Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow who is EMEA marketing director at HubSpot:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here today with Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow who is EMEA marketing director at HubSpot, and has over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome again, and thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix.

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 0:32
Thank you for having me.

Carlota Pico 0:34
It’s our pleasure. I’m a big fan of HubSpot. So I’m so excited to pick your brain on so many different topics. But to get this interview started, I’d like to ask you about your background, a bit about HubSpot for our audience who doesn’t know about it and also how you got into your current role.

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 0:52
Sure, yeah. I mean, it’s been a ride at HubSpot. I’ve been a HubSpot for seven years and I joined back In 2013, when HubSpot just decided to open its first international office in Dublin, and the journey back then was really just like exploring what other countries are there for HubSpot to go into. And my responsibility initially was to really go after the German speaking market. I’m from Germany myself, so I’m kind of, you know, suited—it worked out. And that’s how the journey started with HubSpot. And now, I’m overlooking all of EMEA, which is obviously very exciting. And yeah, we’ve seen tremendous growth over the past years.

Carlota Pico 1:33
Okay. Excellent. And what is HubSpot?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 1:36
HubSpot is… let me describe it in a way that like everybody understands. So, we’re trying to solve for every business that needs like the best suite of front office solutions. So marketing, automations, sales, CRM and service software. Were kind of the sweet spot for SMBs to have a very friendly, user-friendly software and we’re offering that in multiple languages by now. And yeah, that’s kind of our our sweet spot.

Carlota Pico 2:07
Okay, well I consume your content all the time. Actually, HubSpot is one of my go to resources whenever I want to learn or double check on anything that has to do with content marketing. I’m always just looking at your blog and reading it and it’s great. It’s absolutely fantastic. And congratulations to all your content team across the world. Looking back at your experience as part of HubSpot’s team over the past seven years, what major professional lessons have you learned, Inken?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 2:36
Good question. I think there are obviously many… you have your like good times and bad times, I think throughout the seven years. Looking back, I think you know, some key learnings initially when you when you start something and with HubSpot is obviously going into a new region going into new language. You’re always left with this question like what do I prioritize and is hard, right? Because you want to do it all. And I think what I really learned is like so important to invest into organic traffic. And don’t underestimate how much value that brings for your long term growth. So it’s been like, lesson number one, really. Lesson number two is kind of like, try not to do it all at once. Even though you’re eager to start on your like, with every marketer, you know, we’re small teams, we usually you know, want to conquer every channel, we have thought you lose focus, I think very, very easily if you do that. So it sounds hard. But I think like prioritizing focusing on just a few channels, getting them right, and making sure you keep your customer at heart and like always solve for the customers really important. And I think last lastly, it was like scaling teams. And, you know, lesson learned there in a hard way also is like hiring and how important hiring is. It’s time consuming. Sometimes, you know, it takes way more time out of your schedule than you initially thought. But it’s super important. I think, you know, when I’m hiring, always trying to find the next superstar and the next person that, you know, brings a different background, or a different view or a different expertise to the team, so that we constantly level up, pretty much. And yeah, I think that’s been kind of like three major, major lessons for sure.

Carlota Pico 4:28
Okay. This actually leads me to an article that I recently read by Gary Vaynerchuk. He said that skills can be taught and trained for and that it’s really important to look for qualities in people, especially qualities in new hire. What qualities do you look for when it comes to new hires?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 4:46
Yeah. So I think like, you know, I always want to trust my team hundred percent. Like now we’re all remote, so there’s very little you can really manage. You don’t see the person working and I think a lot of managers really struggle with that. So for me, it’s like being able to build that trustful relationship with somebody. Having somebody that shows empathy—super important for me, because I think we’re all working within a team. So somebody needs to be able to adopt, needs to show that empathy, needs to work with others. Adaptability is another major kind of skill. I think that’s really important because we’re ever-changing and marketing. So if you don’t like change, it’s going to be tough, right? Because every day is different, every month is different. We’ve seen it this year how much has changed already. So those sort of things are, I think, really important.

Carlota Pico 5:36
Yeah, no, it makes me have that little nervous laugh in terms of… things have changed so much—COVID-19—oh, gosh, please, let’s not go into a second wave. Okay, moving into remote working because you are a remote work leader. You manage teams from across the EMEA market. So, what advice would you have for teams to work effectively in a remote setting? Because I also find it challenging. I mean, I oversee a team and sometimes it’s what you said, I mean, I don’t know what they’re doing it every single second of the day, and therefore sometimes that leads to micromanagement, but I don’t want to be a micromanager. And so it relies—it makes me have to trust what my team is doing. But that’s easier said than done. So what tips do you have for remote managers like myself?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 6:31
Yeah, I think, you know, start to think about like that everybody has positive intent. I assume that when I hire people, you know, they’re not going to watch Netflix 24/7 when I expect them to work. Fingers crossed that’s not what’s happening. But honestly, I think it’s like, it’s taking time. First of all, give yourself that time to get used to remote management. I, when I started the remote management, like the first three months were like nuts, honestly. I was so overworked, it stressed me out. I was like, Oh my God, am I ever going to get used to this. You know, I have teams in different locations, different time zones. So it takes time to get the right structure to know like when you need to check in with somebody. And please don’t feel you have to do the daily kind of stand ups, just to know what people are doing on the day. It’s not necessary. If you trust people, weekly one-on-ones as you would have them in the office are fine. You know, because you know, there’s so much that changes throughout the day anyways. And then if you want to have a conversation, hop on Slack and just like start Zoom meeting immediately. Slacking back and forth is fine, you know, texting some information, but if you can have like those five minutes on camera chats in between meetings, or in between days where you’re not like seeing each other. That’s really helpful. And then what I started doing is like I wrote down a document which I call “How To Work With Me” doc. And it kind of entails my routine when working remotely. So, you know, in the morning I go horseback riding, so you won’t get me into meetings at like 8am or 9am., even. I start my day later. And then I have my, you know, preference Slack in terms of communication, not email. I share, like, what my delight moments are, like how I like to, you know, share time with my family. And I also share things that I’m not doing so well, right, like, I hate when people don’t deliver on deadlines, so things that like could annoy me or it could be conflict. And I got to do that document. I shared it with my entire team and everybody created it, created their version of it. And when we had a discussion, it was really helpful to just learn something about each other. And even though we’ve worked together for many years, it was definitely something we didn’t know about each other

Carlota Pico 8:56
Inken, I love that! I’m gonna have to create my own “Get to know me” document. That’s a great advice. Okay. And I also love that you like horses. I’m a big fan of animals just in general and horseback riding is definitely one of my top sports as well. Okay, what about the opportunities that remote work offers to companies? So for example, Twitter, Google…loads of different tech companies have announced that they’re going to go fully remote until at least 2021. So what about the opportunities? Can we zoom into that as well?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 9:29
I think like everybody has to start thinking about remote work. If you haven’t started like it’s already too late. We’ve started this—I was one of the first to go remote, I think it was like three years ago, and then the population and HubSpot in terms of remote people has just grown. Like now we’re like over 600 remote employees at HubSpot alone. And I think it just gives you the opportunity to hire lots of different people and to hire like talent that you never had access to before because suddenly, you know, you don’t need somebody sitting in Berlin, you just look for the best person in the country. And you hire them. And it just like, opens up so many possibilities. Plus, you can keep people, you can retain them, because I think a lot of people early on in their career, they’re moving, you know, for job, they’re open to move, they don’t mind. Once you settle down, it’s really hard to get somebody to move, especially in the more senior positions. Companies often expect, like, hey, I need you to be in London. I’m like, sorry, I live in Germany, I don’t want to move to London. So I think, you know, companies will have to change managers have to really, really excel remote management in the next years.

Carlota Pico 10:43
Okay, but what about like isolation and burnout and anxiety. Remote environments can sometimes lead to really difficult mental health issues as well because oftentimes, one just feels alone because they don’t really have a team right next to them. So how—what are some tips to combating those type of really tough subjects?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 11:04
Yeah, I mean, let’s be honest, remote is not for everybody, right? Some people enjoy it. Some people say like, I could never do it or I had to do it in the past three months—I hate it. I want to go back to the office, which is totally fine. I think there will be a world where we’ll have both probably happening at the same time. But I think in general, like first of all culture needs to happen in the office, but also remotely, it’s not bound to an office. So company culture is super, super important here when you start having remote employees because they need to feel included as part of the company.And the more you make it easier for people to have the same experience over Zoom or virtually the better, connect with people on a regular basis. One of my tips… have casual coffee chats with people so you don’t have that alone feeling. I usually you know, I have so many Zoom meetings, I never feel alone. But like if I ever want to talk to somebody and I have like a rough day, I know my go to people. And then what has been like eye opening, I think as well as like, yes, you tend to overwork yourself a little bit more because you don’t have this break where somebody comes in and ask you to go for lunch. But I got to really learn like you have to own your calendar. If I’m going horseriding I’m going to put that on my calendar, my team knows I’m not going to be working. If I have, you know, a gym session in the afternoon, I’ll put that in. So feel okay to break up your day because this is obviously also the advantage of working remotely and you should definitely take advantage of it because it is so important for your mental health as well.

Carlota Pico 12:46
Okay, now moving into EMEA marketing—into our day to day job—ISo when it comes to content your CEO, HubSpot’s CEO, said the following: “What separates good content from great content is the willingness to take risks and push the envelope.” Taking it to a marketing level, what do you think separates good marketing from great marketing in the EMEA region?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 13:09
I like to think about marketing, like, kind of what positive impact does that have on your audience? When you think about regional marketing, it’s like, what does it take to regionalize a piece of content? You know, how do you have to think about your audience? How different is your audience. Really important to kind of take that next step up to not just localize content, but to create native content to really know your persona, solve for your customer. Is this piece adding value or not? Well, if it’s not, then you’re not creating any great experience. So let’s just not do it. And it takes a little bit more time, but it’s worth the effort because you’re really kind of getting that reward from your customers and from your community.

Carlota Pico 14:00
Okay, so that sounds fantastic, but it’s a lot easier said than done. So what are some tips in terms of creating valuable content?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 14:10
We use something at HubSpot where we try to understand the journey our customers take and like what topics they searched for and I think you could argue Hubspots invested a ton in content, you know, we have lots of busy writer and content creators. So top tip is like, we tend to look at like problems people face and challenges they try to overcome and then create solutions for that and either as a tool or webinar, content piece, whatever it is. We do this on a kind of monthly or quarterly basis based on on the teams. And then we get going and we create the content. We’re like, “Okay, this is relevant for each marke, so we’ll invest into it,” and actually, you know, comparing localized content to native created content, native content turns out to be cheaper in production sometimes. So, you know, it’s not always how it sounds that it’s more expensive.

Carlota Pico 15:08
Okay, very interesting. So just spinning off that response, what brands do you think will disrupt the market? And what do they bring to the table that makes them stand out? So one of my favorite brands, of course, its HubSpot, but apart from HubSpot, what other brands are disrupting the market?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 15:24
Yeah, I think like we’ve seen so many pop up during even you know, this like whole remote working experience, like Zoom is one of the companies that has been kind of really kind of outstanding in terms of performance and helping people as well, I think—I enabling the community to use a leverage tool for free, you know. And Slack the same. I think Slack was so quick in their response on like giving people the option to use it for bigger communities, for nonprofits. I got so many great examples where people said like, I reached out to Slack and I asked them like to use it for you know, one of my business needs for free, and they were like, sure we want to help you, we’ll give you this version for six months, and you can use it for free. And there’s so many you know, tech companies adopting video to this and offering more value. And taking those as like kind of a way of like giving back almost a little bit to the community and in a way that they can. Shopify, another good example as well, I think I even had to create an online shop for my mom, because she runs her own business and everything closed, right? And I was like, “What do I do?” And I turned to Shopify, and I just, you know, spun up an online shop within like, literally a week. And I think I could not have done this without, you know, the easy solution that Shopify offered. And on top of that, I think they were really responsive. Like they obviously knew a lot of people had the same troubles. So there’s lots of helpful content and education. So I think those are great examples.

Carlota Pico 16:58
Okay, excellent. So companies that provide value, companies that really care about their customers, companies that are invested in their product and continuously pivot in their strategies in order to provide more value to their end users.

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 17:12
Yeah, definitely.

Carlota Pico 17:13
Now moving into go-to-market strategies, because of course, you’re also an expert in that, having helped HubSpot move into so many markets across the EMEA region. What are a few key questions that every go-to-market model needs to address?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 17:29
Yeah, I think like you, obviously, always start with your persona, like, who do you want to target? Who do you want to reach? And I think like, you know, usually you interview some of the existing customers, if you already have some, you know, that’s always kind of the key point, like, get in touch with your audience. As marketers, we tend to be in the background, right? Because they usually have sales in front. They get to talk to all these people all day and marketing’s always like like, “Oh, sure, we’ll analyze some data and we’ll do some research.” But like, honestly talk to people, like get to know who is buying from you and like, how does that buying process even work? What do people consider? Like how do they talk? Like, how does their day to day look like? Super, super important because otherwise you don’t know how you can become that experienced disrupter, which is really important nowadays that you have figured out, like, what customer experience you need in that industry to stand out, which is a big part of your go-to-market strategy. And I think then, is it something that you can scale? How scalable is it and which are your distribution channels? Also really important obviously for your marketing to know how you get that scalability.

Carlota Pico 18:45
You’re making me remember my days as an entrepreneur, I was actually a tech founder back in Boston in 2015, which is when I discovered HubSpot and became such a big fan of HubSpot. But anyways, during my time as an entrepreneur, I mean surveys were my bread and butter of every single day. I would just literally sit outside of Harvard, MIT, all these massive universities, and just ask people to fill in quick surveys just so that I understood how they were going to eventually use a product that I was developing, and if they found it useful as well. So I think that’s incredible advice, just really getting out and talking to people so that you understand how they’re consuming your content and how they’re eventually going to use your products as well. Okay, what about people like myself back in the day that were on a low budget… So how do you develop a winning go-to-market strategy on a low budget, Inken?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 19:37
Yeah, I think like, that obviously comes back to like, you know, what is really important for you to initially connect with your audience and like which other channels—choose wisely. You know, LinkedIn is perfect example for b2b. It works so well right now because, you know, there’s still such a chance… Let’s be honest—marketers, once we know, “Oh, there’s a new channel!” we ruin it, ruin it for everybody, because we just like try to get all the energy out of that channel, like email, you know, like, yes, we still use it for like, obviously was way more effective like 10 years ago when it was still new. But I think that’s like also where you have to kind of like adopt really easily to your strategy and say, listen, the next two years, we’re gonna see if we can win this channel, because we know our audience is there and be super, super efficient in terms of building thouught leadership. And you don’t need much money for that. You just need to be smart in the way like how you position yourself and like how you add value with content, with advice, with insights, with data you can share, and you can recycle a lot of content as well. I think a lot of people always think like you have to reinvent the wheel and you have to like create so much on top of everything else. You don’t. There’s… with this podcast, for instance, the chance to recycle this in so many different ways. You can take snippets, you can create like some kind of campaign out of it, or just like taking parts of the video, parts of the interview, you can obviously put it like as a podcast. So like, get creative, because I think this is what is really needed when you have a limited budget.

Carlota Pico 21:19
And I would also add patience. I think a lot of people are just impatient. So they’re always trying to get ahead of the curve, but I think one really has to focus on what they’re doing right then and, and why they’re doing it and just know that it’s a long term game. It’s a long term play, especially in content marketing. It’s not putting up an ad and seeing how many clicks you get. It’s really investing time into valuable content. And that requires patience and persistence for sure. Okay, and to finish this section off, before we move into our rapid fire section, I’d like to ask you zoom into an international marketing campaign or project that you’re particularly proud of and what made it so special. Also, obviously purpose. Let’s keep the purpose in mind—why you decided to do that in the first place?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 22:07
Yeah, I think like one of our kind of like crisis management campaigns really this year was like, figuring out what we need to do to help our audience. And we call this campaign “Adapt.” And obviously, was suited because people had to adapt companies have to adapt during this year. And we then designed like weekly, helpful content on like to help people like figure out like, how do you bring your event strategy online? Like how to engage with your audience? How much emails should you send during corona times? You know, what is normal? And like we shared like tons of data from our customers as well, like how they were doing…like how long the sales cycle was going to be in during these times. What was the email open rate—the averages from across different industries. And our whole purpose was only to really serve our customers. First of all, you know, so this was like many customer driven. But it turned out that so many people who didn’t know us found the content so useful that the whole campaign turned out to be very, very successful and very helpful for a lot of people. And we’ve got great coverage like we reached our audience, like people reached out to us they were like, thank you so much, this is like really helping me right now because I need to navigate this like new thing. And yeah, I think we shipped this with like a small team. So I think I could say it was definitely proud of my team for that.

Carlota Pico 23:39
That’s a fantastic example and congratulations as well. Moving into our last set of questions, which are a rapid set, rapid fire set of questions, it’s your recommendations to our for audience. ato get the section started off. I’d like to ask you about your source of inspiration, Inken. So an influencer, professional role model that you really admire.

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 23:59
Yeah, I think like, I will go off topic here a little bit because I think marketing influencers, there are a ton of them. A person I really admire in terms of leadership is Simon Sinek. And you know, I think I would also like really recommend one of his books, he has written a ton… Leaders Eat Last. There are a ton of them, I think. And he always… first of all has great content, he interviews really interesting people, he gives great advice on like, why leadership is so important and how to build a strong culture and a strong team. And I just like never get tired of him, I think. So, always a person I go back to. And when I feel down sometimes as a manager, even I just want to get that energy back. Because there can be good times, but there can also be bad times.

Carlota Pico 24:48
Definitely. Okay, so spinning off of that response, I’m going to throw a curveball at you. Where do you imagine yourself the next seven years?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 24:55
Where do I see myself? So, I think I definitely like want to continue my path of leadership and go more on like different kind of international growth, want to expand into other regions, I think, you know, see Germany’s scale, see France’s scale, like, you know, what’s the next kind of level up there? And, you know, have my own, you know, vision for like how to scale. Definitely want to stay in the tech industry. I think it’s really, really interesting. SaaS, you know, is something that excites me. For some people sounds super boring to be like in b2b, but like, I think like, you know, if you have a great product and you solve a problem, like, it’s still exciting to do marketing, so I see myself continuing on that journey for sure.

Carlota Pico 25:46
Okay, excellent. And to finish off today’s interview, I’m going to ask you, what’s your favorite app at the moment, and why?

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 25:54
So I thought, you know, like, a lot of people ask me this question all the time, because I think the obvious answer for this time right now is obviously Slack and Zoom. But what I have been starting to use more and more to just communicate with my team without having to set up a meeting is like Loom. honestly just create a short video where I record myself, I share information. And it’s been super helpful, super quick and easy to do. So one of a kind of like my remote apps, you know, for remote management. I like to really use on on a weekly basis almost.

Carlota Pico 26:28
Okay, and again, you’re such an inspirational female role model. So thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix. It was a pleasure to chat with you and to pick your brain on so many different subjects. I’ve learned so much.

Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow 26:41
Thank you so much for inviting me.

Carlota Pico 26:44
The pleasure has been mine, and to everybody listening in today. Thank you for joining us all he Content Mix. For more perspectives on 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. Thanks again, have a fantastic day and see you next time. Bye bye!

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