Developing a content strategy for product marketing requires an approach similar to product positioning. It’s about meeting your target customers in their comfort zone with insightful content that strikes an emotional chord.
The end game is to open more doors for sales at the decision-maker/influencer level and give them higher quality leads that are warmer from the start. Executing a solid content strategy can keep the sales mantra of “the leads we get from marketing are crap” at bay!
The Purpose of a Content Strategy for Product Marketing
If you’re a product marketing manager, the primary purpose of your content strategy is to build a higher quality following by engaging more economic buyers and influencers in your target markets.
To accomplish that goal, your content has to be more than just a high volume of common topics written for SEO optimization. It has to be outside-the-box, educational and thought-provoking all at the same time. The SEO part is still important!
The key hook though is capturing the emotions of your target audience in your writing. To that end, writing through the lens of the customer and what they do is far more beneficial than content that’s written through the lens of your product and the problems it solves.
5 Steps For Building a Winning Content Strategy
1. Create a Partial Customer Org Chart
Create an organization chart for the departments where your products are directly used. Then add departments that are indirect beneficiaries of your products, i.e., they benefit in some way because of what the primary departments are doing with your products. This will expand your audience reach.
For example, if your products are used in the nursing department, the compliance department and patient billing departments would be beneficiaries of patient information that’s accurate and current.
2. Create Department Personas That Net It Out!
If you don’t already have personas defined, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of time on this one. Here’s the shortcut.
You’ll do this for each department listed in the previous step, that way you’ll cover all the job roles in that department by default. Here’s the only thing you need to do. Define the ultimate goal of each department. In other words, what’s the ultimate purpose of that department. That’s it. That’s all you need.
For example, the ultimate goal of the nursing department is to “get patients as well as they can possibly be in the amount of time they’re in your care.”
Defining the ultimate goal keeps things simple because it rarely, if ever, changes. Now, think about all the things standing in the way of this goal. You’ll never run out of topics to publish.
3. Create a Laundry List of Obstacles
Now that you have the ultimate goal of the department, start creating a list of obstacles standing in the way of that goal. This list of obstacles is how you’ll engage all the various job roles in that department.
In the nursing department example, staffing and scheduling issues speak to the nurse managers. Charting issues speak directly to the nurses, and so on.
As you describe the obstacles, try your best not to describe them through the lens of your product. For example, don’t describe an obstacle as, “there’s no central data repository for medication.”
It’s more emotionally engaging to say, “nurses have to go to 15 different places to get the information they need to avoid medication errors.” Describe the obstacles as if you’re the nurse!
Here’s the benefit of this approach. The common theme in all of your content automatically rolls back up to the ultimate goal of nursing – get patients as well as they can possibly be in the amount of time they’re in your care.
Not so coincidentally, the strategic value of your products likely mirrors the ultimate goal of the nursing department, right?
There’s no better way to showcase the value of your products than doing it via your knowledge of the customer and their business.
4. Create Best Practice Content Around the Obstacles
The list of obstacles becomes your content creation list. As far as writing style, make it conversational and use stories.
Use words and phrases that are common among your target customers. Your writing style should create the perception that you think just like them. In the minds of your target customers, it makes you absolutely brilliant!
As you write, lead with current practices and why they’re problematic. Keep going with vivid descriptions, ripple effects and consequences of not changing. Make your readers feel or relive the stress. Then end with best practices that provide relief without explicitly mentioning your products. Save your products for the call to action at the end of your content.
5. Determine Platforms for Distribution
Where do your target customers hang out? What gets their attention? There are a million ways to distribute your content. Avoid the spray & pray approach of just putting it out there and hoping for the best. More is not always better!
Use platforms where you can measure engagement. Also, be sure to understand the SEO implications of posting the same content to many sites. You want the search engines to reward you, not punish you.
The Bottom Line on a Content Strategy For Product Marketing
There are so many ways to use rich content to grow your following and ultimately fill the sales pipeline with high quality leads.
- White Papers
- Speaking Engagements
- 3rd Party Syndication
- Training Workshops
Then you can decide which pieces are out there for everyone, exclusive pieces you want to gate so you can capture contact information, and so on.
The most important thing to keep in mind is quality over quantity. A high volume of bland or mediocre content becomes white noise in a hurry. Left swipe!
Ideally, your followers are always looking forward to your next piece of content!
If you want to take the skills of your product marketing team up a notch so they can be more strategic in how they plan and execute, contact Product Management University about a personalized product marketing training course that puts you in a position to lead sales 80% of the time instead of constantly reacting.
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by John Mansour on June 21, 2023.