Jay Baer’s book Youtility makes a point, on page 30, that’s as important as it is easy to miss:
“Stop trying to be amazing and start trying to be useful.”
I first read the line in July, during a flight to the West Coast, and since that time it’s occurred to me that the point Baer made has far deeper meaning than I’d initially realized.
In a nutshell, my realization is that potential customers, far and wide, are raising their hands, eager for help, eager to spend their money with our businesses but we’re too busy to notice, too busy marketing to them, trying to push them down the sales funnel, toward conversions.
What are our prospects saying? “Just have a conversation with us first.”
Usefulness Is The First Step To Your Brand Getting The Attention It Deserves
You wouldn’t expect someone to walk up to you, ask your name, then, in the next breath ask to marry you. So, why are you asking prospects to make the plunge before they’ve ever decided you’re worthy of a relationship?
Take a gander at social media to see numerous examples of brands getting it right.
- @HiltonSuggests has raised eyebrows and their brand’s profile by being an indispensable resource on Twitter for travelers, even those who don’t stay at their hotels.
- @AmericanAir has swiftly become the airline of choice for many fliers by using social media as the de facto arm of customer service, honestly answering specific questions about delays, cancellations and hassles other airlines typically ignore.
- @Clorox‘s Twitter profile is a treasure trove of information, as they dispense useful tips to some of the most common problems, and in the process provides an enviable example of how a brand that loses the me-first attitude can prosper. (I defy you to check out this brand’s Twitter profile and NOT find something that makes your life easier.)
Traveling soon? Simply keep a hotel bar of soap w/ your dirty laundry to keep it from smelling funky #ProTip LifeHack <ahref=”http://t.co/JQttQD14Yd”>pic.twitter.com/JQttQD14Yd
— Clorox (@Clorox) August 20, 2014
These brands, and others like them have created top-of-mind awareness by catering to three of the most important needs of consumers: usefulness, meaningfulness and indispensability.
- Useful: We’re here when you need us most.
- Meaningful: We strive to add value.
- Indispensable: We’re willing to earn the right to be a part of your life.
From working with hundreds of companies of all sizes over the last 15 years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, to ensure long-term success, the goal must be to create an indispensable brand.
Start the journey to creating an indispensable brand by doing the following:
- Answer a question on Twitter - Seek out relevant conversations in your vertical, then, as often as time permits, chime in the answer to questions related to your service or product category. Be sure to refrain from pushing your products or services. The goal is to be present and in-the-moment useful.
- Share meaningful tips in your newsletter - Let’s face it, newsletters have become the scourge of our inboxes. Be a trailblazer by gathering your sales and marketing teams to figure out some of the biggest problems your customers are facing. Once you have that list, get with the content folks to have them create Q&A’s and other one-page features designed to answer those questions as part of the newsletter. (This is the kind of information that gets shared outside the company as well.)
- Take the show on the road - Actively seek out offline groups and organizations to speak to and share generic information about your line of service or products. The goal is to get in front of these groups, no strings attached, and build a rapport that could pay dividends down the road, not lead to a sale right away. For example, a physician might talk to the parents of high school athletes, making them aware of how to prevent common injuries.
- Create an amazing piece of evergreen content - Sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast. I don’t mean a piece of content relevant to your industry, products or service. I’m talking about creating a piece of content that’s imminently needed and useful. For example, you could create a “Complete Guide For Brewing Amazing Coffee At Home” or “The Definitive Guide For Keeping Kids Safe Around Pools.” Doesn’t matter that those topics fall outside your area. Your goal is to organically tie your business to prospects’ everyday life, and that begins, first, with visibility. Creating comprehensive evergreen content on topics that are of concern to a huge swath of the population is a surefire means of getting on the useful-meaningful-indispensable path.
Again, the playbook for becoming an indispensable brand has already been written. You just need the commitment to follow the course in front of you.
What is your business doing to become an indispensable brand?