Why Your Brand Needs Youtility (Book Review)


July 15, 2013

youtility book review

Pssst! I have a secret to tell you about Jay Baer’s new book Youtility. Are you ready? First, as you know I’m a huge fan of Jay’s work including the Social Pros podcast as well as his previous book, The Now Revolution that he co-authored with Amber Naslund. Okay — ready for that secret? Here goes: Youtility isn’t a book about social media. Do I have your attention? 

The Elevator Pitch

Look at any of Jay Baer’s social profiles and you’re apt to see the phrase “hype-free” preceding his various titles. Like its author, Youtility is a hype-free book that trades the standard social media platitudes for a new way of approaching your business both in the digital channel and beyond. When I say it’s not a book about social media, I mean it’s not merely a book about social media.

Youtility begins by walking us through how we got here — from top-of-mind to frame-of-mind marketing to what he calls the friend-of-mind marketing of today. In this new dynamic, if your brand wants to stand out, you really have two options: be amazing or be useful. While the former advice certainly sounds cool (this topic has been the subject of many business books, both good and bad), it’s hard to implement and scale. That’s why Baer has created a book to help your brand standout by being useful, or a Youtility.

4 Big Ideas from Youtility

More than a light read on why your business should be helpful and what that looks like, the book’s real value comes from the fact that it provides you with a plan for how to make this happen. Here are a few examples.

jay baer youtility

Jay Baer

Finding the Right Channel — Among the strategies and frameworks provided, is a signal flare reminding us not to miss one of the most commonly skipped steps in planning content marketing. While most of us understand that good content helps customers solve problems, we often jump ahead to a specific tactic (“let’s build an app for that!”) without first spending some time figuring out what delivery channel makes sense. Should this be a blog or an email? A video or a podcast? In many cases there’s more than one right answer, meaning you have to select the one that is “more right.”

Social Jobs vs. Social Skills — As in The Now Revolution, Baer focuses on how social media and content marketing affect the organization of your business. There’s a great chapter on what he calls the future of insourcing social media, which notes that right now social media is a job for many (like typing used to be) but eventually will be a skill we all posses (as typing is now).

Project vs. Process — Baer also cautions that the work that goes into Youtility is never done. It’s not an easy box you can check off of your to-do list but rather an on-going process that you continue to integrate into your business in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Your Single Greatest Marketing Engine — Tucked into one of the steps along the way is a nugget many companies need to take note of: “Your employees are your single greatest marketing engine.” Unless you’re a mega brand such as Best Buy or Walmart, chances are your brand’s social media connections are far fewer than the sum total of all of your employees’ social connections. To fully leverage this asset, you need to keep them in the loop and empower them as social brand ambassadors.

A big concern with many when it comes to social media books is the relevancy of the businesses profiled as examples. While Baer includes a variety of brands large and small, he also calls into question those who would say, “How does this relate to my industry? These are B2C examples I am in a B2B industry.” Stories from large brands and those outside of our own comfortable industries are important because, in many cases, these game-changers alter customers’ online expectations universally. How Amazon organizes their product pages has ripple effects for any businesses selling products online.

So, Should You Read It?

YoutilityLike Mitch Joel’s Ctrl Alt Delete, Youtility is very much a book about the state of marketing right now. At the same time, defining it simply as another new social media book doesn’t do it justice. While the Geek Squad is cited as an outstanding example of Youtility it’s not a social play alone. It’s a useful, problem-solving strategy for standing out in our increasingly noisy world.

If you’re like me and find yourself dog-earring pages in helpful books for future use, you’ll like the section in the appendices which has the book’s content and key findings in outline form for easy reference. This brings me to another thing I really enjoyed about this book. It was very well organized, laying out the state of things past, present and future; identifying the strategies that define the book’s approach; and finally, providing a step-by-step blueprint to prepare your business for what lies ahead.

If your brand wants to look beyond the hype of social media and provide your community with up-front value through helpful content, you need to make room for Jay Baer’s Youtility on your bookshelf.

Want a FREE, Autographed Copy of Youtility?

Simply register now for this fall’s Social Brand Forum and you’ll get a copy of Youtility free with your registration (be among the first 100 and get books from Lee Odden and Gini Dietrich as well). As Jay is keynoting our event, you can even get it signed. What are you waiting for? Take the first step on becoming a Youtility and register now for Social Brand 2013.

How excited is Jay Baer about coming to Iowa? He’s already doing some research. Check out the fun video he sent below. (We may have to educate him on who Bix Beiderbecke and James Van Allen are.)


Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


2 comments
JayBaer
JayBaer

Thanks so much Nick. I am absolutely thrilled that you liked the book, and the things you called out were several of those that I worked hard to make sure were part of Youtility. It's so gratifying that you noticed them. As for Bix Beiderbecke, I am convinced that's a fictional person. 

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@JayBaer Just remember that it turned out that evangelist Billy Sunday's real name was, in fact, Billy Sunday. Again, great book. Honored to be passing it on to 250 Midwesterners at this fall's Social Brand Forum!