August 22, 2016

Michael Brenner: Content Marketing is a Commitment, Not a Campaign

Written by
Chris Klinefelter

Michael Brenner, the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, was a recent guest on our podcast, B2B Nation.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • The history of content marketing
  • What valuable content looks like
  • Understanding the ROI from content marketing efforts

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*

Content marketing isn’t new. It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time.

“I talk about how marketing has a marketing problem. What I mean by that is for a long time marketing was essentially companies trying to help their customers to solve a business challenge—to communicate the benefits of solving that challenge, hoping to earn their audience’s trust when they are ready to purchase.

“The era of mass media forced a negative reputation upon marketing, painting marketers as people trying to convince consumers to purchase things they don’t need. As we have moved into the digital world, we’re no longer willing to put up with interruptions to the content experiences we want. That puts a lot of pressure on traditional marketing techniques. Unless you’re a brand who can afford a Super Bowl ad (and even then it better be a good one), content marketing is the best way to reach consumers and provide value to them.”

Every minute, on the internet, a days worth of video is uploaded.

“It’s more content than any one person, or society for that matter, could consume. The more we create, the less likely it is that an individual piece of content will connect with our audience. On the flip side, as a society, we are consuming massive amounts of content every single day. We’re increasing the amount we’re consuming—especially visual content like video.

“The choice for companies today is this: you can become an expert and solve problems that consumers have, or you can try to interrupt their content experience with ads. You can build authority and expertise or throw money into ads and hope they stick. Are you sharing your expertise consistently to help customers? If you help them, you help your business.”

Content marketing assets have long-term value that grows over time. 

“When I’m talking to senior executives, my first question is this: What’s the ROI of your marketing overall? Most CMOs don’t know the overall ROI of their marketing. The problem with ads is that there’s no long-term value. Apple’s 1984 ad has longevity, but almost every other ad doesn’t. Ads are short-term thinking, and you’re paying for all the value you get. As soon as you stop throwing dollars at ads, their value is gone. Content marketing assets have long-term value that grows over time. Focus your efforts on a digital destination and answering customer problems with authority and expertise frequently.

“Committing yourself to building a content brand is like building a retirement account. If you put money into a retirement account, it might not look like much in a year. But after five years, you start to see the impact of the investment. Content marketing works the same way. When you track the results, you start to see compounding rates of return. If you publish an article two or three times a week, and you do that for 52 weeks, what happens is that there’s an accelerating increase. The first article you publish is still getting page views a year later. It’s gaining reach to an audience.

“Every brand I’ve ever worked with that has committed to content marketing has seen a positive ROI. And their return isn’t 10 or 20 or 30 percent higher than their other marketing investments, it’s 100, 300, 400 percent higher. Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.

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Be sure to catch Michael Brenner at Content Marketing World 2016, where he will give several featured talks on content ROI, documentation, and executive strategy. Sign up here.

B2B Nation is a podcast for B2B sales and marketing professionals, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on iTunes, or follow us on Twitter: @Technology_Adv.

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*Some excerpts have been paraphrased to enhance readability.