Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Ignacio Blanco, marketing manager at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, on storytelling in B2B marketing:

Shaheen Samavati 0:12
Hi everyone. I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Ignacio Blanco, marketing manager for SFx Smart Manufacturing at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. Thanks so much for joining us, Ignacio.

Ignacio Blanco 0:25
Thank you very much for having me here.

Shaheen Samavati 0:28
Could you start out by telling us what it means to be marketing manager for SFx, what you do and how what you do relates to content?

Ignacio Blanco 0:38
Well, starting with the connection to content. I have always been involved in communications. So in the past and for around 10-12 years, I worked as a journalist in a national newspaper in Spain. I started out in journalism, so I really believe in the power of content and storytelling. Presently, I work for an IT company, as you said in the introduction, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. I’m the marketing manager in charge of our new business unit—so everything has been created from scratch. It’s completely new, brand new. The product line is from scratch. We have created the messaging, storylines, in general, all the introspection process that you need to run, in order to build up a brand new product line. So recently, I have complemented my education with an MBA, which certainly has given me a much deeper overview on the foundations of running proper strategy at all levels. An MBA can be very much connected to business and administration. I was really very surprised when I was doing the MBA how much it’s directly connected to content and creating the mission and the vision and how important it is to have a real approach to content creation.

Shaheen Samavati 2:27
Yeah, absolutely. Content plays a huge role in strategy and it sounds like your role right now is really focused on strategy and managing a team. Is that right? But content is one piece of what you do.

Ignacio Blanco 2:39
Exactly. It’s a mix, nowadays, you can’t do a single thing, right? You need to work on multiple projects at the same time. So you have to supervise the graphic design that is aligned with the marketing storyline and at the same time, the copywriting, at the same time the digital marketing strategies. So it’s quite a multidisciplinary role.

Shaheen Samavati 3:15
Absolutely. So like you mentioned, you studied journalism and then you worked for 11 years in a major daily newspaper in Spain, La Razón. So I was curious what you learned from that experience that’s directly applicable to what you do now? What skills did you learn working in the journalism industry?

Ignacio Blanco 3:35
I think it was a very good experience and I always say that here in this B2B marketing environment that when you work for a newspaper, things have to be created right away. You have to close the edition for the next day and every 10 minutes, every 30 minutes that you close the edition later than expected it’s a lot of money when it comes to printing out the newspaper and so on. So everything has to be done very quickly and in this environment, B2B, the big corporations, everything takes ages sometimes. So I think it was a good experience to create quality but also tight deadlines are comparable, so I’m trying in my position to keep an eye on the past experience when it comes to producing something on the go. Don’t spend too much time on very long timescales.

Shaheen Samavati 4:52
Can you tell us more about what a typical day is like for you in your role at Hexagon?

Ignacio Blanco 5:05
I really like the role because… how do I say it? Everyday you have not a new challenge, but you have a new list of challenges that are awaiting you. So it’s quite a dynamic position, you have to deal with completely different people, some of them engineers, product managers that are really committed to create something in their field, they are very much focused on specifics, technology, futures. And at the same time, I have to deal with marketing managers from different business units, align the ideas and work together. So I couldn’t say a standard day because I have been working here for five years, and I didn’t repeat a single day. So that’s challenging, but at the same time, it keeps you pushing harder and I evolve everyday to certain directions. So I really like that.

Shaheen Samavati 6:22
So Hexagon is a really global company with Swedish roots, it operates all over the world and does a lot of different things. Could you tell us a little bit more about the company and about your specific business and your specific area of responsibility at SFx, working on the Smart Manufacturing solutions specifically, but how does that play into the broader picture at Hexagon?

Ignacio Blanco 6:43
Yes, Hexagon as you say is a Swedish company but it’s in all regions, we have commercial operations centers probably in all countries or the main countries and the main markets in the world. There are several divisions. I’m working for Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, but there are other divisions that specialize in mining or geospatial data. There are different businesses that are running the company in completely different areas. The company is moving forward to one Hexagon that is it’s a kind of mixing the technologies that were split in the different divisions in the past. So we are working more together now. But the company is covering in general the most important technologies in when it comes to manufacturing intelligence. We have our own metrology hardware, we have metrology software. We have simulation software and production software as well and we cover the entire manufacture process from design and engineering, manufacturing, and quality control and inspection. So it’s covering the different stages when manufacturing any product. In my particular case, my business unit is focused on next generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, all those kind of a keywords, you know, the trending topics, we’re talking about next generation technology technologies. So we are exploring all those different areas.

Shaheen Samavati 8:41
Can you tell us more about who your audiences as well, like who you create content for and how you do it?

Ignacio Blanco 8:47
Yes. Well, I think if we talk about B2B, traditionally there has been a gap between B2B marketing and storytelling. Basically, the approach in the past has been too technical, and based on the future, technical details, specifics. That’s still very, very common nowadays but over the last years, companies and marketers I feel have been pushing harder in terms of content creation, storytelling, brand journalism, and completely new content strategie—not so branded. So they are all trying to have a particular focus on the gains for the customer, on business value, not that much on performance and output. It’s not like a table with like those are the features and that’s what you will get out of this product. The storytelling is firstly conquering the B2B world, that is the first step. But the second one is really addressing the customer needs and I think that’s really good and it’s appealing for the customer. I think the brand and the product itself is not the focus anymore for none of us. But now the customer, as I said before, is the real hero of those stories now.

Shaheen Samavati 10:24
Absolutely. Could you share an example of a piece of content or a type of content that’s worked really well for you?

Ignacio Blanco 10:31
Yes. In my particular business unit I’m moving the strategy from the brochures and the typical flyer with the technical data, the typical data sheet. I’m moving that to valuable content through webinars or panels, it can be white papers, industry reports or podcasts. So I think it’s the right time to approach customers in a different way and talk the same language and understand their pain points, right, and produce content that is inspirational and is giving answers and not selling a product but is helping customers to overcome the problems that they may have.

Shaheen Samavati 11:25
And how do you source the information for your content? I imagine, I mean, in your industry, you need to show thought leadership and expertise. So how do you source that information from experts to create that kind of content?

Ignacio Blanco 11:41
Yes, when creating content, for example, I organized recently a webinar on 5G and industry for that scope. For this, I didn’t want to create a webinar that is only Hexagon people talking about this topic. So we engaged different magazines in our industry and they supported the event, they participated. So one of them was moderating directly the webinar—it was including our partner in this field that is Ericsson, another Swedish company. You know, the point was to show something that is valuable from different angles when creating content and when giving insights to the customer because if it comes from a single voice from the company, it can be quite limited. So if you want a wider perspective on every topic, I think it’s always good to partner with people that have the same values, the same business goals, and they have different points of view. So I always try to mix different resources and to create something that is adding value to the customer.

Shaheen Samavati 13:05
Yeah, I wanted to ask you about the importance of partnerships and co-marketing, I guess this kind of goes into that topic. How do you use that?

Ignacio Blanco 13:15
Yes. Well, co-marketing—as you said before—is very much related to thought leadership and trust for the market and for customers, no? For example, as I said, we are working with Ericsson, we are working closely with Microsoft. So we are organizing joint webinars, guest blogging, panels. So, I feel we have with those two for example at Hexagon, Microsoft and Ericsson. We share similar business goals, we all have the main expertise and authority in the market. So, in addition, a very important factor here is that we are sharing the same values. When you’re working within marketing teams, they have a very modern approach and they are also very pragmatic, they like to get to the point, but they love new processes and try new formats. They are always open to listen to you and incorporate new things into their own strategy. So I think that’s the right partnership strategy. But coming back to the importance of good content here— when it comes to the partnerships—we have just co-created with Ericsson on an industry report—a white paper. But as I said before, the focus is the use cases for the customer and the customer pain points. So this report is intended to be a valuable resource with great content, great insights, but the branding of Ericsson and Hexagon is not the priority here. It was done by experts in this case. When you told me about the resources, the best resource is always the experts in the different subjects. So we counted on the experts, analysts, and copywriters. So it’s a great marketing tool in the end and it has been driven by a specialist in quantity. So I’m very happy with the result.

Shaheen Samavati 15:43
I was curious because of course 2020 has been a very strange year. So has that made it easier or more difficult to do these kinds of collaborations?

Ignacio Blanco 15:54
It didn’t change, it didn’t change too much in my particular case because I have a global position. It means I’m working with people in completely different regions, and not only in Europe. So it didn’t change too much the way to interact internally. Obviously, we all miss the live meetings and the personnel, contacts with the teams and these kind of things, but for the smart manufacturing topic that we were discussing before, I think it has been good… well, maybe good is not the right word, but it has been relatable to customers the way they realised we had to do something that is accessible remotely, that we the company can go ahead with the smart processes, with people really connected and that we are not attached to that box, that is the factory for example. So I mean for us, for my marketing department, it hasn’t been so dramatically changed. But I have seen that for customers, it has been a way to open thier eyes to realize that the digital transformation is something that they need because if something like Corona happens now, unfortunately, they need to find a way to keep the production up and running and people talking together with access to data and overcome the complexity of on premises networks and structure. So I didn’t notice so much this issue in my role but I have seen that for customers it has been dramatic and they are waking up and opening their eyes to the digital transformation.

Shaheen Samavati 18:05
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Very timely. So let’s finish off with some of your recommendations. Could you share with us your favorite or best productivity hack?

Ignacio Blanco 18:18
I try to be very structured and also very pragmatic, it’s very complex when dealing with technology, very different people and very different products. I’m not an engineer so I have to update constantly about what the technology is about and dive deep into every product from a technical point of view. But when it comes to marketing, personally, I don’t believe in meetings and more meetings and calls without takeaways, those calls that are just to kick off something and start or initiate any project. For me there has to be a roadmap, a clear scope of work and actions after the meetings. So for all my projects, I always predefine a concept map—this is the hack that you were asking about. It’s a concept map for every single project where I play with the ideas, actions, I move the elements, does it makes sense or is this assumption right or not. Who could take the lead in this area, or who is able or not. I try to attend those calls that I said before with a clear diagram that I share during the meetings. Then during the discussion it’s something flexible, it’s a live document, a working document and we can adapt the concepts during the discussion and the different points of view and the others’ ideas. So by the end of the call, the meeting, the whiteboard should have evolved towards something more specific and with clear takeaways for everyone. It’s not just a video call where you see each other and you exchange ideas. But in addition, I tend to share this whiteboard, my screen, and I’m definitely saving a lot of time. It helped me and the team as well to get to the point very easily.

Shaheen Samavati 20:36
Yeah, so doing that pre-work, allows people to just make decisions during the meeting and move forward on the project rather than brainstorming, right?

Ignacio Blanco 20:44

Shaheen Samavati 20:45
Makes a lot of sense—great tip. And then, do you have a recommended event, group or hashtag?

Ignacio Blanco 20:53
Honestly, I don’t have a specific event or group to bring up here. But this question is really interesting to me because what I have seen is that marketing, content creation, etc., is becoming an important complement to shows, affairs relating to completely different topics. For example, I attended the in January, CES in Las Vegas. The show itself is about consumer electronics, so it’s not really marketing related…

Shaheen Samavati 21:29
I’ve been there actually as well.

Ignacio Blanco 21:31
Oh yeah? Yeah, it’s a great show. I think next year it will happen again, but let’s see. It’s focused on TVs, autonomous vehicles, drones, smart homes but in parallel to that, part of the show, the products on the consumer electronics, there were plenty of options around the show itself, they had a great agenda on marketing and content creation and storytelling. There were really great workshops around the show in different buildings, hotels. So my conclusion about this question that you asked about is that in addition to the traditional marketing events, that probably we all know and that I can discover eventually here, there are new opportunities that we all should keep on our radar and it’s not directly about marketing, but different industries are converging together because they all need marketing and content strategies, right? So I’s say this is the insight that I can give.

Shaheen Samavati 22:58
Yeah, there’s definitely been a trend like technology events going towards or having marketing aspects to their events as well, it’s the same with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well.

Ignacio Blanco 23:10
Exactly. Yeah.

Shaheen Samavati 23:14
I also just wanted to ask if you have any marketing related publication or resource that you recommend?

Ignacio Blanco 23:21
Again, I think we should also look at non-traditional media in this field because I don’t feel I can say too much or recommend new media that we all know, the big ones. But, for example, I really like two magazines: Harvard Business Review, or Fast Company. So you might think that they are only about business but they have really great insights on creativity, innovation, social media, leadership… So I think both magazines, Harvard Business Review and Fast Company, could actually be a good recommendation because they touch, from a different perspective, things that are insightful and inspirational when doing marketing.

Shaheen Samavati 24:20
Yeah, absolutely, totally agree with those recommendations. Your favorite software tool or app?

Ignacio Blanco 24:26
Yes, connecting this with the productivity hack. In line with that, I love Miro—I don’t know if you know the app, the URL is It’s a collaboration software tool that I will define more precisely as an advanced online whiteboard. So I like it because you can outline, in line with the preparation of any project or any meeting with the team, you can outline there already the skeleton, the structure of very complex ideas or processes. So you can clean up the projects and the ideas and the approach very easily and in a very visual way, so that’s a good thing. So for project managemen and for mind mapping, I think it’s really a great tool. I highly recommend it. So if you try it, you don’t need to learn too much, it’s very intuitive and similar to PowerPoint, but an online version that in real time you can play with mind mapping that could be really complex about a complete portfolio and you can shape it in real time with the team members. I love it. It’s my favorite app today.

Shaheen Samavati 25:55
Very cool. Yeah, in that area there seems to be a lot of development happening there so it’s really relevant, obviously, for all the online meetings we’re having now and I’ve heard a couple of other ones mentioned on the podcast recently so it’s super interesting. I’ll add that to my list to check out. So we’re reaching the end of the interview, but I just wanted to give you a final chance to give us some parting advice for other marketers in Europe or final takeaways?

Ignacio Blanco 26:21
Well, I said at the beginning of this interview that I consider that when you want to focus on marketing and content creation, I think it’s always good that you approach the position as a cross functional role. I think it’s good to keep up to date when it comes to trends. If possible, focus on specific industry or try to specialize and learn things about something that is completely different. It’s not just your background, that you are a good copywriter, you know about SEO, digital marketing, ad words. If you can complement this with something that is more unique, that you’re specialized in any sort of technology or industry. I think it’s always a good point and the market will always appreciate it.

Shaheen Samavati 27:27
Absolutely. I completely agree with that. Well, thank you so much, Ignacio, for sharing your insights with us today.

Ignacio Blanco 27:33
Thank you very much for inviting me.

Shaheen Samavati 27:35
It’s a pleasure to have you and thanks, everyone for listening in. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out and keep tuning into the podcast. See you next time. Bye!

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