Ditch the idea of an immediate return on your marketing investment.

I’m sorry, a little too controversial? My debut post for dotMailer will argue that you should reverse your current marketing paradigm.

The ‘sell’ is becoming harder to sell. It’s time for, ‘a new marketing model for the information age,’ in the words of American marketing consultant Jay Baer.

Jay is one of my favourite people in marketing. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Social Media Week NY in 2013, during the runaway –train success of his NY-Times bestselling book ‘Youtility’ – which I will quote heavily from!

So what is Youtility and why should it matter?

In short, Youtility is ‘marketing so useful, people would pay for it.’

Any local DIY shop hand will tell you, the line between being helpful and selling is very thin – something that larger businesses have forgotten, and it’s time we went back to our roots.

‘Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is instead, marketing that is wanted by customers. ‘ – Jay Baer

This flies in the face of many UK brands’ marketing strategies. Aligning marketing to customer needs instead of business goals? Unheard of for some. But what are we aiming to create? In a nutshell, massively useful, free content that creates long-term trust and kinship between a company and its customer – this is brand advocacy.

Ordinarily, people would expect to pay for useful information. Jay points out that recipients are often ‘shocked into sharing’ such content – the recent boom in marketing infographics across Pinterest illustrates this perfectly.

However, internal culture is the first barrier to overcome – marketing blogger Marcus Sheridan highlights that ‘Youtility is not about changing your marketing, it is about changing your mind-set’.

“Here to Help”

B&QAs we’re an email and marketing automation company, I’ll start with an email example.

B&Q hit the nail on the head (yes, I love puns) with this email campaign. Following St Jude, the storm that devastated the South of England late last year, B&Q’s marketing team were fast to react. But it wasn’t the usual marketing spiel.

They sent out this email, with the subject line “Here to help” was followed by, “now the big storm has moved on, B&Q are on hand with plenty of tips and tools that can help you.” B&Q led with the offer of help – the copy towards purchase was seriously toned down.

Tone is vitally important. B&Q’s email is far from one that simply sells and uses the disaster as a cash cow. The brand continued to provide useful video tutorials – entirely free of charge that talking their audience through clearing out gutters, repairing fences and felting shed roofs. The campaign is still going strong – B&Q’s YouTube community is a clear indication of its success, with thousands of subscribers and video views.

Moving Day

IKEA’s ‘moving day’ campaign is another great example. Moving Day is a tradition in the province of Quebec and dates back to the time when it used to command fixed terms for rental properties.


Regardless of what country you live in, moving boxes are always hard to find. IKEA gave away 18,000 boxes, from branded trucks and billboards. Customers could sign up for real-time updates on its location. Rather awesomely, the boxes also had discount coupons for movers to decorate their new homes. The campaign obviously went viral, being supported by email and targeted social marketing – a simple graphic (pictured) was emailed out to its database

IKEA experienced an increase in sales of 24.7% over that period. This was a pretty large-scale marketing campaign, not suitable for all. But why not also think hyperlocal?

A Public (convenience) Service

‘Youtility’ marketing can be regional and multi-channel. Charmin, the toilet roll brand, created a great app to provide crowd-sourced reviews of the cleanliness of public toilet facilities in New York – which, if you’ve been is sometimes like playing Russian Roulette with a waterborne disease. This is a brilliant example of localised marketing, understanding the concerns of local customers in their environment


An app doesn’t have to be an extension of your website – where is your audience? What worries them and what can you do to make them feel better? Like Charmin, you should get creative. The app solves a real problem while supporting and building the Charmin brand.

It’s not an email marketing example, but think about your product – would the average person want a toilet paper promo through their inbox? Or would they prefer news about a branded app that meant they wouldn’t get caught short, waiting for the G train in midtown? Offer real-word, real-life solutions to the issues your audience faces and, importantly, contextualise the importance of your products.

How do we get there?

If you’ve ever been to one of our e-commerce seminars, you’ll have heard, Ben Staveley our Head of Ecommerce, says that ‘Data Is King.’ Understanding your audience and their needs requires data and feedback analytics. Google’s free tools, such as Trends and Correlate can help in the first instance to understand what your potential audience is looking for.

But you’ve already got a tonne of data – your email database, made up of customers that are at a whole myriad of buying points throughout your purchase cycle. For example, our clients are able to pull in CRM data from Saleforce, eCommerce and buying information from Magento. Look at that data, look at your trends and locate your customers’ needs – did they download a specific whitepaper, or buy a specific product? Did you follow up with associated content? Could you predict what their segment may want next?

Technology for Creativity, Creativity for Community


The profile of today’s marketers is changing rapidly and radically. Technology, analytics and data are increasingly the three key areas that businesses need their marketing teams to be strong in. However, these practical skills are nothing without grounding in creativity, along with time and space to think.

Did analytics alone – for example – help Nivea think up the idea of giving away free solar powered phone chargers to their beach-bound target market? Probably not, but whatever tech their marketing department is using to drive efficiency probably helped.

eConsultancy recently launched reported on a study into how marketers spend their working time, looking at the correlation between successful marketers, and the speed/ease-of-use of the email technology they employ.

The findings make for an interesting read. One standout take-away for me from the report is that marketers using faster email tech have much more time to do the smart thinking – the strategy, testing and analysis.

Those of us fortunate enough to be using solid platforms already should be spending those extra hours and days thinking about how we can engagingly HELP our customers and communities – ditching the hard sell.

Check out the eConsultancy research and report here. Let me know what you think of my blog, and what you’d like to hear from me next week!