One name that continues to chart in the industry as a content marketing thought leader is Michael Brenner. I first became aware of him back in 2013 after I attended a Philly Content Strategy Meetup. As an IMC student, his wisdom on the topic of building content marketing programs that work to benefit the customer resonated with me.
A year later, when his name appeared on the speaker list for FWD:B2B (conference presented by Godfrey and held in Lancaster, PA) I knew that I had to attend. Even though I never shared all of the wonderful insights I gleaned from that event, hopefully this special Q/A profile article with Michael will top my long overdue conference recap post.
Julie Long: “As a content marketing evangelist, what lessons or best practices can you provide IMC students who are looking to bring content marketing into their organizations?”
Michael Brenner: “Content Marketing starts with a basic desire to understand what your audience is looking for. So be constantly looking for the insights into what content people want, on what channels, in what forms. But creating and delivering that content isn’t enough. You need to be able to show how the traffic you earn can translate into business results.”
Julie Long: “If you had to describe content marketing in only five words, which words would you choose?”
Julie Long: “As IMC practitioners, we strategically craft campaigns that will resonate with customers across all distribution touch points. Where do you see content marketing falling within the IMC strategic communication planning process?”
Michael Brenner: “Content marketing can never be a campaign. I actually think content marketing delivers on the promise of integrated marketing communications in a way no other approach has before this. IMC starts with understanding the target audience (who they are and what they want), then delivering across all the channels where they search for it. Content marketing could be defined in exactly the same way.”
Julie Long: What skills do you look for when hiring content marketers? Do you look for growth hackers or another skill set entirely?
Michael Brenner: “I totally look for growth hackers. I don’t care what you know. I look for the desire to learn. Curiosity. An appreciation of looking at the numbers or doing the research or asking questions. And the ability to GSD (Get um, Stuff Done).”
Julie Long: “PR companies like GolinHarris have realigned their company structure to account for the 24-7 connected consumer business model through the creation of holistic engagement centers. What role do you think content marketing has specifically played in helping to change the PR industry?”
Michael Brenner: “I think the PR industry is in trouble because it is struggling to define itself in a world that avoids spin and promotion and smartly crafted messages. We are too smart. We can smell spin and promotion from a mile away. That’s why the new age of PR has to be about activating employees, not just executives.”
Colin Haas: “What one emerging media are you most excited about for B2B? What about B2C?”
Michael Brenner: “I’m amazed at the amount of video we are projected to be consuming in the next few years. Cisco projects as much as 90% of the traffic over the internet in just years will be video. I think both B2B and B2C companies should be looking at their ability to deliver production-quality videos that entertain people. I believe in 10 years brands will either have purchased or built entire production studios to rival the biggest names you see today.”
Colin Haas: “What would you tell those companies that feel social isn’t relevant to their business or industry?”
Michael Brenner: “I would tell them to wake up. Everyone who is buying anything is on social. It is a fact. It doesn’t mean people buy ball bearings on Facebook. But the people who do, use Facebook. They are people. Brands need to be where their customers are. As our CMO likes to say, buildings don’t buy things, people do. And we are all using social.”
A special thank you from the WVU IMC program to Michael Brenner for taking the time to answer the questions for this profile post.
In addition, his website, B2B Marketing Insider, is a content marketing destination.
I would also like to thank IMC student, Colin Haas, for providing additional questions.
Please share your content marketing and growth hacker examples in the comments section below.