If your marketing is sufficiently useful, your audience will keep your brand close – on their home screen, in their inbox, in their Twitter and Facebook feeds – and, when they need you, they’ll access whatever it is you’re bringing to the information party. This is the great benefit of Youtility – marketing so useful, people would pay for it (if asked). You don’t have to be “found” – at least not after initial discovery – because your customers and prospects already know where you are and what you offer. When they need you, they’ll engage.
There is no courtship, ramp up, or slow build with Youtility. You’re either sufficiently useful at any given moment, and thus can connect with the customer, or you’re not. It’s real-time relationship building. Once you have new eyeglasses, your ability to get questions about them answered by Warby Parker becomes a less-fulfilling proposition. Until, one day, you need new glasses again, and then you’ll know where to turn. Meanwhile, they have your money from the first purchase and are patiently waiting for your needs to re-align with their usefulness.
Like an endless game of informational hide and seek, Youtility consists of popping out from behind a tree to assist when necessary, then fading back into the woods waiting for the next opportunity.
The Fragmentation of Brand Value
The notion of “a brand is greater than the sum of its parts” is an anachronism. The branding ligaments that for decades created cohesive corporate attributes have been surgically removed. Brands have rushed to provide value (optimally) or promotions (typically) on every new communication platform, all of which are increasingly accessed through mobile devices, making customers’ relationships with brands solely a collection of micro-experiences. This is the “app-ification” of brand value.
For decades, the key question has been “how valuable is the brand?” The key question moving forward is “how valuable are your apps?” Apple, of course, started this trend with the introduction of the first iPhone, but distilling entire companies down to a collection of utilities is now pervasive, and that is where the vast majority of technology and marketing development is headed. When fully implemented, this atomization of brand value will make the Web far less valuable than it is today, and will make real-time relevancy via mobile Youtility the primary battleground for all companies.
App-ification is Your Future
“Websites will become the “AM radio of the Internet.” (click to tweet)
Why would I (or you) wade through an entire website that must try to serve the disparate information needs of multiple audiences, when I could instead use a mobile app to do ONE thing exceedingly well, with a minimum of extraneous window dressing?
The winds are blowing strong in this direction. In an amazing 2012 study, Symphony IRI found that Americans in the Millennial generation are almost four times more likely than American consumers overall to have their purchases influenced by smartphone applications. The impact of these apps on their purchase decisions is greater than recommendations from blogs and social media, and from manufacturers’ websites or email.
Within a generation every customer and prospective customer of every company in every developed nation will have never known a world without the ability to access information at any time through a mobile device.
Are you over-valuing your website, and undervaluing your app strategy? Probably.