By Jay Baer published September 4, 2013

How to Fill Your Content Marketing with Youtility

be genuinely useful book/videoYou know what happens when most companies launch a new, branded mobile application or other content marketing program intended to effectively combine information and promotion?


You’ve heard the saying, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same logic works in these scenarios: “If you create ‘Youtility‘ and don’t tell anyone about it, did it ever exist?”

When you finish the app, or commence blogging, or begin answering questions, you have not reached the finish line; you have reached the starting line. Too many businesses break out the champagne just because something new was created. 

Remember, Youtility is all about being useful, which literally means “full of use.” The objective is not to make information. The objective of content marketing is to produce information that customers and prospective customers will use.

If you believe in your ability to sell more by selling less, and if you’re committed to creating truly helpful information that will add value to the lives of your customers and prospective customers, you have to also add the third leg of the stool. You have to market your content marketing.

If you are looking for ways to market your marketing, an essential read is Joe Pulizzi’s post on 7 Steps to Creating Your Content Marketing Channel Plan.

Your questions answered on building Youtility into content marketing

In a recent post on the Content Marketing Institute, I asked readers to share questions they have about content marketing and Youtility. If you are unfamiliar with the term Youtility, it is creating content so useful that your prospects and customers would want to pay for it and having a plan to market it so people can find it.

You asked some questions, and here are my answers:

Pontus Staunstrup asked:How do we find out what type of content is really useful to our customers? And is challenging them on solutions part of being useful?”

You can (and should) look at data like search engine queries, social media chatter, web analytics, etc. But the best way to find out what your customers will find useful is to actually talk to your customers.

A reader, “Adam,” was struck by a particular phrase in the post:A well-informed consumer is much more likely to purchase your products or services than a consumer who is repeatedly nagged (through promotion) to purchase…” He then asked, “How long before consumers realize this and start to reject, discredit, or ignore the useful, interesting content you create? Seeing it as yet another persuasion tool?”

I believe that if the marketing is truly a Youtility (so useful that people would pay for it, if asked), they won’t reject it, ever. The key is to build intrinsic value, though, not to make “usefulness” a Trojan Horse for your sales pitch.

Nicole Keleher commented:We are in the process of redesigning our blog to make it more user-friendly for our customers. I love your idea of launching great content. My question is, what ideas do you have to launch our redesigned blog?

Your best option would be to create a blog editorial calendar that methodically answers customer questions (like this post!), and is designed to draw attention to longer-form useful content.

Craig Badings had this to say:Jay I like your word Youtility. Don’t you think we should also change the word consumer. Two years ago, I coined the term “contsumer” — after all, that’s how the buying process has changed. They first consume content, then they buy, hence contsumer.

I like it! Doesn’t roll off the tongue, necessarily, but you’re spot on. Although I’d say that we’ve always consumed content first, it’s just that we do so now with greater enthusiasm and proactivity — and with far more sources of information at our disposal.

“Mrunmayee” asked:How should we use social media in a relatively new and small market like India, if the niche target audience is not that active on social media?”

It should work the same way everywhere. Use social to drive awareness (even targeted awareness) of useful content. Content is fire; social media is petrol.

“Jessica” wanted to know:Could you share some ideas for making basic website content more Youtilitarian?

Format the basic content as a FAQ, and/or format the content as videos, with accompanying transcription (see for a great example).

If you want to learn more about Youtility, please join me at Content Marketing World from September 9 – 12 in Cleveland, Ohio, where I’ll be delivering a keynote presentation on, “Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype.”

Can’t make it to Content Marketing World? You can watch our keynote presentations via free live streaming, sponsored by LinkedIn. Join us as we broadcast, live from Cleveland, Ohio, to get the latest content marketing insights from Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, and others! Click here for full details.

Author: Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a hype-free digital marketing strategist, speaker, and author. He founded Convince & Convert in 2008. This is the fifth marketing services firm he’s started or managed. Jay has consulted with more than 700 companies on digital marketing since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, California Travel & Tourism Commission, Billabong, and 29 of the Fortune 500. He was named one of America’s top social media consultants by Fast Company magazine, and the Convince and Convert blog is ranked as the world’s #1 content marketing resource. He’s co-author of "The NOW Revolution," and "7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social," (Wiley, 2011) a leading book on social business. His new book, Youtility was recently published by Portfolio.

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  • Geoffrey Gordon

    Nice post Jay

    I am actually going to get a copy of your new book it looks awesome.

    I think the key here, the analogy of the tree falling down in the forest. If you don’t promote your great content no one is going to find out about it. I think more posts should be dedicated to promotion, since there are a thousands on creation.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks so much Geoffrey. I appreciate it. And I agree re: content promotion. Very good point. I’ll talk to CMI about adding more about that here!

    • Sarah Bauer

      Agreed, Geoffrey.

      I think it’s worth exploring the content marketing process from fostering a presence on platforms for effective promotion first, before creating the content. Crafting pages and pages of blog posts before connecting with a potential audience can be extremely discouraging, especially for small businesses.

  • Craig McBreen

    Hi Jay,

    “Your best option would be to create a blog editorial calendar that methodically answers customer questions (like this post!), and is designed to draw attention to longer-form useful content.”

    – This is what I’m working on with several clients at the moment. Borrowing from you and Marcus Sheridan … 😉 As a graphic designer / branding guy moving forward full steam ahead into the world of content marketing, let me just say that you’ve provided some pretty amazing Youtility, Jay 🙂

    • jaybaer

      Thanks Craig. I can’t wait to see your results. Keep me posted!

  • claus

    Love you Jay. So good I can’t make a single recommendation. Thanks

  • Jessica

    Thanks for answering my question, Jay.

  • Mrunmayee

    Thanks for your answer, Jay. Appreciate it. I loved the idea for content generation too.