Content Marketing: How To Be Amazing With Jay Baer

Jay Baer

Jay Baer Discusses Youtility

Many marketers recommend that you create amazing content to attract an audience. While that sounds easy, it’s not. Take my word for it and I have a lot of experience.

To pull back the curtain on the content creator’s process, I interviewed content marketing expert par excellence Jay Baer, one of the social media superstars.

Jay not only has a top rated social media and marketing blog but he’s also just laid out the content creation process in a way that makes it easier to accomplish with Youtility, his new book that hit the bestseller charts.

Youtility Cover1. What was your inspiration for writing Youtility? Did you approach the topic from the perspective of a marketer, social media expert or content creator? How was Youtility influenced by your top ranked blog, Convince & Convert?

Jay Baer: I wrote Youtility for two reasons. First, as an antidote to the all-too-common advice of “just be amazing.” The reality is, you’re probably not amazing, nor is your company. And becoming amazing is a lot harder to do than the gurus would have you believe. I prefer a success methodology rooted in usefulness, not amazing. Thus, the thesis of Youtility, and the corresponding book.

The second reason is that many companies are starting to get serious about content marketing, but don’t really understand why they are creating content. Youtility is the strategic scaffolding companies use to support their content initiatives.

2. What did you do to make your book Youtility a New York Times Best Seller? Specifically what were the key elements of your book promotion? What worked and what didn’t work? 

Jay Baer: I tried just about all the things that can be tried. Literally dozens of tactics and a lot of manpower. I actually go through the book marketing process in detail in my free ebook “25 Secrets: How I wrote and marketed a New York Times best selling business book.” But of all the things I tried, the most effective was also the most basic: I emailed hundreds of friends and associates, and asked them to support the book.

I loved Jay’s response to this question since it’s a lesson l learned working for Bertelsmann that applies to most products. As a marketer, your strategy can yield a variance in response based on how well it’s executed. But the biggest challenges you face often are due to factors beyond your control. Therefore you must try a lot of tactics at the same time to ensure that you succeed. — Heidi.

3. Now that you’ve written one book as a collaboration and one book on your own, what do you see as the biggest challenge writers have? What is your most unexpected take away from the process of writing? How does this differ from your experience as a blogger?

Jay Baer: The biggest challenge writers have – especially in the digital marketing sphere – is not having a unifying theme that ties the concept together. Most social and digital books are a collection of ideas, not one idea. I’m very, very proud of the work Amber Naslund and I did on The NOW Revolution, but that book is a collection of ideas. Youtility is one idea, explained many ways.

4. What do you consider the key attributes of a social media strategy? What are the key attributes of a content marketing strategy? Do you see them as different or connected and why?

Jay Baer: I see – as discussed in Youtility – content as fire, and social media as gasoline. Companies (and people) would be better off if they used social to draw attention to useful things that they have created, instead of simply using social to draw attention to themselves. The key attribute of a social or content strategy is to tie it back to measurable business outcomes. Remember, the goal isn’t to be good at social media; the goal is to be good at business because of social media.

5. What is the biggest mistake that you see companies do with social media? What is the biggest mistake that you see companies do with content marketing?

Jay Baer: Being uniformly self-referential. Youtility is a playbook for marketing sideways instead of marketing head-on. Sometimes, the less you talk about yourself, the more other people will talk about you.

6. From a business perspective, is social media expensive? Is content marketing expensive?

Jay Baer: It depends on what you consider expensive. But they are definitely not inexpensive. Doing social and content well requires a lot of labor, and labor isn’t free.

7. What is your favorite social media platform and why? 

Jay Baer: I still prefer Twitter due to its immediacy and my ability to consistently learn and discover there. I’m increasingly impressed with what Linkedin is doing, however. Very smart crew over there.

8. What is the most underrated social media platform and why? What can marketers do to take advantage of it?

Jay Baer: For people in the business and marketing world, I’d say Google+. It’s consistently maligned, but there are a lot of very smart, creative people there sharing brilliance every day. And it’s not overrun and cacophonous yet. It reminds me of Twitter in 2008, but with pictures and video.


As a marketer, I appreciate seeing what makes other marketers tick because each of us takes a different path.

Thank you Jay for sharing your insights with us.

BTW—Get to meet Jay either at Content Marketing World or at Social Media Summit.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



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