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Content Marketing is a relatively new specialty, with the first job postings appearing about five years ago, so finding somebody with more than just a few years’ experience is somewhat unusual. Like any new specialty, Content Marketing is going through a pretty standard process of maturation: scrounging (grabbing table scraps from PR and Marcom), proving (establishing the viability of the position), and institutionalizing (developing processes and becoming a key part of the organization).

Product Management teams have already been through all of this over the years. They are a key part of the product life cycle and responsible for product launches. So what does that mean to the curious, innovative Content Manager who wants to make his or her mark? It means you can pick their brains and cherry-pick some of their best processes as you build out your own. So let’s take a look at how Product Managers work.


It’s a big word for coming up with ideas. Learn how Product Managers come up with ideas for new features and products. They’ll let you in on a little secret, the “field of dreams” philosophy isn’t a wise approach to product or content development. The world is littered with companies who believed “if you build it, they will come.” Instead, study the needs of your users.

For Content Marketing, this means talking to salespeople and getting insights from customers. When planning a new piece or series of content, define your content use case and get input up front, before you go too far down the wrong path. Find out what’s important to the Sales team (your customers) and their customers, and how that should best be addressed and consumed.

But don’t just give them what they ask for. Innovators don’t do that. They look at what people are doing, where they’re moving, and what is possible. The iPhone wasn’t designed in an attempt to make the mobile phone a bit better. Henry Ford said that had he asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. Instead, he produced an affordable automobile – or horseless carriage. See what people respond to, then lead with creativity.


Product Managers know the power of testing. Early research shows how people use things – what they do and don’t respond to. If people don’t want to hear about quantum physics, don’t give them quantum physics. Instead, find out what they like or need. Testing is also a good place to work out the bugs. In software development, you hear of beta tests, and that’s what this stage is for. Test your content with the sales team to see how they engage with your new material. Then test where you put the content to make sure it’s in the right place at the right time for them to share with customers. If something doesn’t hit the spot or it’s not intuitive enough to find and use quickly, then head back to the drawing board before launch.


One of the things your Product Management team can teach you is the fine art of refinement. Once a product is out in the open market, you can see what people like and don’t like. Content Managers can now track how their material is used. As you track usage, notice which documents are skipped, which ones are being shared with customers, and which can then keep them engaged. Then refine, refine, refine. You can always find a way to make it better and the story a little tighter. This will also teach you what your customers really want and use, so you can be more efficient in creating content.

Lifecycle management

Nobody knows better than Product Managers what it’s like to sweat over a product only to have it be obsolete just a little while later. Learn from them and don’t be afraid to discontinue that piece you loved. You might have spent a lot of time and money creating it. You may have thought it would resonate with your audience, but the truth is, it simply didn’t. Don’t keep spending money on it. Always trust people’s actions over their words. Everybody says they want to do the right thing, but their actions always tell the truth. If your research said that your audience responds to opera and classical music, but they only buy Top 40, then adjust. The worst thing you can do to your sales team is confuse them with too much content when they’re already stretched for time. Streamline and simplify your content so that Sales has only what is proven to work.

The big takeaway

Synergies exist in unexpected places. Most Content Marketers would never think to talk to Product Managers about how they work and the processes they use. Some don’t even talk to each other about new products. But the best marketers always look outside their own sphere of knowledge to glean learnings from others. Buying a Product Manager lunch could be one way to learn about a whole new way of working. Plus, who knows? Maybe in a month or so you can convince them to write a guest blog or be interviewed for a PR article. It’s worked for me more than once!

This article originally appeared on the Showpad blog.