Jay Baer, the author of Youtility, shares the background to his book as well as his perspectives on mobile, content marketing, social media, and business.
welcome to maximize your social practical and actionable advice on how your business control e maximize your social media presence. Now the host of Maximize Your Social, author of the recently published book of the same name and founder of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaefer. Good morning, good afternoon, Good evening, Wherever you are in the world, This is Neil Schaefer and thanks for tuning into another episode of Maximize Your Social. Today I have a very, very special guest on this podcast. No other than the author of Utility General Social Media, rock star blogger extraordinaire at convincing convert dot com J Bear. That's B e r For those of you in the know and if you're not well, look him up on the Internet. He's truly someone that I have been following and have the highest respect for in social media. And I have invited him on the podcast so that we can talk a little bit about his latest book, utility as well as his future plans. And I think you're all gonna be very, very interested in, I suppose the first comment that I'm gonna make and just to give all of my listeners the introduction is that I met J for the first time, and I don't think we've ever really met since then. It was at Blogged World and this was blogged world back in. I'm gonna say 2009 like November 2009 and at that time, I'm just gonna give everybody my impression of you, j not to embarrass you or anything, but just to give the background of how I know you. You spoke with Amber, obviously, on your first book, the now Revolution Seven ships To make your business faster, smarter and more social. So you had just released that. I think it was actually the publication of that book didn't even come in times you were giving out like a preview, which was like a good chunky excerpt from the book. Enjoyed hearing you speak member at one of the networking events in the evening. Just a chance toe chat with you. How approachable you were, how you were answering all my questions as to how you scale as a social media professional. I remember. I really still remember, even though it was almost four years ago, the specific advice you gave me on email marketing for instance, And although we really haven't met in person after that, obviously I've seen you speak, You know, almost everywhere you are definitely out there, and I had a chance to speak at the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association by the introduction of Mr Kuenzel. Vertical response and so many people that I met at Phoenix during that event also spoke very highly of you. And that's where I found out that you've been speaking and really hitting the road and just giving everybody just great advice for more than a decade. I just have this incredible reputation out there which, hopefully utility will solidify and really open it up to. Those may be outside of the social media world that may not know about you, but just really impressed with what you've done. How you've you know, I call myself a social media work course, but I think you have me beat their, you know, from reading your book about how many times you present and even you know, your advice for people that are writing books and how you did your own launch for this book and spreading that content over to slide share in all these different avenues. just your authenticity and transparency is just amazing. So first of all, I just want to thank you. And I think a lot of other people that have learned a lot from you from your books and from your blood convincing convert also want to thank you as well. So I'm probably doing it on their behalf. So that's really the background. And that's why I don't really interview a lot of people for this podcast. But when the opportunity was made available to have a chat with you, even virtually, I thought that I had to take the opportunity.
Hey, Neil, thanks very much for having me as a part of this very cool project. Yeah, it's funny. That blogged world presentation that you mentioned was actually the very first time that Amber and I ever gave the now Revolution presentation. I remember it vividly. That seems like a long time ago, and I guess it kind of is a long time ago. Now it's funny that you talkto Arnie at Arizona Interactive Marketing Association. Of course, I lived in Arizona for a long, long time, and Arnie's, a dear friend, wouldn't trust anything that guy says. But I do miss my time in Arizona and you're right. I've been I've been very busy with the new book and lots of speaking and growing the consult inside the business. It's been it's been pretty busy and it's amazing, actually, that you and I haven't intersected in person since then. We'll make sure to get that fixed up here real soon.
Um, I first want to start with. Obviously, you have been helping companies with marketing in general for a long time. This now being your second book. And I I guess I want to start with what I see happening in the world of social media. And I'm not even gonna talk about the topic of social business is that social media doesn't exist in the silo, and it really becomes a natural part of everything else you do in the company. But it has to be integrated with everything else you do in the company, right? And that's why I was very refreshing to see that your book was not a social media book, or is it a social media book? That was the first question I wanted to ask you was really the concept behind the book isn't social media is a not social media. And really, by answering that you can also define for those of you haven't read the book or don't know about the concept. This concept of utility spelled with a y o u T i l i t by so J. Why don't we first move on to that question?
So, yeah, you're right. Utility, Wyo. Utility. Why smart marketing is about help, not hype. It really isn't a social media book. It's it's about consumer behavior. If you have to categorize it, I'd say it's more of a content marketing book than anything else. And I wrote it for two reasons. One to sort of be a counterbalance to the culture of amazing. That's very prevalent in business today. There's lots of consultants, lots of authors and speakers who will tell you that the secret to business success now is to just be amazing to do something remarkable and that you will go viral and good things will happen. And that's very seductive advice, because everybody wants to be amazing. Everybody wants to hit a home run, but I've been a consultant now for almost 25 years, and you know Typically, that doesn't happen. You know, you're probably not amazing. Your company is probably not amazing and you're probably not gonna go viral. So I think a much more viable approach in today's marketing climate is to just be useful that if you are truly an inherently useful, if you create marketing that is so good and so useful that people would pay for it, which is really the definition of utility. Good things will happen in the second reason I wrote. The book on related front is that there's lots of emphasis now on content marketing, lots of companies creating content, lots of attention being paid to content marketing now, which is terrific. I'm excited about that. But what I felt we were missing is a strategic framework for for why to create content. There's lots of companies out there making lots of stuff without a real good understanding of what role content really plays and how content really supports other organizational initiative. So that's why I wrote the book, and that's why there's so many case studies in there in case studies, from companies of all different sizes and types and different types of business, so that people can see themselves in those stories. Hopefully,
I guess the next question I want to ask. And I'm sure you get asked a lot of well, you know, as a company. And if your consumer brand maybe it's a lot more easier, but maybe for B two B brands, What are we gonna talk about in social? Should we have a block? What would we blogged about? What would we tweet about? And I was very impressed with your selection of Marcus Sheridan and his story, which is pretty incredible. And it's just a great role model for many businesses out there as to how they could become a utility within their own industry. You want to tell me a little about a little bit about why you chose Marcus and maybe share his success story with others out there that may have never heard about it?
Yeah, thanks very much for the kind words about Marcus Sheridan, the Sales Lion. I was so delighted that he agreed to write the foreword to utility because I think his story really sets up the concept and how being useful can have a material impact, not just on your business, but but on your life. I will. I will do my best to summarize Marcus's story, although you'd be better off to read the forward of the book. But essentially, Marcus is the co founder of a company called River Pools and Spas in Virginia, and they're an installer of in ground fiberglass swimming pools. And in 2009 they almost went out of business because, you know, you may remember 2000 and nine little economic fun fact for you if you don't have enough money to buy food, you almost never want to buy a swimming pool, as it turns out. So they were in big trouble, and they said, We have to figure out a way to steal a disproportionate share of the tiny bit of demand that still exists for new swimming pools. And we don't really have a budget to do that. What should we do now? Obviously, to your question, swimming pools or not B two B. But the dynamics of considered expensive purchases like that are much more similar to be to be in many respects, and so I think it does apply quite clearly. So they said, Well, what if What if we just answered every question that anybody has ever asked us about swimming pools and nobody had a better idea. So that's what they did. So Marcus sat down and they wrote 400 block posts and then rode him at night. And they wrote him on weekends because they still had a company to run. And every one of those block post was an answer to a question that somebody had actually asked them about the swimming pool business in the previous few years. They now have over 1000 block posts, and not only has river pools survived, they have in fact, thrived. Revenue is way up, and they now get more website traffic than any other swimming pool website in this country, including the big manufacturers. Because they are the best educators about swimming pools, they have created a resource that is a utility. They have created an online resource about swimming pools and purchasing swimming pools that is so useful people would in fact pay for it if they asked you to.
So, Jay, let's move on to the third question I suppose, comes down to the role of mobile and you bring up mobile quite a bit. I guess if we're spending so much time on mobile devices and a company really wants to be where their target audience are, they need to be on mobile Yet So few companies seem to do mobile really well. And I know it probably kills you as it kills me when you go to a Q R code and you you come up to a page that has been optimized for mobile happens more than you think. So tell me, where do you think companies are with mobile these days? Just in general? And what would your advice be? It is a question. I'm sure when you speak on social media as I do, it's something that you know. Hey, what should we be doing? Mobile. What would be your, you know, a few really tactical tips or strategic tips that you can give the audience out there.
I'm so glad you bring up Mobile, Neil. And in fact, you're right. There are many, many mobile examples in the book and have a whole section about APS and the fact that I believe, as George Colony does, who's the CEO of Forrester? He invented this phrase. I'm just paradyne it that that your website will become the A M radio of the Internet, that that we will be mobile first. I mean, my kids have teenagers and they are so mobile. Dominant? Yeah, they'll use their laptop on occasion to type a paper or something like that, but But their entire data consumption pattern is either via phone or tablet, and I think that is the tip of the spear. The data shows that it's we're not too far off. I think it's a year and 1/2 away is the projections where more data will be consumed in mobile devices, then on desktop devices globally. At which point you really have to think mobile first. And I encourage our clients to do that on the consulting site. Now that you know it's not about, what are you doing on the Web, and then what parts of that can you do effectively via mobile? It really needs to be upside down and say, Let's maximize our mobile experience and then let's hang additional ornaments on that Christmas tree for the website in general. So that, of course, has a lot of implications for information design for e mail for the marketing funnel for calls to action. There's a lot of elements to it for branded APs potentially, which are typically terrible. But I have lots of examples in the book of branded APS that are really, really useful and effective s so it can be done. But what it really requires is a mindset shift.
I guess you know, you covered so many important concepts in the book. It's really hard for me to decide which ones I want to talk about, and I don't want to take up too much of your time here. I like the idea of identifying customer needs. You talk about the six blueprints to create utility, and I think identifying customer needs, whether it's it's social media marketing or marketing in general, the more you understand those needs. And obviously the more details you know about your target demographic. There's amazing things you can do in terms of content creation, finding people in social, targeting them with ads. Do you think businesses in general are really good at figuring out what their customer needs are? And if not, what would be some advice that, you know, maybe share some of the tips you have in the book to help them better understand that and why it's so critical just in marketing in general.
That's such a great and perceptive question. Of all the things that I talk about in the book, the notion of really drilling down to understand customer needs is perhaps the most important did. Unfortunately, I think we are largely derelict in that responsibility. We're at a very strange inflection point in business and as marketers, and that we are surrounded by data more than ever. But yet we're often starved for insight. When you just look at reports and you look at AP eyes and you look at spreadsheets, you are by definition treating your customers like a number, and that is a dangerous game to play. Many of the examples that eye sight in the book are drilled are sort of driven by companies that went beyond the spreadsheet and actually had really conversations with their customers toe understand sort of the bigger truth and how they could create marketing that was massively useful to those customers in ways that ordinarily might not have been expected. For example, one of the things I talk about in the book is a a mobile application from our friends and clients in Tennessee. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Vanderbilt has AH mobile application called the Coach Smart app. And what it does is it shows you when lightning is on the way. So coaches get alerted when lightning is close and they can get their players off the field safely, which is extraordinarily useful. It's now been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. It was initially intended just for coaches, but now it's been downloaded by fishermen and hikers and kayakers and anybody who doesn't want to be struck by lightning, which is a pretty large audience. But the way they came up with this app was that Vanderbilt does a lot of work with Nashville area coaches on injury prevention, concussion symptoms, things of that nature. And as part of that, the hospital send staff members out into the community to actually hang out with coaches to spend time with them face to face. And so they were having actual conversations about Hey, what else could we provide for you? And the coach is that we love this concussion stuff and we love the injury prevention stuff. Thanks very much But what really freaks us out is lightning and rightfully so. And so the hospital said, Well, you know what? Maybe we could do something about that, and they figured out a way to to do a real time lightning database that's access by the AP and with GPS overlays, et cetera. But none of that would have happened. That app never would have been created without actual conversations. You think that you understand your customers based on data, but in many cases you really don't. So if you're not having actual conversations with your customers on a regular basis, that, frankly, is the first step to be in a utility.
All right, Jay, I really appreciate your time. I sort of want to have the last question give you the chance to talk about where you're going. Obviously, your continued to churn out some great content and convincing convert you mentioned in, I believe was the forwards utility, that the book was really based on all these past presentations you've been giving. So where is the focus that you have now going into Q four of 2013 in 2014 and what sort of content or what sort of book, and we expect Thio be reading about from you next and any other just general advice after writing the book of Utility that maybe you wanted to include that you didn't or any other follow thoughts you may have. Please feel free to chime
in. Thanks very much. Neil and I appreciate the opportunity to be with you, and we gotta make sure to get to get together in person here real soon. Lots of exciting things going on, doing lots and lots of speaking around the utility concept. In fact, you can get a free excerpt of the book at utility book dot com. That's why, oh, utility book dot com and decide if you want to pick up a copy of it. That would be fantastic. But I'm also excited to let you know that I am rolling out. It looks like in February a new E book called Utility for Accountants that'll be 30 or 40 pages available on Kindle and Nook for $2.99 and that will be the first of a series vertically oriented e books. We'll talk about very, very useful marketing in a particular vertical So there's going to be a utility for car dealers. There's gonna be a utility for be to be a utility for salespeople, etcetera. So gonna be really not a whole series of those were the next two years very, very excited about that. Otherwise, just keep plugging away with our other projects are convincing. Convert blogged Very popular traffics way up convict to convert dot com My weekly podcast called Social Pros social pros dot com Right Interview A major companies Social media manager, content marketing manager Once a week. That's a a show that a lot of people feel is that really educational helps them with their own career. And then, of course, we have a daily email called The One Thing, which gives you a link to the one story that we think you should read today in social media and content marketing. And that's at one social thing dot com. So always lots of balls in the air. Super lucky to have a great team. There's seven of us at convincing convert, and they do all the hard work and I take the glory but really excited for what you're doing. The new work that you're doing in your pivots in the book, and I'm delighted to see you're a trajectory and really, really excited me. We can work on something together next year. That would be super fun. Thanks again,
Jay. Thank you so much for your kind words and sharing so much of your inside experience and perspective on social media, mobile content, marketing, just business in general with all of us. I really look forward to the chance that we have to meet in person and a disclaimer for those of you that listened all the way through this. Yes, this was not a live interview, those that are very active in social media to have a busy speaking schedule. Sometimes it's just more convenient to record interviews in this way when we find the time and when we have the mojo to be able to give our best. So that was my experiment with this podcast. I hope you enjoyed listening to Jay and once again, make sure you check out utility and where we are in the world. Make it a great day and we'll talk again with you soon. If there's anybody else that you'd like me to interview. If you want someone to share their perspectives on their latest book would have you please make sure you contact me. That's it, folks. Make it a great day. We'll see you next week. Bye bye. Thanks for listening. To maximize your social, we appreciate your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on this show or recommend content, please contact Neil Schaffer at Neil at Maximize your social dot com. Thanks for listening and have a great day.