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Talking Content Marketing – With Michael Brenner


Talking Content Marketing gives a warm welcome to Head of Strategy for NewsCred, Michael Brenner.

Recognized as a Forbes Top Social Media Marketer, a Top Content Marketing Influencer and Most Mentioned Marketer on TwitterMichael is an accomplished marketing speaker, author of the B2B Marketing Insider blog, and a frequent contributor on leading publications like ForbesThe Economist, and The Guardian. Michael came to NewsCred from SAP where he served as VP of Global Content Marketing Strategy and Head of Digital for SAP Americas. Michael is also a co-founder of social news site Business 2 Community. 

Six questions on the role of content marketing to inform, advise and converse.


Is marketing becoming a discipline that can become too overawing with too many hats to be worn to become better at what we do?

Marketing has a marketing problem.

Not only has it become challenging, but there marketers get no respect. Ask 100 people what marketing is and they come up with some definition of us as bastard children of sales and advertising. Marketing is supposed to be about the conversation, the communication between a brand and their wider audience. We have forgotten that this is our core mission.

We have to be more rebellious to the executives that ask us for more promotional crap that no one wants. We need to understand and advocate for our customers and tell them stories that inform them and entertain them. Today’s consumer has shown that they will not put up with advertising. But they will tune in to great stories, even from brands.


Your recent CMI ‘Get The Biggest SEO Bang For Your Content Marketing Buck‘ article you mention that you’re a big fan of ‘other peoples’ content. How can this approach work for others?

The bottom line is that publishers publish every single day or more. And this holds true for brands that want to be successful at content marketing.

That means spending a lot of money on editors, writers, designers, videographers, and more. And most content marketers just aren’t given the budget right up front to meet the goal of consistent, original and quality content. So we have to do what publishers do, cover the stories that your competitors are covering. Publish your perspective on what the top publishers in your space are already publishing. Link to them, but allow them to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to what topics are important and what details are interesting. One great trick is to create list posts of the top content from others on your topic. Or identify the top influencers. Or summarize a really important piece of research. All this is using other people’s content to publish valuable insights for your audience.


Is it an important role for content creators to entertain, and be more than ‘how to,’ ‘top 10s’ and ‘be a ninja’ type articles? 

I think increasingly there needs to be a balance between informational and entertaining content. Your audience is made up of people, no matter what business you are in. And as people, we like to laugh every once in a while.

I think brands need to stop taking themselves so seriously and look at the world around us. There is a reason cat videos are so popular. Not every brand can make a cat video, but every brand can lighten up and flex their funny bone a little bit.

My advice is to start by committing to being more human and open, then test your way into what might be entertaining.


What is one of the first steps for a company to adopt a content mindset. Is it acknowledgment of changing focus from product to customer? 

The first step towards a content marketing mindset is admitting that we spend too much time, money and effort promoting our business.

If you look at the volume of searches for early-stage, unbranded terms vs. brand terms, it is often many, many, many times more. If you look at the money and staff dedicated to the amount of promotional content businesses create, it is often ming boggling. Then to see that 50, 60, 70% of that content either goes completely unused, or is never ready by more than a handful of people. It’s almost criminal!

Marketers need to reflect the market in terms of the volume and types of information their audience is seeking.


Which brands, in your opinion, tell a story well?

I think RedBull, Netflix, Amazon – these are brands that have literally become producers and publishers and amazing storytellers. GE, Pepsi (which is a NewsCred customer), and some others are on their way. I believe SAP is making great strides, even since I left. 


Do you get tired of people asking you ‘what is the future of content marketing?’

I wouldn’t say I get tired of it. But the truth is like that saying that “the future is already here it is just unevenly distributed.” We ALL know that we ALL hate ads. We’re seeing more money spent on digital advertising because it’s easy, not because it’s the right thing to do. I can’t even believe banners still exist. And yet marketers are still throwing more money at them.

On the other hand, it is not science fiction to say that leading brands are betting big on storytelling. There are really serious brands who are creating amazing content, even being funny and creating engaging entertainment out of their content marketing.

We are getting so much more visual as a society that brands that aren’t thinking about good design and video will simply be left behind.

Huge thanks to Michael for his input and his opinion on how the content landscape is shaping. To find out more from Michael:

Michael on Twitter: click here

B2B Marketing Insider blog: click here

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