build mindshare with information,” Baer said. “The only way to compete today is to be massively useful. And if you are, your customers and prospects will keep you close the same way they keep their friends and family close.” Being useful, Baer said, is driven by "passive-aggressive customers" who talk to a sales rep only as a last resort. “We're in the era of self-serve information, where prospective customers will figure out for themselves whether you're the right company,” he said. Baer offered several examples of companies that provide useful information instead of self-promotion. They included a hotel chain offering unbiased visitor information to travelers regardless of where they stay; a cab company promoting a where-to-eat guide to tourists; a hospital publishing an app that helps parents research the correct car seat for their children; and a swimming pool manufacturer creating an e-book about buying options that, in some cases, recommends a competitor's product over its own. Baer said companies can gain market share through this kind of useful information by first determining their customers' needs. “Discover search terms people are using. Listen to social chatter; ask your front line,” Baer said of their research phase. “Then, map those needs to potential programs, like blog posts, videos, print and e-books. And importantly, market your marketing. Use social to promote your content first and your company second.” BtoB's annual Digital Edge virtual show is now in its fourth year. Keynotes by Baer and Mark Yolton, senior VP-digital, social and communities at SAP, were augmented with webinar breakout sessions on emerging trends in marketing automation, storytelling, email marketing, sales pipeline acceleration, social media and content marketing. Digital Edge sponsors and exhibitors on the virtual trade show expo floor included Act-On Software, Bizo Inc., Bulldog Solutions, Demandbase Inc., Eloqua Corp., Ifbyphone,, Limelight Networks and Marketo Inc. Visit the show archive to see the sessions.
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