Content Marketing for Product Innovators

by Chad McAllister

If you want to know how to leverage content marketing to position your product in your customer’s mind, a great person to ask is Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing at Rainmaker Digital. Previously CopyBlogger, Rainmaker Digital is the most authoritative source I know for content marketing. They have been writing and teaching about content market for several years.

Jerod also creates educational content and digital products that help people develop and grow rewarding, profitable online businesses. He can write the book on how powerful content marketing is in product management. The content he creates for Rainmaker Digital includes The Showrunner Podcast (with Jon Nastor) and The Digital Entrepreneur podcast (with Brian Clark).

I interviewed Jerod to learn more. Below is the summary of the essential points of our discussion.

What is content marketing?

It’s free content to educate customers. It takes various forms, such as articles, videos, and podcasts that allow potential customers to get to know you or your product, then like you, then trust you. For example, we just bought a house about a year and half ago. I signed up for a newsletter from this guy, Ken, here in Dallas, and just to get some tips on when you should water and what kind of fertilizer to use. I got an email that said something about, hey, if you want to try out our service, we’ll give you the first visit free and then you get a discount on the next seven. I didn’t even know that they had a business. They know what they’re talking about, and it built that rapport, built that trust with them. They had educated me. That’s the power of content marketing.

Where do content marketing and product innovation intersect?

People can make a mistake with product development by first creating the product and then trying to fit it to a market after it is created. We teach the inverse of that, which is to identify a market, build an audience with participants in that market, and then use your relationship with that audience and the insights you gain from them to inform the development of your product. We can end up wasting time and money by developing something that people don’t want because we didn’t take the time to develop the relationship and listen to our audience.

How do content marketers learn about customers?

You begin with a notion of who your market is and over time learn more about them. Every single time you share a piece of content, it’s an opportunity for your target market, or your hypothesis of the target market, to interact with it and give you more information. You may realize that the people who are responding to this content are skewing in one direction or another. It can inform your choices and influence what you thought. It will give you much better insights into the market and their problems. Then with their responses you can adjust as you need to and figure out what you need to do differently, what you need to double-down on, and what may be missing that is an opportunity for you to create a product to fill that need. It’s all about getting feedback from the audience.

How can a product concept be validated?

Once you have a minimum viable product, you need to get your audience to use it and provide feedback. The feedback mechanisms are straight forward and include emails, phone calls, forums, and social media (such as private Facebook groups). When you get feedback, engage with it. So it’s not just about putting a blog post out there, it’s finding opportunities to go a little bit deeper. To me, the best feedback that I’ve ever gotten is getting people onto an email list and encouraging, either through directly asking or just through the content you’re putting out in email, people to interact with you there. You know, kind of in that private setting, in the more intimate email setting, it’s like the podcast Showrunner.

Content marketing is not about the product, but about the customer. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” That’s a quote by C.S. Lewis. Morris, concludes, “It’s having the humility to take a step back and to realize whatever this is, I’ve got something good to offer, but how can it help other people? How can I gauge other people’s reactions to it…and ultimately, make it better for them?”

Listen to the interview with Jerod Morris on The Everyday Innovator Podcast.

image credit: Depositphotos.com

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Chad McAllister, PhD is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow him on Twitter.

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