Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Ksenia Ruffell, EMEA marketing manager at IDeaS Revenue Solutions, on the best practices for running large-scale, multi-language marketing projects effectively:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi everyone and welcome back to The Content Mix. I’m Carlota Pico your host for today’s show and I’m excited to introduce Ksenia Ruffell who is EMEA marketing manager at IDeaS Revenue Solutions, and she’s also part of the advisory board at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Welcome, Ksenia, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Ksenia Ruffell 0:41
Hi, everyone, Hi Carlota. Thank you for having me today.

Carlota Pico 0:44
My pleasure is ours. Okay, Ksenia, so tell me a little bit about your background experience. How did you get to where you are today?

Ksenia Ruffell 0:51
Yes, it’s been, I guess, it’s been a long journey, in a way, and certainly marketing was not the career I intended. But I started working in marketing almost 20 years ago, around the same time as I studied at uni. And by the time I finished uni—where I studied psychology—that was it. I was hooked. And fast forward 18 years, and I am with IDeaS. I have been with IDeaS now for the last five years and I’m very happy.

Carlota Pico 1:23
Okay, excellent. So you’re a psychologists turned marketeer. Very interesting. Ksenia, tell me a little bit more about IDeaS Revenue Solutions? What is it?

Ksenia Ruffell 1:34
Certainly. We are kind of a small company, I guess in the overall…in the big world out there. But we are quite big in the hospitality world. So we’re actually the biggest provider of revenue management software solutions and we provide those solutions to hotels. Now we’re part of SAS, which is the biggest analytics company in the world and our solutions are powered by those analytics. IDeaS have been on the market for over 30 years so that makes us probably the longest standing vendor in hospitality. And it’s quite an achievement for any software organization. We have about 98% client retention rate and again, I think that speaks for itself. And some of the biggest brands are our long standing clients such as Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Radisson and the list goes on.

Carlota Pico 2:40
Okay, very interesting. So spinning off of that response, how does a hospitality company keep its content relevant during a global pandemic that has forced many countries into lockdown?

Ksenia Ruffell 2:53
Yes, you’re just touching on a very painful subject here—

Carlota Pico 2:58
Sorry about that.

Ksenia Ruffell 2:59
—One that is inevitable, I guess. Interestingly, we’re noticed that our client and prospect engagement with sort of around content more than doubled this year, over the last year, and you know, we’re still in September, and it’s already more than double. So we must be doing something right. So, back in March, when the pandemic took hold of Europe we had to, as a company sit down and really think hard about what we can do to help our clients and prospects, and apart from the—obviously—financial side of it and financial relief that we worked with to provide, we wanted to provide value, you know, in terms of the content that, you know, we’re pushing out then and appear genuine and authentic, which are our brand values or ideas, but without appearing too salesy or pushy or ignorant to everyone’s situation, and it’s, it’s quite sensitive—again, it’s a fine line. So some of the content we offered was free revenue management, foundation courses, and it was a free resource for people who wanted to take the time that they don’t usually have to brush up on their skills, or maybe learn something new. So that’s been very well received by our clients. And certainly, you know, we saw very good engagement from that. And we also work to produce a series of practical tips for hotels who were experiencing low demand, you know, both from operational perspective and from adjusting their software system. So again, you know, had really good feedback and hotels did find it useful. And another great piece of content that came out during the lockdown and something that our company never did before, was a series of podcasts. So we have a fantastic person in the organization. His job title is chief evangelist and it’s a great job. And his name is Klaus Kohlmayr. So he was running the podcast,and the podcast is called Unconstrained Conversations. So basically, he sits down with some of the leading roles in hospitality organization and have a very frank and open conversation about everything, really. So again, you know, I think we are on our 15th episode, right now, and they’ve been very, very popular.

Carlota Pico 5:43
Very interesting. Well I’ll have to listen into your next episode as well. Sounds like a very enlightening type of podcast. And I also heard that you have a really interesting blog. Can you talk to me more about that?

Ksenia Ruffell 5:57
Yeah, absolutely. So our blog is really, I’d say, one of our long-standing content pieces. And a couple of years ago, it won an award for being number one most popular blog in the hospitality industry. And that’s something we, you know, we’re very proud of, and we blog very regularly, I would say, and it’s very relevant, so the content is super fresh. And it’s very much in line with, you know, what is happening, what we’re feeling, you know, what we are talking to hotels, and what hotels are talking to us about.

Carlota Pico 6:39
Okay, very interesting. Have you had to unlearn anything about marketing during these unstable times, during the global pandemic?

Ksenia Ruffell 6:49
Unlearn? Yeah, I guess probably if you think that something is good, you know, the project is good and will make a differen it doesn’t mean it will be the same or ring the same for your other teams and stakeholders. And I think that stands, you know, whether it’s pandemic or not pandemic, just stands at all times. I think it’s especially I did feel that in the last six months.

Carlota Pico 7:28
What about any questions? Have you asked yourself any questions about the way that you’re addressing your different audiences online during COVID-19, of course?

Ksenia Ruffell 7:40
Yeah, absolutely. I work for, you know, in the hospitality industry, and that’s the industry that’s been affected the most. So it’s hard not to ask yourself every day, you know, what is happening to the industry? What is going to happen? How we’re going to survive and when we weather it? And will the industry thrive again? It’s just one of the few. And as a company, are we in a good position to weather this? And what can we do to change? And how do we adjust our way of talking to our clients and prospects just to convey business whilst also being sympathetic? It’s a very fine line.

Carlota Pico 8:27
Apart from IDeaS Revenue Solutions, do you have examples of other brands that have done a fantastic job at communicating with their audience during COVID-19 times?

Ksenia Ruffell 8:40
Yeah, I can think of more than one, IKEA definitely being one of them. So I don’t know if you’ve been following them but they ran a campaign, focusing on home improvements and it was all about finding comfort in your own home. And I think that probably resonated well with people. And I’m sure—well I don’t know what all their sales were like—but I’m sure that really helped. And some clothing and fitness brands I’ve seen probably more than more than a dozen, Nike, Sweaty Betty, you know, it was all about kind of fashionable comfort. And again, being in your home and being comfortable.

Carlota Pico 9:28
Yeah, definitely. Nike also did a fantastic job at relating with their audience, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement. They’re really good at social communication. Okay, Ksenia, and now moving away from COVID-19 because it’s a word that we all hate, and we touch upon it more than we already have? Let’s talk a little bit about the experiences that have shaped you as a marketing professional. Could you zoom into what those experiences have looked like and why they shaped you?

Ksenia Ruffell 9:58
Absolutely. I would say my main experience that still, you know, is happening throughout my career day in day out, is working with global teams and learning about their different working styles and ethics, and cultural differences. And all of that, you know, it just helps, it helped me to understand and appreciate the importance of adjusting your messaging for different audiences and the way how you communicate with different teams cross-culturally, and the importance of keeping your ear to the ground. And being aware of current affairs near and far, being sympathetic to anything that can affect your brand and the perception of your brand.

Carlota Pico 10:52
Okay, spinning off of that response, Ksenia, obviously, culture plays a huge role and what we do as human beings and and how we communicate with other human beings worldwide. What are a few best practices for running effective, multi language, large scale marketing projects?

Ksenia Ruffell 11:09
As I mentioned earlier, you know, the biggest one for multi-language cross-cultural project would be, well, first of all, having the appreciation for different markets that you’re talking to. So, you know, it’s not just about big multi-language, it’s also not just translating, but also localizing it and adjusting the messaging to each market. So, you know, having really your native speakers work with you, you know, on those projects, that’s very important. And something I found really helped. It’s about timing. So as you know, if you’re a global organization, having that big project run all in the coordinated and joint manner, is very important. And, you know, I think generally, it probably applies to all projects, not just multi language, large scale. It’s that internal binding, making sure you have that, and getting all your teams on board with that, and communicating it sort of well beforehand and briefing everyone.

Carlota Pico 12:20
Okay, excellent. So localization, timing, and getting the team behind the project that you’re working on. Localization is actually one of my favorite words right now, because I think it’s so important when it comes to creating an effective content project. I actually—The Content Mix is powered by VeraContent and VeraContent is a content creation and localization company. And sometimes we work with brands who produce content in Spanish, and they publish that content for an audience in Spain, and then want to repurpose that content for an audience in Latin America, and although we speak the same language, it’s completely different cultures. Our public holidays are different, so for example, that really is important when it comes to timing and timing your project according to different dates and localizing that project for different markets. Okay, to wrap this section up, Ksenia, if you could do anything in this world would still be marketing?

Ksenia Ruffell 13:23
Yeah, yeah. It would be. Or maybe a psychologist.

Carlota Pico 13:29
Oh, well, marketing has a big element of psychology in it, right? Because we’re basically measuring the pulse of society.

Ksenia Ruffell 13:36

Carlota Pico 13:38
Okay. Well, moving into our next section of our interview, it’s basically our rapid fire question. So it’s your advice, your recommendations for our audience. Let’s talk about a resource that you use in your daily activities. So for example, an event that you’d love to attend either online or in person, a community that you find to be particularly valuable, a book, a publication—stuff like that.

Ksenia Ruffell 14:03
In terms of content and kind of marketing content, I read Marketing Week on a regular basis, and I find it is a good source of sort of current knowledge and staying up to date for marketeers. And, you know, their content writers they have quite a direct, no nonsense approach. So I quite like that. A book? There’s just so many books out there, it’s really hard to really think of one! You know, for me, an all time favorite book would be Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a very old one, but still very much stands. And because, you know, whether it’s personal or professional life, it’s all about relationships and communications. So yeah, he speaks exactly to that. And, also Seth Godin books. They’re good—good for marketers.

Carlota Pico 14:58
Yeah, I’m gonna have to add all of those books to my reading list, which is getting really long. Okay, Ksenia, what about skills? What skills would you look for in a new hire?

Ksenia Ruffell 15:09
So really, I mean, marketing is about having a different variety of skills. But certainly number one, I would say would be good communicating, that’s very important. Number two, attention to detail. Being a people’s person, being genuine and authentic and having an open mind. I’d, these are the main ones, because everything else, you know, all of the very specific skills, they’ll come later, and they are really not what makes you the most successful, you know? You can learn all the others, but I think you know, some core skills, it’s very important that we have both.

Carlota Pico 15:55
Oh, gosh, you just actually described my ideal candidate. So I completely agree with you. Okay, and to wrap this section up, and also the last question of today’s interview, it’s: What’s your favorite app at the moment? And why?

Ksenia Ruffell 16:13
Okay, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s Wrike—W-R-I-K-E. And I don’t get paid for promoting that! It’s certainly a tool that we have in our marketing team, we use increasingly more, and it’s being adopted by other teams. But it’s a it’s a project management tool. And for us, it’s our calendar. It’s a project management tool. It’s, you know, it’s a Bible I live by. So, anything that we execute and collaborate on within a team, it’s all in Wrike.

Carlota Pico 16:48
Excellent, so it saves you a lot of time.

Ksenia Ruffell 16:50
Yeah, it does.

Carlota Pico 16:51
Okay, very interesting. So it’s like a one-stop shop type of tool.

Ksenia Ruffell 16:57
Absolutely. It’s a Bible that we live by.

Carlota Pico 17:00
Well, Ksenia, thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix. It was awesome to meet you and to learn about ideas, revenue solutions, and to pick your brain on so many other different topics as well.

Ksenia Ruffell 17:10
Thank you very much for having me, Carlota. It’s been a pleasure.

Carlota Pico 17:13
Thank you, and to everybody listening in today, thank you for joining us on the 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 day, so keep on tuning in. Thanks again, have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you next time. Bye!

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