Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with VeraContent’s Shaheen Samavati and Irina Cardos, global marketing communications manager for ABB, on the importance of case studies in the B2B sphere:

Shaheen Samavati 0:13
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Irina Cardos, global marketing communications manager for a global technology firm ABB. Thanks so much for joining us Irina.

Irina Cardos 0:24
Thank you for having me, Shaheen.

Shaheen Samavati 1:03
Yeah. So for some context, ABB is a huge global company, you’ve got over 90,000 employees around the world and it’s based in Zurich, right?

Irina Cardos 1:13
Yeah in Switzerland, we have more than 130 years of history, more than 110,000 employees and more than 100 countries where we’re a part of.

Shaheen Samavati 1:32
You’re based in Romania. Is that right?

Irina Cardos 1:34
Yeah, I’m based in Bucharest, Romania.

Shaheen Samavati 1:37
Is that where you’re from? How did you end up working from Romania for a company in Switzerland?

Irina Cardos 1:45
Yeah, I’m from Bucharest, I’m from Romania. I’ve always worked here with some periods in other countries, just exchanges either professionally or educational wise. But doing this global, being part of this global team, doing marketing communications that are global doesn’t really matter where you are. So it’s irrelevant not only to the current context, but it’s also irrelevant to the line of work that you do, you just have to be there for all the time zones around the globe. So it’s a good fit.

Shaheen Samavati 2:32
So maybe you could tell us a bit about your background and how you got into these global marketing roles?

Irina Cardos 2:39
So I graduated from two universities a political science one and an international economics one. I just bundled them in a management and governance master’s degree. So you wouldn’t say I got to be global marketing communications, right? But while I was in university, I started working in the business media, firstly as an editor and over the years I worked my way up as an editor-in-chief. The business and media environments are strongly connected with events, organizing marketing and sales for the magazine. So I just started slowly my marketing communication career. The background definitely helped and made it possible. I had a very good grasp, a good hands-on grasp of the whole end to end customer journey, back end capabilities because I was doing execution from day one. From there, I just slowly started to gain expertise and actually practicing it, firstly with small accounts, then with bigger accounts. At the beginning, locally, then regionally and for four years now, globally.

Shaheen Samavati 3:50
What made you decide to go from publishing into the corporate world?

Irina Cardos 3:56
Well, I was publishing in the corporate world. My first function as an editor in chief was for Business Woman Magazine. So I had a very good connection. I was doing interviews with CEOs, presidents, managing partners, so it was really interesting, it gave me a very wide view of why things are happening and how they’re happening. Except for what you actually get to publish, you know the whole interview behind so you have very good knowledge. I was impressed and I was attracted to it. I really wanted to go more in depth and to gain expertise in one specific domain that would bundle my skills, because I couldn’t be an engineer now, it’s too late for that.

Shaheen Samavati 4:56
Cool. So you wanted to keep building on your strengths. So could you tell us more about what you do now? What’s a typical day at work like for you and what’s your areas of responsibility as a global marketing communications manager?

Irina Cardos 5:09
So a typical day, I think for everyone right now in this context, but for us in the global team, it was even before the COVID situation. But it’s a typical day for everyone I guess, managing a lot of calls, to do lists and emails, but practically it actually means building relations, discovering organization continuously, developing content, managing expectations for that content, and everything that’s going to bring, very, very good proactive communication. Being remote, if you don’t proactively create communication, it doesn’t happen. So you don’t just bump into your colleagues at coffee, or at lunchtime and good stakeholder involvement. That’s not only internal, so I’m not just talking about internal communication, it’s also external with agencies, third parties, customers when it’s the case, so the stakeholders can mean from local or regional communications teams in all time zones, it can mean business management team, it can mean marketing teams and then you go to the sales team, you go to the practical people, the tech people in our organization, and you also need to get the best content out of them. So it means a lot of communication, a lot of creative work for doing content, and a very good grasp of your strategy and always having that in mind. Because you can easily, you know, working with all the people, working with everyone’s agendas and what their main drivers are, you can easily go off track with yours. So there’s a lot of managing, but there’s also a lot of execution in it. That’s one day and that just gets replayed over and over.

Shaheen Samavati 7:19
So I guess you have, are you managing a team of content creators, then also coordinating with other stakeholders in the company, it sounds like?

Irina Cardos 7:28
Yeah. I’m also doing content. I work with people that do content. So everyone pitches in, so to say, I also manage them but I also create content. It depends, we create from case studies, from strategies to case studies, to everything that’s really practical and in line with a customer centric marketing communication strategy. Then all the tactics that have to go along with that content because nowadays it’s really, really hard, even if you have qualitative and value added content, if you don’t have and you’re not going on a multi-channel approach, you can’t really have relevant content out there. Everyone has gone digital and more so in the current context than before. It’s like they pressed acceleration for everyone, even countries that were more traditional. That means for us that content has to be even higher from a qualitative perspective and it has to be multi channelled and communicated everywhere. It has to be in line and that’s the challenge. You have to have everyone in line, you have to have coherent and cohesive communication and content. So that from a customer centric view, you’re looking at the same thing.

Shaheen Samavati 9:02
Maybe you can give us an example of a great piece of content that you’ve produced recently to give us an idea of the kind of content that you usually do?

Irina Cardos 9:11
Well, we have a lot of good case studies. So my initial response would be to tell you to stay tuned, because I’m in ABB since August last year and we’ve prepared a lot of interesting things coming up this year and we’re about to launch them. But if you want to look at something that we’ve already executed on and we have it out there it’s case studies. Case studies for our industry for a business, the business communication approach, they’re the best content you can have. They’re the way our customers vouch or give their appraisals or their feedback, just their feedback on how we responded to their needs, how our project was executed, developed, and then the results of it. It’s really good to know not only from a numbers perspective, but also from a communication perspective and a content perspective, because that’s what we’re talking about. How they’re impacted, how they describe it through their words and how it’s seen out there. From a marketer it’s the most important thing and that’s why we really value the case studies we get, they’re really hard to get, you have to have relevant information, it has to be qualitative, it has to be a quantitative way of looking at it at the project delivered. Also you have to be engaging, wanting to engage customers, that give you the permission for external communications. Therefore the results you get is really good. So on our website, we have a lot of case studies. From a content perspective, they’re video, they’re audio, they’re web stories, so they’re only written and they can be in several shapes and forms. But I think they’re the best representation of the work that we do overall as an organization.

Shaheen Samavati 11:40
Yeah. Do you have any tips for consistently putting out great case studies, kind of like the process for doing it?

Irina Cardos 11:53
That’s hard. It’s hard because I think the best tip, and this goes back to what we were saying about communication, the best tip is to have good communication with your team first. The local teams we have they’re great. I don’t just mean marketing communications, also sales because they are the point of contact with the customer. The most important thing is follow up, follow up, follow up. It’s so hard to get content, because everyone has a lot of other things to do. Most of the people involved in the whole line or the streamlining of this process, aren’t focused on what you’re focused from a communications perspective and from a content perspective. This means that you just have to go ahead, motivate each person with what works for them and then actually get to it. In the end, it’s really just a lot of follow up because the first draft that you get is just the beginning. It can take a lot of time until you get the quality of content you want. But for tips and tricks, I think that makes the most. It’s always about picking up the phone, not just sending emails and giving deadlines. It’s talking to the people, understanding what’s happening, how it’s happening, actually doing a lot of research before going into the case study. It takes down a lot of steps if you do the right research before.

Shaheen Samavati 13:38
If there was one case study that we have to look at that you’re super proud of, which one do you think is your best case study right now?

Irina Cardos 13:48
Of course, I’m tempted to say the last one but it’s also interesting. The last one is about a hydropower plant in Switzerland, and how we’ve helped its digitalization transformation. So it’s mainly based only on digital systems that help them create hydropower. So it’s really interesting, I’m going to give you the link.

Shaheen Samavati 14:19
Yeah, definitely. We’ll put it in the blog post.

Irina Cardos 14:23
It’s also interesting for people generally that aren’t necessarily in the industry. That’s why I gave this example because you realize how developed we are actually at, for example, something that’s really sustainable for the future in creating power and energy from hydro sources. So it’s really important to understand that everything I’d say someone from business to business does has an impact in the end for everyone and we’re contributing to that, so I’m really proud of it.

Shaheen Samavati 15:00
Very cool. So it sounds like the case studies are a great way to understand how the technology is actually implemented and used. Cool. So I wanted to ask you, what do you think some companies get wrong when it comes to content marketing? Or on the flip side, what does it take to get content right, what mistakes do people make and what’s the solution?

Irina Cardos 15:30
Mistakes… and I’m doing it also, but we learn from mistakes. Talking more than listening. In content marketing, you really have to have, this goes two ways, you really have to be customer centric. So we’re not really into creating content that fits our purposes, our agenda, our strategy, this is what we want to push. It’s not product content marketing, it’s more on customer needs product content marketing. So the outside in thinking is what most of us do wrongly and you don’t do it consciously. It just happens because you’re into the stream and you’re so deep into it that at some point, you just need a clear head looking at it and saying, this is about you. It’s not about the needs. I think that’s what goes wrong most of the time. But it’s also the way of disseminating the content. Right now, in the current context, everyone is really pushing digitally, everything. It’s more focused on how many touch points an end customer has, right? End customer, whatever that means for a B2B or a B2C industry. How many times have I pushed this content to him? Does he see it on social media? Great. Now I want to go on TV, now I want to go on everything, which is great. At the same time, it has to be relevant. So it goes back, there’s so much out there as an end customer. If you’re customer centric, you realize that the customer is being bombarded through all the tactics that you get from a marketing communication professional. But at some point, it’s so bombarded, it creates so much noise, that they’re not going to look at anything anymore. They’re just going to close, then I’m not interested anymore, it’s too much. So then I think it’s more important to what the content is, that qualitative part. We go back to making it from a customer centric perspective, not from what I want to push perspective. In the end, if you nurture that customer and you go with them through the journey, in the end it becomes to be interested also in the details behind your product or whatever you’re selling from marketing communication.

Shaheen Samavati 18:09
Definitely. Yeah, I totally agree. I was curious, in your industry over the past year with everything that’s happening, obviously with the global pandemic, how much has that changed the approach to marketing in the marketing mix and where you’re focusing marketing efforts? You’ve implied that things are going a lot more digital, but what’s been the implication of that overall?

Irina Cardos 18:32
Well, they were going digital anyways. It was 70-80% digital before the pandemic started. But I did say that we pushed acceleration. Right now it’s really, really getting close to 90 and something digital. So we’re not anymore focused so much on traditional because you really can’t go out there with traditional. People don’t get it. Physically, they’re not going to be in touch with it anymore.

Shaheen Samavati 19:12
By traditionally you mean like in person events and in person interaction?

Irina Cardos 19:16
Yeah, exactly. For us events right now have become digital, which switched the whole thing, which can mean not only conferences and things like that, but also it means webinars. Then again you go to content because everyone’s doing webinars now. So if before you had events in which we have a handover event, for example, where we also participated, everyone was like, you have to go there you have to be present physically, you can go and things like that from a customer perspective. Now, you have it digitally, so now it has just become much bigger, but at the same time in real direct competition with everything else that’s out there. You don’t have the boundaries anymore, you don’t have restrictions anymore. So it’s really hard and also at the same time, it’s really fast on educating people to get used to this. Obviously, you miss the social. When I say traditional, you have live interaction with the customers, you can get your hands on first hand information from them. How is it going? Does it impact you? What doesn’t work? What does work? Things like that. Now you have to request it, it’s like that proactive thing that not always works. At the same time they’re becoming educated and there are a lot of countries that aren’t so digital. So into digital tactics, and then to digital responses from them, which usually weren’t so open to digital, now you have to be. So it’s changing. I guess it’s just a normal development, faster than it was supposed to be.

Shaheen Samavati 21:22
Yeah, definitely. Speaking of different geographies, you’re responsible for creating content globally, I imagine? So how do you make sure that content resonates in all these different markets around the world?

Irina Cardos 21:39
Well we work closely with the local teams, they know best, regional teams know best. We never just take into consideration what we want to do. It’s more the other way around, we want to help get things done. That’s the idea, we’re working closely with them. Local organizations are the ones that are in contact with the end customer and not only that, but they’re really different. So each country, not only regions, regions are different definitely but also each country in a region is really different. A country from Eastern Europe is different from a country in Western Europe, not only from a digital perspective, how ready they are. Sometimes they’re more ready, or it depends. We also have a language barrier that we need to consider, everything we do globally needs to have some time to get localized. You need to have translations, it’s also a cultural approach—what can you do in specific regions of the world and what you cannot do? We do take into consideration when we do content, when do we launch it? Friday, for example, is a free day in Saudi Arabia or it depends. When do you launch things globally, so that they fit all time zones, all cultures, all schedules? How the pictures are done—everything has to take into consideration all the cultures of the world. They need to be easily changeable if they need to. So usually locally you don’t have that. Specifically what you want to do, you go with it and it’s more clear for you. You have your target clear, for me the target is really wide. So that means that it always has to be flexible. If it’s not flexible and simple at the same time, because you can imagine that each one of the regions or of the countries has their agenda, has the regional agenda, has the global agenda. Of course we’re in sync and we’re communicating a lot for it. But when I’m developing content, I have to take into consideration everything. Then a lot of feedback, integrating the feedback, another way of doing it. Then at the same time we get to the technology issues. Each region uses something differently. For example, you have social media. Twitter works best in the Americas, WeChat works best in China, LinkedIn in Europe, and then maybe US depends, you have to consider all of that when you do a communication plan and a content plan because the content comes with and it’s really different. Even in their social media, they’re definitely differently structured.

Shaheen Samavati 24:53
So when it comes to those different social media channels or different content channels in different markets, you have local people working on those or are you managing that all at the corporate level?

Irina Cardos 25:05
No, we don’t have the local teams. The most important thing is to be in the local language and they know their target. They know what to pick from our campaigns so that it fits their target and their strategy agenda, because strategies are different for each country. Each country is better at something, which doesn’t need to be the same thing as the other country. So it kind of depends.

Shaheen Samavati 25:43
Cool, super interesting. So I wanted to ask you about some of your recommendations. First of all, if you have any productivity hack you can share?

Irina Cardos 25:57
My productivity hack now, during COVID, is to walk and talk. So it’s good to get out for a walk. You don’t really have to stay in front of the computer and be online all the time. You can be online anywhere, you can be online during a walk. But communication being at the forefront of everything we do, internally, externally, it doesn’t matter. It’s my best productivity hack. So it helps me not stay in one place because then your productivity drops if you just stay in front of the computer for eight hours, right? If you’re in calls all day, at your fifth call, you’re like what did you say? Can you repeat that? Seriously, it’s normal, it’s human. But then if you go out for a walk around the house, and you’re in a hole, it’s a little bit different. So for me productivity hacks mean blending now the personal life with the professional life, and not getting stuck in a routine right now.

Shaheen Samavati 27:13
How do you do a walk and talk, with your phone I guess? Do you still do a video chat?

Irina Cardos 27:20
We don’t do video all the time. Sometimes we don’t and it’s not mandatory, if you’re walking obviously, you’re not going to be on video, but you’re definitely going to be on on sound. It depends on the meeting, it depends on what type of meeting you have. But it’s good to have a balance and it’s good just to go out, break the rhythm which you get into during the day. At some point, it’s just doing the same thing continuously and being alone, at home or in the office, even if you go in the office right now you’re alone because you have to stay like 10 yards away from the other person and you’re not socializing, you’re 10 people on the whole floor. So it helps, otherwise I don’t know, productivity can drop if you’re not doing proactive things to increase it. Conscious things.

Shaheen Samavati 28:33
Yeah, like stimulate yourself outside of the computer.

Irina Cardos 28:37

Shaheen Samavati 28:39
Makes a lot of sense. I’m gonna take that tip I think. I also do a lot of video calls. So, well, any favorite software tool or app right now?

Irina Cardos 28:51
Professionally, Salesforce because you can do everything with it. Personally Strava because I’m a runner. I jog, I do a lot of sports. It helps me keep sane and open minded. It really pumps up the energy levels, then I go back to work and I’m like, “Okay, let’s do this. We’re doing it today!” But Salesforce from a business perspective and Kinzen app because it has really good news, a really good view, messages, they usually get it right. So they’re good inspiration. Pinterest to be honest, although it’s only visual, I can find inspiration there all the time for anything, professionally, at home, I think it’s my go-to app when I need to kill time.

Shaheen Samavati 30:04
What’s a favorite marketing or business book?

Irina Cardos 30:08
Well, it’s Simon Sinek’s Start With Why because it’s the core of everything. He’s really spot on, it’s the core of everything professionally and personally in private life. I’m trying to implement it in my private life also. But Start With Why can really increase your productivity, your goals, reach and everything you have. I’m a person that works on objectives and I need to have goals and then I reach them and you know, starting with “why?” and then getting the “how?’ I love the book.

Shaheen Samavati 30:54
He’s been really popular on the podcast lately. He’s been mentioned a couple of times, just in the past couple of weeks. Great minds think alike I guess or follow great thinkers.

Irina Cardos 31:08
Yeah it’s back to basics. It’s that simple thing no one ever says, but someone said it, so…

Shaheen Samavati 31:16
Awesome. Just to wrap up, I just wanted to ask any resources you recommend for marketers, either communities, publications, podcasts, anything you think people should follow to stay up to date on marketing stuff or connect with other marketers?

Irina Cardos 31:35
Real life? Just kidding. I think resources for marketers for me are always events. Brand Minds is an annual event that is amazing. It just brings together all the marketing leaders and communication leaders out there. I also follow up with the LinkedIn resources. Coursera is a go to website when I want to stay up to date with things. Community wise, I’m just following every podcast, right now I’m a podcast person. So everything that’s a podcast on the subject I’m listening to just because it’s easy to listen. But community wise, LinkedIn.

Shaheen Samavati 32:27
Okay, well we’re reaching the end of the interview. So I just wanted to ask if you have any parting advice or final takeaways to share with other marketers across Europe.

Irina Cardos 32:39
I would like just to stay in touch. I think it’s very good that we are collaborative, we share information, we help each other become better. I’m usually a team player and that’s how I usually see things. I believe in competition to make you better, but at the same time, you have to have food to compete with. So that’s why it’s really important for all of us to grow together. Otherwise it’s pointless.

Shaheen Samavati 33:18
Great. Well, that’s a great note to end on. Thanks so much, Irina, for sharing your insights with us today.

Irina Cardos 33:24
Thank you also and we’ll keep in touch.

Shaheen Samavati 33:28
Yeah, definitely. Thanks to everybody for listening in. For more perspectives on content marketing in Europe, check out and keep tuning into the podcast for more interviews with content experts. See you next time. Bye.

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