Getting Social With: Michael Brenner^* NewsCred (Q&A)

Getting Social With: Michael Brenner^* NewsCred (Q&A)
December 3, 2014

The objective of a “Getting Social With…” blog post is to pick the brain of a relevant thought leader in the sales and marketing industries, getting to know them on a personal and professional level. For the first of the series, I decided to conduct a Q & A with Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy for NewsCred. As Brenner is a Forbes Top 40 Social Media Marketer, a Top Content Marketing Influencer and Most Mentioned Marketer on Twitter, he was a natural first choice.

Getting Social With Michael Brenner

Michael is an experienced marketing executive, most recently serving as Vice President of Global Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP where he developed an award-winning thought leadership blog for SAP called Business Innovation (he also maintains his own B2B Marketing Insider Blog, a popular spot for content marketers). Certainly follow him on Twitter; but also get to know him through his “Social Profile” and his take on content marketing strategies below.

Favorite Sales/Marketing Blog to Follow: Content Marketing Institute

Favorite Sales/Marketing Influencer to Follow on Twitter: Do I have to pick one? I'm going to cheat: Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer and Ann Handley each have a slightly different view and insights on marketing. Not just super smart, they are the nicest people you will ever meet.

Your Philosophy (Life or Professional) in 140 Characters or less: Always look on the bright side of life. Life is short. Your "Business Life" is even shorter.

In your article, 3 Factors That Drive Content Marketing Success, you list having a documented marketing strategy as one of “most important ways content marketing should be measured.” This aligns with the latest CMI/MarketingProfs trends report that emphasizes the importance of having a documented strategy.

What does a documented marketing strategy look like? Is it an editorial calendar? A statement of goals? 

Michael Benner: A documented content marketing strategy simply defines who you are targeting, what's in it for them and what's in it for your business. It is certainly not an editorial calendar but you could say it is a statement of goals along with some of the process by which you plan to achieve the goals.

What does a content marketing strategy look like? It starts with understanding that content marketing is owned media. So you have to want to attract an audience around a particular topic. Something like "become a destination of helpful insights and information on [your topic] for [your target audience] so that they can get better educated on [the topic], drive their business forward and grow in their careers. We will seek to attract this audience in order to introduce [your brand name,] develop a relationship [with something measurable like through subscriptions?] and deliver [leads, sales?] for our business."

You then need to describe the editorial approach, conversion path and distribution strategy. But this is the main piece that is often missing.

Who do you think should be responsible for creating a documented marketing strategy? 

Michael Brenner: One of the key drivers of having a successful content marketing strategy is putting someone in charge of content marketing. This person must be accountable but also needs to have some authority and resources to get the job done. Some organizations are looking to hire Chief Content Officers to manage the entire content supply chain. For those businesses who aren't ready for that, we see heads of content marketing in both the brand, digital and communications areas of various marketing organizations.

Sales enablement is hot topic for content marketers, given the role that targeted content plays in reps’ communication with prospects and customers. Is there a place for sales enablement in a documented marketing strategy? 

Michael Brenner: When you create and publish the content that your target audience needs to move through the sales cycle, then sales becomes a natural customer of the process. So sales enablement is a key component and certainly has a place in the plan. My advice is to think about the best way to distribute the content to the sales team based on their industry or regional focus. Newsletters, RSS feeds and targeted email are a few ways to accomplish this.

How often should a marketing strategy be reassessed, reworked, and re-documented? Is veering from it an indication of failure?

Michael Brenner: I think part of the strategy should include the idea that whatever the strategy is to start, you will learn along the way, test new ideas and even fail. Analytics, testing and results reporting should play a key role in the strategy so that you can pivot as often as needed to achieve the goals. But while the approach might change, the strategy itself and the goals will remain in place. Unless the larger business changes, your topic, target audience and the questions they are asking will have some level of consistency. The strategy should align with making you an authority on the category you do business in. And should only change as much as that topic of interest changes.