Michael Brenner’s name has become synonymous with B2B content marketing. While at SAP as its Vice President of Global Content Marketing Strategy, Michael launched his blog, B2B Marketing Insider, which has become a top content marketing resource. Now he is Head of Strategy at NewsCred, where he helps the company build a content strategy and assist clients with the same. With a mind for data and a desire to build the business case for content, Michael is informative, insightful, and fun. Enjoy!
Listen to Pamela Muldoon’s full interview with Michael here:
(Recorded March 2015; Length: 58:15)
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What’s new, what’s now, what’s next
Michael recently celebrated one year as Head of Strategy at NewsCred. In his role, he builds the content strategy for his employer as well as other brands that want to create a strategic function for their content.
He says the strategy for content is truly about quality over quantity. Great technology exists to help the content process. However, instead of just pushing content, the emphasis is placed on creating quality content that resonates with the audience.
Content marketing as a discipline is almost to the point where the torch needs to be passed from its pioneers to the next generation of marketers. Michael is optimistic about today’s younger marketing professionals in part because they understand the type of content that moves through the social networks.
Also in the “new” category is that enterprise-level brands are embracing content marketing as a discipline and a vital part of the organization. Some folks still resist change in terms of moving from conducting old-school Internet inbound marketing (banner ads) and choosing to create experiences that resonate with their audience (content marketing). Change is hard. Change is not easy. But change is necessary.
It’s all about visual. Emoji marketing? Yes, it has happened. Check out the Burger King emoji keyboard.
Michael also sees the selfie being taken to the next level with video live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat.
As for marketing technology, the next evolution is filling the pipeline (tech platforms) with the stuff our audience seeks. It’s about using predictive technology so brands know what their audience wants and deliver it.
Michael is also working on the idea of audience modeling – creating a look-alike model of people who have converted to your brand. Figure out the content with which these converted audience members engaged and create more of the same.
When I asked Michael what skills are needed to successfully build an enterprise team he mentioned:
- Business case development – able to explain the business case for implementing content marketing.
- Editorial mindset – able to create content the audience wants vs. the content that the business wants. (This includes the ability to know what customers’ search terms are around your industry or topic.)
Michael believes that the next big challenge for enterprises is building and sustaining a team that has the requisite talents and skills. The challenge for companies is to learn and understand how to keep and grow creative talent in a corporate environment. Most creatives do not flourish in rigid, industrial environments. Enterprise organizations need to balance their corporate work atmosphere with the needs of creative professionals to achieve optimal results.
Blast the buzzword
Michael’s buzzword: Native advertising
Native advertising is a subset of a subset of what content marketing could be. The term does not accurately describe what it really is. But if we move away from the semantics of the phrase, native advertising can be done well. Brands partnering with publishers is not new and it can work well when it offers great content.
In the hot seat
Here’s a recap of Michael’s hot-seat Q&A:
What aspect of your background – whether a particular job or an area of study – has been most valuable to you as a content marketer?
It’s the compounded influence of two things – being an English literature major where I learned to love the components of storytelling and my background as a salesperson, which helps me “sell” content marketing.
What are your three must-read books on content marketing/marketing that all marketing professionals need to have in their libraries?
- The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell
- Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing by Robert Rose and Carla Johnson
If you could sit down to have a conversation with someone living or dead, who would that person be?
I can’t choose just one — Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Steve Jobs, and Jesus. These were the best storytellers in history. They impacted and changed the world in amazing ways.
BONUS QUESTION: Why should someone attend Content Marketing World 2015?
I never felt more at home at a conference than when I first attended Content Marketing World in 2011. It’s an amazingly intimate conference even though it has grown over the past five years.
This year, I will get the chance to speak. In the presentation, we will explore what you do when marketing has to drastically change. I will be joined by three other marketing professionals in this panel-style breakout session.
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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute