Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Elena Romera, international marketing expert:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix. And I’m excited to be here today with Elena Romera, who is Papa John’s international marketing manager for the EMENA region and has over 16 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Elena. And thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Elena Romera 0:36
Thank you so much Carlotta for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Carlota Pico 0:39
The pleasure is ours. Not only are you Spanish like myself, but you’re also behind one of the world’s biggest pizza brands, which I particularly love.

Elena Romera 0:50
Oh, thank you. That’s good to hear. It’s good to hear that we’ve got consumers that love the brand.

Carlota Pico 0:55
Yes, definitely. Well, I’m a client of yours. So Elena, let’s jump straight into the interview. To get this interview started off, I’d like to learn a little bit about your background, a bit about your company and also how you got into your current role,

Elena Romera 1:10
Yeah, so I’m a international communication marketing professional. And my background is a little bit mixed, and it combines language, communication and culture. So I studied Media Studies in the University of Seville and also did a degree in translation and interpreting in the Pablo Olavide University in Seville. I continued my education with a master’s degree in intercultural communication in the University of Sheffield. So, since 2004, I’ve been working for international organizations that had a global presence. So that required professionals that had the capability to communicate in different languages. So I speak Spanish, I speak English and Italian. So that opened many, many doors in the communication and marketing world. I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve done multilingual content management, I’ve done translation on localization and manage global campaigns. I have created content for different cultures in general. So that’s that’s what I’ve been doing for many, many years. So everything I’ve done throughout my career has taken me a little bit farther in the content ladder. So currently, for example, I work as an international marketing manager for Papa John’s, which is a global pizza brand that works across 45 markets. And they’ve got an important presence all over the world. And they require the internationalization of the brand to be able to grow. And it’s a brand that is in constant growth. But previously, I work in the retail sector as well and I was working as a multilingual Content Manager for Argos, which is a very popular British retailer, and I was key in the internationalization of the website in Spain. So everything I did in that job got me into my current role. So I think, if I look back, what I can say is that everything I’ve done had a purpose and that everything has fit so far. And that’s how I got into my current position. And you know, my next step is to be an independent communication professional. And, you know, continue working across languages and cultures.

Carlota Pico 3:42
Well, you are actually touching upon my next question, I was going to ask you about your next steps after Papa John’s since I was under the understanding that you will be leaving soon to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. So after 16 years of experience managing international campaigns in both the retail sector like you mentioned, now Argos and the food industry to Papa John’s and other initiatives. Why leave now the comfort of working for multinational company to venture into the world of entrepreneurship, which, as a former entrepreneur can be sometimes uncertain and also lonely?

Elena Romera 4:24
Yeah, and I agree with your point because this is a difficult time maybe to, you know, to take the leap because it’s a leap of faith what I’m doing, but I believe that now I’ve got the experience, and I’ve got the baggage to be able to, you know, start my career and do it, you know, solo, and I like the diversity of working with different brands without having to commit to just one. So it’s a difficult decision to make. Well I feel now I’ve got the experienced to be able to do so.

Carlota Pico 5:01
Okay, well, from The Content Mix, we wish you the best of luck. I’m sure the best it’s yet to come and that many brands will jump on board with the very different communication services that you’re able to offer to them because you’ve not only help brands internationalize their website, but have also led promotional campaigns worldwide. Like you mentioned, you’re fluent in English, Spanish and Italian and you have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cultural adaptation as well, which is key in terms of being able to launch new products overseas to different markets. I do want to dive further into your experience at Argo, you lead the internationalization of their e commerce website. And for that reason, I’d like to ask you about the first step that a brand should take to internationalize their websites.

Elena Romera 5:59
Well, I think there are lots of things to you know, to take into consideration when a brand decides to internationalize itself. So, if it’s just a website, it’s one thing, if you just want to build a presence or physical presence in a different market, that’s a different story. But when it comes to a website, you have to you know, test the water and do like proper research to understand what is the market or what are the markets that that your brand is going to be present? Do you have the consumers in the market that will be interested in what you’re selling. So there is a lot of background work that goes behind that decision. So it’s not just okay, let’s just go to Spain and let’s just internationalize our website in Spain. Why is it that you’re doing it? So in this particular case of Argos for example, they did like a very thorough research. As you know, the British expat community is quite broad across you know, different European markets. So they analyze and they came to the conclusion that Spain was the biggest market in terms of British experts and British people, they love their brands. Argos has been an institution in the UK for over 40 years. So they’ve got a reputation. So it’s like when you go into Spain, people say El Corte Ingles, everyone knows who El Corte Ingles is, so they don’t really need to do any advertising. So when you’ve got a British expat community of over a million people in a country, why not selling your brand there? Why not, you know, internationalizing your website, and that’s how everything is started. And obviously, there were lots of steps that needed to follow to be able to fulfill the operations. But obviously, the very first step is, you know, do your proper market research to understand where your consumers are, so that you can succeed in that internationalization.

Carlota Pico 8:00
That’s extremely interesting. So in Argos case, for example, what they did was leverage on their existing community in order to launch their services to a new market that already had knowledge about their brand, in this case, Spain. That’s a very good tip. And then what about consumers in Spain who didn’t know about Argos? What did you do in order to attract their attention to the brands?

Elena Romera 8:27
So that’s a very interesting question, because in that particular case of the internationalization of Argos, there were two separate type of audiences. So we have the British expats, but we also have the Spanish nationals who knew nothing about the brand. So why would you buy from a brand that is, you know, completely new to you? What is your value? What is it that you’re offering them? So a lot of work went into selling the brand to Spanish nationals. The majority of the work was done online to be able to drag traffic to that website. So, obviously, without having a physical presence, which was the case of this brand, it was all done, you know, in the digital world, it was all online. Because when you’ve got the opportunity to, you know, to build a store that, you know, people, you know, passed by and they see it and you know, suddenly the brand has a physical presence, but when everything is online its way more difficult. So, in this case, all the efforts were in, you know, doing lots of, you know, PPC campaigns, trying to attract, you know, and drive as much traffic as possible to that website.

Carlota Pico 9:40
So paid advertisement was basically what was going on in order to attract a new community to your brands.

Elena Romera 9:46

Carlota Pico 9:47
Okay. Now, in terms of challenges, what challenges could brands face when it comes to internationalization? So what can a brand plan for in advance?

Elena Romera 10:02
Well, I think there is a lot to plan. Everything has to be carefully planned. And besides market research and when you understand what market you are going into, you need to understand how you know, consumer behavior of that particular market. So, when you are talking, for example, when it comes to the hospitality sector, you need to understand what are the tastes of those consumers and what people like so that you can offer a menu that suits the needs of those consumers. So, in the case of the brand that I’m working now, which is a global pizza brand, every time it goes into a new market, a lot of work is put into, you know, putting together a new menu that suits the interests of those consumers because as you may understand, you know, in the Middle East, they’ve got different tastes and they eat differently than you know, what we eat in Spain. And it’s quite funny how, you know, different products become bestsellers in different markets, depending on the interest of the audience. So you may have a country where, you know, suddenly the pineapple pizza is a hit and another one in which they will never sell pineapple pizza, because just consumers are not used to that taste.

Carlota Pico 11:27
Elena, for our audience who’s watching our interview now on YouTube, I’m sure they saw the smile come across my face when you started talking about the food industry, because I’ve also experienced very similar activity during my travels, for example, in the GCC, when it comes to McDonald’s just to talk about a world name brand, well, they’re not able to sell pork in the GCC, but they are able to sell pork, for example in southern Europe, because of different cultural reasons. So culture plays a huge role when it comes to promoting and also deciding on the menu of a food company.

Elena Romera 12:09
Precisely what you were saying. So, if you have for example a product that is you know, meat based and pork won’t work in that particular culture, you will have to replace it with turkey or another, you know, similar type of meat. Lamb, for example, that may be more suitable for that audience. So that’s what I find fascinating about food brands across the world that exceptionally they sell the same thing across the world. Because there is nothing such as a global product. Its very difficult to create a product that works across the board. So you will always have to localize it, customize it, you know, depending on the audience.

Carlota Pico 12:54
Yeah, absolutely. What about when you don’t know what the local consumer wants? Then what do you do? Do you rely on local agencies in order to help you navigate the nuances of that market in particular?

Elena Romera 13:08
Well, I think that competition plays a very important role there. So you have to understand what the competition is doing because if the competition is doing something its because it’s working, and it’s effective. So I think you need to understand what the competition is doing, but you need to do proper search through local agencies so that they give you some hints about what is working or what is not working. So you always have to rely on data, there’s so much data in one way or another because nothing that you will do will be so innovative. So if you’re opening a food brand, there will always be a competitor. And you will always have to visit those competitors to understand what is it that they are doing, and if you can do something similar or you can adapt it and you know, there is always like a trial and error. So there will be a bunch of products that you will be able to launch and will work across the board, but you will have to localize the rest.

Carlota Pico 14:12
Okay, what about costs? I’m sure there are plenty of small and medium enterprises right now that are listening into our interview and are thinking about, wow, that must be really expensive to launch a new product in a new market. What are some tips for those SMEs on a low budget? What can they do in order to keep costs down?

Elena Romera 14:32
Well, I think that’s a difficult question because it really depends on the market. So I think you have to work with local suppliers, you know, to be able to minimize the cost and a lot of work goes into, you know, what supply chain does, you know, behind the curtains, so, they have to do a lot of effort to try to minimize the cost. There is a lot of negotiation behind. So you have to speak to a lot of suppliers. And you have to do a lot of work to try to, you know, to keep the cost to the minimum. If you do your numbers and it doesn’t work, then you won’t be able to launch the product, you may be able to launch that product across X amount of markets, which you know, it is cost effective. But if it’s not cost effective, you won’t be able to launch it.

Carlota Pico 15:26
In terms of marketing, how would you suggest that companies announce new products or new services to local markets? What channels can they use in order to make these announcements?

Elena Romera 15:41
Well, I think first of all, it depends on the budget that you have, of course, because obviously if you’ve got a big budget, you will have the opportunity to do like a proper launch and you know, maybe go on TV, but if you have a small budget and you want to be on the safe side, I always suggest to use the digital channels. So, I think it’s very important no matter where you go to build an online presence, through a website and through social media, and start creating content that is relevant to that audience. But you know, if possible, always try to invest in digital marketing because organic content is limited. So, consumers will only see a small percentage of what you post, bearing in mind how algorithms work, you know, on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram. You audience will only see a limited amount of content and that’s why digital marketing is so important and you have to invest, to be able to reach a wider audience and to be able to personalize that content and try to reach the audience that you are particularly interested in.

Carlota Pico 16:58
Okay. You are leaning into my next question, which will be about coronovirus. The economic consequences of the coronovirus pandemic are far reaching and actually advertising and marketing budgets have been very strongly hit. What do you think the future of marketing will look like?

Elena Romera 17:20
Well, obviously, I don’t have the ability to perceive what’s happening in the future. But I want to think that this is a temporary situation that obviously, we will come out of it stronger, and that we will go back to to the point that we were at before or even stronger, but what I want to think is that although the Coronavirus has hit the marketing budgets of some organizations, it doesn’t apply to all sectors. So I think the hospitality sector, more specifically, you know, the food delivery industry has seen an important opportunity here. Because the way that we consume has completely changed. And we’ve seen that in the hospitality sector, for example, we’ve seen the local businesses that had no, you know, online presence at all and they are used to dealing with their consumers just face to face suddenly, overnight, they had to build an online presence, have an ecommerce website, and you know, launch different social media channels to be able to reach their consumers. So I think it’s a big opportunity as well, to change and to innovate. And for those, you know, big players in the hospitality sector has been a great opportunity as well to reach consumers that they weren’t reaching before because they were not at home because they were busy and because there was so much you know, digital noise that they weren’t listening to them. So I want to think that we will come out of this stronger and once you know, this situation passes, those brands that have continued working on their marketing strategy and haven’t completely abandoned it and haven’t you know, abandoned their marketing budgets, they will be stronger after this situation.

Carlota Pico 19:13
Well, I hope so as well. I mean, marketing is basically the voice of a company and without a voice, you don’t have a company either, in the same line that without money, you don’t have a company but marketing normally generates sales. So it goes hand in hand with the backbone of all businesses worldwide.

Elena Romera 19:34
Precisely yeah.

Carlota Pico 19:36
Okay, what about the food tech industry? I do want to pick your brain on that because obviously you’re have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the food industry and marketing. What do you think the future of the food tech industry will look like in terms of new trends coming out of this pandemic?

Elena Romera 19:55
Well, who knows what’s coming because we are certainly facing uknow. It’s all so new that, you know, we are constantly changing. But what is obvious is that, you know, the online world is the present and it’s also the future. And we are going to be more time online and we are going to be relying on our mobile phones. So I think the future is: ecommerce will continue growing. The apps are a must these days, and that’s where we are going. And I can’t really foresee anything else because you know, we don’t know what’s coming. But I think it’s all about personalizing the service to the consumer and you know, making more special and more targeted. That’s where we are going.

Carlota Pico 20:48
Definitely I’m a big fan of apps these days, especially during Corona times. I’ve been on food apps nonstop just ordering different plates to my home on a daily basis. And I don’t know how I would have survived the pandemic without apps like justeat for example.

Elena Romera 21:09
Precisely. I think the aggregators, they’ve been on the rise during during the Coronavirus. So Deliveroo, JustEats, UberEats. So all of them, and a lot of local businesses have suddenly gone, you know, to aggregators to be able to deliver their services.

Carlota Pico 21:31
That’s a really good point. I mean, local businesses do not only have to develop a website, but they can also join platforms that already have that community built and that already have the experience built into their apps in order to promote their different dishes to the local community. Well, a restaurant can either develop a website, of course, which is very pricey and also time consuming, or they can join the wave of digital apps that already have local communities in order to promote their services to a wider audience.

Elena Romera 22:11
I would think that is not one or the other. Sometimes its two of them at the same time, because if you think about, you know, what is it to, you know, to reach an audience, you have to try everything. If you are a brand that is not so known, how are you going to reach more people? Well, you have to, you know, join forces and partner up with aggregators. And that’s what lots of brands do, you know, to start with when they internationalize. So they, you know, they assess the situation of the market. And you know, if aggregators are popular, they have to be there because that’s where the audience is. So sometimes it’s not one or the other. Sometimes they go hand in hand and go together, because your purpose is always to reach as many people as possible.

Carlota Pico 22:59
That’s a really good point. Yeah, definitely. I was also referring to the small business owners who perhaps don’t have the budget to promote themselves as heavy online as other larger brands have.

Elena Romera 23:14
Yeah, absolutely. For local businesses, aggregators has been a lifesaver, in terms of, you know, the coronavirus pandemic because they’ve been able to reach consumers more easily. But, yeah, as I said, if you have the budget and you know, you’ve got the opportunity to develop your own app that’s always a must and you know, when you are internationalizing your brand, but you know, both go hand in hand together.

Carlota Pico 23:48
Okay, when it comes to content, HubSpot CEO said the following, “what separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks and push the envelope.” Because of your experience in promotional campaigns, I want to ask you what separates good promotional campaigns from fantastic promotional campaigns?

Elena Romera 24:11
Well, that’s a very interesting question. I think anyone can do good content, because there is a lot of good content out there. I think the difference between good content and excellent content is how much data you’ve got. And to be able to be able to rely on and to make informed decisions before creating that content. So, to respond to your question, I would say, data is everything. Data is worth it. Its going to help you to excel and to be able to reach your consumers in a way that they expect. So that would be my answer to the question.

Carlota Pico 24:52
Okay, thank you. We are moving into our set of rapid fire questions which are basically your recommendations to our audience. To get this section started off, I’m going to ask you about your source of inspiration. It can be an influencer, for example, or role model.

Elena Romera 25:10
Well, I think in the content marketing world, there are a lot of influencers. I follow a guy called John W. Hayes, and he’s very good in quantum marketing. I had the opportunity to meet him in a workshop. And he has a blog on and he publishes about email marketing, blogging, and he’s very insightful. Very inspiring.

Carlota Pico 25:39
What about an event or a hashtag that you’d like to recommend?

Elena Romera 25:44
Well, I think for an event, I can recommend in the e commerce and particularly in the web design world, there is a Smashing conference. And there is a magazine called Smashing Magazine and they do this conference in different parts of the world, in Europe and also outside of Europe. They talk about different trends in web design, which I find really helpful, you know, to continue to keep abreast with what’s going on out there.

Carlota Pico 26:18
Okay. And last but not least, what about your favorite book at the moment?

Elena Romera 26:25
My favorite book? Well, my favorite book at the moment is not work related, because when it comes to work, I tend to read more online. But my favorite book at the moment is called Invisible Women, its about exposing data bias in a world designed for men, and it’s from an author called Caroline Criado Perez. Ironically, its been the best seller during lockdown in the UK. And what I find interesting about this book, for me, it’s a jewel in the feminist literature. And I find it really interesting, although it’s very infuriating sometimes. But it can actually help you explain, you know why women are still at a disadvantage. But it’s it’s really interesting.

Carlota Pico 27:13
Okay, lovely. Well, Elena, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk with you and to learn about your experience.

Elena Romera 27:23
Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for having me here. And all the best for The Content Mix.

Carlota Pico 27:28
It’s our pleasure and all the best as well to you and your future endeavors. Okay, and to everyone listening in today. Thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. For more perspectives about the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every week so keep on tuning in and see you next time. Bye.

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