Here’s my best marketing advice for the present and future. It’s simply this: stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way. This is Youtility, and, quite simply, companies that practice it are followed, subscribed to, bookmarked, and kept on the home screen of mobile devices. Companies that don’t… aren’t. Not because they are worse companies, but because they are trying to create customer connections based on product and price, and customers are both tired of it and able to filter through it more than ever. Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.
My family is useful. My friends are useful. Companies can be useful, too. Will yours?
One of the keys to successfully deploying Youtility in large organizations is insource the program. Every employee has knowledge that could benefit customers, and smart organizations find ways to get more and more employees devoted to unlocking and freeing that knowledge.
SAP: Voluntary Insourcing
Michael Brenner realized SAP had a problem. In his role as senior director for Global Integrated Marketing and Content Strategy, Brenner was analyzing the traffic on the website of the massive, German-based software and services company. He found that just three out of every ten thousand visitors to the site were coming from search engines used anything other than the names of the company or its products. The website was solely preaching to the choir (people familiar enough with SAP to look for it by name), leaving a colossal amount of potential attention on the table.
“Think about that,” says Brenner. “Think of all the millions of people that don’t know us yet. The people that know us are a small percentage. The people that don’t know us are the huge percentage. There is a huge audience of businesspeople who know what they want, but don’t know that SAP provides it. Nearly one year later, Brenner and his small team launched the SAP Business Innovation blog to answer customer questions, provide helpful information and successfully tie SAP to topics like cloud computing and mobile marketing. At least eight posts are published each day from a rotating, yet still very small, cast of insourced contributors.
“I call it a crusade because, literally, people within the company think I’m crazy for suggesting that we need our entire employee base to be participating in the content development process,” he says. “Knowledge, expertise, and passion exist all over the company. But there is in no way a cultural motivation at the company, even in the undertones of our culture, that encourages our people to participate.”
Brenner says his personal mission is to grow SAP’s culture of information participation. With sixty thousand employees, the company currently has approximately fifty intermittent contributors, and just two routine evangelists. But, at present, with a wholly volunteer participation framework and an internal culture that hasn’t historically embraced insourcing, it’s tough sledding. “We need to cross the line from enablement to encouragement,” he says.
Considering the SAP Business Innovation blog is already a success, even with sparse participation, additional participation could grow results geometrically. The site already generates thousands of visits per day, and the conversion rate—measured by the percentage of people who go from the blog to the main SAP site and fill out a contact form in exchange for an information download—is higher than for visitors coming to the main site directly.
Brenner believes that smaller companies have an easier time with insourcing because cultural shifts are quicker to take root, and employees have a better, organic sense of who has what expertise. Even though it’s a big change for a large, global company, Brenner says it’s a requirement. “It’s the content we produce that is going to help us engage with new customers, that is going to help us grow new business. You need to get every employee on that bandwagon.”
This post was written by by Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype and originally appeared on Social Business News.