Jenny Thai and Emily Kramer on content strategy

Created on

August 19 2022

Created by Medha Basu. This summary was largely done for my own note-taking, sharing it just in case it adds more value to other people. Any errors are mine :)


Emily Kramer of MKT1 and Jenny Thai of Clearbit (formerly Head of Content at Asana) talk about content strategy.


  • ‘Write x number of blog posts’ is a bad goal. Content strategy goals should be tied to an impact/outcome - that forces you to think about why we’re doing it and how that content links to a larger marketing/business goal. Web traffic related goals are better than # of posts.
  • Your content altitude defines how much of your product you talk about in a content piece. The altitude depends on a bunch of things, including what your marketing goal is, how you’re positioned in your category, and who you’re talking to. For eg, if your goal is to drive awareness of the problem you’re solving, jumping straight into the product isn’t going to make sense.
  • Another useful heuristic for this is the 30% Juice rule, where juice = product (i.e. only 30% of your content is about your product). Your content needs to go beyond your product: think about the other problems your audience has to solve, besides what your product is doing. More on this here.
  • “The bottom line is this: your audience doesn’t just care about your product features or ‘the juice’. You need to make them problem aware, solution aware, brand aware, and product aware typically in that order.”
  • To do distribution well, you have to repurpose/repackage content well. Don’t use same piece of content on every channel.
  • Newsletter distribution works if people share them. For eg, emails were a huge driver of traffic at Asana because people forwarded them to their friends and coworkers.


Content splattergy vs strategy

  • Splattergy is when you’re making things and throwing it at the wall vs really honing what you’re making. Think more about why are we doing this vs just what we’re doing.
    • Connect the piece of content to larger marketing or business goal. What are you trying to do with that content.
    • Goal shouldn’t be “write 10 blog posts”. Should be impact/outcome focused rather than quantity. Even web traffic related goals are better than # of posts.

30% juice rule aka content altitudes

  • How to approach thinking through how much of your product you talk about in your content.
    • If your goal is to drive awareness of the problem you’re solving, jumping straight into the product isn’t going to make sense. If you’re early in the funnel, you need to educate people on the problems. As you bring people on the journey, you zoom into the product. Educating about product is about going from high altitude to on-the-ground.
  • How high your altitude is also depends on what category you’re in. If you’re going from tape to CD, you don’t necessarily need to start high - people understand the problem it’s trying to solve. If you’re operating in a new space, if there isn’t a lot of other comparable stuff, then start at high altitude.
  • Content altitude works well when you’re talking to different personas as well.
  • Hard to know what level of detail to give each person - content altitude is a useful way to think about that.
  • Have been in roles where people say “we need more thought leadership”. that’s very broad. the first question is what are the thoughts to share, what are our opinions. let’s narrow those down and then we can decide what to write.
  • Think beyond the “juice” (your product). What are the other things that are holding people back, beyond what your product is doing.
  • If you’re selling clothes, you dont want to start with the cotton blend and specs. Start with what outfits you can put together first.

How do I structure my team

  • It’s not just blogposts that work. It’s also creating tools, and templates - basically resources. Need to have clarity of your goals before you can hire.
  • Hire generalists at the start - people comfortable doing a bunch of different kind of content.

SEO vs non-SEO content balance

  • Try not to think of SEO as a separate bucket of content. Initially you might just because you might have a specific goal around organic traffic.
  • SEO works best if it’s integrated into your content strategy. Always think of opportunities to do SEO, rather than do it as a one-off

Distribution beyond SEO that folks might not think of

  • Email is still really important. Do a monthly newsletter at Clearbit that curates content that’s been published. Important thing is to give it personality. If you create an email newsletter that people want to read, that’s great.
  • Starting to explore LinkedIn for small bites - videos clips from webinar, writing smaller LinkedIn posts from books, publishing on thought leaders’ profiles.
  • Paid distribution with Pocket (built in audience of people who want to read). Newsletter sponsorships are becoming popular.
  • You can’t do distribution well if you don’t repurpose/repackage your content well. You cant use same piece of content on every channel. Think of it as ‘B-sides’ to the anchor piece.
  • At Asana, emails were huge drivers of new traffic because people shared them.
  • Aligning fuel and engine is key to great marketing.

Brands as media companies

  • This isn’t a new thing. In-flight magazines. Jello used to publish recipes. US Postal Service used to have a saturday morning TV show about solving postal crimes. Michelin rating from Michelin the tire company.
  • Benefit of approaching it that way is that you think of content as as product. You’ll invest in making it really good vs seeing content as a means to an end.
  • Caveats to this:
    • have to be very clear about objectives and purpose of all of this. what are you trying to achieve with consistent publication of content.
    • it’s easy to fall into the trap of “we can do media better than the media people”. It’s really hard and takes a lot of resources. If you build it, people aren’t going to come. There’s a lot of competition attention. Do your homework and start small.
  • Webflow does this well. They’re treating it like a media company in that they’re using approachable, non-business-y mediums.
  • Podcasts: Have been asked to make a podcast at every company I’ve worked for. Makes sense if you have clear goals on what you want to achieve. It’s really hard, and not every content marketer has experience in this. Have to be willing to invest in external resources - this is something you should outsource - it’s a big commitment. If your audience really listens to podcasts, it could be really good.
    • If you’re trying a new format, scope it as a pilot. But think through what the initial run is going to look like. Treat it like a pilot season. See how the first couple of episodes do and then scale out.

What would you do differently if you could go back in time

  • First year at Asana worked on TL publication and launched it during election season.
  • Wish we’d invested more in SEO sooner. We ended up having to play a bit of catch up. Even from positioning perspective, were trying to think of Asana as spearheading a new category so didn’t explicitly call it a project management tool (vs work management) so missed out on a couple of years there. Have to meet people where they are - no amount of optimisation for a diff keyword is going to work.
  • Brand marketing framework from Yum! Brands: RED - relevance, ease, differentiation.

At what stage of B2B should you start to think of content

  • From the beginning. Can start small.
  • Founder should start on this. Take what you have opinions on and start there.

How to effectively get content ideas out of busy people who know the topics

  • Just find time and get them to talk. Record it. Transcribe it. Start building up a reservoir of subject matter expertise. Don’t try to get them to write.

How do you think about repurposing content

  • Like to think of content as the core idea or information you’re trying to communicate, rather than a specific artefact. What are teh diff ways in which you can deliver the idea. 1 idea can have 6 diff permutations of artefacts.