Marketing Book Reviews: Youtility and Blah Blah Blah

On a recent business trip, I read two books, one on the outbound flight and one on the return home.  These cross country flights gave me the time and unfettered environment to dive into these marketing books that had been on my “to read” list for a while.  Here are my reviews.

Youtility by Jay Baer

The subtitle of this book is, “Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype.”  The basic premise is to be useful without regard to converting a prospect into a customer.  (This reminds me of the underlying theme of Patrick Lencioni’s book, Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty which is, “Just start helping.” This is a great read for anyone who provides consulting services. But I digress.)

While I’ll admit, the title Youtility, is a bit hokey, the book is most definitely not. Jay Baer does such a great job bringing his concepts to life, that my hardback book (yes, I’m a Luddite when it comes to actual books) is scribbled with notes on how to apply his advice. Some of the lessons I’ve begun using include:

  • Write blog posts that answer the questions people ask most
  • Ask yourself, “How can we make our customers more awesome?”
  • Strive for authenticity in all customer/prospect communications

Jay’s keys to Youtility are:

  • Provide self-serve information
  • Offer radical transparency
  • Ensure content has real-time relevancy

In a world where we marketers are competing for the attention of our customers in an increasingly noisy world, Youtility has some great approaches for rising above the fray, getting noticed and gaining customer loyalty.

Blah Blah Blah: What to do When Words Don’t Work by Dan Roam

This is another book with an odd, yet intriguing title. However, it’s in a class all by itself.  Dan’s basic premise is that pictures DO speak a thousand words and that our business communications should look more like a Dr. Seuss book and less like a treatise on the meaning of life.  He goes on to point out that part of the problem is that at an early point in our education, we were forced to switch from a picture-intensive world to one focused solely on the written word for communications. (And let’s face it, many of us lost interest in reading in the period from Cat in the Hat to Catcher in the Rye.)

Blah, Blah, Blah gives us the mindset and tools to begin working pictures back into our business communications.  Not only does Dan remind us of our own follies when trying to communicate in a “business-like manner,” but he frees our minds and gives us the tools and permission to begin drawing again. In fact, I’ve begun trying this myself.

A colleague and I were recently given the opportunity to develop a new marketing campaign.  After solidifying the approach, I began to document the program we had agreed upon.  Within a few minutes, I had multiple pages and no amounts of headers, bold fonts or italics could make the concept spring off the page. So, I took out a piece of paper – an actual piece of paper – and began and drawing.  I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but I gathered the courage to show my work to my colleague. (It was like handing in my first finger painting!) While the unconventional nature of my presentation was noted, the conversation went well and bolstered my confidence just enough to show my work to the team working the marketing program. While no one commended me on my artistic skills, it was a very useful way to present the campaign.

So, grab the book and get out those pens and papers.



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