For consumers, it's no longer enough to have brand identity or a clever ad campaign. Consumers are attracted to brands that solve problems, answer questions or provide useful service. Online marketing guru Jay Baer calls them brands with "youtility."
Baer says marketing today is harder than ever before. "The challenges faced by major brands are substantial — and getting bigger," he writes in a guest blog for IBM. "Successful marketing has been more difficult, as consumers are adrift in a sea of invitation, with companies of every size, shape and description trying to reach them through an always expanding nexus of media, both traditional and newfangled."
As a result, consumers are "weary and wary of message and mechanism."
Many brands have resorted to a "science of silly" strategy," Baer says, "dressing up their naked appeals to buy now with quirky characters, outlandish situations and non-sequiturs."
"Consumers don't want hype, even hype disguised with a veneer of wacky," he insists. "We want help."
This involves, he says, shifting from creative campaigns that delight brand managers to content-rich platforms aimed at "solving consumer problems and improving their lives."
"Brands have the wherewithal to provide this assistance," Baer claims, "to create marketing that's actually wanted by consumers instead of marketing that is needed by companies."
Youtility should be the driver of marketing strategy. Youtility, Baer explains, is "based on a commitment to helping, not selling."
"Doing this well requires a combination of customer understanding, nimble content creation and marketing execution," Baer says. Marketing execution translates into giving consumers useful, unique and irreplaceable experiences that draw and maintain interest in your brand.
All this is the foreshadowing of a new book by Baer, who has distinguished himself by putting old marketing maxims in a contemporary context to win the "hearts and minds of today's mobile, social-enabled customer by delivering relevant, useful and profound customer experiences."
The concept of youtiity, Baer says, has to start at the top with a re-imagined Chief Executive Customer. If the top dog thinks like the customer, it points the whole organization in the right direction. The "CEC" is key to giving consumers "help, not hype."