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How brands can stay relevant in a digital first culture: Interview with Jay Baer

Author's avatar By Simon Swan 26 Sep, 2016
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Tips for brands adapting to Digital from the author of Youtility

Many brands are struggling to adapt to a digital first culture and more seriously, struggling to remain relevant.

It’s clear that brands moving from the industrial revolution to the connected economy need to be doing a lot more than creating a digital marketing dept in their organisational chart. Rather, they need to be adjusting and adapting their culture.

I interviewed Jay Baer, author of the New York Times best seller, Youtility and one of my favourite business books. We discuss the challenges for brands that struggle to grasp “digital”, what brands can do to differentiate themselves in competitive markets and Jay’s latest book, Hug Your Haters.

Q. Many brands struggle to grasp how “digital” is structured within their organisation with many treating their digital activities within a silo -what words of wisdom could you provide brands to adapt a digital first culture?

Jay BaerAs Gary Vaynerchuk says, you have to market in the year in which you are living. Consumers are spending less time with every method of reaching customers (TV, radio, print, outdoor, et al), except for digital, which has seen a 110% increase in consumer time spent per day since 2010.

The best way to adapt to a digital first culture is to spend time talking to your customers and prospects. Understand how they consume information and you’ll soon realize that digital is non-optional for your business.

Q. With brand loyalty in decline, what are the opportunities for brands to redefine themselves in the era of content marketing?

Smart brands use content to shift from top-of-mind awareness to friend-of-mine awareness.

They focus on help, not hype. When you do so, your brand can develop relationships with customers and prospects that pay off geometrically over time. After all, if you sell something you create a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life.

What words of advice would you have for brand to create points of difference within a crowded market place through content marketing?

Focus on being useful. The problem with most content marketing is that it doesn’t actually benefit the customer. If the content is solely about the company, its products and its services, it’s just a brochure in a different guise. Consumers are too smart for that. Give them something utterly useful and they’ll reward you for it.

Q. Your book, Youtility resonated with my own thinking as to how organisations can become more “human” e.g. Hilton Suggests and their technique to answer questions through social no matter if the user is a customer or not.

To apply this mindset into a brand strategy – does this require a different organisation culture?

At some level, yes. Because humanization (and empathy, in a customer service context) requires brands to allow their representatives to interact with customers and prospects as people, rather than as the brand itself. Smart brands let their front line personnel work without a script, giving them permission to act like real people, not bots.

Q. What simple steps could a brand follow to define Youtility within their organisation?

None. There are no simple steps because the principle of Youtility (creating marketing so useful, customers would pay for it) is the exact opposite of how we were trained to do marketing.

But the best first step is to look at all of your existing marketing and think about whether it serves the company or the customer. And if it’s the former, how can it be made more useful?jay2

Q. You latest book, Hug Your Haters – suggests a move for organisations/brands to move towards the Age of the Customer – what practical steps could a brand take to move their customer to the centre of their strategy?

Recognition that customer service is now a spectator sport. That because so many customer interactions take place in public now (via social media, etc.) that customer service IS the new marketing.Jay1

Author's avatar

By Simon Swan

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