Even though it was written some fifteen years ago, Ben Horowitz’s “Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager” is still considered by many as an iconic post, leveraged by many (including Outbrain) as a basis for hiring and training product managers today. From it, this post has been created as a reproduction to highlight what makes a great content marketer.
A bad content marketer
Bad content marketers don’t research anything before coming up with content ideas. They look at what moment in life the consumer makes a purchase decision and focus only on swaying opinion in that moment. Good content marketers research both the intent and the interest of their target audience. They understand the importance of learning the conscious as well as the unconscious mind of who they’d like to engage with and strive to engage with them well before they are in the market to buy a car or renovate their apartment.
Bad content marketers aim to create content that will go viral. Good content marketers create a plan and process to continuously produce high-value assets. Just like Billy Beane, they understand that home runs are great but expensive and few and far between so in order to win they create a plan for getting their on-base percentages as high as possible.
Bad content marketers focus only on one content type and don’t bother with building an owned content destination because it’s not easy. Good content marketers try to strike a balance between different asset types like videos, articles, ebooks, and infographics. They develop a comprehensive strategy that includes owned+earned+paid assets: for example a blog on their own site, amplification of a piece of earned media that their PR team secures for them and a paid partnership with BuzzFeed or NYTimes. The art is to find the right balance between all of these initiatives through measurement and optimization.
Bad content marketers work in a silo and focus only on the content they can develop, without involving anyone else from across the organization. Good content marketers are great collaborators, aspiring to bring together people from all marketing departments: media buying, public relations, planning or creative. From the digital department or the traditional advertising team. They look for content opportunities in everything the marketing group does like participation in a conference (“how about we do a hyperlapse video of the booth building process”) or an owned event (“let’s give video cameras to ten attendees to shoot their own point of view or ask folks to broadcast on periscope in real-time”).
Bad content marketers write solely for SEO purposes. Good content marketers write to give value to their target consumers. They use keyword research to help them improve the relevance of the content to that audience.
A good content marketer
Good content marketers know their company, their products, the market and the target customer extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good content marketer defines a clear and targeted persona to focus her content efforts on. She won’t settle for a broad stroke demographic age range and gender, but rather bring her to life: who is she, where does she work, what is she interested in, what are her fears or concerns. Bad content marketers don’t have time to dwell on personas. They care more about the latest feature of their new product than the interests of a specific target audience.
Good content marketers strive to define and document a strong content strategy before writing their first post. They make sure to operate under a clear overarching theme which is focused on true consumer value, like RedBull’s “Gives You Wings” or GoPro’s “Be a Hero.” They aspire to create experiences that bring this theme to life. Bad content marketers ask, “what can we write about” as opposed to, “what should we write about.”
Good content marketers look for in-house talent and try to get as many subject matter experts and thought leaders from inside the organization to share their opinions and stories. They understand intuitively that they can impact brand affinity in a big way simply by putting the team behind the brand front and center, humanizing it. Bad content marketers try to come up with and control all of the ideas, and write/produce the assets themselves.
Good content marketers optimize their efforts to content engagement and not only to conversions. They understand that measuring content engagement is not the same as measuring direct response landing pages. Bad content marketers compare direct response to content marketing using the same tools and as if it’s apples to apples. Good content marketers look beyond the direct impact of content marketing at how their efforts increase efficiencies in the rest of the organization’s initiatives such as display retargeting, search engine optimization and paid search advertising.
Good content marketers are marathon runners. They take the long and strategic road. Bad content marketers are sprinters that look for a shortcut to success. When that success doesn’t come quickly they claim “content marketing isn’t for us.” Good content marketers can make a story come to life for nearly zero cost. Bad content marketers ask for a huge budget to get started and when they don’t get it, excuse their lack of results with not getting enough resources.
Good content marketers bring fun back to marketing. They think of themselves as storytellers and they’re passionate about touching and moving people in a meaningful way. They think in terms of delivering value to the target audience first. Bad content marketers think in terms of driving the value of the brand first.
What kind of a content marketer are you?