Hello, Inbound Marketers!
We are fortunate enough to get an opportunity to interview Michael Brenner a top Business, Content, and Social Media Marketer and grab some extremely useful suggestions for global internet marketers. CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and former Head of Strategy for NewsCred, former VP of Content Marketing from SAP and co-author of The Content Formula – Michael Brenner, has spilled some beans on customer-centric marketing tips that could drive real business results. This accomplished Marketing Speaker is also a regular contributor to the leading publications like The Economist, Forbes, Entrepreneur and The Guardian.
Shubham – What inspired you to launch the “Marketing Insider Group”? Please tell us a few secrets, the world doesn’t know about Michael Brenner.
Michael – My goal is to help as many companies as I can to achieve success with content marketing. I strongly believe that content marketing is the logical outcome of tracking and measuring the only marketing activities that work: the continuous publication of customer-focused content to drive value for the business.
One secret about me? I used to be terrified of public speaking. When I started doing it, I wouldn’t sleep the night before. It always disappeared as soon I jumped on the stage. But now, I get really excited about speaking and use the energy to try and deliver an amazing experience for attendees.
Shubham – How do you find creative and fresh ideas to write about for the Marketing Insider Group blog?
Michael – The first inspiration for me is to answer the questions I get most often from my clients. I often turn those insights into articles. The second inspiration is research and content from others. I try and reference the amazing insights from other thought leaders as often as I can. The third source of inspiration is my own frustrations. When I am struggling with a topic or idea, I’ll turn it around in my head a few times, do some research, ask other people what they think, and then turn that into a blog post. These are often my favorite posts to write as they are extremely therapeutic.
Shubham – As content marketing is ramping up rapidly, what strategies could help us to increase the traffic and reach the right audience? Please share your content marketing strategies.
Michael – I love to say that content marketing doesn’t have to be that hard or expensive. My secret is to simply answer your customers’ questions, at each stage of their buying journey. Because businesses too often focus on selling their products, the biggest gap in most content marketing is early-stage questions. Simple “what is this?” and “why is it important?” are questions every business can answer. Follow this approach and you will reach the largest number of potential customers.
Shubham – How would you define high-quality content?
Michael – That’s a loaded question because “beauty is the eye of the beholder.” Too often, writers focus on 1,000+ words or clever headlines. To me, high-quality content should seek to be the best answer, or to cover a topic better than anyone else, or to provide a unique perspective on something important.
Shubham – What are the 5 channels work best for distributing content and why?
Michael – Most content discovery happens via search, email and social. So the most important channel is your own website. Content marketing means publishing customer-focused content to a brand-owned website. That can be outside or within the corporate domain. Next, make sure you have content subscribers. These are people who liked your content so much, they asked to receive it in their inbox. Third is social. Each business is different but in general, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook rule. That’t 5 channels but I would add Slideshare as an important channel, especially in B2B, and also suggest to everyone look at content distribution engines like Outbrain and Taboola as effective ways to make your best content spread.
Shubham – Which deadly mistakes can be a big downfall for SEO’s in 2016 and beyond?
Michael – In order to achieve search engine authority, you have to high-quality content frequently, and in a variety of formats. The days of gaming the search engines is over. Write great stuff, as often as you can. If other sites link to it, and other people share it, it will gain search authority.
Shubham – How do you measure the effectiveness of content curation?
Michael – No one has all the answers. That’s why I spend a third of my writing time covering other people’s content (OPC? Haha!) But I am not a fan of creating a small paragraph of perspective and then linking to someone else’s content. Spend an extra half hour covering that content like a journalist might cover a speech. Provide appropriate attribution links and proper credit, but use that space to create something original and add your own perspective.
Shubham – Many times marketers don’t get responses in the outreach process for link earning, what are the factors to be considered when drafting an email for content outreach and how can we increase the response ratio?
Michael – I try to earn links vs. asking for them. I’m not a huge believer in requesting links. It’s like asking for likes. People either link or the don’t. They like or they don’t. My advice is to create stuff that earns links. Research is great for that. So are visuals like infographics.
Shubham – How can a small website hope to compete against a huge brand?
Michael – Every company has expertise in some area. But you have to take your brand out of the story and share insights for your customers with true empathy and meaning. No matter how small you are, if you focus on the right niche, you can compete and win for digital mindshare.
Shubham – How can we manage a small content team in a small agency? According to you, minimum how many content marketing employees are required to do a better content marketing?
Michael – I was a content marketing team of one at SAP until I proved the business value. I used a volunteer army of contributors. And I asked for lots of favors. But the real trick I found was to find all the great stuff we were creating and have it re-purposed into articles. I had the benefit of a technical developer and an in-house designer. But other than that, all the content creation, curation, distribution, and measurement was me. It doesn’t take an army to do content marketing effectively.
Shubham – Who is your role model & from whom do you seek guidance?
Michael – Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Andrew Davis, Andy Crestondina, Lee Odden – these are people that have really guided and shaped my thoughts on content marketing, marketing and business overall.
We are grateful to Michael Brenner for being a guiding light to all the content marketers across the globe and taking out his precious time to show us the ropes about content marketing, without which it’s hard to grow the modern business