Utility Marketing (n.)—Utility Marketing is a strategy to attract customers by providing them tools or online experiences that answer a need or solve an issue, while aligning your brand with them through shared affinity or values.
This is the first part in a multi-series of posts about utility marketing. Through this series, where we will discuss how we have worked with them to design and develop tools to help them with these efforts. However, we will also highlight examples of others’ work, as we reach out to recognize best practices in utility marketing throughout the digital marketing industry.
Like any marketing strategy, utility marketing begins with a solid understanding of your target audience and, what attracts and interests them. You then determine how to align your objectives with your target’s affinities. The difference in utility marketing is that you’re using interactive tools or unique experiences, rather than static content or direct engagement, to engage your audience. Creating these customized tools often goes above and beyond the call of your website’s main purpose. Indeed, you may require an entirely new web site, or even something like a mobile app for this purpose.
Recent trends show more companies leaning towards creating this extra content and functionality to target an audience beyond simply making a profit or collecting user data. This is often referred to as “Content Marketing”. Utility Marketing starts with these principles, but takes them much further by focusing on a visitor and prospect’s individual and subjective experience.
Mass Big Data, a state-run initiative of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is tasked with promoting big data innovation in Massachusetts. The Mass Big Data team knows that their website is an integral part of reaching their audience as part of their strategy to develop a local big data community. In order to build this community, Mass Big Data must become the primary resource people think of when they think big data in Massachusetts (or ideally the United States).
In order to do that, Mass Big Data chose to provide an experience on their website that addresses the needs of its target audience: big data decision makers, investors, manager and job seekers. These stakeholders will respond to something that can provide repeat utility and thus keep people coming back while also referring others to the site. In order to capture one segment of big data professionals, students, and job seekers, Polar Design worked with Mass Big Data to create a unique big data job meta-listing, complete with an interactive and searchable map.
The interactive jobs map is a useful tool that targets multiple audiences and provides significant value to keep users returning to the site. The jobs map pulls big data related jobs located across the Commonwealth from a plethora of third party job sites and even company’s jobs pages. It uses Google Maps API to display them on a map, able to be filtered by job or internship. This helps students easily find opportunities at their skill level – with the highest per-capita big data related graduation concentration in the U.S. the Mass Big Data team knows how important it is to appeal to and retain this talent. A search bar also allows users to search by keyword, location or company. These features allow for a very specific and targeted job search for those who want to work with big data. Students and job seekers alike will remember this tool and come back to it in the future, hopefully spreading the word to other colleagues and classmates interested in big data jobs as well.
Within this tool Polar Design also built a Submit a Job form, where companies can submit big data jobs to be approved by an admin and added to the map. This is a great resource for startups and entrepreneurs looking to hire the best big data talent with specific skillsets, as their job postings will be seen by their exact target demographic. Unlike most job boards, the one featured by Mass Big Data is highly focused and attracting exactly the type of candidates that HR professionals in big data companies would like to meet.
Another great aspect of this tool is that it will always be time-sensitive and relevant to the Mass Big Data audience, as it pulls jobs every day from various RSS feeds. While students and job-seekers are on this page, they are also presented with relevant educational opportunities through a side widget. This captures the potential needs of this demographic well – perhaps instead of finding a new job, users will consider continuing their education at one of many listed schools in MA.
Finally, the automated nature of the tool, which obtains fresh content from third party sources, is attractive to MBD which doesn’t seek to create yet another job board and, even if it did, would have limited resources to review and manage hundreds of postings daily.
The concept of utility marketing takes advantage of knowledge you have about your users and what their possible needs and desires are. Mass Big Data has been able to take this in a great direction with their jobs map, as it draws on a main target audience’s intention to find a job or possibly locate talent with big data related skills. This helps Mass Big Data accomplish its objective of building a big data community in Massachusetts, as it encourages students and workers to return to the site to use this tool, engage with others in the big data community, discover other big data content on the site and gradually think of Mass Big Data as the single most important meeting point for big data in the Commonwealth.
Stay tuned for our next post in the series, where we’ll expand on utility marketing and the tools we can help create for clients doing this!