A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Michael Brenner Simplifies Success
August 15, 2019
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
This was an early slogan for the Apple II computer, and over the years, it’s a sentiment that came to epitomize the vision Steve Jobs had for his company. The word “sophistication” may bring to mind thoughts of complexity and intricacy. But as that quote conveys, the true realization of a sophisticated state is when it becomes streamlined, seamless, and natural.
This was our goal in constructing the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, which was recently updated and revamped in honor of its five-year anniversary. We aim to present the cornerstones of a successful LinkedIn marketing approach in a way that’s easy to grasp and actualize. As such, it was important to enlist the voices of people like Michael Brenner.
Before founding Marketing Insider Group, Michael worked at dozens of different jobs, spanning a multitude of roles and organizations. He has seen marketing strategy through a vast assortment of lenses, at companies large and small. Yet, despite this breadth of experience and knowledge, he has a penchant for expressing big ideas clearly and without convolution.
Michael provided some straightforward insight as a contributor for our guide, and was kind enough to further open up as part of our “Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective” series. Keep reading to learn how he gets the most out of LinkedIn, places a different spin on employee advocacy, and stays forever focused on his core objective.
Michael Brenner Chats Simple Sophistication on LinkedIn
1. What’s something interesting about you that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?
I've had 53 jobs. Some great. Some not so great. One was so bad that I can't even talk about it and it is NOT on my LinkedIn profile. It is these numerous experiences that led me to write my next book Mean People Suck where I want to help anyone who is miserable in their job (or life) to stop blaming the meanness, see the value in empathy, and find a way to apply their true talents to make an impact on the world. In fact, LinkedIn's Marketing Solutions blog and the team behind it is one of my cases studies.
2. Which marketing objectives do you find LinkedIn most well suited for?
LinkedIn is relevant for every marketing objective there is. Awareness, engagement, conversion, and retention can all be accomplished on LinkedIn. You can publish articles to show people your expertise (awareness), you can connect and engage with anyone, you can convert using all their various advertising and promotion tools, and you can maintain your relationships with your customers there as well. But, I have to say, I get nearly all my leads from LinkedIn. Most of those leads engaged with content on my website, but they come find me on LinkedIn to let me know that they have projects that we can help with.
“I have to say, I get nearly all my leads from LinkedIn.” - Michael Brenner
3. How can brands creatively incorporate and feature company leadership on their LinkedIn Page?
Every company should be actively seeking to identify, encourage, and promote their leaders who want to share their expertise on LinkedIn. I call this employee activation as opposed to advocacy. Advocacy sounds like "share our press releases." And no one wants to do that. Activation, on the other hand, is just about finding those who do want to share their expertise and making it work for them. LinkedIn Elevate is an amazing tool we use with a few of our clients to support this kind of program.
4. What’s one mistake you commonly see from marketers on LinkedIn?
Insidious promotion. I have a number of clients using LinkedIn as their primary publishing platform. And it is tempting to want to use the line "Here at company x, we sell..." You have to earn the right to tell people what you do. But first, just start with sharing what you know. Share your experience, tips and tricks. Tell stories. Why give this valuable insight away? It's the only way to get strangers to know you and hopefully like and trust you enough to hear what you sell.
“You have to earn the right to tell people what you do. But first, just start with sharing what you know.” - Michael Brenner
5. In your experience, which kinds of content resonate most on LinkedIn?
Stories of real people, by real people, covering real human struggles are what resonate most. One of my favorite articles by my friend Jason Miller is "How To Deal With A Narcissist At Work." I also like this one on toxic work culture, and how to escape a bad boss.
6. What has LinkedIn helped you achieve as a marketer?
LinkedIn has helped me in every aspect of my own marketing: gain awareness, make amazing connections, find new clients, and book speaking gigs.
7. Which metrics do you look at when tracking performance on LinkedIn?
The only metric that really matters to my business is leads. But I also try to measure whether my own interactions are real and authentic. I do share quite a bit, but I also try and comment on others posts, respond to valid inquiries, and connect regularly with people.
8. Where do you see LinkedIn in five years?
In five years, I could see LinkedIn dominating the B2B marketing landscape as one of the largest channels for both content and advertising. I also could see them applying some of the technology and insights from Microsoft to turn LinkedIn into a super-powerful CRM and marketing automation hub.
Your Simple Guide to LinkedIn
Be authentically human. Provide value before pushing. Stay laser-focused on your key objectives, and orient your strategy around achieving them. These are the kinds of simple steps that lead to true sophistication on LinkedIn.
Nail down every aspect of your own approach on the platform, with guidance from an assortment of insightful experts like Mr. Brenner, by downloading the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.