Carlota Pico recently met with UK-based Aidoia Puig-Delfin, former Northern Europe Content Manager at Hilti, to discuss the dilemmas today’s content professionals face. Throughout her career, Aidoia has transformed challenges into opportunities and forged her own path forward. In this interview she explains why creativity and authenticity are key to success in the modern content and marketing industry.

You can watch the full conversation in the video above on our YouTube channel, and read an edited version of the transcript below.

Carlota Pico: Aidoia, welcome to The Content Mix, and thank you so much for joining us. Could you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got involved in content marketing?

Aidoia Puig-Delfin: Well, my background is super creative. When I first graduated, I actually wanted to work in fine arts. When I was at university, there wasn’t a specific course focused on marketing, so I didn’t really know that was a job option. I did some internships that involved marketing, social media, design work and writing, and I realized that I actually really liked it—no two days were ever the same.

After graduating I went on to other marketing positions, which involved a bit of everything. One was at an engineering recruitment company where I had to write a lot of articles and produce a lot that was digitally focused. I was writing blogs, designing things, creating emails and campaigns, and I realized that content was what brought all the channels together. I loved the chance for creativity it offered. That’s when I really found my passion.

After that, I worked at a construction company, which only deepened my love for content. I had never worked in that type of industry before. It’s very challenging, but also super unique. The more challenging the industry is, the more creative you have to be with your content in order to capture people’s attention.

The more challenging the industry is, the more creative you have to be with your content in order to capture people’s attention.

CP: That’s quite a unique background. Could you tell me about the peculiarities of working in the construction sector, when it comes to marketing?

AP: It’s a very interesting industry with a unique audience. When you think about social media, you tend to think of fashion, food, those kinds of things. But construction is such an amazing sector—all of the buildings and everything around us comes from construction.

My goal was to make people realize that, to help them understand how buildings are made, and to make it fun and engaging. I spent a lot of time creating content to get that message out there. Nowadays with social media, people’s attention spans are a lot shorter. You have to really make an effort to capture their attention.

Of course it has its challenges, like all industries. But for anyone in content and marketing who’s trying to choose a sector, I would really recommend going into construction.

CP: Marketing any brand across Europe has its challenges, but for the construction sector it must be a whole other world, with differences in health regulations and policies. How do you adapt your marketing strategy to different markets?

AP: That’s a really good point. Initially, it’s about understanding those markets and doing your research before creating any content. It’s an opportunity, in terms of the different types of content you can produce. But it’s also a challenge, in terms of having a consistent brand story and narrative across all the content in each place. You have to take that into consideration, especially if you’re working on a marketing team that doesn’t have people in those different countries.

See also: Cater to global audiences – Deliveroo’s Adam Spawton-Rice & Anne-Sophie Delafosse

It’s about cultural awareness, and understanding what resonates with people. For instance, I have to create a lot of video content with subtitles. We all know video content is popular, but it also has to be personalized. So if a company in the UK is creating subtitled content for Finland, for example, it might not resonate with the audience there.

Overall it’s a huge opportunity and learning experience, and that’s why content is so great. Through channels like social you can test and try things, and then learn from them.

CP: Drawing from your experience in Spain and the UK, what do you think is the number one thing that every professional should consider when building a marketing plan in Europe? Is it cultural adaptation? Is it translating your marketing tools to different languages?

AP: Adaptation is important, but I think actually understanding the meaning behind the story that you want to get across is also vital. I used to work in Barcelona, and by speaking two languages and going through the translation process, you really start to understand the meaning behind words and how it can make a difference. 

Just because you translate something, that doesn’t mean it’s going to resonate. Literal translation doesn’t always work. For instance, some companies have specific slang, idioms or puns around certain products, and they don’t necessarily make sense in other countries. 

Of course, with content you also have the opportunity to use visuals. A picture is worth a thousand words, and if you can’t communicate something with language, then you may be able to do it visually. So for me it’s about understanding the messages first, and then figuring out how to distribute them.

See also: The future of marketing is visual – Mario Bini, storytelling extraordinaire

CP: What advice and recommendations would you give to young content marketers? Do you think it’s valuable to have a diverse background, or is it better to stick to one industry, learn it from A to Z and focus your career in that area?

AP: That’s a great question. Speaking from my own experience, diversity is very valuable. If you understand different industries, you can take insights from all of them. If you just work in one industry, you might miss out on trends and new ideas. But if there’s an industry you’re really passionate about, of course you can still go for it.

See also: Diversity in marketing is paramount – Tina Morwani, senior marketing manager at GitLab

For young marketers, it’s about having the confidence to be creative. Every company has a strategy and a marketing plan, and you should stick to that, but you also learn things through failing. I took a leadership course last year, and one of their mottos was “fail fast.” When you fail, that’s when you learn the most. If everything works perfectly, you don’t take anything away from it.

CP: Right now we’re facing a global pandemic, which is impacting markets and industries worldwide. But let’s focus on content marketing specifically.

I know this situation has impacted you quite a lot. You left Hilti to work for Lumenpulse, but weren’t able to join the team because of the coronavirus. Drawing on that experience, how do you think the pandemic has impacted marketing plans in Europe?

AP: I think that initially, businesses weren’t sure what to do. Marketing is at the forefront of business, so obviously that had an impact on the industry. Moving forward during this pandemic, brands really have to align their strategy, and think about what value they can offer to consumers at this time.

We’re not immune anymore to marketing manipulation; we can spot something that’s not authentic. So for me it’s about authenticity—showing that your brand cares about consumers. There are so many different ways companies can do this, and not only during the current crisis. Whatever happens in the world, you need to be authentic and show that you truly care about the cause.

See also: Provide value on social media – Bianca Spada, social media manager at Red Bull

CP: I couldn’t agree more. Now for some rapid-fire questions. First, what’s a lesser-known app or tool that you can’t live without?

AP: There are so many out there—and I guess this one isn’t necessarily lesser known—but I love the Instagram Repost app. In my previous role I had to produce so much content, and UGC (user-generated content) really adds to a brand’s authenticity. The customers using our tools had much more impact than we did just talking about them. This app makes reposting user content so efficient and easy, and I used it every single day.

In terms of producing content myself, I love the Calm app. It does have sleep stories, and I don’t suggest listening to those while working, but it also has very calming music. If I have to write a long article or do some research, it helps me focus.

See also: Top 10 apps for content and marketing professionals

CP: What upcoming network, tool or app do you think is really going to disrupt the content industry? For example, when it comes to social networks, TikTok is the next big thing.

AP: I was literally about to say TikTok, because it’s a way of creating personalized content. It’s giving people the opportunity to create their own content, and as I said, user-generated content is way more authentic.

I think brands that actually use this content will see a significant impact, and other apps and companies will also start thinking about their own content creation capabilities. It’s going to make people think differently about what their audiences can create, instead of only what they create in-house. On top of that, it’s just really entertaining!

CP: Who’s a marketing influencer in Europe that you follow and really respect?

AP: Right now I’m doing an MBA in marketing and brand management, and it’s run by a guy named Mark Ritson. He’s a great marketer and marketing professor, and has written many articles for Marketing Week. The reason I like him so much is that he always provides useful insights and real-life examples.

He’s also not afraid to nitpick; he’s very opinionated, and he really questions brands on what they’re trying to achieve. His articles make you think about marketing in different ways. There’s no one specific plan for marketing, and he makes you think critically about that.

See also: 8 inspiring content and marketing influencers to follow

CP: What’s a valuable industry group, association or event in Europe that you love? And what type of ROI are you looking for when attending these events?

AP: As I’ve already mentioned, creativity is what matters to me. Sometimes you can be in a bubble within your company, and these events help you see what else is out there, and what you can bring into your work.

I really love the annual Adobe Summit. I’ve never actually been in person, but they’ve recently made it available online. I find it so intriguing and eye-opening. It’s a design software company originally, but they talk about all kinds of strategy and things beyond that. All the talks are free, and each one is only around 10 minutes long.

CP: So when you join these kinds of events, the ROI you’re looking for is information on content and strategy?

AP: Exactly, I’m looking for insight. It depends on who’s hosting the event, but a lot of them are based internationally. As someone who works across borders, you want to hear what’s working and growing where. You don’t always have time to do your own research, and these events can pinpoint the key takeaways to apply to your strategy or content creation. 

CP: Since you’re doing an MBA in marketing and brand management, I’m sure you’re reading up on a lot of great material. What’s one book that has really transformed the way you think about marketing?

AP: There are quite a few, but right now I’m reading “Content: The Atomic Particle of Marketing.” It examines content strategy from beginning to end, and includes a lot of key examples. It’s really useful.

CP: Before we wrap up, I want to talk a little bit about the MBA. Why did you decide to go down that route? What do you hope to take away from the program and apply to your future career?

AP: As I mentioned before, there was no specific marketing course when I was at university. I actually studied media and communications alongside Spanish, but the media side was very journalism focused. For six or seven years now I’ve been working within different marketing organizations and teams, so I wanted to solidify that experience and broaden it with new ideas.

I recently lost my role, as you said, and it’s great to be productive. I’ve wanted to do this for a while but never had the time. So I felt like this was the perfect time to expand my knowledge and to gain a specific qualification in marketing.

CP: Would you recommend it to other young professionals who are also looking to diversify their profile or learn more about particular strategies?

AP: Yes, definitely. You obviously learn an immense amount when you’re actually in a role, but you don’t always have the time to step back and reflect. This kind of course gives you time to do that. Both types of learning complement each other, and then you can take things from the course and apply them to your work.

CP: These days, sometimes we don’t stop to think. When it comes to marketing and strategy, it’s so important to have a clear idea of what you’re working toward. You have to know what type of ROI you want in each market, and how to segment that market and adapt each brand accordingly. It takes time to consider your next steps. So I’m very happy to hear that you’re also thinking about your own next steps, using this time for personal development and taking your career to the next level.

Thank you so much for all those great tips, Aidoia. That was an inspiring interview, and one that I hope many young professionals can learn from. When there’s a roadblock, you just have to pivot and keep on going. Especially in the current moment, I think this is a message that we really need to transmit to our audience: everything is going to be okay. And you’re an example of that—of working toward your goal and never stopping, no matter the circumstances.

Connect with Aidoia and Carlota on LinkedIn.

This post was edited by Melissa Haun, a freelance content creator based in Lisbon.

For more insights into the importance of versatility and creativity in content marketing:

Nurture your creativity – Leandro Sánchez de Medina, global social media manager

Artist-led creative solutions – Josh Moore, founder of Lawless Studio

A diverse range of experiences is powerful – Sarah Evans, social marketing pro