Why Content Marketing and Product Marketing Are a Match Made in Heaven

content marketing budgets
content marketing budgets

The aim of marketing has always been to get and keep new customers to drive growth for our business. In the past, traditional product-led marketing techniques were used to great effect. We could talk about how amazing our product is, justify the price, and let buyers know where to buy it.

The dawn of the social, mobile web has disrupted that world. Now we need to break through the endless noise of content, ads, and cat videos to earn our buyer’s trust.

Does that mean we need to abandon product marketing and fully embrace the idea of content marketing alone? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. That’s why content marketing and product marketing are a match made in heaven. Let’s see why.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Product marketing banks on price and promotional variables to drive demand while content marketing uses information to appeal to a wider audience at the top of the funnel.
  • Product marketing is more sales-focused while content marketing is more brand-focused.
  • Content marketing focus on a bigger mix of channels and strategies for the long term, rather than quick wins. It aims at providing customers a better experience all through their journey.

What’s the Difference: Content Marketing vs Product Marketing

Do content marketers and product marketers operate on different sides of the marketing aisle?

Product marketing encompasses all the positioning and messaging needed to launch a product with the goal of ensuring that those selling it and the market it’s intended for truly understand it. Product marketing’s goal is to drive demand for a product through a detailed explanation of how the product solves the problem.

Content marketing uses relevant, interesting content to attract an audience. It’s centered around being informative and leading buyers to the conclusion that the brand can solve their challenges.

Are Product Marketing and Content Marketing at Odds?

Product marketing may have a slightly more direct goal than content marketing, but they don’t necessarily have to be at odds with each other. In fact, effective marketing integrates the two approaches.  I believe that the best marketing strategies seek to serve the needs of customers at every stage of the buyer journey. 

Buyers needs both content marketing and product marketing to make the best decisions they can about solving their challenges.

As we all know, buyers are savvier now. They crave information, and they’ll learn about your products long before they speak to a salesperson. According to a study by Think With Google, 57% of the sales cycle is complete by the time buyers talk to your salesperson. Further, according to a study by Eccolo Media, nearly half of all buyers consume two to five pieces of content before making a purchase.

Source: http://eccolomedia.com/eccolo-media-2015-b2b-technology-content-survey-report-vol2.pdf

Specifications and Features Can Be Part of Content Marketing

Every product that your brand launches will have desirable specifications and features. Rather than just focusing on these alone, content marketing can add context. That context would be in the form of defining how these specs and features provide benefits to users or remove pain points.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, facilities require a tremendous amount of equipment. That equipment serves as the lifeblood for their ability to improve throughput and meet quality standards. When they have a problem in an area of production, they are seeking answers. Yet these buyers may be very technical in nature and appreciate specs and features.

For this industry, content marketing and product marketing could work together to create assets that specify how the product works mechanically but also how it solves the problem and delivers benefits like better efficiency and reduced costs. That’s a message any buyer wants to hear. For other industries, priorities may vary:

Source: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/smartbrief-content-marketing-institute-how-content-influences-purchasing-process-research.pdf

Is Product Marketing Too Focused on Closing the Sale?

Many tactics used by product marketers focus on direct advertising that is focused on closing the sale, such as product sheets or spec diagrams. However, this type of content is only effective when the buyer is at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s not likely to make an impact when they are in the awareness stage because they are just becoming aware of their problem.

In these situations, product marketers should take a step back and consider how they can move someone down the funnel. And this often starts with content marketing techniques and storytelling. 

Content marketing is, of course, concerned about the sale as well, but content marketers work up to that. Just as you probably wouldn’t propose on a first date, you can’t be too conversion-focused during your first interactions with a prospect.

Product Marketing Focuses More on Short-Term, Content Marketing Is a Long-Term Approach

Because product marketing uses tactics to get people to make a purchase, including coupon codes or special offers, these are usually short-term campaigns. They are filled with urgency and a desire to see a quick return on investment.

Source: https://www.smartsheet.com/product-marketing-strategies-and-templates

Content marketing is a long game. It’s a collection of tactics, including SEO, social media marketing, blogging, landing pages, and more, that work to set your brand up as a thought leader in the industry. With the approach of authentic content, buyers see your brand as trustworthy and likable. These sentiments go a long way toward developing prospects into customers. Content marketing certainly isn’t a quick win, but its performance can be measured.

By looking at the performance of certain efforts, you can learn what topics, formats, and channels deliver the best return. You’ll be able to steadily grow your audience and reputation.

But using content marketing doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for product marketing for quick wins. If you find specific channels wherein you know buyers are ready to make a purchase, use these to promote the product. Or let both areas of marketing work in tandem.

For example, you can post product-type marketing assets like a feature infographic to social media, then follow that up with a piece of long-form content that addresses how these innovative features solve real-world problems.

The Future of Marketing Is Customer Experience

Where product marketing and content marketing can have a meeting of the minds is in their focus on creating customer experiences that drive results for the brand. Both types of marketers want to understand their customers and what motivates them to buy. They want to be the solution to the problem.

They may go about this in slightly different ways, but this common ground of focusing on the customer is key to delivering a holistic marketing approach. No longer can brands be “me, me, me.” Most buyers want to work with brands that are empathetic, genuine, and dependable. And those brands that create assets, campaigns, and content based on their customers will find more success.

In the world of business, product marketing and content marketing are a match made in heaven. For brands to leverage both of these aspects of marketing, it requires being on the same page of educating, delighting, and engaging customers.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.