Episode 155: Using The Content Formula to Drive Results with Michael Brenner – Transcript

Episode 155: Using The Content Formula to Drive Results with Michael Brenner

Rennie Gabriel  00:09
Hi, folks, welcome to episode 155 of the Wealth On Any Income Podcast. This is where we talk about money tips, techniques, attitudes, information, and provide inspiration around your business and your money. I'm your host, Rennie Gabriel. In past episodes, we spoke about how to understand the numbers from your business, how to measure the level of pleasure based on where you spend your money, how to track your money in 5 to 10 seconds, what determines how close you are to Complete Financial Choice®, and how to run your business without being in your business. Last week, we had Jeremy Stevenson, who worked for, or managed, several family businesses for the ultra wealthy. Today, we have as our guest, Michael Brenner. Michael is the author of, The Content Formula. And I love this one, Mean People Suck, based on his experiences in marketing. He is the founder of the top marketing agency, Marketing Insider Group. And he has had roles of VP of Digital Marketing at SAP, which is the largest software company in the world. He was also the Chief Marketing Officer of multiple high growth startups and a top marketing influencer. Michael, welcome to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast.

Michael Brenner  01:37
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Rennie Gabriel  01:39
Terrific. Well, let's get started with some questions. Okay, you do something in marketing. But tell me a little bit more about that, and why you do this?

Michael Brenner  01:52
Yeah, it's, you know, long story short, I started my career in sales, was frustrated with the amount of support I was getting from my peers in marketing. And so I, you know, made a career switch really early on in my career and stayed with it, but always kind of maintained that focus on a sales mentality. You know, how does marketing help to deliver revenue for the business, just like sales does? And so that's really been the focus, you know, it's where I get a lot of, I think, joy and satisfaction is being able to help other companies now to be able to show that they're not just spending money on, you know, these esoteric terms, like branding, and, you know, testing different, you know, fun advertising channels, like TikTok, but they're actually driving the bottom line.

Rennie Gabriel  02:34
Yeah, that makes so much sense because I know that I, and probably a lot of companies look at marketing as an expense that doesn't produce results to the bottom line.

Michael Brenner  02:46
Yeah, I've always been a results-driven, you know, focused marketer. You know, it's just being a business person, I think that's how you have to be

Rennie Gabriel  02:52
Yeah.

Michael Brenner  02:52
And, you know, unfortunately, too many people think marketing is, you know, crayons, and paper and glue sticks, you know, making, you know, pretty images and logos. But, you know, I think for those of us, especially, you know, those that are trying to build wealth, we're obviously got to focus on the return on investment.

Rennie Gabriel  03:11
Perfect. And now, you're probably aware, as most of my listeners are, that I donate 100% of the profits from the online work that I do, and the books and programs to a charity called, Shelter to Soldier, that rescues dogs, and then trains them as service animals, for soldiers who've returned with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and things like that. Tell me about a particular charity that you support and what they do.

Michael Brenner  03:38
Yeah, it's somewhat similar. We support an organization called Northstar here in the county that we live in, which supports training programs and even pays monthly rent for a few months for single parents. You know, who, in many cases have either been through a traumatic experience or just, you know, have been.. you know, they're passionate, hard working members of the community that just, you know, are experiencing a downturn in some way, and just need a little bit of help to get back on their feet. And so I love it, because it's a great local charity, I can see the impact. You know, the dollars go straight to the, you know, to the men and women in need. And in many ways, it's also supporting the children, you know, who are unfortunately, the bad end of, you know, of some challenging situations.

Rennie Gabriel  04:23
Yeah, that's great. And, I actually, my wife and I are supporting a single mom, who is raising her daughter, her nephew and also taking care of her mom. So I know how tough that is to juggle jobs and kids and get out of poverty. So bless you for that. Thank you, Michael. Tell me about your target market. Who are the people you want to be working with?

Michael Brenner  04:49
Yeah, we really target, you know, I like to say I target people just like me, you know, folks that are that are working on building a business, trying to drive wealth, trying to, you know, serve the needs of their clients. They can't afford a marketing agency that's, you know, got a big building and fancy cars in the parking lot. They just need results. And so Founders, largely of what we call SAS technology companies - Software as a Service - technology companies. And also, in other cases, other service companies, professional services, accountants, you know, those kinds of things. But usually, it's the small to midsize company that doesn't have a marketing department. They don't have, you know, fancy agency in Madison Avenue in New York, they just need something that's going to drive results for them. 

Rennie Gabriel  05:29
Oh, perfect. Okay, well, getting back a little bit to, you know, the book, Mean People Suck, tell me about your biggest failure, and this is a two part question, what was your insight from that? What did you do with it? 

Michael Brenner  05:43
Yeah, I mean, the insight really came out of, you know, I spent 20 years in the corporate world. And what I found, and I think many people experienced this was, most managers don't know how to manage. Most, and too many, unfortunately, too many employees are really unsatisfied and find their work relatively unrewarding. And the simple problem in both of those situations is that, you know, I think we've sort of learned that nice guys finish last. And you know, that that sort of saying. And it's really the opposite. In fact, the research showed, and that's what I really wrote the book about, was that all of the research shows that actually, it's kindness, it's empathy, it's, you know, the opposite of micromanagement, you know, sort of almost like, you know, giving your employees the opportunity to define what they do and how they do it. Those are the kinds of things that actually set up for the most success. And yet companies with purpose-driven mission statements are, you know, have a four times higher stock price than companies that have a profit-driven mission statement. It's like, there's all these different, you know, factors and proof points and research and stories that I tell in the book to try to drive home that key insight that if we just empower the people that we work with, we take a positive approach to, you know, to everyday work life, we're going to get better outcomes. And that's really what it's all about. The story in your sort of first part of your question, when I first had a marketing job, I started working for a guy who had never had a marketing person. And, you know, I was a former salesperson, so I understood that he was looking for more revenue. And so I put together a marketing plan. And he basically said, You know, what, I think I'm just going to have you sell. And, you know, I couldn't believe it. You know, I put together a growth plan for them that could have 10x'd, the company, and instead, he wanted me to just be another salesperson, you know, that wasn't going to drive 10x growth. So I tried it, you know, for a few months. And, you know, it was cold-calling, and I'm doing all the things that some of his salespeople were doing. I didn't deliver the results as a salesperson that he was looking for, there's a reason I left sales. And he fired me, and then what ended up happening, and I don't want to give away too much of the book, but the board and my colleagues in the company sort of fought to bring me back. And so in the end, you know, again, I don't want to give up give up too much, but it was really a focus on trying to understand what the market needed, what my colleagues in sales needed, and what was good for the business. Because I was focused on the right things, the board saw through the really petty personal issues that the current CEO had and his lack of performance, and ultimately created a, you know, better situation for all of us.

Rennie Gabriel  08:16
Oh, great, great. That's almost like a case study that I would have asked you for in another question. It's funny, because you're talking about what actually works. And there was a program I saw recently, or maybe it was something I read, I lose track, but it had to do with the transformation of wolves into domesticated dogs. And we all hear the term survival of the fittest. And no, it's survival of the friendliest.

Michael Brenner  08:47
That's right.

Rennie Gabriel  08:47
It was the wolves that didn't try and attack people, but were nice to them, that got fed and got to go on the hunt and share in the food. 

Michael Brenner  08:56
That's right. 

Rennie Gabriel  08:57
So dogs evolved by being friendly from wolves, not by being more fit or aggressive. So . . . 

Michael Brenner  09:05
You know, I think I may have seen the same, maybe the same study, because there was a line that I just read, that said that we're you know, humans are simply domesticated apes. And that the success in early humans was exactly to your point. It was the community, and the friendliness, and the lack of violence. Actually, I remember what it was, it's a book I'm reading called, Humankind, I think. And so yeah, so he retold the same story and the same research that showed that's exactly what happened.

Rennie Gabriel  09:36
Terrific, we're on the same page. Well, I'm going to guess that there are people who are listening who have businesses and they want to see, you know, 2, 3, 5, 10 times growth in their return on investment from marketing. So let me ask you this, what's the best way for people to reach out to them and do they have... and do you have some free resource that people can get?

Michael Brenner  10:02
Yes. So, in the book, The Content Formula, I talk about how every company should be sharing the things that they know, the things that are helpful to their target audience. Those messages are much better received, it almost sounds ridiculously obvious, are much better received than what we think we're supposed to be saying, 'Hey, we're awesome, we're great, buy our by our stuff because it's better than the next guy's'. And no one wants to hear that. You know, it's like, you know, the the analogy of the guy that walks in the bar and says, 'Will you marry me?' Like, no one's going to say yes to that. No, but you know, the person who walks in the bar and says, 'Hey, everybody, how you doing? You know, what's going on?' The person that asks questions, the person that seems interested, and that shares interesting stories and tells people what, you know, what might be helpful to them, that's how you can generate, you know, attract the target audience that you want, and to grow your business. So yeah, if folks want to reach out to me on LinkedIn, Michael Brenner, I live in Westchester, Pennsylvania, if you send me a LinkedIn message, that you heard me on this show, I'll send you a free PDF of the book, The Content Formula.

Rennie Gabriel  11:03
Oh, terrific. Thank you. And is there a question that I should have asked you, that would also give some great value to the people listening, or watching, this is on YouTube as well?

Michael Brenner  11:14
Yeah, absolutely. One of my favorite tips, so people often ask me, like, 'What's the one piece of content, what's the one type of marketing story that every company should focus on?' So I wish you would have asked me that question, because I love to talk about this. And it's, tell your story, your founding story. And by telling the story, I don't mean talk about yourself, I mean, talk about the inspiration that drove you to create a company, to create a business, to want to drive an answer, a solution. What was the problem? What was the challenge? What was the thing that irked you? What kept you up at night? You know, what was sort of the audience's pain point that you're trying to solve? Founders that, you know, we see founders that tell that story with passion, and, you know, with empathy and with, you know, sort of a human-centric approach, not a promotional one, but really an emotional one, are the ones that really are able to attract the right people to grow their business, and ultimately to see the return on investment.

Rennie Gabriel  12:09
Thank you, Michael. This is excellent, excellent content. Thank you for being on the Wealth On Any Income show. 

Michael Brenner  12:17
Thanks so much for having me. This was fun. 

Rennie Gabriel  12:19
Great. And for those of you who are listening, if you'd like to know how books, movies and Society programs you to be poor, and what the cure is, then log on to wealthonanyincome.com/TEDx. You'll get to hear my TEDx talk and can request the free 9-Step Roadmap to Complete Financial Choice® and Philanthropy, and receive a weekly email with tips, techniques, or inspiration around your business, or your money. And if you'd like to see how you can increase your wealth, and donate to the causes that touch your heart, please check out our affordable program, Wealth with Purpose. To my listeners, and those on YouTube, thank you for tuning in. You can listen to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast on your favorite platform, and please rate, review, and subscribe. Until next week, be prosperous. Bye bye for now.


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