Five “Youtility” Marketing Takeaways for Economic Development

September 4, 2013

Best practices for Economic Development MarketingAt The Marketing Summit hosted by in DCI in Denver, 18 economic developers from across the nation had an opportunity to listen to Jay Baer, author of “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype

Baer, who partners with DCI to counsel our clients on a variety of social media matters, spent an hour discussing how communities, businesses and people are competing for attention against everything and how the winners of the competition are focusing on helping, rather than selling.

As Baer puts it, “Youtility” is “marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” It’s about creating long-term customers by providing them with valuable, useful information.

For those who didn’t get a chance to listen to Jay’s inspiring presentation, we’ve compiled five takeaways that you can integrate into your ED marketing plan.

1. Don’t be amazing, just be useful.

How do you stay ahead of the competition when every EDO says that their community has an amazing economy, a diligent workforce, a top-of-the-line educational system, etc.?

Instead of sticking to the status quo, EDOs need to find out how they can be useful and helpful by displaying all types of information – both positive, negative and in between.

A thought from Jay: “It’s not about marketing better than the economic development organization next door; it’s about being more interesting than that EDO.”

2. Put all information on your website.

Did you know that in B2B, customers will contact a sales rep (you) only after 70 percent of their decision has been made? This is true in economic development marketing, where our Winning Strategies survey shows that a C-level executive in charge of site selection responsibilities will contact an EDO after a shortlist has already been developed.

The best way to get businesses to contact you is through information.  Create FAQs, develop custom reports and write blogs that answer any question you ever been asked with honesty and transparency before a site selector calls to find out how your community compares to another location.

If your EDO needs inspiration for how an economic development organization can provide answers, look no further than Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. On its website, you can find a widget that creates a custom report on everything you ever wanted to know about the city, including information on target industries, real estate, labor market, taxes, demographics and much more.

3. Incorporate real time relevancy.

Today, information is at our fingertips within seconds. Think outside of the box with your services and create a tool (such as a mobile app) that your audience can use “in the moment.”

For example, Greater MSP created a relevant mobile app for visitors, community leaders, regional business, and professionals moving to the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. Its app features listings, photos and interactive maps of all the Fortune 500 headquarters and popular destinations in all of the 13 counties. When these prospects visit Greater MSP, all they have to do is pull out their phone, which has all the information they need to make the decision.

4. Reach out.

Instead of guessing what site selectors or business executives are looking for, reach out and ask them! It’s as easy as reaching out to them via phone,  e-mailing or asking them  on LinkedIn.

If you wait for others to contact you, you’re missing out on opportunities to build big ideas for your organization. And isn’t it true that some of the best ideas stem from conversation?

5. Use social media to promote your marketing.

People aren’t automatically going to find your information. In order to make your organization known, promote your content and put effort behind the promotion.

Social media is a great tool for marketing “Youtility.” As Baer said, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.”

Also, keep in mind that using social media to promote helpfulness first and your organization second, will get your organization far. Develop content by first asking: “Will my audience find this information useful?” Remember that a tweet with a link to a helpful article will dominate a tweet with a link to your services.

Do you know of an EDO using “Youtility” as a part of their marketing? Let us know how in a comment below! 


Susan Brake

Written by Susan Brake

Susan Brake is Vice President at DCI overseeing the digital media strategy for all the firm's economic development clients. Since joining the company, she has effectively leveraged traditional and social media tactics to reach target audiences for her clients large and small.

View more posts by

1 Comment

Leave a Reply