Jay Baer: Why Useful Ad Agency Marketing is a Skill not a Job

Jay Baer Social Media

Guest post written by Jay Baer, marketing keynote speaker, best selling author, consultant and my friend. 

Jay and I started our consulting practices about the same time, at the beginning of the Great Recession. He has become a global leader in social media marketing. His blog, Convince&Convert, is ranked as the #1 content marketing blog in the world.

In business, every important new function starts as a job and eventually becomes a skill.

Once we determine that a particular business process is critical, it is decentralized and baked into the day-to-day responsibilities of most employees. This has happened over and over again. Typing used to be a job and companies had entire rooms of people who did nothing but type – just watch Mad Men! It seemed like a terrific notion at the time, but then we decided that typing was sufficiently useful that most everyone should learn how to do it, and so we have.

At my very first agency job, there was a lady who was in charge of the mailroom and making copies. Margie made all copies; doing so yourself was a foolish risk not worth taking. In those days, the copy machine was the size of a small car, noisy and dangerous like mining equipment. Technology improved, and we determined that everyone should be able to make copies themselves. Making copies was a job; now it’s a skill.

Social media and content marketing is moving along the same trajectory. Most companies and many agencies have historically centralized social media and content responsibilities in the hands of one person (or at least one department), and now multiple employees are being encouraged to advocate in social media on behalf of their employer.

Most organizations that decide to try to win the war of information will put a person or a department in charge of creating helpful content that satisfies the needs of customers and prospects. Don’t fall into that trap. Yes, you need someone to oversee and manage your efforts, but creating useful marketing should be a widely dispersed responsibility. You need to insource your program because just about every employee has useful knowledge locked in their head. It’s time to unlock it.

Not only does involving a wide variety of employees make it easier to create and maintain helpful information, it also increases effectiveness because they bring credibility that centralized, official communication doesn’t have.

The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer found that both company experts (like agency department managers) and regular employees are trusted far more than CEOs, yet most company information is created from the top-down perspective. Company experts are trusted by 66 percent of people; regular employees are trusted by 50 percent; and CEOs are trusted by 38 percent.

Amy Treanor from Edelman says,

Richard Edelman, our CEO, talks about the need for every company today to be a media company. And, I think that people think of blogs and they think of it as a single voice,” she says. “But when you get into the idea of what it means for a company to be a media company, you have to have a bevy of reporters covering all different sorts of specialties. News agencies don’t have just one person writing all of their news. You have to have your business and life reporters and you have to have your sports reporter, and I think the same sort of construct applies to any business out there that is communicating.”


Everything important in business starts as a job, and eventually becomes a skill. And creating terrifically useful information in your agency is no different.

Excerpted from Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype by Jay Baer, published in late June by Portfolio/Penguin. See YoutilityBook.com for other resources.

Youtility Excerpt:

I highly recommend Jay’s new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. It is a must read for every ageny executive.

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Thanks so much Michael. So delighted to be a part of Fuel Lines!

  2. My honor and privilege Jay. Congratulations on your second book. I know it is going to be a great success and glad to be able to share it with my readers.

  3. Chuck Kent says:

    There’s one word in the book that may be hard for many ad agencies to understand: The first word, right there on the cover. “You”tility. For an industry that still too often favors creating marketing monologues over dialogues, it will be difficult to appreciate the “it’s not just about you, dear agency” meaning here. Before usefulness can be acquired as a skill in agency marketing, it needs to become part of the true agency mindset. Here’s hoping that Jay’s book (which is quite good, by the way) can help change a few minds.

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