Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Content Marketing and Product Development Should Focus on Quality: Lessons from Buffer

I recently stumbled across Buffer's "Marketing Manifesto in 500 Words" over on Medium. The original was evidently a shared Evernote note. I'm glad they shared with us, too.

I find Buffer itself a fascinating company. For starters, they have a wonderful product. If you are trying to stay active on social media, but have limited time to do so, Buffer offers the ability to just share and store things in a queue that will eventually post out on whatever schedule you choose.

What Buffer also performs well, though, in analyzing the performance of tweets and posts and providing free information to its users (or anyone that stumbles across its site) with valuable stats. They have identified the best times to tweet in any give time zone if you are seeking engagement, for example, by analyzing the results of thousands and thousands of tweets posted by their users.

They post the results often on the Buffer blog, which also offers a transparent look into the behind-the-scenes efforts of the company, even whenthose efforts end up negative in the results column.

In reading through this bold statement about how they intend to market through content, I gleaned a few gems worthy of noting for myself. Perhaps they resonate with your efforts as well.

Be Uncomfortable With Your Product

First and foremost, the manifesto stresses the need to truly own a concern that what you put out into the world is not good enough. Nobody wants to focus on that.

It's much easier to think about all the millions we will make and what model Lamborghini will look best in our driveway. But not everything hits a home run right away. Every post you write will not go viral and every product will not become the "hottest product of the season" (hopefully some do, but who knows).

When you solely focus on quantity, churning out article after article, you can play fun games with computer algorithms, but rarely connect with people. On the other hand, if you focus on connecting with people, not just potential customers, but individuals, humans with thoughts and concerns and dreams, then the importance of the idea that we should take care what we produce shines through.

This advice isn't just for bloggers either. If you make sandwiches, if you produce fiction, if you sell cloud data center space, take a healthy dose of self-doubt before you set something loose upon the world. Be vulnerable. Be edgy. Be scared. It's OK.

Focus on Quality

"Treat every piece of content — every tweet, every Facebook post, every CTA, every press outreach email — with the utmost care."

That's how this 500-word post starts, and it's beautiful. It's not a new idea, the whole zero defect/TQM approach to producing product. But the phrasing here to treat every single thing you do as if it is an important and qualified piece of content that you are releasing shows the brilliance of this statement.

The hyper-focus on quality creates some of the discomfort in releasing product. As the author notes, it's not perfectionism, but the idea that everything you do represents the company. Every piece of content and every product you release demonstrates the company's commitment to quality.

On the contrary, every crappy or shoddy product that you allow to make it to the public in the interest of quantity dilutes the brand of the company.

The endless chase of perfection prohibits truly releasing anything. Often a "good" or "really good" product could change the lives of thousands or millions, and the chase for a "perfect" product might delay that beneficial change. But the question you should ask yourself after reading this manifesto is whether what you are about to release is "good enough." 


The manifesto at its heart represents a reflection on the efforts of the company and acknowledges failures as well as successes. 

Too often we get caught up in searching for the victory that we fail to see what we can learn from the defeats. This post acknowledges failure. It acknowledges missteps.

Most people flee from that type of self-evaluation. They can't handle the idea that they should confront their own failures to learn from them. 

But that's how you grow.

Embrace the idea that you need a little time every now and again to reflect on how you could perform better, or how the company could work better. 


I've been impressed with Buffer for some time. Again, their product and insight have been extremely valuable to me.

This article, though, shows an honest and vulnerable side to their marketing that I would encourage all marketing departments and companies to look at and potentially embrace.

The idea is simple: create a quality product for your consumer. Someone relies on you to produce, and instead of producing en masse for pure consumption sake, produce something of quality, of value, that has potential. Potential to change lives, businesses, relationships, people.

The burden of creating quality product weighs heavy. The result of accepting that burden is a constant internal struggle, a decision point about everything that represents the company and brand. You will have to ask "Is it good enough?" over and over again.

Once you've pored over everything that you produce, you must pore over it again. Reflect and reflect to try to understand all of the complexities that led to failure and all of the equal complexities that led to your success (here's a hint, you didn't succeed just because you were a genius, though that might have helped. So did luck.).

I'd love to hear your thoughts here. Go read the Buffer marketing manifesto and come back. Leave me a comment or drop me an email and we can chat about it.