Q&A With SAP’s Michael Brenner: Become A Trusted Source For Content

Published: March 20, 2013

Demand Gen Report recently caught up with Michael Brenner, VP of Global Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP, to discuss the process of creating a successful content hub for your brand. Brenner developed an award-winning inbound marketing content destination site for SAP called Business Innovation and will speak on the topic of content management at the upcoming B2B Content2Conversion Conference, to be held April 22-23 at the TimesCenter in New York.

Demand Gen Report: What does it take for a vendor to become a trusted source for content?

Michael Brenner: Stop acting like a vendor for starters. The biggest challenge for content marketers in any size organization is convincing everyone else that to become a trusted source of content you have to act like a trusted source of content. The content has to be something that people actually want, are looking for, or that they will find valuable or entertaining. In short, you have to act like a publisher who (mostly) makes an effort to appear like their content is not swayed by their need to make money.

DGR: What are some of the steps a B2B marketer needs to take to create a successful content hub?

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Brenner: The steps include the basics steps of any good marketing program. You start be defining your business objectives, your target audience and your strategy for reaching that audience. This quickly gets into a keyword research, SEO exercise.

{loadposition C2C13IAA}From there, you need to define the key topic areas you want to support and then go out and find or buy the resources to produce, curate, edit and publish that content. Finally, a successful content hub will only succeed with strong social and analytics support. This helps you understand what works, what doesn’t and completes the feedback loop so you can determine if you’re reaching your target audience and meeting your business objectives.

DGR: Who should be contributing to this content hub?

Brenner: I think that depends on the objectives, the budget and the resources available. Most organizations have a few employees, partners or even customers who are already actively creating and sharing content. Start with them and see if they will join your effort.

Next are your audiences’ influencers. Get them to contribute and you don’t need to pay to reach your target audience.

Finally, there is always paid content. Many brands started here because sometimes it’s easier to just go and get a budget than it is to recruit a horde of social-savvy writers. But in the end, I think this can be a costly mistake.

DGR: What role does social play in lead conversion? SEO?

Brenner: Many people ask this question but we all know it’s a struggle to show direct conversion of leads from social activity. I think about it in terms of the entire buyer journey, from reach to engagement and all the way to actual leads and conversion. First, you need certain tactics to build your audience. Social and SEO strategies driving to great content will help you attract an audience. Next you need to drive engagement with the audience you attract. Social is also important here: is your audience sharing your content with their audience. Again great content plus search plus social will help you get found, get shared and puts you in a position to get leads.

Finally, you need to test various methods for converting that audience.  And this is where you really have to combine the art of great design and strategy with the science of analytics and testing.

DGR: How can B2B marketers make the best use of all of their content across all platforms — blogs, social, email, etc.?

Brenner: If you’ve done the research and engaged with your customers, and analyzed the data, then you will figure out which types of content meet the needs of your target audience. Once you figure that out, you have to think about content in a modular, multi-format way. You shouldn’t think in terms of blogs, tweets, videos and infographics, or Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest, YouTube. You should think about the customer and their content needs and then distribute that content in the formats they want on the channels they use.



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