This summer, I had a chance to listen to a presentation by Jay Baer about a new concept he is calling “Youtility.”  He talks about the evolution of marketing from:

  • Top of Mind – Is your brand the first that pops in to a customers mind?
  • Frame of Mind – Do they think of you when they are ready to buy?
  • Friend of Mine – Do they feel they know you?  Do they view you as a friend and/or resource.

I really enjoyed Jay’s presentation, and I am looking forward to the release of his book on the same subject. While I agree that social media has made it easier than ever to have an expanded relationship with clients, this is really nothing new.  For years we have told our clients that their customer has needs that their product or service can’t fill.

Instead of ignoring those needs, looking at  your customer as a complete entity (either a person or a company) gives you a foundation for a deeper relationship. This will only work if you have done a good job of  clearly defining your target customer. Assuming you have done that well, think about other products and services your customers purchase on a regular basis.

The providers of these products and services may be ideal strategic partners for your company. They may be interested in cross-promotion or possibly even joint promotions.

For example:

A daycare center owner knows her clients (the parents of children agestwo to five) need clothing, pediatric services, toys and weekend activities. She identifies companies which provide these services in her local market. She even asks some of her clients who they buy from in these categories.

Using this list of potential partners, she can approach businesses with joint promotion ideas. An educational toy store or child party planner might be willing to engage in a cross-promotion, offering to trade coupons and discounts.

Since she has the space, she can invite her partners to conduct demonstration sessions at her facility.  One successful program was a new pediatrician who is willing to offer on-site check-ups once a week.

These additional services or activities create a point of differentiation.  They can be used as source material for a press release which will catch the attention of a local newspaper.  And finally you can take the networking back on line.  These related products and services also form the foundation of informational blog posts and social shares.

If you truly want to be a Youtility, you need to think about it on and offline.

photo credit: dierk schaefer via photopin cc