The Ugly Truth About Product Marketing Content

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We’ve been making content since before it was cool.

Hear me out, product marketers. Your content? It might be a problem.

If you’re like many PMMs, you’re probably observing a huge, trendy wave of emphasis on content marketing. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates roughly 3 times as many leads (Aberdeen Group.) And product marketers? We’re all shrugging because of course, we’ve been making content forever. We had this down before it was cool.

The ugly side of all this is that 60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused, and there are two reasons why product marketing might be the culprit: product pushing and sales enablement. Luckily, we’re also in a position to make it right. Here’s how:

Product! Product! PRODUCT! = Bad Content

Let me start by saying that I love a good product slick. (I might even collect data sheets at conferences and rank them for fun, but I’ll never say for sure.) These pieces most certainly have their place, but if you’re not a professional product collateral critic, that place is toward the bottom of the funnel, where your buyers begin to ask, “okay, which solution is best?”

We love our products, though, and we let them creep further up the funnel too often. That’s a recipe for dust-gathering, unloved content.

Instead, focus on your audience and prepare your demand generation team with meaningful buyer insight to do the same. What questions are they trying to answer at the early and middle stages of their solution exploration? Your content should help specific audiences answer questions like, “do I have a problem?” and “how should I solve it?” long before the conversation shifts to what solution is best. Your solution is obviously the best, but trust is what makes it obvious to a discerning buyer.

Maybe you don’t do this. I’ll leave you to ponder how long the product promo was on your last thought leadership-focused webinar.

When Sales Can’t Find Content

“I didn’t know we had that” has to be one of the most annoying heartbreaking things that sales can say to a PMM. You send out emails. You update the shared drive. You brief sales management. And when you hear this phrase, you know no one is using that beautiful new deck that took your designer three weeks to finish. Awesome.

Once sales gets involved, you may find another alcove of untouched content. What I’ve learned is that as your team creates content (especially version controlled content), consider your sales team’s typical content use patterns. Here are some quick tips for doing that:

  • If you’re fortunate enough to have some kind of wiki or content management system (CMS), there are often easy ways to measure what stakeholders are actually accessing – those metrics can be very valuable
  • Be consistent with version control and updates: where you host them, how often you make them, and how you communicate them
  • Again, if you have a CMS or internal site, use some basic design principles to build it out. I make sure my sales enablement sections are color coded and include a consistent visual format. It’s a little more work, but my SharePoint use went up over 400% after we “prettied it up”
  • Journey mapping. You’re likely doing this with customers, but consider doing it with your sales team too. I will casually and informally ask sales reps to walk me through what pieces of content they like to use through a process and why
  • Best practices trainings, which are especially impactful when you can get a rock star from your sales team to lead them (you’re a product marketer, you know how effective customer case studies are!)

So, product marketers, you have a big part to play in making sure content marketing  lives up to the hype. Starting with whether or not your content ever sees the light of day. Good thing you’ve been at this for a while. Good luck!


Hally Pinaud is a Product Marketing Manager for Harte Hanks and The Aberdeen Group. She’s enthusiastic about collaborative problem solving, the science of marketing, and helping buyers recognize great products, particularly B2B products. Hally is also inaugural editor for ProductHub, where she puts her love of great content to work for the Boston product management community.

3 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth About Product Marketing Content

  1. I was literally just having a conversation about this yesterday! It seems like a non-trivial part of a product marketer’s work is evangelizing his/her own output internally. Thanks for pointing out journey mapping for Sales–what a great suggestion to get insight into how you can improve your content or its delivery method!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t tell you how often I’ve ben asked if I could write a piece that’s the same as something we already had written. I’ve reconciled myself to being the search engine for salespeople that are too lazy to look in the shared folder/wiki/salesforce repository themselves.

    Like

  3. Pingback: 5 Tips for Your Next Product Launch | ProductHub

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