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Why Usefulness trumps Awesomeness with Consumers

Published Aug. 30, 2013 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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by Dan Toland

At a time when all the world’s information can fit in your pocket via your smartphone, the rules for remaining relevant to your customers are quickly changing.

This was a major takeaway from last week’s AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Conference (#ACFC13), where I was on-hand for the fourth year to present Facebook tips to farmers and ag professionals seeking to sharpen their social media acumen.

I always come away with great new insight. More and more, though, it’s becoming less about the technology we use and more about shifting our mindsets to succeed in a new era of communications.

Renowned social media consultant Jay Baer’s opening keynote focused on “Youtility” (which he defines as “marketing so useful your customer would pay for it”) gave us all a lot to consider.

His premise is that you’re now competing with EVERYBODY for the attention of your potential customer, because businesses and consumers now use the very same tools and networks to communicate.

So whether you’re using social media to agvocate, or to try to do business, how do you rise above the noise and succeed in connecting with your customer?

Jay provides these three new rules:

1. Provide Self-Serve Information: Be a provider of free, quality and useful online information BEFORE a customer makes a purchase/decision. People have more information to make decisions today than ever before. Is yours part of it? “All the information one needs to make a good decision is literally in their back pocket,” Jay said. “There is no barrier to research, and consumers have figured this out.”

“Talking to a real person is now seen as a last resort, not the first step (in the buying/decision-making process). If somebody has to call you for information, you’re doing it wrong.”

2. Embrace Radical Transparency: Today’s customers “WANT to see the sausage being made.” This is about proactively acknowledging shortcomings (something of which Jay says agriculture needs to improve), anticipating all questions and providing answers to reduce uncertainties and friction.

“When you proactively acknowledge your shortcomings, it builds tremendous trust. ‘We are right, you are wrong’ is no way to go about it. Worry less about selling better and more about teaching (and helping) better.”

3. Provide Real-time Relevancy: Youtility is not about “being awesome.” It’s about “being useful,” and promoting your usefulness first, and your business second. Make yourself valuable; not a bullhorn of marketing and talking points.

“Using social media to tout something useful you have created is way more awesome than saying you are awesome. Don’t talk ‘you, you, you’...Stop using social media as the world’s shortest press release. When you’re competing against my wife in my newsfeed it will never work.”

What does Youtility look like, feel and act like? Here’s a good example:

What great examples of Youtility have you seen, or would you like to see in agriculture?

Dan Toland is Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of digital strategy.



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