Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Flavio Stiffan, founder of Stiffan Consulting, developing video marketing materials at The Creative Lab:

Shaheen Samavati 0:13
Hi, everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Flavio Stiffan, a marketing strategist and consultant based in Germany. Thanks so much for joining us, Flavio.

Flavio Stiffan 0:22
Hello, Shaheen. It’s a great to be with you.

Shaheen Samavati 0:25
So could you start just by introducing yourself and telling us a bit about what you do at Stiffan Consulting?

Flavio Stiffan 0:32
Absolutely, I’ve been lucky enough to be the founder of Stiffan Consulting for the last four years and I’m a freelance consultant, focusing on global marketing strategy and content development. Part of that discussion is always about marketing business development, about how clients can go and expand their market beyond what they have originated on. My work is to introduce them to marketing or enhance the marketing strategy they might have, to take it beyond. And in fact, the idea we have is the fact that marketing is a constantly moving science, and more tools are coming in, some are disappearing and it’s constantly renewal of how the message is being transmitted to the end audience and looking for new audiences. This is what I’m here for, to take those clients and drive them forward and show them the new way. In some cases, to create a marketing organization that would work for them.

Shaheen Samavati 1:32
So how does content play into what you do?

Flavio Stiffan 1:36
Content is the essence of what is going on, right? I mean, if there’s no content, there’s no message, if there’s no message, there’s no brand, if there’s no brand, there’s zero. So this is a big deal. From a content standpoint, what I’ve noticed, especially during COVID-19, is the fact that we are being even more inundated with content than we ever have before. Then it becomes a discussion about saying, what is real content? What is, I want just to be popular for a moment content and what is, i’m going to say, junk content, and how is that being built. So I’ve always been saying that quality is better than quantity. So from a content standpoint, it is always a discussion about being truthful about what you say. I mean, it’s not that you want to give wrong information about your product or your services, or what you do. It’s about creating the loyalty behind that. I still do believe, I know many companies that are very successful around the world, have had that point of saying that they have a really good hand on the quality of the content that they put out. They’d rather hold back on some content if they feel it’s not good enough and I think this is a key element of today’s marketing.

Shaheen Samavati 2:59
So what’s like a typical project that you would do for a client?

Flavio Stiffan 3:02
A typical project would be a client saying that they need to launch a new product or a new service. They are either not sure exactly how to address an audience because it might be a new product or a new audience they want to touch and then there’s a requirement for doing a marketing research behind that, evaluate what are the exact points and trigger points that would turn that audience on. You have others that are saying I want to launch a product, and I am not sure how that fits into the rest of my marketing strategy. So in both cases, it requires some work for moving forward. I had clients that came with startups, in fact, coming with products and saying, I want to launch this, what do you think my message should be based on the product that I have? Then the discussion is to say, Okay, so what are the qualities or what are the elements that product is going to create to the mind? So those are the projects that I’ve been working on. I think the latest one that I’ve been very happy with has been a client that had to really work and rebrand itself and see how that works together. I think those are exciting projects to work on.

Shaheen Samavati 4:19
So before starting your consulting business four years ago, you were working in corporate sales and marketing with a specialization in the semiconductor industry. I was curious how that experiences shaped the work that you do now?

Flavio Stiffan 4:34
This is an interesting question from the standpoint of having done over 20 years in the semiconductor industry, both in Europe and in the US and having worked with groups around the world. It has driven that thinking of being global, but staying regional at the same point, which sounds like a cliche, but in fact, it’s true that not everything that works in Japan would work in Europe or if it works in Europe would work in the US or America. Or even further, whatever works in Italy might not work very well in Denmark or in the UK. So one of the key elements of working into a corporate world is that the corporate world tends to put a stamp of, this is the way we do things around the world. But at the same time, the semiconductor industry that I’ve worked with, and I had the great privilege of working with great people there, was to see how is it that it can be taken to be a little more personal and more direct? I think it was a fantastic experience to look at an industry that moves at a fast pace, the players of the industry are very few and they know each other. I mean this is a very small circle so you end up talking to everybody all the time, regardless of if you’re company A or Company B or a freelancer like myself right now.

Shaheen Samavati 5:59
So what’s the biggest change that you’ve seen in marketing over your career?

Flavio Stiffan 6:03
I think the biggest change by far has been the amount of information that we can inundate people with. Social media that started you know, from a Facebook that was like, I’m taking the kids to school right now, or let’s meet for coffee. Now you have all social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, you name it, coming with everything in there. It goes from personal messaging, to networking, to politics, to anything that passes by. I think that’s the biggest change because when you think 15 years ago roughly, marketing was advertising, how to do calls and having call centers and calling people to get things going. Today, everything goes on your smartphone. So it’s a huge difference into marketing and it also makes a big difference from the standpoint that the differentiation to get your message through is much more complicated. It is way more difficult.

Shaheen Samavati 7:14
Absolutely. So I wanted to ask you about a new project you have, The Creative Lab, could you tell us about that?

Flavio Stiffan 7:22
The Creative Lab, is something that I started in the mind last year and COVID-19 accelerated the whole thing. It is in fact a video lab, kind of what we’re doing today, but live into a studio, to be able to help clients to transition or to enhance rather, their marketing strategy to a video marketing strategy. The reason for this is because video marketing at the beginning, I mean, if you look at the pandemic, with zoom, and WebEx, and everything people started to just do video conferencing, is really a great way of doing things. But at the same time, there’s a lot to learn out of it and the evolution there is fast right now. So The Creative Lab, in fact, is a very high tech video broadcast lab here in Munich, Germany, where we can work with clients, define the way to communicate with an audience in a very interactive way, even though it’s a video with a given number of people on the other side of the screen. We can use that for either recording programs or broadcasting live programs. In fact, alongside with two other freelancers that have teamed up to create The Creative Lab, we are launching a brand new program next week that will run on and at the same time working with clients to create specific content that is for video marketing and a specific strategy for video marketing, rather than taking a PowerPoint presentation and sharing it through a laptop.

Shaheen Samavati 8:59
So this program that you’re working on, do you have a date yet for when it’s launching or a name?

Flavio Stiffan 9:05
It’s The Creative Minds and it is launching on Vimeo next Monday, the 9th of November at 5pm CET. You can get the link and everything through social media and connect with with me and you’ll get the notifications on that Vimeo by looking for Stiffan Consulting. I think the first episode, we are going to talk about creativity and how is it that the situation we have with COVID-19 and working remotely is impacting creativity for marketing people. So we’re looking for ways to have a dialogue with the people on the other side and saying so, what do you see, how does it go? This is in fact a program we do every other week and it’s a 30 minute program. So it’s a very short program in a way and this is what video is about. It’s supposed to be rather short. They don’t want to be two hours on the broadcast.

Shaheen Samavati 9:59
Cool, that definitely sounds like a relevant topic for audience. So we’ll definitely share the link in the blog post along with this video. So on that topic, what’s it been like for you during this lockdown period and how has it impacted your work?

Flavio Stiffan 10:18
So it has impacted the work from the standpoint that I’ve never used my webcam and and laptop more than before. I mean before that it was hopping from one meeting to another, now it’s hopping from a video call or a phone call to another. But I must say, to be honest with you, it’s not for the bad. It has provided me a great opportunity for taking time to reflect, to do other activities, to evaluate other avenues of doing business. Even looking at other markets where my consulting services could be useful. The Creative Lab being one of those areas which has been accelerated by COVID-19. So I think, in my mind, I know some people are complaining about the fact that they are working from home or it’s different. Of course, the setup, the layout, the agendas, and the day schedule might be different. But in fact, I have found it quite interesting from the standpoint that if one really wants to force itself to look outside of the box, it is in fact a great way, even if you have four walls around you, to really start thinking out of the box.

Shaheen Samavati 11:32
Yeah, they say that limitations actually foster creativity. If you have to work within certain parameters, it makes you think of creative ideas.

Flavio Stiffan 11:42
That’s true. By the way, on the talk next week on The Creative Minds is the fact that not everybody is creative at the same time. I don’t know about you Shaheen, but my creativity, for example, is early in the morning and this is the way I’m wired. Some people would basically build a schedule during the day, that makes it that they can use a creativity moment to the maximum. I think if we are stifled or if we are more into a mode of I get up, I take my car or public transport to go to work, I’m having lunch, I do my conference calls, I come back, that the thinking about creativity might just be forgotten for a while. I think this is what COVID-19 and all the limitations that we have to put up with might in fact help.

Shaheen Samavati 12:39
Absolutely. So going back to your personal story, how did you get into marketing in the first place and what was it that attracted you to the field?

Flavio Stiffan 12:49
That’s a tricky one and the reason for this is because marketing for me was never a real focus. I’m coming from the IT world and IT is coding and stuff like this, it doesn’t have much marketing. But then I had the great luck of having a boss that said, No, I’m going to bring you into sales. So it pushed me into corporate sales and then from there, the discussion was totally different, it was how to create demand and creating demand is in fact, using a marketing tool to be able to develop that. Then from there, I moved into business development, mostly for Latin America, which was very interesting, because it was, at the time, a booming environment where a lot of startups, a lot of design houses and things like this, their marketing became really the focus of saying, so how exactly am I going to be able to position a given product, what is going to be a marketing strategy to drive that, knowing that I really need to understand who my end customer is. In some cases, it’s this type of customer and that type of person and they each have a different way of receiving the information. It was very interesting to look at that.

Shaheen Samavati 14:10
Your experience is really International, you’ve worked in global roles where you were dealing with a lot of different markets. I wanted to ask, first of all, is that something that you’re still doing now? I mean, are you mainly working with clients with like an international scope? Are you working more in the German market? What is the biggest difference, what’s unique about marketing globally, and what have you learned from your experience there?

Flavio Stiffan 14:37
Well the same as you do, you work across different languages and different areas and I do the same, I enjoy that in fact. I’m coming from a global environment and I’ve been traveling a lot and living in many places, my background has been always to look and and enjoy the different cultures and different languages and really work into connecting with the people on a local basis. My customer basis is still International. There’s no question about it and I’m hoping it’s going to stay this way, in fact. But I think the value of the internationalism, I’m not saying globalism because that’s a totally different discussion, but the fact of working with international clients really triggers that thinking of saying, Okay, this might work in this country, it might not work into that country. There’s a different culture, how can I go and tailor my message to go and drive it this way. If one travels, if one looks with open eyes about what’s happening around the world, and this is a little curious about what happens around the world even more now, with all the globality of information, and messages that we get and social media and everything, we realize more that it’s not just one message that is stuck in multiple languages that would work. I think this is really where the difference is. Anybody inside the European spectrum, it’s not the same having a customer in Italy and having a customer in the UK or in Denmark, or in Germany, they take differently. We tend to think sometimes that it doesn’t really require different strategies but in fact, it does.

Shaheen Samavati 16:24
Yeah, very good point. I also just wanted to ask you about measuring the success of your marketing efforts. What do you think is the most important thing to look at?

Flavio Stiffan 16:36
I think, from a success standpoint, the most important is the loyalty of the customer. Acquiring a new customer takes a long time, IT takes a lot of effort, a lot of money. so once you have one, you want to keep it down, as long as you can. It’s not by giving discounts or coupon codes or whatever goes with it that it’s going to stay because in sales one of the things I’ve learned very quickly is that price is not exactly the place where you want to be to go and just compete on price, there’s always somebody who’s going to try to cut you down. So it is about the value of what you bring and it is about the loyalty of the customer. The way to measure that is by the followers. I mean, anybody who’s on social media will go on to the likes and into the shares. The likes personally, I don’t find it being a great measurement. Anybody can go and click like, it’s easy done, it’s quickly done. Share requires a lot more work, you have to say, I’m sharing with my network, i’m sharing with my friend or I’m sharing with this. So to me it’s a better measurement already. Then it’s obviously the ones that follow you on social media and I think it’s really the element of discussion. Not just social media, it’s the same for video marketing, it’s the same in your network, it’s the same with the friends around you, if you do something you like to have the people coming with, you know, not just saying, I like it, and then they don’t talk to you for another six months. So I think criteria of success as much as a lot of people go by the likes, I’m really not somebody who will put a whole lot of emphasis on this, because that’s too easy. I want to push it to another level.

Shaheen Samavati 18:21
Yeah, very good point. So it’s about those loyal subscribers once they’re really following you. So let’s move to the recommendations part of the interview. Well, first of all, do you have any tips for staying productive?

Flavio Stiffan 18:37
Yes, I do. The first one is follow the creativity mode where you have it. But I think the second one which I started at the beggining of this year has been meditation. It’s been interesting, I’m somebody who tends to be a little hyper, pushing on things, I’m a pusher. What I’ve found is that meditation tends to give me a base to take a step back and think how things can be done better. So some people might laugh about it and I’ve talked to other people too, that have engaged into daily meditation or maybe twice a week meditation, whatever works. I think this is a really great way for taking a moment and being more productive after that. Then the other one, I think is not just about work, it’s also about life. It’s about what you do, family and things like this and working from home has been providing me more time for cooking for my family or doing other things which is quite good because it allows me to disconnect for a moment and then try to reconnect and be more productive. And really, the productivity goes deeper.

Shaheen Samavati 19:54
That makes sense. Yeah, I guess it’s remembering that not everything is about being productive. Actually paying attention to other parts of your life can have the effect of making you more productive.

Flavio Stiffan 20:08
Indeed, and in fact a lot of companies have realized that even with having the people working from home, the productivity has not stopped. Productivity, in fact, has gone up because people can manage their time in a better way. Or they can be just more focused at a given time. It’s not because one is at the office 10 or 12 hours a day, that one is productive 10 to 12 hours a day. So I think this is interesting to see that there have been companies that have said, I’m not doing a five week day, I’m doing a four one, which sounds like wow, three days off a week sounds really good and they have not found a lack of productivity behind that. In fact, they found an increase of productivity behind that. So I think that the discussion about employers or people that think that because companies working from home are less productive, I think we can put that one out. There’s always going to be the ones that are less productive than others but it’s not because you work from home or not, it’s just because of the way you might get about your work.

Shaheen Samavati 21:19
Absolutely. So for other recommendations, do you recommend any learning resources or online courses?

Flavio Stiffan 21:29
Yeah, absolutely. One of the great things of working from home or being freelance and having a little more time, in some cases, has been to be able to read books about marketing. I’ve got some great authors I really love, one of them is Guy Kawasaki, for example, who has been doing a lot of roles with Apple and other companies. He wrote fantastic books about marketing. I mean, personally, I think they are very eye opening and it’s really cool. I think beyond that, take the time to do online training, whatever comes to your liking, i’ve done classes with Adobe, classes with LinkedIn Learning. Because of The Creative Lab, I’ve been brushing up on my photography and video classes. Another one that i’m still working on because they are issuing new classes is HubSpot, alongside with Vimeo that teamed up and are doing classes about how to keep your audience running on videos. So I think those are great ones, for marketers that are interested to expand their knowledge and take the time to digest new ideas and be creative.

Shaheen Samavati 22:49
Great rcommendations. What’s your favorite app at the moment?

Flavio Stiffan 22:52
I must say it’s probably Adobe Illustrator right now, because I’m doing a whole lot of material for the lab. I had Photoshop already and now I’ve got illustrator and i’m getting deeper into that. I really enjoy what those tools can do but I’m using a lot of Apple based applications, with keynote, that are maybe more on the creative side to build great content for the broadcast and for clients. I would put right now Adobe Illustrator as my top fun one.

Shaheen Samavati 23:39
So we’re reaching the end of the interview. But I just wanted to ask if you have any parting advice or final takeaways for other marketers in Europe?

Flavio Stiffan 23:49
I think especially for marketers, don’t get bogged down with the volume of data that is flying about and try to compete with that. That would be my first point. It’s absolutely complicated when you see social media being totally swamped. With the US elections going on and other situations and anything around the world, everything goes through social media. Look for new ideas about how to get about and for me, I think video marketing is the next step to go and do that. If anybody out there wants you to come and discuss that I’d be more than happy to do. The second advice is really to learn and look at what are the markets out there and learn from other areas of the environment that you might be into and see how you can apply that to yourself. For example, I’m big on everything that is green, so anything ecology. I’m basically commuting with an E bike and an E bike is just public transport. It has created some thoughts about saying, how do I do the website, can I have a website that runs on a green platform instead of running through whatever other platform that might be out there. How does this impact and develop a message to go on? So, you know, for the marketers out there, take a piece of yourself that you love and just see how you can apply that to the marketing strategies you’re putting in front of your clients or into your company.

Shaheen Samavati 25:26
That’s excellent advice. Yeah. Make it personal.

Flavio Stiffan 25:29
Absolutely. Marketing is all about personality. This has been one of the big laughs we have. Many people have been thinking that one message fits all and I’m not a buyer into that position.

Shaheen Samavati 25:43
Well, that’s a great, final takeaway. Thank you so much Flavio, for sharing your insights with us today.

Flavio Stiffan 25:49
Thank you Shaheen for having me and be safe, first of all, absolutely, be safe.

Shaheen Samavati 25:54
Thank you, you too. Thanks to everybody for listening in, for more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe. Check out and keep tuning into the podcast for daily interviews with content experts, see you next time.

Flavio Stiffan 26:05
Thank you

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