7 Questions with Jay Baer

7 Questions with Jay BaerOver the last few years there has been a fundamental shift in what works with marketing and what doesn’t work with marketing. It is my opinion that school’s have been very slow to not only change their marketing tactics but also their beliefs about marketing.


After reading Jay Baer’s latest book, Youtility, I became convinced it should be required reading for anyone involved with marketing at a school. Jay is able to describe the shift in marketing that has taken place as well as offer concrete examples that schools will find helpful as they think about their own marketing efforts.


Jay Baer is the President of Convince and Convert, a social media marketing consulting company that has worked with companies like Wal-Mart, BMC Software, Caterpillar, Columbia Sportswear, Billabong, Visit California, Wyoming Office of Tourism, and Petco. We are thrilled that Jay was able to take time out his busy schedule to answer 7 questions for edSocialMedia.



1. @SchneiderB – What is Youtility and what does it mean for the future of marketing at schools?


@JayBaer – Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for (if you asked them to do so). The idea is that if you provide something truly useful, customers will reward you eventually with their attention, purchases, and loyalty. A big opportunity for schools that too often are only in the “interruption marketing” mind-set.


2. @SchneiderB – Marketing at schools is typically stuck at Top-of-Mind awareness, what advice can you give to schools to embrace Friend-of-Mine awareness?


@JayBaer – Friend-of-mine awareness is when you break through the clutter of modern life by creating truly useful information, and giving it away for free. Think about this: a study by the Wharton School of Business found that useful articles in the New York Times are forwarded 30% more than average. Of course they are. We crave usefulness. Your school can be useful. Why isn’t it? Why can’t marketing have intrinsic value?


3. @SchneiderB – Word-of-Mouth is such an important part of marketing in schools. How, if at all, does word-of-mouth relate to Friend-of-Mine Awareness?


@JayBaer – Done correctly, Youtility spawns substantial word-of-mouth chatter, either because the quality and value of the marketing is so strong, or because it’s amazing that the thing itself is actually free. Look at Vanderbilt Medical Center, a hospital in Nashville. They work with high schools on injury prevention and sports medicine. In speaking with area coaches, they found a big concern about lightning during outdoor practices. The hospital created the CoachSmart mobile application, that has a built-in lightning detector. It was deployed to help Nashville high school coaches. But, it is so useful – such a Youtility – that word-of-mouth spread it nationally. 400,000 downloads later, it’s a hit.


4. @SchneiderB – You offer great examples of Youtility in the book from many different industries. Can you share an example of Youtility for a school with a limited marketing budget?


@JayBaer – I don’t have any school examples handy, but here’s an example from a local car dealer with limited budget. I was giving a speech at a convention of car dealers, and told them they weren’t very good at useful marketing. I showed them an example of an info graphic about how to buy a used car. That infographic was created not by an automotive dealership, but by a locksmith! One week later, Fowler Toyota in Oklahoma sent me an info graphic they made about what to do when you lock yourself out of your car. Genius!


5. @SchneiderB – What advice can you give schools to take the first step toward being useful in their marketing?


@JayBaer – First, make a list of EVERY question anyone has ever asked (or should have asked) about the school. Then, answer all of those questions, one-by-one, with useful content. Blog, video, etc…


6. @SchneiderB – Are you using iPhone, Android, or Blackberry?


@JayBaer – I’m a Mac guy all around.


7. @SchneiderB – What is the one App you can’t live without?


@JayBaer – Until recently, the Candy Crush game, which I had to delete because it was ruining my life. Generally, however, TripIt, which organizes all of my travel. I’m on the road approximately 150 days each year, so that app is quite the Youtility for me.


edSocialMedia and I would like to thank Jay for his time and I hope after reading this interview you are interested in making your school’s marketing more useful. A great way to start thinking about marketing in this way is by reading Jay’s book Youtility. I also encourage you to connect with Jay on his other social media channels:

If you’re already fan of Jay Baer and his work I encourage you to share a link to your favorite post of his in the comments section below.

Brendan Schneider

Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy

Brendan Schneider is the CEO and Founder of SchneiderB Media, a blog dedicated to helping schools use the power of the interest to achieve their enrollment and communication goals. He is also the founder of The MarCom Society, and SEO Coach, his DIY SEO software for schools. He is also the Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy.