content strategy

Is Content Marketing the Right Investment for Your Business?

Written by in Campaign Optimization on April 11, 2016

He’s one of our industry’s most accomplished marketers, speakers, authors, strategists, and executives. In fact, Michael Brenner is one of the world’s top B2B content strategists.

Before making the jump to found his own content marketing agency Marketing Insider Group, he held top leadership positions for companies like Newscred and SAP.

Along the way he helped to develop content strategies for companies like Adidas, Fidelity, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield and IBM—just to name a few.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael about content strategy—the tips, strategies and keys for success he’s learned throughout the years—and why some marketers are able to consistently meet and exceed their goals (including the top goals shown below) while others seem to struggle.

content marketing benchmarks

Source: Seismic with Demand Metric

The full interview, which was originally published at The Market of One Report, spanned many topics. We pulled out our favorite bits and insights that can have the biggest actionable impact on your marketing.

So without further ado, here are some highlights from A Conversation with Michael Brenner

Is content marketing the right investment for your start-up or small business?

“I think content is the only place a small company should be investing. For one simple reason.

The large scale advertising used by most large companies is, number one—expensive, and number two, of questionable viability. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I’m just saying you can’t point to any one ad and say it’s producing “XYZ.”

Otherwise, you are left with what… PR?

I think Seth Godin said it best: ‘Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.'”

If you have a small budget and limited resources, the one activity you should focus on is…

“Start blogging, or creating some type of venue where your prospects and customers can subscribe and follow you on a regular basis.

For example, I do pro-bono consulting for a number of non-profits. I’ve seen small organizations drive an exponential lift in results just by telling their story on a company blog.

The trick for a very small company, even say, a 5 person company, is to mine your salespeople and customer support staff for insights.

Every employee provides answers to customer questions via email. Every salesperson understands common questions or FAQs. You can develop a years worth of content just from mining that treasure trove.”

What role should gated content play in your content marketing?

“I would never say to stop creating gated content. Gated content is important in the middle of the funnel. But for most marketers, the problem is they can’t find enough people that are interested in that middle of funnel content.

The key is to drive that interest at the top-of-the-funnel. So once you offer gated content, you’re delivering it to an already engaged audience and providing deeper value.

If you think about a relationship, the gated asset is like delivering the ring. You’ve been talking for a while, now it’s time to take things to the next level. But you don’t just offer the ring cold.”

To create compelling content, here are two things to consider…

“Create the best answer on the internet. Win the internet with the answer to a customer question.

Another way to drive engagement is to say something controversial. For instance—’why corporate websites are dead’ or ‘why you should stop promoting in your content marketing.’ When you truly believe it, it is authentic. Sometimes it pays to take a stand.”

Download the Marketing Strategy Calendar to Achieve Content Marketing Greatness.

When you’re not seeing the results you hoped for from your content marketing, focus on improving this one metric…

“Subscribers. It gives you a view into the size of audience, level of engagement, and then conversions. In this one metric, you’ll get a snapshot into your entire funnel.

A content subscriber is someone ideally in your target audience, who is now engaged. There’s an absolute correlation between brands that build a subscriber base, and their success in content marketing.”

Want to hear more from Michael Brenner?


Brendan Dell About the author: Brendan Dell

As an award winning content and messaging strategist, Brendan works with start-ups and brands to transform them into a Market of One - sought after for what makes them unique. Learn more at


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