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How Product Marketing Can Thrive in a Content Marketing World

In a prior job, I was responsible for both product marketing and content marketing. So when I tell you the two can co-exist, it's because I've seen it firsthand.

But let's be real. We're living in an increasingly content-driven world, where potential buyers are lured in with promises of infographics, ebooks and blogs. How do product marketers stay relevant?

I have four keys I follow.

Be the Expert on the Market
Sometimes content marketing feels like it's about everything but the problem your product solves. The reality is that great content answers burning questions, the kind that keep your prospects (or prospects' bosses) up all night.

In order to create good content, you have to know what makes the prospect tick. If you make an ongoing effort to immerse yourself in your buyers' world, you will uncover those pain points that content marketing loves to write about. It may not be directly related to your solution, but you'll build more credibility, internally and externally.

Build a Message Board
Traditional positioning documents do a great job of translating product features into high-level messaging. But most of these positioning templates were created long before content marketing. Many don't deliver a "story" so much as a slogan.

A "message board", on the other hand, describes three or less key ideas that describe the story and emotions you want the product to evoke. This makes the message board a much better vehicle for building blog posts, bylines, campaigns, and even videos instead of data sheets and slides.

Talk the Topic, Not the Product
This might sound obvious, but if you aren't presenting webinars, writing blog articles, and talking to the press and analysts, you're not a thought leader – just thoughtful. When you establish yourself as an expert on a topic, you'll be invited to cross-post on other blogs about subjects related to your solution.Soon you'll start getting phone calls and emails from customers and prospects that want to learn more. Once you've got their attention then you can talk about your product.

Partner with Content Marketing
Your content marketing team is essentially your media publishing arm. Treat them like it. You wouldn't go to the top tier press and pitch them on a product feature.You'd build a story around a compelling problem that exists in the market, maybe cite some interesting case studies or examples, and offer up some customers or analysts to talk to. Oh and by the way, you'd also just happen to have a product that plays an important role in the story.

Content marketing is no different. They're measured on readership, re-tweets, inbound referrals, community growth and the like. If your story doesn't help them meet any of those goals, you can't sell it.

I have to admit, I can't knock the fact that content marketing does a great job at building audience. If you can demonstrate to your readers that you understand their problems and issues, sometimes you can even sneak in a pitch here and there. Which reminds me, have you read my post on Six Burning Questions about Social for B2B?

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