Since the release of Jay Baer's best-selling book, Youtility, there has been a lot of buzz around the idea of useful marketing: help customers and prospective customers make better decisions and benefit as a result. Youtility means giving people the opportunity to consume information on their own terms — how and when they choose to. It's providing answers to questions —before they ask. According to Jay, "Youtility is the marketing strategy for the age of information overload."
Sounds great, but how do marketers actually practice Youtility?
In order to provide value, we can leverage tactics to significantly increase the usefulness of our content. The opportunity for the modern marketer lies not in generating more and more content — but in putting that content to work — making it more engaging and useful for those who interact with it.
One of my favorite tactics for Youtility are marketing apps — browser-based digital experiences designed for user interaction. Marketing apps can take the form of quizzes, conversion paths, calculators and more. They are useful, memorable and valuable. They put your content to work, helping to drive not only engagement, but provide Youtility.
3 Ways to Provide Youtility with Calculators
Show them the $$
H&R Block provides all sorts of great tax resources on their website, but the most popular (I imagine) is the free income tax calculator. This is a great example of Youtility.
The calculator allows you to estimate your withholding, calculate your refund (or payment) and find out how health care laws may impact your unique situation. The language used to describe the calculator is highly benefit-driven and “helpful."
“At H&R Block we want to make sure you get every dollar you’re entitled to.”
I took a look at several tax calculators while doing my research and there are some decent ones out there. But, I really like the H&R Block calculator because of the conversational tone — they guide you through a four step process — one that often can be pretty intimidating — by asking simple questions and giving you positive reinforcement as you submit your information. You can even hover over the form field to see the tool tip — it gives additional information around the question being asked.
Your estimated tax refund is given pretty quickly — on step three — then is adjusted based on individual expenses. On the results page, in addition to your taxable income, credits and refund estimate, they provide:
A list of required documents for filing
Advice for tax savings, such as: consider establishing a Health Savings Account
A print option for easy reference or to share with a tax specialist
The smartest part this calculator is the call-to-action to ‘Find Your Nearest Office’ — although, in my opinion, it should be repeated within each resource, the calculator especially, rather than stuck at the bottom of the page!
Hey, you should test that!
Most organizations have something that can be calculated using an engaging app-like experience. The most obvious example is pricing. Price ‘ball parking’ lets you price-qualify leads without giving them personal pricing. On to our next example...
Let them customize their own pricing (or at least "ball park" it)
Well, you know we have to practice what we preach here — right? On our website, you can enter your landing page traffic to determine a monthly cost estimate. In addition to ball park pricing, we give you a list of features associated with your traffic level.
Unlimited users, pages, domains, test, page views, phone and email support, ongoing training and more!
Price ball parking lets you price-qualify leads without giving them personal pricing — it uses some basic axes upon which to assess and offer a price range or ball park — and provides the visitor with immediate gratification.
I think this is especially useful for B2B marketers who are researching software or services. Rather than have to fill out a form to request pricing and potentially wait up to 24 hours or more, you can find the information you need and continue your hunting and gathering.
As a best practice, ion also includes the option to request specific pricing as well, a form captures this information and is then relied to an account development coordinator for personal follow up.
Help them find ways to save
Similar to the H&R calculator, AARP provides a calculator for comparing traditional health plans against a Health Savings Account. The tool is designed to help visitors save money on insurance premiums and receive additional deductions on income taxes.
I like this calculator because it has nifty sliders that influence savings, based on your adjustments. It breaks out premiums, deductibles, co-pays, for a annual cost, then shows you your monthly cost of each plan — side-by-side. It’s quite in-depth and gives fantastic definitions of the items within the calculator.
Once you’ve done your calculation, you can generate a report and print.
AARP doesn’t sell health insurance, but they do provide lots and lots of really great content — informative content like articles and guides, in a addition to calculators like this one. You don’t have to be a member to access their wealth of content — its made available to everyone — and people find it highly valuable.
Jay Baer calls this “friend-of-mine” awareness — he says "to succeed, your prospective customers must consider you a friend. And if like their friends, you provide them real value, they will reward your company with loyalty and advocacy, the same ways we reward our friends."
I think these three calculators are really wonderful examples of Youtility.
What do you think? What other brands are practicing useful marketing?