Michael Brenner is senior director of global marketing for SAP. He is also author of the B2B Marketing Insider blog and cofounder of social news site Business 2 Community. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 97 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Getting Back to Basics In The Future of Marketing

03.27.2013
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 In this Future of Marketing series, we have covered topics such as Agile MarketingBig DataCustomer ExperienceThought Leadership, Culture, Content, and so much more.

We also cannot forget the importance of getting back to the basics of marketing. We need to stay focused on the power of ideas and the creativity required to make a human connection between our brand and our customers.

In today’s Future of Marketing interview I am honored to introduce you to my boss, Costanza Tedesco, the Senior Vice President of Marketing Communications at SAP.  I think you will enjoy her unique perspective and I invite you to continue the conversation by following Costanza on Twitter (@CostanzaT) or connecting with her on Linkedin.

Tell us about yourself?

Getting back to the basics of marketingI think part of my success in marketing can be attributed to my (what some might call “unexpected”) combination of science and art. I went to Princeton University to study molecular biology, but ended up being pulled more to the social sciences. I ended up with a degree in microeconomics and econometrics.  But at the same time, I’ve always been comfortable in the worlds of art and design.  So in my 21-year old mind, it seemed “natural” that after college I’d go to work in the fashion industry as a design assistant.

But after a few years, the business side of my brain left me restless.  I went to Harvard Business School to figure it all out, and found my passion in marketing and especially communications.  Finally a chance to marry my quantitative skills with my abilities with “words and pictures.”  I worked in the agency world on various consumer products, then took a left turn to work on IBM (in the “e-business” days.)   Once I started working in technology, I never looked back.  I enjoy the challenge of turning complexity into simplicity – and there’s nowhere better to test yourself than in technology.  And as a brander, you have to be a black belt.   Branding in technology forces you to constantly resolve a seeming paradox – if the impact of branding comes from consistency, how do you accomplish that in an environment and with a product set that is constantly changing?

I’m a proud employee of SAP. Currently, I am the SVP of Marketing Communications which is a group that is responsible for translating business strategies to marketing and brand strategy. I am a member of our Marketing Leadership Team to support our CMO with the transformation of the marketing organization. I am also a member of the SAP global leadership team. I have been at SAP for 11 years and yet it always feels new – with new challenges everyday . I believe my long tenure has helped me to see how to bring together the full power of SAP to drive our future.

What Do You See As The Biggest Challenge In Marketing?

The most interesting challenge is that now, more than ever, companies do not define their brands, customers do. The brand has always existed in the hearts and minds of our customers. That has always been the case but this challenge is amplified by social media, which has put more direct control of the brand in outside forces. Like a boat in the ocean, you do not control the sea, but you can define strategies to guide the brand ship.

In our team, we try to think less about ads and campaigns and websites and more about ideas. David Ogilvy defined advertising as “ideas that sell” and I truly believe that. We try to think of all the ways to get those ideas out but realize that most of those ideas will be spread by others. It’s no longer just about paid media but now, it’s about what your employees say, what your customers say, and what your influencers say about you that matters more.  That means that marketers need to work harder than ever to create a coherent and distinct brand that can tie it all together.  Simplicity, clarity, differentiation, coherence – that’s what strong branding brings to marketing.

What’s Your Prediction For The Future of Marketing?

The distinction between business-to-business  and business-to-consumer marketing is fading really fast.  More and more, the tactics that work for both are coming together. We all need to connect with people as individuals. I believe that in the future of marketing, experiences and ideas will become more important than ever. I think many marketers have lost sight of the basics on how to develop a marketing strategy. Who is your target? What do they want? What can you offer them that others can’t? As marketers have increasingly specialized in technology, automation, data or social, in many ways we have lost the ability to develop sound, effective marketing strategy.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the development of our talent and I focus on this area with my team. I challenge them to build strength in the fundamentals of communications and how to take a business strategy and turn it into a marketing strategy. I am really passionate about the history of branding and design because if you are ignorant of what came before you, you cannot interpret what you see today. For a great illustration of this, check out this article on the similarities between Apple’s designs and those from Braun decades before. Apple’s Jony Ives’ admitted to borrowing heavily from the man behind Braun’s design Dieter Rams. There is tremendous value in understanding what has always made great marketing strategy and translating that to the realities of today’s market.


Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Published at DZone with permission of Michael Brenner, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)