Can you effectively create content without being connected to the product and customer?
In this episode, I talked with Rish Bhandari, CEO at Content Beta, on the differences (and similarities) between content and product marketing. We cover:
- Why product marketers can create powerful content
- Instances where it makes sense for content and product marketing to be on the same team
- Why “T-Shaped” marketers are often the most successful
To hear more from Rish, you can hear him as the host of the Product Marketing Show, produced by Content Beta.
Nick: Hello everybody and welcome to Mind the Gap, Enablix’s only podcast on sales and marketing alignment. I’m your host, Nick Ziech-Lopez, and today we’re going to do something a little different because last week I sat down with Rish at Content Beta and talked about where product marketing and content marketing can play together.
It was a good episode and so I figured that we could repost to this channel, for all of the gap heads as we as we call them… No, we don’t call them gap heads. Just people that listen to Mind the Gap. Enjoy this conversation, and be on the lookout for new episodes as we head into the new year.
Rish: Hello everybody. I’m Rish, your host. Welcome to the product marketing show. Today with me I have Nick Ziech-Lopez, the CMO of Enablix. Hi Nick, how are you doing?
Nick: I’m doing awesome. How are you, Rish?
Rish: Pretty good. So Nick has been a product marketer for, in his past life before leading marketing at Enablix and, we’ve got an interesting point of view of how product marketing and content treat each other. But before we jump in, Nick, can you please take us through your journey?
Nick: Sure. I think it’ll form a lot of what I say here. So, I’m Nick. I’m the, I’m the head of growth at Enablix. My background prior to being in marketing, was in product marketing and I actually got to product marketing through the product route. I know a lot come from sales and marketing into product marketing. I came from product ownership and management from the more technical side. So a lot of the content concepts and the other marketing concepts, I’ve kind of taken from the technical product management and applying them there. So, happy to be here today.
Rish: Before this call, Nick and I were talking about where should the content team sit? Uh, should it work independently? Should it sit on the product marketing? Does it depend on certain factors? So Nick, let’s start with this.
Nick: Sure yeah. I would say that’s one of my hot takes about the industry is I don’t know that enough people are thinking about content sitting under product marketing. And it’s a discussion we should be opening up. I think that for a lot of technical products or a lot of products that have a lot of subject matter expertise to make sense, people go out and they buy content marketers and they hire content marketers to join the marketing team, and they sit them and they say, now make content. But oftentimes, especially if your solution is not generally applicable, the content team is trying to get in touch with the product team to understand like, all right, so what is this? And a lot of the content is not coming from a place of internal value or internal background. It’s coming from a place of like kind of what they’re looking around and learning and, and, and it almost reads secondhand. We know when we, when we, when we look, read blogs or white papers where they feel like they weren’t, they were written by someone who had the problem explained to ’em. I th I think we’ve all been there. Right? What, what I like about the idea of content sitting under product marketing, this product marketing is connecting the customer with the product. They are tasked with knowing the most. How this works and how people need it. If content comes from that and content has that deep subject matter expertise, then I think it’s going to read more authentic. , but I don’t see that in a lot of the industry yet. Do you think that’s a good idea, bad idea to, uh, what do you think difficult marketing, uh, answers?
Rish: It depends. So I would say, I mean this, my line of thought depends upon the size of the org at early stage. Uh, I think the product marketing role a marketer plays a lot of. Hats and probably wear some content marketing hat and the product marketing hat too. Um, and probably at that time the content really needs to be razor sharp towards enabling the product to make sure the go-to market launches go really well. But I think as you grow older, as your team grows, I think somebody needs that, who’s just focused on how to get your product to the market, how to connect it to the customers. And at that point of. The content marketer will probably focus more on how do I make sure the content is distributed well or how do I make sure that, uh, we influence a target audience about the category I’m in and I think at a literacy, probably this separation could help and probably they could have one boss, product marketer and the content marketer, but I think I.
Nick: Yeah, I can hear where that comes from with like, you almost have a dotted line because you’re right, it’s an entirely different skillset. You know, content marketing and, and product marketing are oftentimes they share a lot, but you know, product marketing typically isn’t concerned with distribution. Where I like to do it is if the product marketing. Uh, team, even content marketers in the product marketing team, right? Product content marketer is responsible for creating the content, I like the idea of the core marketing team, brand marketing, being focused on distribution, a separation of, of those. Um, now I, I think that, that, that does get a little bit weird of like, you know, should creation and distribution go hand in hand? Yes. But I think it starts to address the fact that we should be having more people familiar with this content created, not people coming, you know, in a lot of cases coming out of left field. That being said, If you have a product that derives a general solution, I’m thinking like something like a monday.com or task management, something that everybody feels the pain of. I don’t see that separation. You can have content marketing coming from anywhere, but if you are in a highly, I’m, I’m thinking data security, right? Or cryptography or, or think of, think of any of those industries where you need experience hiring a content marketer that doesn’t have experience there. It’s gonna be heavy. Uh, to, to get good content out of.
Rish: And sometimes I think there is, there is difference, the scale, right? So a content marketer has a, a deeper understanding of how content is being produced. And at a port scale, you can improve the, your content production, right? I mean, they’re aware about different format. You want something to be converted to a blog or like a video or just an audiogram or just like a simple graphic. While this product marketer, the skillset is more tuned towards how do I communicate? Positioning or what, how do I show my messaging is right on track? Or how can I learn more from our audience about improving the proposition? Sometimes I think that skills overlap is not natural, although they share, like you said, it’s a thin dotted line. I think it, it has to be cross-function. You be that cross-functional,
Nick: You know, I just did, um, I, I’m glad you said that. I, I didn’t interview about, um, Creating an agile or scrum methodology for product marketing? Um, I think be again, because I’m from the, the more technical and the software side. That’s the thing that we do on the development side all the time. Everybody’s doing scrum, we’re in our sprints. That’s how you do it. You get to marketing and, and product marketing and sales enablement. And not a lot of people are doing that. Think that when you talk about being cross-functional, the point of a lot of agile and scrum whatever, whatever, whatever framework or methodology you want to use there is to make a cross-functional. But in my, it’s, it’s like in software, you have backend developers and frontend developers, and a lot of people are saying, oh yeah, yeah, you’re a front end person or you’re a backend person. I think in marketing, oh, you’re a product marketer, you’re a content marketer. I think this approach works on creating people cross-functional so that you get a bunch of cross-functional, you can call it digital marketers, you can call it what you will, but they’re a little. Good at everything. What that takes though is exactly what you said. I’m going to take a product marketer and I’m going to make them focus on content distribution. We’re going to help them. But after focusing on content distribution a little bit, you start to build that skillset. I think to your point, I think they’re highly complimentary. It just takes the kind of approach of kind of doing the uncomfortable thing and having content marketers try to understand product marketing. And if you have one that can’t understand the other, are they adding the value to the team that you want them to? If you just have someone focused on distribution outside of a niche situation, does that really work? Or would you want someone who is 80% as good at distribution? , but can help handle a product launch as well. And I think that’s the trade off I see a lot of teams being able to make by looking at it. This view,
Rish: I mean, I could think of on conversation, which I was having somebody on under the Slack channel, uh, where the product marketers are asking, Hey, what kind of resources do I need to create because I have a product launch coming up. Right? And if they’re dependent on somebody else and they don’t have the skills themselves, I mean, nobody’s gonna create the product launch content for you , if they’re sitting next to you. Yeah. Um, so, so I think, I think you need to build up cross,
Nick: but at the, to that point, what that does is I’ve seen situations where the product marketer builds up great launch content without any idea of distribution and it’s like, okay, I all right here, here’s a sales team. Here’s my stuff and this, I don’t know. So, but can we get people thinking about that entire problem? Cool. So you’re gonna make a one pager. So what are you driving ad traffic to it? How are you getting this in front of the sales team? How are you seeing if the sales team is using it? Right? You have to think about that whole problem at once, and that’s where. You know, I, I hate to talk about a scrummer and agile methodology again, but that’s where something like that could work. Where we’re trying to take people by, you know, starting on a small problem, like should content marketing go into product marketing? You kind of say like, what is, what they overlap so much. How, how do these, I, I I think that there’s far more of a overlap there and how do they play together? Right. That’s the thing I’m, I’m interested in specifically now, and I hate to talk about the elephant in the room now, that we’re looking at like a, a, you know, economic turmoil, whatever people call it. I think people are questioning the value of a lot of product marketing. Saying like, all right, so I like you, but what do you do? Like, what is the thing you do? I think by looking at content production and distribution as well, you’re able to better put a phase to, oh, I’m not just telling the sales. I’m not just talking to the customer and getting case studies. I’m taking those case studies, I’m writing them and I’m distributing. and the sales team has used that case study to bring in revenue. And you know what? That person I did a case study with just resigned for 15% more. And I, it’s because we did that case. Like I think you’re able to take a broader look at the value that product and content marketing are bringing to the organization and be able to point at actual money coming in as, Hey, this is what we’re doing.
Rish: How can these two roles collaborate so that they could see better? .
Nick: Great question.
Rish: Because, because the goals for content marketers are different, um, way too different than what product marketers have. How can they work together?
Nick: Sure. Also think that like, you know, I’m, I’m not pretending that like someone’s going to hear this if they’re taking me seriously and be like, all right, everybody’s the same now like, that’s not how you start. I think you start by involving one another in depending, no matter what the scale is, if there’s one of each or if there’s 10 of each. Whenever you have product related. They should be talking to each other, whether the content marketer is making a blog about a feature because that’s what they’ve been tasked to do, or the product marketer knows that a blog is part of a go-to-market plan, because that’s what they’re putting together. Having them sit together and, and almost pair up on a lot of those things of the product. Marketer’s gonna bring the details about the product and the customer and the differentiation to that blog. And the content marketer is gonna bring things like SEO and distribution and formatting and styling, that that is going to get the biggest reach. Like where should we be sharing this, what we should be doing? Tho those details shouldn’t be in a vacuum. I think that whenever product or customer related content specifically, those things about industry, things about branding, right? Think those can be on their own. But whenever you’re talking specifically about customers or pro or products, those two should work together in some capacity and we start to grow those skillsets and grow and get, kind of get that muscle memory of we work together on. The content marketer understands more about how are we actually different in the market and how are people actually using us? Product marketer understands more about how do we make a block, because like even to that point, right? Product marketers aren’t gonna know about seo, right? Like, that’s not a there, there’s not about. But when you realize that, hey, we’re using these words in H2 headings, so can we reword this differently? You know, instead of saying an indu, you know, an interesting approach, use different words because that’s what we’re going for. . After seeing that a handful of times, you start to think like that too, and you start to kind of get these commonalities between the two.
I’m thinking seo, like I’m trying to sp pick specific things that content marketers wouldn’t be aware of in product. There’s others, but that’s how I would start.
Rish: What I touch upon. Another goal with content marketer I to build authority. Right, because they’re one of the goals. How do you become top of the mind like a thought leader in the space, and probably it might have nothing to do with the product. It might have something to do with the category of, in this product you fits, how do we handle this situation? Am I working product marketers to?
Nick: I’m a classic. I’m, I’m the kind of guy where I’m always like, yeah, no, it always has to do with the product. Right. Like, and I hear what you’re saying, where maybe your point of view or may something about your company is what makes you different. I’m trying to think of a, of an example of that. Um, I, I guess in the email marketing space, uh, there’s cordial, where they didn’t differentiate on the tool, they differentiated on their customer service, right? We’re nice to work with, we’re easy and that echoed throughout their marketing content. But I think the product does, right? When you think of the product as the experience, then product kind of starts to creep into brand marketing a little bit. If you’re tasking content marketer with: Go Share, you know, create Mindshare for our product, uh, in this space, I don’t think they’re gonna do it agnostic of what the product does. Specifically speaking, I’m thinking of like, The company Drata. Drata does information security certification. And if you want soc, type one, type two, Drata is one of those people you might go to. I see Drata content pop up a lot, but it’s also specific about what Drata does to fix the problem. So for instance, a content marketer might be able to write a piece about the seven hidden costs of not being security certified. I’m making this up right, but a product marketer for each of those seven pieces. Could give a specific thing that is different about Drata versus another one. I’m taking one random example that the content marketer might not have been able to do. Now what do we have? We have a far more specific and valuable piece of content that speaks to the company itself while still achieving those goals that the content marketer set out to do, gaining Mindshare, seo, all of that. That’s how I think about it. Whether that’s a product marketing review of stuff that’s gonna go out well, you don’t wanna add too much overhead, whether it’s a content marketing review of go-to-market plans. I would say like a low-touch way to do that, but I think that it always involves. The product somehow. Does that make sense?
Rish: Yeah. This question a lot of time, cause product marketing does content for product, which is more, which is equally good for marketing, but also for adoption. Right? Right. Uh, for a lot of small companies, at least a customer success content, which is of course product education director, they sit between probably customer success slash education and product marketing. Where does content marketer play a role in something like, .
Nick: Yeah, so I mean, without giving too much of a plug, a lot of what you described is what we’re trying to solve at Enablix in that it’s all content. Whether we’re re-signing customers and preventing churn, whether we’re taking this content and selling it, or whether we’re putting on the website, it’s all video and text and images. So how do we play these? I think to me, that’s where customer, if you have customer and product and content marketing, all rolling into marketing, someone should be a stakeholder determining what’s actually valuable. And you may say, right, so, so Rish, if I’m in your position and you have a, you have a 50 million company and you’re looking at this economy, you say it’s more important that we focus specific content to retain our customers than putting new stuff on the website. Because, you know, we already rank pretty well. Uh, we can take a hit there, people are gonna be buying fewer new products. We need to upsell and keep our current customer base. And that’s actually priority number one for many organizations this year. Well then content shifts to, Hey, how can I work with the CS team to create compelling stories and details and tell the story of what are products doing for people to get them to come back, right? If you have like a higher a CV product or something like that, I think that’s where you have to take a longer look, and that’s where I argue for the presence of marketing in those kinds of conversations, because when you. Broaden the idea of sales and marketing and say that marketing and sales are a different part of the revenue cycle, and I think this is getting, and CS is another part of that revenue cycle. You broaden it, you say, well, all right, so what should content be doing with CS and where is that that priority? I think that’s a tough conversation for a lot of people have, but I think a lot of people are having it, um, because we we’re seeing those priors.
Rish: I also see a lot of CS content. I wouldn’t say, I mean actually the product content, which was meant traditionally for educating your customer. It’s turning into marketing content. I mean, a classic example is HubSpot Academy. They’ve put tons of, uh, educational content, which is meant for customer success, for customer education, but the marketing team killing the market with that. I mean, they’re, yeah, the thousands of marketers who want to say, Hey, I’m an HubSpot certified marketer, or a SEO guy, and I think I, I know I’m shifting tracks, but I think I love how the content is being translated within different functions.
Nick: Yeah. It, it’s, we have this thing, what are the different ways we can do it? I, you know, it’s, uh, I always make the, uh, the Taco Bell metaphor, right? Like Taco Bell. You can get a soft taco, you can get a burrito, you can get a toastada it’s the same ingredients presented in a different way, but now you have three new things. And so how do you do that with your content? When you make the content, you’ve got the burritos, the meat and the cheese or the, the tortilla, the meat, and the cheese. How do you package it into a burrito for my CS team? Can I make it a taco and put it away? Right? Like can I just think of, I’ve got this thing, what are the different ways we could package it and do it right? Can I turn this long blog into a white paper and run ads to it? Right? But you have to be thinking about the different uses of that. That’s when we get into the long tail of like performance marketing and demand gen and like you’re bringing everything together. But it’s, IM, again, to your point, it’s important that we’re thinking about these all at once because if you’re making some of the CS content vacuum, you’re making this product marketing content to vacuum, you don’t get those opportunities. And yes, I, I really wish we were, I would love to be the next help spot. So I, I agree with you. That’s, uh, I love what they’re doing.
Rish: So let’s jump to the last question, which I had. So I, I’m a young SaaS company, right? Mm-hmm. , um, I probably, I may not have this ration with product marketing and quantum marketing and, uh, like head of marketing. Now, how should I get started without spending like a bomb? What are the top two or three things? Give advice. Somebody pick up if I’m really to saas
Nick: So you’re gonna start, I’ll walk through how I see it, depending on the product, right? You’re gonna start with one marketer, head of marketing, whatever that is pro, hopefully a former subject matter expert in this thing. That’s how I would start it. You’re head of marketing. You can learn marketing best practices a lot quicker than you can learn the industry, and at that point, it’s more important to be familiar with the industry. . So once you have that, you have someone who is, who is familiar with what you do, I think you want to start flexible and start with an all-purpose marketer and say, Hey, we’re gonna do a little bit of product marketing, we’re gonna do a little bit of content marketing. We’re gonna kind of do a a a two-person team where just there’s all these marketing activities that have to be done to the sales team. Now as you grow, I think it’s easier to hire for demand gen and keep that core content and product and distribution, or not distribution, but content and product and sales like in that team, and keep hiring generalists to split these general tasks. If you’re a young SaaS company, you are in a better position than anybody else. There’s, you’re not under the gun to spend a bunch of money and spin up five people. You can start with people that. Looking to build both skill sets or maybe they have both skill sets. You’re the one to build like this kind of combined marketing team. I do make an allowance for demand gen because that is an entirely different skillset that has nothing with creating content, but everything else is a little bit content adjacent. And that’s what I would do is, is now, I know it sounds easier, like I’m making like, oh, just hire people that could do everything. You may take a hit on things like design, or you may take a hit on things like demand gen, but in general, if you can hire people that can create compelling content and bring them to the product. Teach people to hire people that know your product in the industry and help them make good content. You can grow that way and you can be a lot more flexible with it.
Rish: Thank you so much, Nick. I think, uh, that was great. Really appreciate taking out time and sharing your insights.
Nick: This was a lot of fun. I I could talk about this all day. I really appreciate the opportunity.
Rish: Nick, one last question. Say somebody wants to reach out to you to learn more about Netflix or learn more about you, how can they connect?
Nick: I think I’m the only Ziech-Lopez in the world other than my wife so just type my name into LinkedIn, uh, open to connect. I’m, uh, email@example.com. You reach out, I’ll see it eventually . Um, uh, it’ll, it’ll filter its way for me. That’s how I would, uh, I would recommend it. Always open on LinkedIn, open to conversations. I tried to pick a potentially divisive topic to see if, uh, people would, uh, reach out or have thoughts. So I hope to hear from some of you.
Rish: All right, Nick. Thank you. Have a lovely day.
Nick: You too, Rish.