Here is a transcript generated by of the The Content Mix podcast interview between Carlota Pico from VeraContent and Michael Ranmi Akinle, EMEA head of growth at Clari, on human-to-human marketing:

Carlota Pico 0:14
Hi everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix. And I’m excited to be here today with Michael Ranmi Akinle, who is Clari’s EMEA growth lead and has over three years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Michael. And thank you so much for joining us today.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 0:32
Hello, Carlota! How are you?

Carlota Pico 0:34
I’m doing awesome. Thank you. How are you doing?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 0:36
Very good. Very good. Thank you.

Carlota Pico 0:39
Great. So let’s jump straight into the interview. I’d love to learn a little bit about your background, a bit about your company and how you got into your current role.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 0:49
Yeah, sounds good. So, my name is Michael, as Carlota said. I am currently kind of head of growth for Clari in EMEA. And what that essentially means is I’m primarily responsible for getting us and building our customer base here in EMEA and getting us in front of the companies that we want to be speaking to. So that’s kind of my primary job and then kind of on the marketing side is essentially understanding how we can leverage digital marketing today, of course, because of the impact of COVID, we can’t really do any big face-to-face. So really, we’re just trying to figure out how we can leverage and loads of different digital marketing strategies to get in front of our customers because they’re all… they’re all aligned.

Carlota Pico 1:36
Awesome. So as EMEA growth lead, what kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role? And this would be more information and guidelines for aspiring young professionals who also want to get into business development and marketing.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 1:53
No problem. I definitely think that one thing that I for me, I feel like being a empathetic and being really human has become so crucial in my role, especially when you’re constantly…You know, you’re communicating, you’re communicating on the phone, you’re communicating via emails, you’re communicating on social media, it’s very, very easy to kind of come… to come across as robotic… to come across as kind of a little bit un-human. So I think that is really a very, very powerful skill that anyone that wants to get into maybe sales or marketing today needs to have is the ability to empathize and to have really kind of high emotional intelligence. And I think another one is just really to be adaptable. Of course, we’ve all kind of, we’re kind of thrown into this pandemic, and we kind of had to think on our feet, right? So you know, being adaptable. And that kind of links to being creative as well because if you know if you’re going from situation to situation, and you have to adapt to loads of different situations you need to really think about how to become, you know, much more creative in your approach to, to brand awareness to maybe, you know, organically speaking to your customers, and so on and so forth. So, those are for me right now, I will take the most relevant skills in my role, the skills that I’ve had to display anyway. So loads and loads of creativity, a lot of empathy. Right now I think is by far the most relevant kind of qualities and skills you need to have.

Carlota Pico 3:35
Yeah, I definitely agree Michael, I’m also in business development at VeraContent. And for me the ability to be able to connect with different people in different ways and according to also their cultural sensitivities. I think it’s extremely important especially when you’re in marketing because consumers I mean, one size does not fit all… consumers just want different things depending on who they are where they’ve been. etc, etc. So it’s extremely important to be able to adapt and be able to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk… Be able to walk in their shoes at the end of the day and know.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 4:11
Exactly, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Yeah.

Carlota Pico 4:14
Great. Well speaking about sales, because obviously, we’re both very sales focus. So whereas marketing is everything you do to reach the customers, sales is everything you do to close the customers. So what are some of the best performing marketing strategies that you have led, which as a result, have led your colleagues to close some of the biggest deals for Clari in the EMEA region?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 4:37
Yeah, I mean, it’s a really good question. I when I think back on it, joined Clari in February, right. So, this, I wouldn’t say within Clari, there’s a marketing initiative that I’ve led that’s that’s closed, you know, kind of a major deal. But I would say my previous life before I joined Clari, my previous company, there was actually a webinar that we did that was, you know, really, really effective. In terms of kind of the topic and the speaker, we had actually led my previous company to close a huge deal with a broadcasting company here in the UK, which if I say broadcasting, you would know who it is. So yeah, that was that was a really successful marketing event. I would say that I led, Yeah.

Carlota Pico 5:23
Okay, excellent. So basically, you were focused on providing value to your future customers, which in essence, also provided your sales team with a new deal.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 5:34
Yeah, exactly. And I think around the time, you know, I was in a employee communications space before I joined Clari, right. And at the time, you know, a lot of companies were thinking about, you know, how do we leverage our employees and how do we help them become the voice of our brand? Right? That was like super, super important and that was like top priorities for a lot of marketing professionals at some of, you know, the largest companies in the world and this particular company, I’m talking about that, that, you know, bought the software of my previous company for quite a lot of money. They wanted to do exactly that, right? Especially because they’re a broadcasting business, its brand image brand reputation, advocacy was a massive priority for them at the time. So this kind of virtual online webinar that, you know, I led was super relevant for them. And through that, they were able to, you know, see the value of employee advocacy, they were able to see the value of, you know, your employees being the voice of your brand and how can drive you know, really powerful, rich return on investment. So, yeah, that was super successful, and I was quite pleased about that.

Carlota Pico 6:45
Okay, excellent. So basically, you really in customer centric marketing efforts, which leads me into my next question, Michael, so thank you for that introduction. So, customer centric marketing efforts as a general definition is a marketing approach to designed around customer needs and interest, and it uses a blend of intuition a blend of common sense. And also solid data about customer behavior to basically drive new sales, like you like the example that you previously touched upon. So as a computer software company, what customer experience strategies do you think are disrupting the status quo right now in your industry?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 7:24
Right? I definitely, you know, say Clari’s disrupting the industry and I believe how we’re doing that… Well, one of the ways we’re doing that is we are starting to… because of COVID, again, we’ve kind of had to move virtual. So, but we wanted to do very different things when COVID came and you know, marketing had to really shift everything from face-to-face to online. The trend was a lot of webinars, and it just became kind of convoluted and boring, right. But we wanted to do something different and create a different experience for customers. So we decided, hey, you know, people don’t want people talking about them. People want to engage in conversation so we started doing this thing called master of revenue roundtables which essentially it was a face-to-face event it would be a roundtable you know, full of peers and talking about a particular topic and then they’re all chiming in and they’re all adding value to that topic. So we take in that virtual was really interesting to see you know how when you get a group of people all interested in the same thing in the same industry with kind of the same mindset with the same goals you know, how they really add value to a conversation and they all have something to say and you know, they all leave feeling that they’ve learned something new and that was really really powerful.

Carlota Pico 8:41
And that they’re also more connected to each other as well?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 8:44
Yes, hundred percent. Yeah. And it’s like kind of creating a community and you know, you know, we’re talking about brand image and you know, brand reputation, Clari becomes company connects individuals to each other. And you know, if you want to know if we kind of become that kind of… we kind of start building that reputation of well, if, if you want to, if you want to hear the voice of your peers, come to Clari, go to like a Clari Roundtable, you know, if you want to understand what other people are doing and you know how they are, you know, being innovative, good to Clari, kind of thing. And that’s, that’s essentially what we’re saying to our customers today.

Carlota Pico 9:20
I love it. I love it. Well done, Michael. I’ll have to apply perhaps some of those tips into my own strategy.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 9:26
Yes, you should, it’s powerful!

Carlota Pico 9:28
It’ll be the new thing, I guess. Great. Well, in 2019, Clari raised another 60 million US dollars in a round led by Sapphire venture. So first, firstly, congratulations on that, of course.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 9:44
Thank you.

Carlota Pico 9:45
And from your experience, what role do you think marketing plays in fundraising?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 9:50
A huge role actually, because, essentially, marketing is not just the marketing professionals of the organization, right. Marketing is: the marketing professionals, it’s the sales development people, it’s the sales reps, it’s everyone! Everyone’s marketing! And, you know, it’s really, really important that for investors when they invest in a company, is that you know, that that company needs to align with their values. And that company needs to align with exactly what they’re looking for, and that they need to be able to look at a company and say, Hey, we can trust this business, right? Because they’re speaking the same language as us, you know. And that was really, really important, you know, in terms of getting that investment from Sapphire Ventures, because they saw they saw a brand that you know, what’s going to grow in the next couple of years that was going to disrupt the industry that you know, had a really really impressive, talented group of people. And so it was kind of a no brainer, right? You know, when you add all those things together, now we are going to have a unicorn here. We’re going to have a brand that you know, was worth investing in because of because that trust is there. And that’s all down to, you know, the job market is doing on you know our social media pages, how they are portraying Clari, how they are portraying our culture. And, you know, one of kind of my initiatives this quarter is to, you know, get on most social media platforms, and really portray the culture of Clari, and what it’s like to work for clarity. So if people see that, you know, not just customers or investors see stuff like that, and that’s what you want them to see. Because they’re not just investing in the name, but investing in the people in the company and they’re investing in the vision of our leaders. Does that make sense?

Carlota Pico 9:52
Absolutely. I mean, I used to be an entrepreneur myself, and I raised a round of investment. And during that time, it wasn’t only about the data, it was also about the team that I had. And it was also about the values that I shared with the company that invested into my platform. And I completely agree with what you just said, because marketing is the face of a company marketing. Marketing is basically the pulse of the company, it’s what the company is not only about, but it’s also the values of the company shares across its boards, across departments, and it’s also what the company will offer and promote to its customers. Now consumers are all about being able to connect with a brand is what the brand offers. They really want to believe that the brand is on the same side as as they are when it comes to so many different values.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 12:21
Yes, exactly. You’ve hit that… no, youu hit that exactly.

Carlota Pico 12:24
Great. Well, let’s talk about Coronavirus because obviously COVID-19 has disrupted all the different industries across the world. And when it comes to budgets, marketing and advertising budgets have been some of the budgets most heavily hit worldwide. So since we’re both marketing professionals, what major lessons have you learned about marketing during this time? What do you think the future of marketing will look like?

I think the future of marketing is going to be kind of what I alluded to at the beginning… is being human… and being personalized, right? That is the future of marketing. If you want to relate to people, you’ve got to be more personalized to them. And I feel like that, that is where it’s going. And that’s what I’ve learned. So we’ve had to move. As I said, you know, we spent a lot of money before Coronavirus, we spent a lot of money on face to face events and dinners and all that kind of stuff. That’s all had to move virtual. So now, you know, what our… were thinking is, you know, how do we use leverage platforms like LinkedIn to become as personalized as possible to what our customers are facing—their challenges, their needs? You know, how can we become more human in every interaction, do you get what I mean? So any video that we post, we’re really… we’re not… It’s not…it’s almost kind of like, we’re not speaking to… we’re not trying to get a mass here, right? We are trying to say to you, we can help you, right. We can help solve the challenges that you’re facing on a day to day basis, you know, with our platform, and so on and so forth. And really making that as human as possible and speaking to the different cultures and speaking to the different, you know, backgrounds of our customers. So that for me to answer your question is the future of marketing. How how much more humanized it’s going to be and how much more personalized it’s going to be.

So it’s moving from business to business and business to consumers to business to humans.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 14:13
Hundred percent, because the humans are the ones buying your product, right? So if you want to speak to… if you want to to sell your product, you have to speak to a human, it has to be a lot more personalized.

Carlota Pico 14:24
Okay, well, I wish we had all the time in this world to talk about so many different subjects that I still have pending, but hopefully we’ll be able to have a follow up conversation sometime in the near future—

Michael Ranmi Akinle 14:34

Carlota Pico 14:35
—on how Clari develops over time. Let’s move into the rapid fire set of questions—

Michael Ranmi Akinle 14:39

Carlota Pico 14:39
—which are you recommendations for our audience. So to start the session, section off, excuse me, I’d like to learn about your favorite app at the moment. And why?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 14:50
My favorite app at the moment. I think my favorite app at the moment will probably be Instagram simply because of the potential that it is. As I said, and thing is becoming more human. And it feels like Instagram is becoming a place where I don’t know how many businesses are leveraging Instagram, how many b2b software companies are leveraging Instagram, but it’s becoming a place where you’re going to understand your people more because your people make your organization, right? And you can know much more about your people on their Instagram profiles, what they like what their values are… Instagram speaks for them. So if you want to…I feel like most companies in terms of who comes out on top is going to be based on their ability to recruit the best talent, right? And I think that, you know, Instagram is going to be a place for that in the future, 100%. So, it’s really interesting to see, you know, a lot of companies are leveraging that kind of with the kind of marketing capabilities that Instagram provides, for example, you know, loads and loads of influences are on there. And I feel like a lot more business executives are going to get themselves on there. Because as I said, everything’s gonna have to be a lot more personalized, a lot more human. So maybe like someone like in marketing or sales development, you know, one day, we might…don’t be surprised if you know, to do some research on your prospects, you might have to start looking at their Instagram profiles and look at what they’re interested in. Because everything will be there.

Carlota Pico 16:18
Very interesting insight. Thank you. So, I mean, I do want to talk about Instagram, but unfortunately, our time is limited. I actually just joined Instagram roughly a year ago, so I’m quite new on that platform.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 16:30
Last year?

Carlota Pico 16:30
I use it for personal reasons. But the reason that I joined Instagram was because in my former life, I used to lead promotional campaigns.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 16:38
There we go.

Carlota Pico 16:38
So my promotional campaigns that were published in mainstream media outlets online and offline, and I was in Maldives leading a promotional campaign. Of course, there I was, it was all about high end luxury resorts and I didn’t have Instagram. So that’s when I was like, well, you know what, if I am promoting the Maldives, I need to be on Instagram and also from a personal level.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 17:00
Absolutely 100% Yeah, hundred percent.

Carlota Pico 17:04
Definitely recommendable, hey. I mean…

Michael Ranmi Akinle 17:06

Carlota Pico 17:06
If yon can pop into the Maldives, definitely get yourself out there!

I would say so I would say so. And I think Instagram just recently became like, even I think just topped Twitter in terms of like news, which was really surprising to me. So as I say, like everything is moving towards there, right now and our customers, and they’re getting younger. And they’re all there.

Yeah, I mean, it’s going to be very interesting to see how TikTok transforms after COVID-19 as well, because everybody’s all about TikTok—millennials and the younger generations are using TikTok more than a lot of the other social media channels I’m very interested to see what the future has in store for brands on TikTok.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 17:50
Oh, yeah, that would be very interesting.

Carlota Pico 17:53
Great. Well, okay, moving into the next question: Where do you find your source of inspiration for example, is there a marketing influencer that you follow, a hashtag that you really find that provides you with a lot of value?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 18:07
Yeah, this is a really good question and I will say what I find my marketing inspiration from is probably my fiance, right? Because she’s in digital marketing and she has you know, she built a brand from scratch, made it really successful. She just understands you know, how to use social media and how to use it and monetize it, like she just gets it. So right it’s not like some senior executive somewhere. It’s actually my fiance! So that’s my marketing inspiration, yeah.

Carlota Pico 18:34
That is so cute. I’m sure your fiance her heart just goes boom, boom, boom.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 18:40
Yeah, when she hears I shouted her out in the interview, yeah!

Carlota Pico 18:43
How sweet, how sweet. Well, it’s hard to beat that, hey.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 18:48
You can’t beat it.

Carlota Pico 18:50
Okay, what about a book, a publication or an event that you’re a fan of and why?

Okay, I think I’m a book that I’m a fan of right now there are two one is called an Indispensable Linchpin, I actually forgot the name of the writer, and the name… the other one is called High Performance Habits. And I’ll say, you know, I kind of, as a professional, it’s really important to constantly educate yourself and how you can you can become, you know, more valuable to the organization. And I’ll tell you why. Right… in this period of COVID-19, I’m sure you’ve probably seen the amount of companies that are laying off people because they’ve had to cut costs, sorry. And it’s really, you know, it’s like, okay, well, what do you need to do to become invaluable? You know, what do you need to do or become that makes, you know, your, your, your leadership, say, you know, we no matter what, we can’t lose this person. Right? And for me, that’s, that’s really important at this stage of my career right now, where it’s really important to become indispensable it’s really became really, really important to understand what it takes to become I’m an invaluable member of your company and so on and so forth. So that’s a really important book for me. It really relates to the stage I am in my my career.

Okay, so what’s the secret then? What makes you an indispensable employee at Clari?

Michael Ranmi Akinle 20:15
All right. I think that for me, Oh, my God. Well, let’s, I’ll tell you the secret. I think for me, it’s about well, my biggest takeaway so far from reading that book, it’s about becoming an agent of change. Right? It’s becoming someone that is not just a yes person and just goes along with flow. But being someone that is a problem solver. Someone that brings some new solution, someone that brings new innovation, someone that is always testing and challenging the status quo, that for me, of course testing and challenge the status quo with something that’s even better that was already in place. That for me, is my biggest takeaway from you know, that book I’ve been reading so far. And that can apply to anyone, no matter no matter what you’re doing. in your career, no matter what role you’re in, becoming an agent of change, and becoming someone that just does always challenging always you know, recommending a new way, a better way to do things. That’s… I, I really feel that that’s what makes you more, a much more valuable employee.

Carlota Pico 21:18
Excellent. Well, on that note, I think we’re going to end the interview because I can’t imagine a more powerful note to end on and also inspirational. So that was Michael, thank you so much, Michael, for all those great tips for all those great insights, and also for joining us on The Content Mix. It was a pleasure to have you.

Michael Ranmi Akinle 21:36
Thank you so much, pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Carlota Pico 21:38
And thank you everyone for listening in. 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 and see you next time. Thank you again. Bye!

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