🦃 Edition 20: First 10 feet of snow

The big 20. I sometimes doubted I would actually get here!

Happy post thanksgiving week & let’s get our winter tires on and jump straight in.

Here’s a secret. I admire Animalz for the work they do and often its what I try to model 42/Agency after. What makes them incredible at what they do is they don’t write fluffy ‘content marketing’ they hire operators/experts to write/talk and share their knowledge. Here’s an example on how to run a content team in a large company.

Here’s what is interesting and hits close to home that they articulated really well:

I don’t do ‘content’ for a living. I put content in quotes because I feel like the term has been abused by 'writing farms’ over the past year with the pendulum swinging back slowly. I have worked with content teams for most of my time doing marketing because content/copy feeds the entire marketing operation. The mistake I see folks make (mostly in leadership) is to:

1) Treat content as an SEO engine. I.E success is tied to traffic/conversions. Sometimes you just need to build an audience, write an essay or say something without worrying about collecting emails addresses or signups/demos. I am not on Animalz email list but I’ll often check their twitter feed or go to the blog to see what they’re talking about.

2) Hire jr writers and have them write about deeply technical/industrial topics. Read about how Intercom runs their editorial operation. The writers don’t write about everything. Rather they work with internal folks to facilitate/edit & help them put their thoughts/experiences on paper.

3) Bundle Content (TOFU), Demand & Sales Enablement (MOFU/BOFU). This is why the Content Ops model resonates with me. If you seperate out the two objectives & treat them as such, it makes the model much easier & aligns expectations. If the content person has written a fantastic whitepaper on a topic that’s highly relevevant but the Demand/Growth team is doing the 'distribution’ to get qualied leads then who ‘owns’ the metric? Is it the content team who wrote it or the demand team who needs to build pipeline? Splitting them into two buckets solves for that problem.

The only thing I would word differently in the above model is call Content Services something like Enablement but that’s just semantics. How to define the buckets & what you call them is dependent on how the team(s) are structured.

To end - I always think every agency aspires to be a product company. But some might disagree in balancing the two:

You always get to hear about the ‘success stories’ here’s a series of observations over tweets on how my recent call went with a prospect. On the surface they were a great fit, had the right size/tech stack in place, asked the right questions but I didn’t qualify them as well on the call & it turns out the folks I was talking to were likely not the right people I should have been talking to.

CB Insights Newsletter is really well put together & this behind the scenes look from Anand is gold. The part that stuck out the most:

The above statement is true for almost everything. Product / Marketing / CS - if you are delivering the core value first then all the optimizations you do won’t save it. Case in point, if your customers aren’t getting value out of your product (for whatever reason) come renewal time, a box of chocolates sent to their office with a teddy bear won’t save you (no this hasn’t actually happened to me).

Speaking of Optimizations. First Round Review does A/B test subject lines with every email send:

I’ll leave you with these 3 things:

Shiv (ex Wild Apricot) put together this really great deck on Marketing/Demand as a growth lever. For some of you, this might be 'Demand/Marketing 101’ but I wanted to share it either way - there’s always something new to learn right?

New Yorker on Amazon the juggernaught it has become from the humble books online. Recode’s Land of the Gaints S1 is a great listen on Amazon and the power it has. My favorite episode was about what happens when Amazon leaves a small town after building a huge warehouse & employing thousands of people. The entire season is really really interesting.

Remember Andy Rubin? Creator of Android but ‘was asked to leave’ Google under serious sexual harassment charges? Well after a long silence he’s back with a new Essential device. But this isn’t about that. Wired’s Lauren Goode writes about in this day & age, is it really possible to seperate the ‘product’ from the ‘creator/company’ in terms of values? “But the bigger question is whether, in an era of heightened scrutiny of the technology sector, it is possible to divorce new gadgets from the people who make them and the ethos of the corporations that fund them. And even if it’s possible, should we compartmentalize these factors? Or should we just accept new products as new products?”

Till next week - when I write a little about Product Marketing & such things.