The Future Of Digital Marketing

Michael Brenner on May 7, 2014 in Marketing Strategy

Last week I was honored and thrilled to be interviewed by Outbrain in The Guardian’s Digital Content Hub.

In this interview I talk about:

  • Content and data are the future of digital marketing
  • Storytelling and the battle for customer attention
  • How Content marketers must be content curators and consumers themselves
  • Great content must inform, inspire or entertain
  • Good content is simply content someone wants
  • The cultural shift required to be successful in content marketing
  • Content is king but distribution is really in charge

What are you most excited about in the digital marketing space at the moment?

I think the most exciting thing in digital right now is the convergence of content and data. Social, mobile cloud – those things were all about the plumbing. They were important steps to allow information to flow seamlessly across the world in nanoseconds so that we, as consumers can get what we want, when we want it.

Now we have to focus on the things flowing through the pipes: data and content. I heard Sir Martin Sorrell say that “data is the new oil.” I agree with him but I think content is just as important. Content is the information we consumers want and need. Data will help businesses to provide more and better context. It will help drive business value in both directions. And ultimately, will create a near real-time exchange of value between brands and their customers.

What’s your favorite example of innovative digital marketing?

I have two example of great digital marketing that come to mind immediately. The first is the Red Bull Stratos story. I point to that because it is an amazing story. It was told on the back of a brand. The brand was the platform but not the story itself. But the story completely supports the larger mission of the brand. I think this is a view into the future of digital marketing where we stop thinking in terms of channels and start thinking in terms of renting space in people’s minds. It’s a Battle for Customer Attention. And the best storyteller wins.

Where do you go for great content?

I look  everywhere for great content. I think the best storytellers are amazing synthesizers of all the overwhelming information and content and stories available to us. So I think it’s important for content marketers to be voracious consumers of great brand stories, content you wish you’d created, and best of lists. I’ve even produced a few of my own.

What’s next for digital content?

I’ll go back to Red Bull’s Stratos. The best digital content inspires and entertains. Here’s another great example of a story from a brand that removes the brand (almost) completely from the story. I realize it’s an American football story but it’s relevant to anyone in the world who has faced hardship, beat the odds or overcome adversity.

We are now seeing this trend where Red Bull Media is a thriving media company. Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. Amazon and Netflix are Television show producers. And Lego made an amazing movie about overcoming evil using characters made from its own product.

What defines good content?

Good content is content someone wants. I realize that sounds too simple but it is that simple. Maybe it’s easier to explain using the inverse: Bad content is content that no one wants. It’s hard to argue with that, right? So create something useful, or entertaining. I see some content marketing consultants, brands and even so-called “thought leaders” talking about how content needs to present a unique point of view. It needs to be differentiated in order to stand out. And I disagree. It needs to stand out in order to stand out. Great content simply needs to help someone. Or entertain someone. Or distract someone from their everyday problems.

What is the biggest myth about content marketing?

The biggest myth about content marketing is that content marketing is just a buzzword. Or the latest “shiny object” people are chasing in marketing. Content marketing is the hottest thing in marketing because it is the biggest gap between what brands produce and what our customers are looking for.

Content marketing is a business imperative and a cultural shift that businesses need to take in order to stay in touch with their audience. Content marketing is a mindset that puts the customer first because they are ignoring promotions and adverts and self-serving content. So if a brand wants to stay relevant to its customers, then it needs to embrace content marketing.

How are you amplifying and maximizing your content?

Most people believe content is king but distribution is really in charge. Content that doesn’t reach an audience is a complete waste. A great example of this is the approach taken by movie studios. They don’t spend all those big Hollywood budgets on production alone. They spend 40, 50 even 60 percent on promotion and distribution. Even great content needs a little push.

So we push our content out across all the major social channels. We work closely with the top influencers in our topic spaces to encourage them to share with their audiences. And then we use content syndication with companies like Outbrain to reach audiences who are already interested in our topics and reading similar stories on some of the best known web properties across the globe.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 8 comments
  • Steve Minks

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your insightful post. I agree with you on a number of points including the Red Bull video.

    I particularly enjoy the Volvo / Van Damme video production as a great piece of content and am sure exceeded the goals and objectives set out for it.

    Great content? Any piece that addresses peoples problems, questions, likes, aspirations etc etc – meeting a need or providing a solution – in whatever format that may be.

    Thanks again and have a great day

    Steve

  • Andre Lejeune

    I completely agree that while content is king, distribution is in charge. Marketers are focusing on the former and not the latter. By investing time in understanding the analytics of content consumption (who, when, where and why), marketers can not only do a better job of developing content that customers value but be a lot smarter about the channel. All that data and intelligence should be contained within their marketing system. If it’s not, marketers should take a hard look at their infrastructure and assess whether it’s actually an enabler or a boat anchor.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Andre,

      It’s a great point. Analytics and customer / content insights really do light the way.

  • Glenn Gow

    Michael, yes I agree that great content is useful or entertaining. It also has to serve a purpose (build a brand, get the recipient to want more, etc.)

    And yes distribution (we call it promotion) is a necessary component. Too many marketers work hard to produce great content and hope it will draw the reader in.

    As marketers, we need to provide our great content WHERE THE BUYERS ARE.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Glenn, totally agree with your points of clarification.

  • upasna

    I think in cultures where content is seen as a ‘flashy object’ and where people believe a great product needs to be just ‘functional’ and does not even ‘need marketing’ is where it is very difficult for these concepts to gain ground, because marketing is seen as being too intrusive . However, I feel it all changes when marketers are willing to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer. That may sound simplistic even, but I feel it is needed in digitally ‘laggard’ cultures (case in point: Germany).

    Upasna at Someplace Else

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Upasna, it’s a great point. Marketing has a marketing problem in most places. But when we take the high ground by focusing on customers, everyone wins.