It's Time To Act Like A Publisher [Slides]

Michael Brenner on Nov 7, 2013 in Content Marketing

I’m mad. I’m really mad and I;m not gonna take it anymore.

OK, maybe I’m being dramatic. But seriously, when are we gonna atop creating so much crappy content? When are we gonna realize that the world has changed.  When are we gonna start creating content our audiences actually want?

I realize that some marketing leaders are claiming to consider content marketing over advertising. but we have a long way to go before we start seeing more branded content that is actually helpful to our target audience.

I keep asking “why do we create so much self-serving and ineffective content?”

I think it’s easy to blame it on our bosses or the non-marketers who “don’t get it.” But it’s up to us to stand up to our sales and executive colleagues. We need to challenge the status quo. We need to use data-driven insights and business results to show that acting like a publisher will bring more prospects to know, like and trust us enough to buy from us.

So today, I am presenting to a couple hundred of our B2B Marketing colleagues at FWD:B2B.

My message: It’s time to start acting like a publisher. 

That means:

  • Create great content AND delivering business results in the form of more customers, revenue and marketing efficiency.
  • Treat content like an asset that needs to be managed and produce a return on investment
  • Create a brand newsroom, content team, publishing group. Whatever you call it, these need to be people with the skills to create great content that moves through the social web and is free of brand promotion.
  • Measure results in the form of business metrics, not marketing speak
  • Work with publishers resources to create great content
  • Consider news, entertainment, and emotional storytelling

For more details on how to do it, check out 8 Steps To Become A Brand Publisher.

Check out my slides below and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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 14 comments
  • Doug Kessler

    Great post and deck. People could use this to convince their top managers to invest in content instead of pissing their budgets away.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Doug. But piss it away they do and will continue. Here’s a question: why?

  • Eric Wittlake

    YES!

    There is so much lip-service given to acting like a media company but very few companies, particularly in B2B, actually develop an audience through publishing what people are interested in. Even fewer do it putting the audience at the center and focusing on an area of their needs or interest, like a traditional media company would do. Instead, even those that act like publishers mostly focus on the tiny slice that is relevant to them.

    The result is, at best, recognition for some perspective (and that’s not a bad start). But it is well short of the standard real media companies aspire to. They want to be the destination for an audience, the most trusted source. Media companies measure their audience based on time spent versus their competition, usefulness versus their competition, etc, in market and readership surveys.

    Marketers keep paying lip-service to the idea of being a media company, but they aren’t even thinking about the real standard media companies try to achieve.

    Thanks for letting me build on your rant! 🙂

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Eric, I know I’m preaching to the choir with you. But as I just asked Doug, why is this happening. We all know most of our marketing stinks, doesn’t perform, doesn’t help customers. And yet I still hear marketers say stuff like “well we do still have to sell something at the end of the day.” As if promotion = sales. My prediction (for whatever that’s worth) is that soon, brands will begin to actually suffer from promotional ads. It will start to move beyond ignoring ads to flaming brands that advertise badly.

      • Eric Wittlake

        My thoughts:

        1) This isn’t about content or advertising, it is about marketing continuing to focus on the company instead of the audience. Why? Because, as I’ve ranted on before, good won’t be good enough for long. The bar keeps raising and it isn’t easy to reach the bar. In advertising or content.

        2) Our measurement doesn’t support our new marketing vision yet. Imagine if we measured marketing by publisher metrics like time spent, most authoritative publication, etc? Most B2B businesses are focused on contribution to the pipeline and attribution of pipeline to marketing requires marketing to have touched a lead. Publishing reaches a large audience (done well), but it doesn’t do so in a way most companies can directly relate to individual opportunities in the pipeline (yet).

        By focusing on mid-stage activity, we are more likely to capture someone’s info, which lets marketing claim a portion of attribution in Salesforce.

        To fix this, we have to put a measurement framework in place that captures the value of that activity in terms the business cares about and is willing to invest on the back of.

        A final comment on your POV on advertising: companies have always been called out for really bad ads by the audiences that see them as such (think GoDaddy or Toyota Zero). But most people don’t care enough about most ads to take companies to task over them. Instead companies will continue to be hurt by their relatively ineffective investment.

        Ok, stopping before I have to label this a post!

        • Michael Brenner

          Thanks Eric, I totally get that the problem is that we focus on promotion vs. consumption but still trying to understand why this is a natural instinct in B2B. I think your 2nd point gets closer to the answer but I wonder if it’s because marketing has spent too much time NOT measuring anything or not presenting the business value of marketing in any way.

          Whatever the cause, it is a good issue to consider and I think will need to be my next presentation. I look forward to your future blog post on the issue 😉

  • kenny

    absoluetly i am finding Linkedin groups start to look like your Times Square picture.

    good content as usual Mr. Brenner.

    • Michael Brenner

      I agree Kenny. I’ve abandoned most of them due to the same issue.

  • Peter Johnston

    Perhaps it is time to stop acting like publishers.

    In the 20th century we experienced the broadcast era. Developing technologies allowed us to put messages out there, but not to receive a response. Newspapers, TV, Radio, Magazines.

    Worse, the funding model made readers/listeners/watchers just the product. The journalist really had to focus on the advertising his article would attract (remember all those horrid restaurant reviews?).

    Journalists have been trained to see customers as just numbers. That is entirely the wrong mindset, now we have fixed the two-way communication problem.

    Listening is the future. Not “talk-at” on steroids.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Peter. I think you’re talking about “failed publishers” who focused on an ad-based model. When the way you get paid is through something people hate, karma has a way of catching up to you. This isn’t true of all publishers. I do not believe the publishing industry is dead although I think advertising as the funding model for pubs may be.

      No one wants to be talked at. But we all look for information to educate and entertain us. Brands can possibly monetize this better than anyone.

  • Jonathan

    Hi Michael!

    Love your work!

    Can you please clarify slide 23 on the deck above for me…?
    I am not sure how to interpret it.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Jonathan. I can do. We looked at traffic from search. Then we divided that traffic into 2 segments: the visitors from keywords that included our company or product names (99.99% of all traffic) vs. visitors from keywords that were more generic (like “Big Data” or “Software”) and this group was so small that it led us to the conclusion that we were not attracting any net-new visitors to our site. I hope that clarifies.

  • Sophie Tran

    B2B marketing always seemed more challenging than B2C. (B2G is an entirely foreign arena to me.) However, there seems to be one thing in common: emotions influencing decisions in one way or another. Perhaps, highest in B2C, less obvious in B2B, and limited in B2G — but still there as a common thread in all three.

    The audience shapes the story and the content. Successful delivery is when the [content] delivery is received. ALWAYS do more observing than talking. Absorb what the audience wants to communicate and then return it/give it back to the audience. Build mutuality.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Sophie, I think B2B holds the most opportunity for emotion to drive action to decision makers. They are all people too. Or as my friend Tim Washer jokes, 87% of the people in B2B are people 😉

      People are people and we are all driven to act by emotion more than facts and certainly more than annoying promotion that we don’t want. We have to lower the barriers by delivering the content people want. And then we have to motivate them to act by hitting on a nerve or a sore spot or a “pain point.”