personal brandingI am truly honored and amazed at all the provocative, interesting and insightful points of views we have seen thus far on the Future of Marketing.

In our last interview, Drew Davis offered guidance on how to move from branded content to a content brand. Previous interviews covered the Customer’s brand, Marketing CreativityBig DataBig TestingCustomer ExperienceThought Leadership, creating a Content Culture, the roles of Content and Technology, the Future of Search, the Science of Marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the Content is King.

Today’s interview is with Steve Olenski, the content strategist at Responsys. Please follow Steve on Twitter (@SteveOlenski), LinkedIn and Google+.

Tell us about yourself?

steve olenski on personal brandingI’ve been in my current role of senior creative content strategist at Responsys since October, 2012. How I arrived at Responsys is an interesting story and a great example of content marketing – personal content marketing that is. Ed Henrich, who is the SVP Professional Services at Responsys, saw an article I had written for Forbes back in February, 2012. I had recently been laid off and in my article – specifically my byline, I made reference to the fact that I was looking for a new FT job. Ed reached out to me and the rest, as they say, is history.

You mentioned personal content marketing. Do you think personal branding and content marketing is important and if so, why?

I cannot overstate just how important I think personal branding is for everyone. Whether we realize it or not we are all our own brand and we are marketing our own brand every single day. That may sound melodramatic to some but it’s the truth. Whether we work for a company or as an individual we all market ourselves via our actions and our words. And now, in the digital-social-media-gone-wild world we live in, our personal brands are more often than not, public record. I tell people all the time this – that we are all our brand and that you need to care for that brand just as you would any other – if not more.

What are some of the ways you’ve built your personal brand, Steve?

Well I would like to say I was a visionary who saw the future of social media and blogging but alas I am not that smart – not by a long shot. I merely got swept up in “it’ like millions of others. What I do, however, was start my own blog many years ago and then segued that into writing for publications such as Ad Age and Ad Week. These all led to my becoming a regular contributor to such sites as Forbes, Business Insider, Social Media Today and Business 2 Community. It is on these “stages” if you will, I have been able to create my personal brand as someone who is knowledgeable and experienced and a thought leader in the fields of advertising, marketing, branding and social media.

How do you balance building your personal brand vs. building your company brand?

To me they are often one and the same – your personal brand and your company’s brand. Whether you’re working for someone or yourself, you are, in essence, an ambassador of that brand. You always need to be cognizant that everything you do – be it online or off, is a representation of said brand to a large extent. Now, that is not to say there is no room for individuality. On the contrary, one’s individual personality must be at the root core of his/her personal brand. I know mine surely is. But I am always aware that when I am “out there” I am in fact representing and serving as a de facto ambassador of sorts for both my personal brand as well as my company’s brand.


Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. 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.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

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  1. Paula Cusati said…

    Thanks for the reminder of the importance of the Personal Brand. I think that the Personal Brand does play into the Future of Marketing where individuals can be brand ambassadors for their organizations as well as themselves.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Paula, that’s part of my motivation behind this whole series: to help promote the personal brands of distinguished thought leaders like you while also highlighting for my readers the inspired and insightful ideas on how the world of marketing will look in the future.

  2. Danny said…

    I feel the same way and I have for a while. I wish that I would not have waited as long as I had to start a blog but alas, the past is gone and the future awaits. Great article.

  3. Jason said…

    With all the buzz surrounding content marketing today I’ve found many organizations are turning on their content taps by leveraging the creators as ghostwriters to help build the personas of select executives. In that case how would you suggest the real authors use this content to build their own brands?

    • Michael Brenner said…

      That’s a tough one. You can use it as part of your portfolio but I think ghost writers will always need to supplement their paid content with writing they do on their own. There are plenty of platforms now that allow ghost writers to get their own writing out there.

  4. Scott said…

    Great article Michael.

    You should also check out

    They focus on the user and helping them build their personal brand and audience. It’s a search engine for people on social media.

    They measure how well a person uses social media and the quality of their content. NOT influence or # of followers. It’s about quality, not quantity on their site so it helps anyone who has a passion find an audience. They assign letter grades and top 4 passions that are used when being searched.

    Check it out!

  5. Jay Verellen said…

    Great article and series overall Michael! As you pointed out, we should be loyal brand ambassadors at all times, but also remember the value we can bring to our Corporate sponsor’ s brand by building credible profiles that can add an “attracting of like minds” component. Success starts with employees; human power to build connectivity and creatively capture opportunities. By potentially attracting talent to join us on our respective journey, we can add untold value. Thanks again!

  6. Girish Gurudutt said…

    It has been a great write up on the marketing efforts in the 21st century.

    We are in the era where the dialogue between the customer and business is exchanged and captured at every stage. we have to thank social media for the conversation we have. every individual now has every chance to be his own brand and brands communicate.

    Let us have more conversation and make a better world.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Wow, Girish, I like the way you put that. I might borrow your line (with attribution of course) “Let us have more conversation and make a better world.”

  7. Tim Vander Veer said…

    A topic dear to my heart since my personal brand is evolving. I am taking to heart the importance of sharing real expertise in writing articles as you build your brand.
    I’ve had tremendous success promoting speakers in professional organizations. Just by setting up 20 or so media contacts (after questioning what the media wanted to hear about my expertise on computers), I was able to give away over 10k in free advertising to one of my speakers by his own estimation. It built my personal brand and it built my speakers personal brand.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Tim, you hit on a big concept I have been promoting here for some time: you have to give to get (G2G) but the giving has to be authentic. It has to be an extension of the goal of helping others by sharing. It cannot be for the purpose of getting something in return.

      I realize this is like elementary school rules but karma in this social world really does come back around.

  8. Tony Serino said…

    Karma rules …

    It very much applies in IT Channel ecosystems where I make my living… If you are interested in reading an extensive positioning paper on this topic, check it out at

    If you only have 3 minutes, you can watch a vidoe about it at

    There is a relation bewteen Karma with a K and CARMA with a C A R M A … and while maybe not exactly elementary school subject matter … it is “Channel 101” and something for those working in channel ecosystems to give serious thought to… because in the channel … what goes around, DOES INDEED, come(s) around

  9. Andrea Grant said…

    That’s a great article, Michael! I really enjoyed reading it.
    I have to say that I agree with Steve; personal branding is not just for a certain individual, but for everyone who’s using a social media network. Social media can help you build and develop your personal branding.
    Here is a really interesting article on this matter that you may find it interesting –

  10. Max Dalziel said…

    Hi Michael, as an information security marketing executive, I can attest that the strength of personality branding is evident in our community. For example, we host a regular web show called Hacker Hotshots that promotes, in essence, personalities who are demonstrating their area of expertise (oh, and by the way, most of them also work for a company!)

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