Tag Archives: #FutureOfMarketing

Is Personal Branding The Future Of Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on March 14, 2013

personal brandingI am truly honored and amazed at all the provocative, interesting and insightful points of views we have seen thus far on the Future of Marketing.

In our last interview, Drew Davis offered guidance on how to move from branded content to a content brand. Previous interviews covered the Customer’s brand, Marketing Creativity, Big Data, Big TestingCustomer ExperienceThought Leadership, creating a Content Culture, the roles of Content and Technology, the Future of Search, the Science of Marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the Content is King.

Today’s interview is with Steve Olenski, the content strategist at Responsys. Please follow Steve on Twitter (@SteveOlenski), LinkedIn and Google+.

Tell us about yourself?

steve olenski on personal brandingI’ve been in my current role of senior creative content strategist at Responsys since October, 2012. How I arrived at Responsys is an interesting story and a great example of content marketing – personal content marketing that is. Ed Henrich, who is the SVP Professional Services at Responsys, saw an article I had written for Forbes back in February, 2012. I had recently been laid off and in my article – specifically my byline, I made reference to the fact that I was looking for a new FT job. Ed reached out to me and the rest, as they say, is history.

You mentioned personal content marketing. Do you think personal branding and content marketing is important and if so, why?

I cannot overstate just how important I think building a personal brand is for everyone. Whether we realize it or not we are all our own brand and we are marketing our own brand every single day. That may sound melodramatic to some but it’s the truth. Whether we work for a company or as an individual we all market ourselves via our actions and our words. And now, in the digital-social-media-gone-wild world we live in, our personal brands are more often than not, public record. I tell people all the time this – that we are all our brand and that you need to care for that brand just as you would any other – if not more.

What are some of the ways you’ve built your personal brand, Steve?

Well I would like to say I was a visionary who saw the future of social media and blogging but alas I am not that smart – not by a long shot. I merely got swept up in “it’ like millions of others. What I do, however, was start my own blog many years ago and then segued that into writing for publications such as Ad Age and Ad Week. These all led to my becoming a regular contributor to such sites as Forbes, Business Insider, Social Media Today and Business 2 Community. It is on these “stages” if you will, I have been able to create my personal brand as someone who is knowledgeable and experienced and a thought leader in the fields of advertising, marketing, branding and social media.

How do you balance building your personal brand vs. building your company brand?

To me they are often one and the same – your personal brand and your company’s brand. Whether you’re working for someone or yourself, you are, in essence, an ambassador of that brand. You always need to be cognizant that everything you do – be it online or off, is a representation of said brand to a large extent. Now, that is not to say there is no room for individuality. On the contrary, one’s individual personality must be at the root core of his/her personal brand. I know mine surely is. But I am always aware that when I am “out there” I am in fact representing and serving as a de facto ambassador of sorts for both my personal brand as well as my company’s brand.


Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Focus On Your Customer’s Brand In The Future of Marketing

By Michael Brenner on March 7, 2013

customer's brand

In our last  interview, Paula Cusati suggested that we will need the ability to adapt and be creative in the rapidly changing world of Future of Marketing.

Previous interviews covered Big Data Marketing and Big Testingcustomer experiencethought leadership, , creating a content culture, the roles of content and technologythe future of search, the science of marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the content is king in the future of marketing.

Today’s interview is with List.ly Co-Founder Nick Kellet (@NickKellet).  For a great example of a List.ly list (that focuses on potential customer’s brand) check out this list on technology marketing. You can also follow Nick on Facebook and Google+.

Tell us about yourself?

Nick Kellet on customer's brandI love the challenge of a new market and decoding the value to the consumer.

Today I’m 100% focused on social content curation market as co-founder of startup, Listly.  I’m loving the experience of building a social brand.

I’ve jumped domains in my career from fashion (French Connection – FCUK), to CRM, to Business Intelligence (where I sold my startup to Business Objects now SAP) and on to self-publishing board games with GiftTRAP.

My game  won 20+ awards globally and has been translated into 12 languages, giving me awesome exposure to consumer marketing, crowdsourcing and social media.

Tell us about a tough or interesting challenge your team faces

Our challenge is one of alerting people to the possibility of lists.

We are educating content marketing folk to think a little differently about curation and embedding list content inside blogs.

Lists posts outperform just about all other forms of content (30% of posts are lists), yet we believe lists are lagging the social web.

Post with titles like “10 ways to …” are easy reads – info snacks. Lists hook people to skim for insights. We believe the modern reader wants more.

We’ve been busy building the Listly platform to scale to meet business expectations while also building our network and our community.

With thousands of bloggers on board, it’s getting quicker and easier to get new people to sign up. Many people have seen Listly in action. All the embeds are building strong brand awareness.

It all begins by people making and embedding their first list.

It’s a fun challenge and we keep listening and learning.

How are you approaching that challenge?

We have been tackling the problem from two angles.

  • Product
  • Community

At a product level we’ve been adding depth and scaling features to demonstrate that Listly is a highly performance publishing platform. A lot of this isn’t seen by anyone, but it improves the experience and ensures people come back for more.

We’ve been focusing on the core tasks and honing obvious workflows. We have a big new responsive/mobile re-styling due on the 18th of March 2013.

On a community level we’ve been:

  • Reaching out to bloggers in person, online and via events
  • Participating in multiple Twitter chat groups to raise visibility
  • Celebrating community successes
  • Guest blogging (inbound and outbound)
  • Monitoring usage and creativity and sharing tips and how to guides

We know all the hard work is paying off. We see people coming back more often. We see more people discovering listly via SEO.

More lists and more embeds lead to more of everything. The long term value of ever changing lists from an SEO perspective is pretty amazing. People often forget that shares  offer short term gains compared to embedded content, which keeps on delivering traffic over time.

Our most popular list just passed 300k views. That number is growing organically every day. Its current rate is about 50k hits per month. That’s pretty compelling. That earns people’s attention.

We’ve also released a premium product and that’s proving people want to pay for this kind of service. It’s the ultimate validation of all our hard work.

What is your prediction on the future of marketing?

1. Consumers Like Metrics More than Brands

I’ve overheard too many conversations lately that have stopped me in my tracks. People saying things like  “How many likes will I get for this vs. that?”. Marketing thinks the metrics are for them – wrong! Consumers have become hooked on feedback.

Consumers see social proof as their social power. While we may all be dumping on influence measurement, consumers are seeking influence.

So if you are thinking about your brand, you are busted. You need to be thinking much more about your customer’s brand.

Ask yourself how can your brand be involved in the social actions people take to build their own credibility.

2. Liquid Content

The silos of paid, earned, owned and shared media are merging and morphing.

Promoted content is rising too and could well backfire as consumers get smarter at discerning the origins of content.

Reuse and sharing is on the rise and there’s friction to be removed here. Information has a social life and that’s going to become more trackable and more fluid.

I sense Madison Avenue is playing catch-up relative to the evolution of technology and the mashing up of digital media.


Huge thanks to Nick for participating in our series and offering his view. Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and  or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Is Big Testing the Future of Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on February 28, 2013

big testingEvery day, we are seeing more overlap between marketing and technology. Between science and art. And between data and insights that lead to better marketing techniques. This post hits on all those topics and asks if Big Testing is the future of marketing.

In our last Future of Marketing interview, Daniel Newman proposed that customer experience would drive the future of marketing.  Previous topics included thought leadershipBig Data, creating a content culture, the roles of content and technologythe future of search, the science of marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the content is king in the future of marketing.

Today we’re going to hear from Chief Marketing Technology Officer Scott Brinker (@ChiefMarTec), someone who really gets the intersection of marketing and technology.

Tell us about yourself?

scott brinker on big testingI wear two hats at the crossroads of marketing and technology.

I’m the co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, a marketing software company that provides a SaaS platform for creating and testing post-click experiences. Post-click experiences happen when people click through from ads, emails, socially-distributed links, etc. — things like landing pages, microsites, or app-like interactions. Our goal is to let marketers create high-impact experiences that you’d think were crafted by a whole team of expert developers and designers — but any marketer can build them single-handedly in a drag-and-drop interface, without tech or design expertise.

I’m also the author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, which focuses on how the intersection of marketing and technology in the digital age is fundamentally changing marketing management and culture. The central thesis of the blog is this: marketing has become a technology-powered discipline, and therefore marketing organizations must infuse technical capabilities into their DNA. More and more people with technical backgrounds and skill sets are now working directly in the marketing department, and it’s changing the very fabric of what marketing is.

Tell us about a tough or interesting challenge you’re involved in?

A major topic that I’m focused on these days is the challenge of extracting value from big data in the marketing department. Clearly there’s tremendous interest in harnessing all the data generated by the digital “vapor trails” of prospects and customers and using that to power more effective marketing programs. New technology and new technical talent are both needed for marketing organizations to tap that potential. It’s become one of the epicenters of disruptive innovation in marketing overall.

However, part of the challenge is that we seem to be overly infatuated with the “analysis” portion of big data. Analysis is important. But to achieve modern marketing alchemy — turning lead (i.e., raw data) into gold (i.e., better and more profitable customer experiences) — you need a process to prove out and operationalize the insights that are unearthed from big data.

After all, most of the interesting patterns that are discovered in big data start out as hypotheses: a relationship that may serve to influence customer behavior. But as everyone who’s taken a Stats 101 class knows, correlation is not necessarily causation. To prove that something will have a meaningful business impact, you usually need to run an experiment. As Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google has said, “Experimentation is the gold standard of causality.” They should know — Google runs around 10,000 experiments in their business each year.

People contend that modern marketing can be a “science.” But that’s often misinterpreted to mean that marketing can become purely quantified. That’s not really accurate though. The key to scientific marketing is actually the embrace of marketing experimentation as a driver of continuous innovation.

How do you suggest we approach that challenge?

The good news is that the digital fabric of modern marketing makes it quite easy — at least from a technical perspective — to engage in marketing experimentation. The difficulty that organizations face here is more operational and cultural. Many marketing teams have a strong legacy of “the yearly marketing plan.” It gets etched in stone by executives based on a mix of data-driven analysis and experience-driven intuition, and then the team proceeds full-steam with execution. What’s missing is a faster feedback loop for experimentation to dynamically adjust that plan along the way.

However, that’s starting to change — thanks in large part to the force of customers in social media. We increasingly hear about agile marketing, real-time marketing, high-metabolism marketing. All of these ideas are helping marketing become more iterative and dynamic. That opens the door for us to incorporate marketing experiments in those shorter iterative cycles.

But marketing also needs to learn how to run good experiments — equipping more marketers with the right tools and training on data-driven decision making and good experimental design.

Perhaps most importantly, senior marketing leadership needs to encourage real experimentation on the front-lines. Not all experiments succeed, and if the culture of an organization punishes people for testing new ideas that fail, you’ll never get any meaningful embrace of marketing experimentation. Executives need to really champion the importance of continuously trying new ideas. Don’t just reward the wins. Reward the process that accelerates innovation through a mix of successes and failures. A well-run experiment that disproves its hypothesis is still valuable.

I recently wrote a piece on the big data bubble in marketing that calls this mission “big testing.” The real revolution in data-driven marketing will be a change in organizational behavior and culture to passionately embrace this kind of marketing experimentation.


What’s your prediction for the future of marketing?

I believe we’re in the middle of five major trends in marketing that are shaping our future. Actually, I call them “meta-trends” because they underly many of the hot topics that are constantly emerging:

  1. The great digital migration of marketing, which has really only just begun at scale.
  2. A shift from silos of paid, earned, and owned media into more holistically integrated converged media.
  3. Marketing increasingly focused on customer experiences, not merely customer communications.
  4. The technologification of marketing, where code and data are as elemental as art and copy.
  5. The evolution of marketing management from rigid plans to agile iterations.

New approaches and capabilities in marketing, like big data and big testing, arise from these meta-trends.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in marketing. While it’s challenging to keep one’s bearings as our discipline — really our whole world — changes so rapidly around us, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape the future of what marketing will become.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and  or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Is Customer Experience The Future of Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on February 26, 2013

customer experienceTime to turn our attention to the biggest challenge in marketing:  focus on the customer and the customer experience.

In our last Future of Marketing interview, Dr. Liz Alexander discussed thought leadership. Previous topics included Big Data, creating a content culture, the roles of content and technologythe future of search, the science of marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the content is king in the future of marketing.

Today’s  interview is with Daniel Newman (@DanielNewmanUV), Daniel serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3. He is also the author of the best selling business book The Millennial CEO. 

Tell us about yourself?

Daniel Newman on Customer ExperienceI’m on a never ending path to challenge the status quo.  I always want people to meet me and feel like they’re just a little bit better for having crossed my path.  Currently I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of EC3 a Cloud based communications company that is disrupting the way businesses communicate.  The reason I’m here is because I believed that what we did could make businesses run better.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that?

Tell me about a tough marketing challenge your team faces

Our organization is 100% B2B, so we have to constantly figure out how to help companies that need to move toward our solutions figure out how.  Businesses rarely stop on a dime, but with the proliferation of tech they can hardly afford to stand still.  We have to open their eyes to a better way of doing things while only mildly disrupting what pays their bills today.

How are you approaching that challenge?

Time is enemy number 1 when you are a start-up.  With limited resources you have to spend it on things that make the largest impact.  So I combat the challenge by giving support and resources to those that “Get it.”  I think a lot of businesses spend too much time trying to convince people that don’t want to be convinced.  That is out the window for me…

What we do provides tremendous value to businesses.  If you don’t see it, I’m certain there are others that will.

What’s Your Prediction For The Future of Marketing?

Perhaps I have to believe this…But I think fast and small businesses will unseat a lot of complacent large companies.  They are going to do this by delivering unequaled customer experience which is what the consumer seeks today.  Social interactions will allow the entrepreneur to connect to the consumer like never before.  It is hard for the big enterprise to make that connection and sometimes I’m not sure that the executives of these big companies want to.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and  or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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Is Thought Leadership The Future of Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on February 21, 2013

In our last interview, Steve McKee asked if Big Data was the future of marketing.

In previous interviews, Doug Kessler talked about creating a content culture, Todd Wheatland predicted that content and technology would combine to drive the future of marketing. Mark Schaefer discussed culture and the future of search. Marcus Starke predicted the rise of the science of marketing. Ann Handley called for more brands to become Content Brands. And Alan See reiterated that the customer and the content is king.

Today’s Future of Marketing interview is with Dr. Liz Alexander (@DrLizAlexander). I invite you to connect with Liz on Facebook or LinkedIn. I met Liz thanks to her insightful and constructive comments on my Forbes article “What is Thought Leadership?” So I thought it would be great to get her views here.

Tell us: who is Liz Alexander?

Global hybrid: Born in Scotland, raised in England, US citizen since 2009; in India two months of the year working with clients; my co-author and business partner, Craig Badings, is in Sydney, Australia.

I work with corporate executives and consultants, provoking questions and solutions to help them discover and communicate their unique thought leadership space. My 14th nonfiction book is #Thought Leadership Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign. Favorite word is “why?”

Tell us about a tough or interesting challenge you’re involved in.

Changing the conversation around thought leadership. That term probably inspired groans from readers who feel this is simply the latest contender for Buzzword Bingo. I don’t blame them. You can barely turn a corner without bumping into some self-appointed thought leader or self-labeled thought leadership piece.

When the term was first coined at the end of the 1990s it described “renowned thinkers” focused on “the big questions,” who could “provide profound insights into how today’s managers can go about positioning their companies for ongoing success,” according to Joel Kurtzman’s book Thought Leaders: Insights on the Future of Business.

It’s now being used to describe “proven approaches,” “best practice,” “how to” guides and is commonly considered to be synonymous with content marketing, which it isn’t. Too many articles and blog posts focus on tactics: how and where to position yourself as a thought leader or ways to ensure visibility. Few question the quality of what’s being described as thought leadership.

Fiona Czerniawska of UK-based Source for Consulting, which conducts analyses of thought leadership by leading global consulting firms, recently stated: “An awful lot of thought leadership continues to be really about what other people do.” The challenge is to turn away from short-term mediocrity and “up the ante.”

How do you suggest we approach that challenge?

First, awareness: If what is passed off as “thought leadership” continues to devolve into curated content and tactical approaches then you can forget about leveraging the outcomes that true exemplars experience: like the 600% increase in US sales that Dove reported just two months after launching their Campaign for Real Beauty; or the 20% increase in brand value claimed by IBM in response to its Smarter Planet campaign; or the impact that Blue Dart Express’ is having in India championing corporate social responsibility with their Living Corporate Responsibility campaign.

Second, by asking better questions. The battery market is an illustrative example:

Panasonic’s Any Battery Light is designed to be compatible with four different sized batteries. But how long before some other company makes a flashlight that works with six or eight?

Leyden Energy, an advanced battery startup, is innovating around different materials and battery chemistries in response to faster battery replacement cycles. They’re competing in a crowded marketplace with the likes of Sony, Toyota, Samsung, Amprius, Envia, QuantumScape and others.

WiTricity is by passing batteries or connected power sources altogether, developing ways to charge electronic and other products wirelessly, similar to how computers access Wi-Fi. GravityLight is similarly innovative.

Each of these companies has defined the “problem” differently. Only WiTricity, in my view, is thought leading given that their approach inspires others to think about a world in which products have no need for batteries, plugs or wiring.

Third, by having a strategic thought leadership process and making it part of the culture of the organization.  We describe this thoroughly in our book #Thought Leadership Tweet.

What’s your prediction for the future of marketing?

Both of these concern different ways of thinking.

ExactTarget’s Marketers from Mars report and the Hinge Research Institute’s How Buyers Buy study identified considerable differences between marketers and their customers. Hinge found many inaccurate perceptions that marketers hold, including what buyers’ value and their biggest challenges and priorities. In terms of the disparity between the online habits of marketers and customers, ExactTarget concluded that, “When it comes to investing a brand’s marketing time and resources, newer isn’t always better.”

If marketers don’t stop thinking of themselves as “a focus group of one,” as ExactTarget puts it, the chasm will only widen between highly successful, truly client-centric companies and the “also-rans” who imagine they are representative of the people they are presumably trying to serve, and flounder as a result.

My second prediction is an article in and of itself: That as globalization comes of age, the US will shift its inherent short-term orientation and become more long-term focused, as it is in Asia for example. The quality of thought leadership can only benefit as a result.

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

Is Culture The Key To Success In The Future Of Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on February 14, 2013

content cultureThanks so much for continuing to follow our Future of Marketing series where we are getting the thoughts and insights from some of the most innovative marketing leaders in our industry.

In our last interview, Todd Wheatland predicted that content and technology would combine to drive the future of marketing. Previously, Mark Schaefer discussed culture and the future of search. Marcus Starke predicted the rise of the science of marketing. Ann Handley called for more brands to become Content Brands. And Alan See reiterated that the customer and the content is king.

Today I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Doug Kessler (@DougKessler), the Creative Director and Co-founder of Velocity Partners.  If you don’t know Doug, you should. And you also need to see the great content his firm is creating. You can  see some of their recent hits on the Velocity slideshare channel. I have covered some of his team’s work before including the Content Marketing Checklist and their must-read B2B Marketing Manifesto.

So without further ado…

Doug, Tell me about yourself?

DougKesslerMy father was a copywriter and my mother a world class salesperson (real estate). So I was destined to go from college straight to Madison Avenue (Ogilvy New York).

I gravitated towards B2B marketing because I prefer convincing someone to do something instead of manipulating them into doing it (sorry, B2C guys).

I married a wonderful British woman named Halina and she took me to London 22 years ago (two kids later and I’m stuck here — send help).  Founded Velocity with a brilliant partner, Stan Woods, and never looked back. Now we’re on the amazing learning curve that is content marketing, along with our clients and the wider B2B community.

Tell me about an interesting marketing challenge your team faces?

The big challenge for Velocity and all of our clients is to scale up content marketing without losing the quality: helping to build great content brands that people really want to turn to.

Pressure to produce more and more content tends to push marketers up into the shallows. Great content taps something deeper: real expertise and authority.

How are you approaching that challenge?

Part of it is about being students of great content; to figure out what makes one piece fly off the virtual shelves and another just sit there. We’re constantly surprised.

Another part is to develop processes that almost inevitably lead to great content instead of just lots of content. The key is finding the sources of a company’s expertise and mining it mercilessly.

And finally, creating a content marketing culture is the challenge nobody really talks about but may be the single biggest determinant of success or failure.

It calls for a full-on commitment to a new way of working, thinking, behaving and collaborating — and that doesn’t happen without some serious effort.

One thing we’ve discovered is that content marketing can be a filter as well as a magnet. It can actively screen out the prospects you don’t want to spend time on so you can focus on the ones you really value. That doesn’t come naturally to a marketer but it can be a hugely powerful dynamic.

Our own recent content – from the B2B Marketing Manifesto to the ‘Crap‘ slideshare – has worked this way for us. It turns off the timid and the traditional (people we just won’t work well with) and attracts the bold, ambitious and confident (people we love working with).

Do you have an interesting or provocative prediction on the future of marketing?

As a consumer of content, I’m waiting for a new generation of intelligent filters that will learn all about me and serve up only the content that is most relevant, timely and fun.

This happens a bit in search today but I want it to be proactive, pushing me content instead of waiting for me to search for it.

Flip that around and content marketers will need to find ways to earn their way past the filters.

Another one: As it gets harder and harder for content to rise out of the effluent, outbound marketing will come back in a big way.

Finally: To help us all navigate the new content oceans, editors and journalists will make a comeback. I want a trusted curator. I want someone who puts my needs above the brands behind all this content. I want re-intermediation.

Content And Technology Will Define The Future of Marketing

By Michael Brenner on February 12, 2013

In the previous posts from the Future of Marketing series, we published insights, guidance and advice from some of the best minds in our industry.

To review, Mark Schaefer discussed culture and the future of search. Marcus Starke predicted the rise of the science of marketing. Ann Handley called for more brands to become Content Brands. And Alan See reiterated that the customer and the content is king.

I am really excited to have received today’s insights from fellow corporate marketer, Todd Wheatland. Todd is the VP of Thought Leadership & Marketing at Kelly Services.  You should check out their highly-respected company blog and follow Todd on Twitter @toddwheatland.

Todd is also the author of The Marketer’s Guide to Slideshare and is quite active on Slideshare himself.

Tell me about yourself

Todd Wheatland on Content and TechnologyI grew up on the beach in Australia. When I was eight my parents took a year off and bought a motor home and we trekked all over the US and then Europe. That seems to have left me slightly messed-up for travel – when I was eighteen I went and lived in Peru for a year; a few years later I was working for the Australian government in Spain; and for the past eight years I’ve been living in France. I’ve always tinkered with writing, photography, video work – then I sold my soul and became a corporate marketer which is actually exceptionally fun (and I’ll be glad for that part, if it turns out I really did sell my soul).

I relocated with Kelly from the Asia-Pacific region into Europe, and because our business is highly global a lot of my time is focused on the US market. I started doing what’s become known as content marketing in the late 1990s with custom publishing, then moving into online and the full process as it’s practiced by a lot of people today. As you well know, it’s a very high-change, high-growth space and I wake up every morning thinking how lucky we are to get to play in it.

What do you see happening in Content Marketing today? How is it changing?

One thing happening quickly is that the marketing ecosystem itself is really adjusting. PR was an obvious early hit. Advertising is now in high-speed change. A year ago a lot of companies had never even thought of advertising their content; now it’s booming and you can see that with the product innovation going on at places like Taboola, Outbrain, and now Disqus. At the same time, a lot more content being produced means there’s a lot more poor content and click-baiting going on, so every promotion platform is having to confront how they balance short-term revenue with long-term credibility.

This year is also the year companies start to work out how to leverage their internal employees’ networks to promote content. It’s a very attractive proposition – think of your company, SAP. You have more than 60,000 full-time employees. So imagine if just 10% of that group – and personally I think that’s conservative – were motivated to share SAP content with their social networks each week. That’s 6,000 additional likes/shares/etc a week. Now imagine that’s every weekday – something I don’t think is out of reach for a B2B company trying to get content visible across a platform like LinkedIn, for example. That could quickly be over a million likes and shares a year on LinkedIn. And that’s just from the internal networks themselves – add in the flow-on social effects, and that could suddenly be ten million. The pilots someone in my team has been running on this – I have to tell you, the numbers are insane. The thing is right now it’s kinda messy and labor-intensive. But there’s a bunch of interesting start-ups like Addvocate who are going to get some big traction this year trying to help people manage this to scale.

Of course, that will just start another Triberr-type phase of Like inflation. Big brands who have the scale to really leverage it will do great for six months, and then there’ll be pushback, networks will keep readjusting algorithms, and everyone will be back tweaking again. My son asked me a while back what marketers really do and the first thing that came to mind was that marketers break things. You know what I mean – You want Email? We’ll create spam. You want Twitter? We’ll auto–follow. Everyone says that with negative connotations, like if only we could get beyond ourselves and stop breaking everything then suddenly we’d be focused on the really valuable stuff. But what if breaking things actually is a big part of marketing’s value? What if we’re the fungus of the business world – as soon as something grows strong we pile onto it for all we’re worth, and then we weaken it past its peak and then we’re just devouring it, breaking it down and looking around the forest for the next shiny thing to jump onto. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all that marketing does – and fungus does serve a very valuable role in the ecosystem! My experience suggests it’s possibly not the metaphor you want to use to impress your kids though.

What about the longer-term? Do you have a provocative prediction on the future of marketing?

For the past few years there’s been this growing buzz around content, a happy coming-together of people from many different disciplines: digital, SEO, social, IT, PR, advertising, content strategy, creatives and the like. It’s been awesome for breaking down certain silos – but actually I think deep down people might just love silos. I think we’re going to see more of a growing apart again now, and maybe that’s how it was always going to be. Different disciplines take what they need from the trend and absorb it, just as is happening with social.

I think the biggest ‘growing apart’ will be between those people who embrace the technology side, and those that don’t. Frankly, a lot don’t, and I think their relative value to a company is declining. If you’re a CMO then you almost definitely didn’t grow up a tech native. As imperfect as they are, the tools that now exist to manage demand generation, connecting content to promotion channels to lead nurturing to sales, well, the world really has changed very quickly in that regard. You can use technology as a marketer in the social and lead environment now in ways that was unimaginable a few years ago. More and more we’re going to see companies’ marketing departments looking like trading floors, tracking inputs, values and variables in real-time.

So we’re going to see an increasing gulf between those won’t or just don’t want to master the tech side, and those who are doubling down on it. The former group could still be producing great, valuable content, and get a lot of stuff right. But those that see content as a central component of an ever-more technology-driven sales program are going to be talking in a language that is increasingly foreign to the other group. Great marketing requires getting the balance right between both; but there will be a lot of people who pare off and specialise in just one of those 2 camps. Hopefully they’ll keep the blinkers off and hire smart people around them who are passionate about the other side too.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. And follow the conversation on Twitter (@BrennerMichael or @ToddWheatland),  LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.

Customer And Content Are King In The Future of Marketing

By Michael Brenner on February 7, 2013

If you think that title is blatantly obvious, just look around!

Whether you’re in the consumer of business marketing world, most of the marketing messages, platforms and ideas do not put the customer first or drive any relevant value for your buyers.

That’s why in this Future of Marketing series, we are looking for the guidance and advice from the best minds in our industry.  I started with my own prediction that the future of marketing lies in our ability to transform the entire enterprise into a truly social business. Mark Schaefer discussed culture and the future of search. Marcus Starke predicted the rise of the science of marketing and Ann Handley called for more brands to become Content Brands.

In this interview, I am honored to present the view of Alan See. Alan is the Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps. You can find Alan on Linkedin and Twitter @AlanSee.

 Tell us about yourself?

I’m currently a featured blogger for AT&T and a top-ranked blogger for CustomerThink.com. I am also ranked as the #3 most followed CMO on Twitter by Social Media Marketing Magazine and #4 most followed Marketing Professor on Twitter. I was also a LinkedIn early adopter: One of the first 100,000 people (#74,136) to join the network.

I also have a personal mission statement that reads: To develop, grow and leverage superior business acumen in order to maximize value for my network, and to provide a life for my family that is filled with spiritual growth and Christian leadership, financially secure, learning, loving and fun.

OK, you probably didn’t see that coming did you?!  So, on a more pragmatic note I’ve recently established my own firm that provides interim or part-time CMO services.  After 30 years in the profession, I’ve learned a few things or two about marketing and sales.

Tell us about some tough marketing challenges?

This would be a good time to point out that it’s too late to qualify as an early social media adopter.  If your company is not already testing some social media pathways you are officially behind right now.  Social media is much more than a new approach to marketing; it’s something that often cuts across the entire enterprise.

For that reason, what you’re ultimately looking for is seamless interaction between Strategy, Technology and Processes across all functional areas, including; sales, marketing, HR, IT, finance and legal.  So, get started by focusing on your strategy first.  Make sure your social media marketing strategy integrates and supports your strategic business plan.

What’s your prediction on the future of marketing?

Let me answer that question this way.  Ted Turners old success advice; “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise” is not something marketing can bet their career on anymore.  In today’s relationship-based economy, the consumer and relevant content is king.  The consumer is looking for transparency, trust, relevance and engagement.  You are going to need a social media strategy to deliver on those expectations.

Source: Pfctransportation.com

Is the customer and your content King? Let us know what you think in the comments below. And follow the conversation on Twitter (@BrennerMichael or @AlanSee),  LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.

Are Content Brands The Future of Marketing? An Interview with Ann Handley

By Michael Brenner on February 5, 2013

In this series, I am trying to uncover insights into the Future of Marketing. To help guide our path, to drive our plans and to help us all to start dreaming BIG!

You’ve already seen my own marketing predictions on the future of marketing. But now I want to continue to bring in ideas from the greatest minds, the thought leaders and the social business innovators in our industry. We have already heard Mark Schaefer discuss the future of search. And SAP’s Marcus Starke predicts marketing will start to be run more like a business.

But now, I could not be more excited to bring you this interview with my Twitter idol, content rock-goddess and a truly wonderful person, Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs).

ann handley - content brandsTell us: who is Ann Handley?

Here are the facts: Since 2002, I’ve been the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a training and education company. I’m co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, originally published 2011. Paperback 2012. Translated into nine languages, including Turkish, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Portugeuse.)

I’m a monthly columnist at Entrepreneur magazine, and the co-founder of ClickZ, which was one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary. I spent my early career as a business writer and editor.

So those are the facts. But temperamentally, I’m an artist, who went to school to study story, writing and journalism and was drawn, in due time, to business. My evolution from the world of writing and literature to the world of business seemed happenstance at the time, but it now seems lucky and plenty fortuitous. In this new world of marketing and social business, all of us can learn a lot from storytelling, and particularly journalism — which respects the content and the audience above all.

Tell us about a tough or interesting challenge you / your team faces

In a world where every brand is a publisher using content to help them sell their stuff, what does that means for a traditional publisher, who generally has no “stuff” to sell other than the content itself?

How are you approaching that challenge?

For MarketingProfs, it’s meant a shift in focus to two primary areas: professional development (for those who are serious about learning the how-to of marketing) and marketing services (for those who are looking for help marketing their product or meeting their goals).

In other words: We’re tapping into our inherent strengths as the source for the latest in marketing advice and know-how to help brands navigate this new world in two ways:

  1. by offering comprehensive and customized training and education for marketing staffs (we’ve been providing online learning since 2001, so we are pretty familiar with how to do this well); and
  2. by helping brands plan and implement lead-gen programs that will drive business to them, and by helping them reach audiences and amplify their message in a fragmented digital environment.

It’s not quite a true pivot of our business model, but it is a refinement that gives clarity to the role we play in the broader marketing world.

What’s your prediction for the future of marketing?

I think we’ll see fewer brands publishing content and, instead, more Content Brands. With a capital C and a capital B.

Doug Kessler articulates this well in his recent piece at MarketingProfs: Six Principles of Great Content. In the article and deck, he stylishly encapsulates and extends many fundamentals C.C. Chapman and I talked about in Content Rules. Specifically: Creating momentum, being strategic, and seeing content as a rich opportunity – and not a one-off task.

Those who kill it with content in 2013 and beyond are those brands that view publishing as a privilege. They are the ones who create content that is packed with utility, empathy and inspiration. They are rewarded with customers who love and trust and believe in them.

Does that sound a little aspirational and a little daunting? Yes. But is a Content Brand critical? Yes.

Also, Vine will be the new Instagram (assuming it gets its act together and exterminates the bugs and other jank annoyances). I haven’t been this excited about a new social platform since I joined Instagram two years ago (and by “joined” I mean “became obsessed with.”) It’s more of a challenge than Instagram (video is inherently more challenging than stills, especially at 6 seconds long). But still.

Why? Like Instagram, it’s easy to make art with it — it puts the tools of wizards into the hands of us Muggles. It makes the everyday into content – and trains you (as I often talk about) to see content moments everywhere. And I love the six-second clock on the video: Because it trains you to distill the essence of your story – to keep it tight, as Tim Washer and I say — into something that respects your audience’s time investment. I articulate this more fully in Vine – Stupid, Simple, and Brilliant

In a nutshell, I love tools that enable and challenge us all to create things that are fun, interesting, and (ultimately) beautiful.

Photo Source

Are you becoming a Content Brand? Let us know what you think in the comments below. And follow the conversation on Twitter (@BrennerMichael or @MarketingProfs),  LinkedIn, Facebook or .


Last week we kicked of this Future of Marketing series with an interview with Mark Schaefer.

Mark identified culture as the key differentiator of a successful social business. He also predicted that Facebook search would begin to impact the balance of power that Google has with consumers and over advertisers, as more millennials enter and rise in the workforce.

I have already stated my own marketing predictions on the future of marketing myself. But now I want to continue to bring in ideas from industry insiders, thought leaders and social business innovators.

Following is an interview with Marcus Starke (@marstarke), SVP, Worldwide Marketing Regions at SAP.

Marcus, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was drawn to marketing because it captured my passions: planning, strategy, creativity and the opportunity to make a real impact on the business. I started my career in the CPG industry and worked in a variety of sales and marketing roles working for companies like Danone and Diageo. I always wanted to be a global citizen, work in different countries and speak several languages, and those companies helped me broaden my horizons professionally and culturally.

As my career progressed, I decided to pursue an entrepreneurial goal and launch my own business. I ended up launching two separate marketing businesses in Europe: a strategy consultancy firm and a marketing services agency that supported Fortune 500 clients as well as smaller companies.

Both were successful, and after several years I ended up merging my business with 141 Worldwide, which became part of WPP. It provided me the opportunity to lead large agencies like Publicis. My last role on the agency side was serving as Chairman & CEO of Wunderman EMEA.

Many marketers launch their own businesses, but it’s rare to be successful twice. What influenced you?

I believe marketers are entrepreneurs at heart: helping a business grow is part of our DNA.  Launching and running two successful marketing businesses for eight years allowed me the personal satisfaction of building my own business and the professional satisfaction of helping my clients grow theirs. Of course, I could not have accomplished either without surrounding myself with smart, creative, motivated people.

How did you arrive at your current position?

A headhunter contacted me to ask me for any recommendations for a senior marketing role at SAP. I provided several names of people that might be good candidates. The headhunter eventually challenged me to consider the role for myself.

After enjoying a lot of successful years on the agency side, going back to the client side, particularly for a market leader like SAP, was too good a career opportunity to pass up. I joined SAP as Head of North America Marketing in 2009. Last year I was promoted to SVP of Worldwide Marketing Regions, responsible for our regional Marketing organizations around the globe and a member of SAP’s global leadership team.

What is the biggest challenge you and your team are facing?

We have been doing some “internal marketing” to re-position the role of Marketing beyond its traditional support role of helping the Sales organization sell to one that drives and builds the business. Today, there is more emphasis on accountability and measureable impact.

How are you accomplishing that?

We are putting more discipline into running Marketing like a business, for starters. We put more effort into measuring our impact, our results and how efficient we are in achieving those results. Return of Marketing Investment (ROMI) is a critical way for us to demonstrate the impact and tangible results we generate.

Another thing that is personally important to me is “marketing critical thinking.” If we are doing something solely because “we have always done that” marketing campaign, tactic or activity, that’s not a good reason.  If we are going to drive greater business impact, we need to challenge the “marketing status quo” and look to improve every aspect of the way we run our marketing business.

What are you doing differently?

Technology and innovation have changed the landscape, affecting consumer and customer behavior, decision-making and buying cycles. At SAP, we have seen how these things have impacted the way we go to market and engage with our audiences.

From a change perspective, we’ve made great progress and we’re driving that change to other parts of the organization. The power of “social selling” is a great example. Successfully navigating the social media/social community landscape is a huge factor in influencing a customer’s technology purchase. Essentially we are transitioning from helping our sales organization sell to helping people buy from SAP.

What is your view of the future of Marketing?

While the “art” of marketing will remain important, the “science” of marketing will play an equally important role. Technologies will enable companies to better analyze their data and make better and smarter marketing and business decisions. But it does not take the place of creative that connects with an audience, excites them and resonates.

The other important trend is that as competition intensifies, strengthening customer retention and customer intimacy becomes absolutely crucial. Marketing is uniquely positioned to solve those challenges and provide strategic guidance to achieve those challenges. In more and more organizations you will see greater collaboration between Marketing and IT because their combined strengths- analysis, insights, creativity, technology and execution- are the “killer app” essential for companies that want to compete, grow and succeed. More CEOs in the future will be former CMOs because Marketing is becoming increasingly important for most companies.

Marcus Starke is SVP, Worldwide Marketing Regions at SAP. Contact him at https://marcusstarke.com/ or on Twitter @marstarke.

Image source

Do you see marketing and IT coming together? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And follow the conversation on Twitter (@BrennerMichael),  LinkedIn, Facebook or .