CMO Spotlight: Michael Brenner, Business 2 Community


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Michael-Brenner_Headshot-300x278“Marketing has a marketing problem”

…says Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred. He is the former VP of Global Marketing and Content Strategy and was Head of Digital Marketing for SAP Americas. He is the co-founder of the social news site Business 2 Community and also created SAP’s Business Innovation thought leadership blog site.

Although Brenner is technically not a CMO currently, I think he is a perfect fit for this CMO Spotlight series. He has held marketing leadership positions with global brands and has interesting perspectives on why marketing people seem to be selling themselves short internally. In a recent interview, Michael was asked about how to increase the relevance and influence of marketing within an organization. His response was, Marketing has a marketing problem. Marketing has to stop taking orders and start representing the voice of the customer in the organization.”

I agree 100%! As B2B marketers, we chime the magical words of “customer-centricity” and “customer focus”. These words are music to our ears. But in a majority of organizations, marketing fails to push hard enough and push in the right direction in order to actually lead customer-centric initiatives. The C-Suite throws targets at us, the Bean Counters care about the bottom line, and we marketing folks run around trying to juggle all these balls, achieve a balance and win more customers. That needs to change. Michael Brenner has some useful advice on how we can bring about significant changes to our B2B marketing and customer experience management efforts.

“Focus on the goals”

The first step is taking ownership of customer needs and focusing on the goals. Yes, you do need to follow industry best practice, emulate the strategies that are working for best-in-class companies, have an integrated marketing strategy—these are all very essential. Before all of this, says Brenner, is the fundamental task of defining why you want to do any or all of this. How will it make a difference to your customers? How will you know that it is or isn’t impacting the customer’s experience with your brand? When you can show ROI and measure the success of your marketing initiatives against the set goals, you won’t have to sell yourself so hard internally.

Be “Captain Empathy”

That’s what Michael says has been the reason behind his success as a marketer. No longer does the traditional method of advertise, promote, push, sell, work. If you can’t empathize with your customers, feel their pain and channel your organizational efforts towards finding the right solution, you won’t win their trust. Like I said before, trust is the biggest factor in B2B marketing success—3 ways to win trust through social media.                          

 Humanize your brand  

Marketers have gotten carried away with digital marketing, social media, email campaigns and mobile marketing. It’s time to remind ourselves, says Brenner, that while the technology landscape may have exploded, “the brand still lives in the mind of the buyer”.  The buyer wants good information, relevant content, useful advice, not noise. Marketers have to stop blasting away their promotional messages and start telling stories of interest. The thrust of B2B content marketing should be on telling stories that evoke human emotions and spark curiosity about your brand. Stories that show you have a strong human side and truly care about resolving your customers’ challenges.

Use data to see what’s working and stop what’s not working       

We are caught up in the frenzy and buzz of Big Data and Predictive Analytics. That’s all good. Brenner reminds us, however, that you should also study your data to know what to stop doing. ROI metrics need to focus on quality rather than quantity. In fact, in my opinion, we need to strive more for Return on Engagement (ROE) in the B2B world.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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