Content Marketing Q&A with SAP’s Michael Brenner


Content Marketing with Michael Brenner

On November 7th, Michael Brenner, vice president of global marketing for SAP, will be sharing his content marketing expertise at our FWD:B2B Conference. He recently posted an entry on his own B2B Marketing Insights blog that is worth sharing entitled, “9 Questions On Content Marketing.” While we are certain we can challenge him with a number of questions when he comes to visit in November, here is an excerpt addressing five questions he often receives:

What are the most common mistakes brands make with content marketing?

The most effective content is that which best meets the needs of the audience. List posts and “How to” articles go a long way to building this kind of credibility but they aren’t enough. This kind of content needs to be balanced with deeper thought leadership that also inspires our customers to think differently about the challenges they face.

The biggest mistake brands make is in creating too much content that is focused on the brand and not enough content that is focused on helping the audience.

What changes are in store for content marketing in 2014?

We are seeing a lot of technology and start-ups in the content marketing space. There are tools for curation, CMS, reporting engines, editorial workflow, calendaring and platforms that try to do all these things.

In order to increase ROI, brands need to figure out the right mix of creation, curation and syndication and build a team of people who really understand how to think and act like a publisher. Once that is in place and working like a machine, it’s time to build the kind of platform that can scale and sustain growth into the future.

2014 will see brand content marketing teams that take on the look and feel of real newsrooms including the technical platforms to support that.

Which metrics are most critical to measuring the success of content marketing initiatives?

We are moving away from activity-based plans to performance-based measurement. It is no longer enough to count how many tactics or campaigns you launched or how many visitors or social shares you achieved. We need to tie these metrics to real business outcomes. Marketing has to deliver results using business metrics: how many new customers were delivered, how much revenue did they generate and what is the return on the marketing investment.

With social and content marketing programs, we have to demand that these results will be achieved. But they take time. You have to feed the funnel. So we look at reach: are we effectively gaining access to potential customers). Then we look at engagement: are they spending time consuming and sharing our content. And conversion: are they turning into quantifiable sales leads that ultimately become customers.

What approaches does your company use to engage and captivate the audience?

We engage our audiences by helping them. We do this through valuable content that solves a business problem or answers a key question. Or we provide exposure to their personal brand and their own content.

And in some cases, we might even provide some entertainment or distraction. The golden rule of content marketing is that is has to put the needs of the customers first and then the business results will be earned through trust and value already provided.

How do you use your social and content efforts to acquire market intelligence?

Everything we do starts with a solid understanding of search terms and patterns. This is the best research available since it tells you what the entire world is looking for and in what priority order. I am just amazed at marketers who act defensively when I ask them if they conducted any keyword research because they don’t understand it or the importance of it.

After that, we have found that the best way to acquire market intelligence is to ask for it from your influencers and experts. We crowd-source ideas for new content or answers to key customer questions or who to follow on social channels.

This kind of content curation and crowd-sourced content does a couple of things: first, it gets great answers from passionate and engaged experts on important topics. But it also gives them an opportunity to provide input and that transfers “social equity” that is important to help grow their own personal brands and social influence.

For a few additional questions and answers related to content marketing, be sure to visit Michael’s B2B Marketing Insights blog.

About the Author

Michael Brenner
Vice President, Marketing and Content Strategy

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company's award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.

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