Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with VeraContent’s Shaheen Samavati and Natalia Bochenska, senior strategic marketing manager at Somo, on creating a positive work culture:

Shaheen Samavati 0:13
Hi everyone. I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here with Natalia Bochenska, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager at Somo Global, which is a digital product agency with offices across the UK, the US and Colombia. You can check out to learn more about the agency. And we’ll also drop links to Natalia’s social media in the show notes we publish along with this episode. So thanks so much for joining us, Natalia.

Natalia Bochenska 0:36
Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Shaheen Samavati 0:38
It’s great to have you here. So let’s get started. Can you just tell us a bit more about your background and experience in marketing and how you kind of got to where you are today?

Natalia Bochenska 0:46
Sure, so I studied psychology and marketing, and then sort of went on to do my master’s in marketing as well. So I kind of knew what I wanted to do when I went to uni. But obviously, the real world of marketing is quite different to what we learn at school. I kind of started in a slightly different field, though. I started in a fashion brand. That’s what I thought I would be doing in my studies. So I did fashion marketing. So I started off as a marketing assistant for a fashion brand. But then very quickly, sort of went off to something very different. And then I was working at an innovation agency, doing market research for them. So a lot about sort of doing proof of markets, writing grant funding applications for brands, helping startups sort of, you know, find their customer base and what they would be, how they could sort of tweak the innovations to make sure they sell. So that was quite a different field. But I really enjoyed sort of learning about new tech and learning about innovation, etc. And then from there, I moved into a marketing manager role for a startup that the co-founders of that agency had set up. So, as a startup, you know there were pretty much no resources over there. So it wasn’t just a marketing role. It was like things like software testing, designing, you know, product management, and all the different things that are required to do. But you know, people normally have specific jobs for that. But you know, in a startup environment, you really have to do it all and learn as much as possible to succeed. So I learned quite a lot from that experience. And then from there, I moved to the agency world, working as a content manager, from which I sort of progressed to a more broad marketing role here at Somo.

Shaheen Samavati 2:34
You’ve been now like, a couple of years at Somo, right.

Natalia Bochenska 2:39
It’s been two years, and it’s been really great. So it’s, it’s quite an interesting role, because it’s not sort of specific to content. For example, as I said previously, it’s you know, it’s about sort of… Content, I suppose, is a big part of that, but it’s also about organizing events, or, you know, even organizing podcasts as well. Doing all the different things that, you know, are necessary to get the marketing going. Really.

Shaheen Samavati 3:02
Okay. Can you tell us a bit about, for those who don’t know, just a bit more about what Somo Global does?

Natalia Bochenska 3:09
Sure. So, we are a digital product agency. So we create sort of digital experiences for brands. So we create websites, apps, any sort of experiences that can help brands succeed in a new world, which is particularly important now during COVID I think, where a lot of brands find that, you know, the physical experience is not enough. It’s about sort of marrying up those two and making sure that digital really adds value. And that’s where we step in, where we really sort of help brands succeed in that world.

Shaheen Samavati 3:46
Okay, then your role is… You’re working for the Somo Global brand itself. Can you tell us more about your responsibilities there?

Natalia Bochenska 3:53
Yeah, sure. So I’m on an internal marketing team. So it’s really around sort of running the marketing operations in general. We have quite a small team, as well. Obviously, it’s sort of grown since I came on board, but still everyone is involved in a little bit of everything. So it’s a lot about, sort of, you know, writing awards, for example. We’re running the blog, drafting our Tone of Voice, anything that needs to be done, really. So it’s, yeah, it’s a lot about content, events and awards.

Shaheen Samavati 4:33
So like, how would you say marketing has changed since you started your career?

Natalia Bochenska 4:38
I think it changed quite a lot, actually. I think digital marketing grew massively over the years. You know, especially in the last year, actually, where, you know, even at Somo… around two years ago, we based quite a lot of our marketing on sort of the physical bits. We would send out physical white papers for example, for people or you know, organize a lot of in-person events or take part in massive sort of conferences with exhibition spaces. So all of that obviously ended and we had to pivot to digital with like, you know, virtual events and all that. So I think last year especially, it’s accelerated massively, but even before that, I think, you know, there was this, I remember when I started, there was still, obviously it depends on a company you work for. But in some of the companies there was still such a big emphasis on like a sales pushy approach, and I think that sort of decreased over the years. People started seeing that that doesn’t really work anymore. People don’t want to, don’t like to be sold to. So I think marketing became a little bit more subtle, a little bit more about sort of bringing value and, you know, creating things that can help people and help brands rather than sort of pushing yourself into their lives fully.

Shaheen Samavati 5:55
Definitely, yeah, I guess. I mean, your experience has been mainly in B2B or has it been a mix?

Natalia Bochenska 6:03
So I think it was mainly in B2B. The very first company I worked for was B2C, it was a luxury fashion brand. We were just getting started back then. So it was a new, new brand that was just launching. So my main task over there was sort of approaching buyers and all that. So it was, it was kind of a B2C, but still at a stage where it was more B2B than B2C, if that makes sense. So yeah. Since then, it was mostly B2B.

Shaheen Samavati 6:30
I see. Yeah, I was wondering if you have any specific advice for facing the challenges that come along with B2B marketing?

Natalia Bochenska 6:40
Yeah, I mean, I think the key challenge right now is, is sort of visibility and being noticed in the agency world, especially, like, there’s so many agencies out there, and so many great brands that are doing really, really good work. So it’s about sort of making sure that your brand stands out in a way. And in terms of marketing as well, when it comes to content, there’s so much content out there, too. So, you know, just making sure that you create something that that is worth doing, really.

Shaheen Samavati 7:35
Do you have an example of a piece of content that’s like worked really well for you?

Natalia Bochenska 7:40
Yeah, I think, I think for Somo, white papers worked really well. We spent a lot of time on really preparing for it and doing a very thorough research, even, you know, when it comes to customer research, for example, making sure that we have the latest stats, etc. And then the expert interviews as well with some industry leaders, so we really put a lot of effort into creating something that’s, that is good. And, you know, it’s really backed up by not just our opinions and our views, but really by sort of the industry’s view and where the industry is going. So I think the white papers worked extremely well for us. They also helped us to, you know, start new relationships as well. But, you know, we often sort of base our events around that. So yeah, it’s a great big piece of content that creates a lot of opportunities for creating more marketing initiatives from.

Shaheen Samavati 8:36
Do you have an example of a recent topic of a white paper?

Natalia Bochenska 8:41
Yeah, so the most recent one we did was around digital priorities for 2021. So it’s mostly on sort of the pillars of the new norm. We talked about five things that leaders should focus on to succeed and, you know, not just during COVID, but beyond. Beyond that, when things go back to normal, so.

Shaheen Samavati 9:02
Okay, very cool. And could you describe Somo’s tone of voice and how you developed it and why it’s important?

Natalia Bochenska 9:12
Sure. So I actually worked on the tone of voice guideline last year, so it’s still pretty fresh, I would say. It was a really fun project to be involved in as well. I think the tone of voice in general is about sort of being very transparent, being clear. And simplicity is a key, especially in the tech world when you know, it’s not the easiest things to sometimes summarize the products, or talk about the tech or all the other challenges, etc. So, talking in very simple terms and in a friendly manner. So, I think those are the key things. Being a little bit witty, I think as well, and with short sentences. I think that’s the key things that characterize it.

Shaheen Samavati 9:56
Obviously, tone of voice is something that can be subjective. Do you have any tips on how to document that properly? Like, how to really explain to your team how they should be using the tone of voice?

Natalia Bochenska 10:09
So the way we did it at Somo, we pretty much just put a document together summarizing why we’re doing it, because everyone needs to understand that it’s important. A lot of people think it’s fluff, but it’s not. It’s a key thing that sort of drives how people see us really, how other brands see us. So, conveying why it’s important, what are the key things that we should look at, and how how we sound as well. The key words, for example, we should avoid. The key things, key personality traits, for example, that we can get described by and then documenting it in a big document. Ours live on Frontify. So it’s a page available for anyone in the business. It went through, of course, all the processes, all the reviews, etc. And then it’s distributed throughout the whole agency. So everyone has access to it. Whenever they need to, they can go to the page, and very quickly read and see what’s in there.

Shaheen Samavati 11:10
Yeah, that’s important. That’s always a challenge. When you, sometimes you spend a lot of times documenting something, and then nobody references it. So, having it like front and center is super cool. So, well, I wanted to ask also, just like, what do you think some people get wrong when it comes to content marketing? What are the things to look out for?

Natalia Bochenska 11:31
I think, I think quantity over quality is the thing that I’ve seen the most. Being so focused on producing as much as possible, without sort of making sure that what they’re doing is, is good enough. You know, even when it comes to sort of reducing the number of articles, or the number of blog posts. It isn’t really about sort of the quantity of it, it’s about how, how good it is, how much impact can it make, and really how, you know, how it can add something and help people that read it. So I think that’s, that’s kind of the key thing, making it sound as interesting as possible, you know, doing the proper research, and treating it as a story, I think as well. You know, a lot of people sort of just put their view or their opinion of something without sort of considering the broader picture. But, yeah, it’s about sort of making it sound like a story, having the beginning, middle and end. And having a little bit of sort of personal reference or something emotional that can grab their attention, etc. I think this is the key that a lot of people sort of overlook very easily, thinking that, you know, they can produce something in an hour or so. And just do as much as possible, but I don’t think that’s that’s the key.

Shaheen Samavati 12:51
Yeah, less can be more. It’s the content that serves, like what your objectives are. Right. So, I wanted to ask you about your your advice. What advice would you give to someone starting out in marketing now?

Natalia Bochenska 13:08
I would say, getting as much experience as possible at the beginning, I think. One of the key things that I personally struggled with, right after uni was getting my first job. Like, even though I was sort of a top student in a class, it still took me like six months to find my first position, which was pretty depressing after sending like hundreds and hundreds of CVs. So I think, being aware that getting an internship, even if it’s like a week of spending, doing free work, for example, which shouldn’t really be free, but you know, getting an internship somewhere for a week or building that connection with people while you’re still at university. I think that can make a major difference. So I think that, yeah, I think that’s probably the most important one for me.

Shaheen Samavati 13:54
Getting that early experience. Yeah. No replacement for that. And then, well, going back to your personal story a little bit. Have you faced any setbacks in your career? And how did you overcome those?

Natalia Bochenska 14:06
Yeah, so, I think the very first one was sort of getting that first job for me. It was quite, quite tough. But I think from from then, I think finding the right businesses as well, finding the right places to work for, when it comes to culture, and when it comes to sort of how you you’re treated, the growth you can have, etc. So I think some of the businesses I work for probably weren’t the places that I would choose to work for right now, when it comes to sort of the culture and the work itself. So yeah, I think it’s key to to work for places that build you up and build confidence, etc. And if you’re not feeling that it’s the place that sort of helps you do that, then it’s time to move on, I would say.

Shaheen Samavati 15:01
So what do you think makes a positive workplace culture?

Natalia Bochenska 15:06
So I think for me, the key thing is to feel empowered to make decisions. And, you know, understanding that people are experts in what they do, and hiring them as experts and being able to deliver the work that they were hired to do without going through hundreds and hundreds of approvals, for example. I think that’s key. Having sort of the understanding that there’s work, and there’s life outside of work. Being empathetic and sort of not treating people as machines that come to work, become different people and sort of sit down and just have to produce as much as possible. It’s, yeah, I think, treating people as humans, and you know, empowering them to do the work they were hired to do.

Shaheen Samavati 15:53
I mean, do you feel like you found the culture you were looking for in your current job?

Natalia Bochenska 15:58
Like, honestly, this is pretty much the best place I have ever worked at. And I’m not just saying that, because I’m currently employed by them. But it’s actually the truth. We won a few Awards for Best Places to Work. And it’s, you know, it’s not just an award. They really have that, they really worked really hard on sort of creating the culture that we can be really proud of, both as employees and sort of the management level is very, very flat. Everyone feels very empowered, feels, you know, that they can contribute ideas, etc, which, yeah, it’s really nice. It’s a really nice place to work for.

Shaheen Samavati 16:34
And, I mean, now that we’re all, a lot of people, I guess, are working from home, do you have any like tips for staying sane, and any daily habits that you follow, personally?

Natalia Bochenska 16:47
So yeah. I have a few things actually. So I always sort of start the week with a to-do list of things that I want to achieve that week. And then every morning, I sort of relook at that, and sort of scope what I want to achieve in that day. Without overwhelming myself, I would say because that never leads to… I think that only leads to more more stress. So sort of setting achievable goals for the day. That really helps me to be more productive. I think, especially during the current environment of working from home, like taking a break during lunchtime, and sort of ending on time, is key as well, like, it’s so easy to burn out. Currently, when you know that the boundaries of work and personal life are becoming more and more blurred, where you know, you work from your living room or bedroom or whatever, whatever it is. It’s quite difficult to sort of forget about work and switch off. But I think it’s important because you know, at the end of the day, taking a break and taking a breather is going to make people more productive. And that’s something I personally try to do, you know, always have a one-hour lunch break, whenever… obviously, that’s sometimes not possible with the workload that’s, you know, trying to have one-hour lunch, and always finish on time, or like half an hour later, whatever. So that’s the key things for me.

Shaheen Samavati 18:10
Do you think, I mean, has working from home had an impact on the aspect of culture? How have you, in your workplace, been able to maintain the environment, the team environment?

Natalia Bochenska 18:24
It’s quite interesting, actually. Because, I mean, we worked quite a lot from home previously, but obviously, it was different because like, you know, we still came in to the office whenever we had to, and then work from home whenever we had to. So it was quite, it was quite in that respect. So the transition into the work-from-home environment wasn’t as difficult I would say. Like they, at the very beginning, I remember, the whole sort of team brainstormed on ideas how we can bring that office feeling back, so we introduced a few really cool initiatives like a water cooler zone, for example, with like a camera directed on our physical kitchen, where people could just, it was a Zoom, pretty much a Zoom channel where people could call in whenever they feel like taking a five-minute break, and sort of talk with with other people about how their day is going in a similar sort of environment as they would when, you know, go into the kitchen to grab coffee or water or whatever. So, you know, creating those little breather initiatives. I think this helped a lot. I think another key thing was like ensuring that people have the right environment to work within as well. Like we got quite a generous allowance to, you know, buy a desk or buy a chair or whatever we need, which helps, too. So yeah, I think it’s around sort of making sure that the culture can be as successful as in the physical office without actually having, you know, all the people and all their personalities around but still maintaining that spark.

Shaheen Samavati 20:01
Absolutely, totally agree. So I wanted to ask, do you have any, like professional role model or source of inspiration?

Natalia Bochenska 20:10
Yeah, I mean, I don’t have a single role model, per se. I would say, I often get inspired by how different brands do things and deliver things. For example, I’m a massive fan of Monzo, the UK bank startup, so the way they sort of talk to customers, the way they, you know, their transparency, the simple copywriting, that sort of really inspires me on a professional level. Amazon is another great example with, you know, their relentless sort of focus on improving the customer experience and innovating and doing things better than others. So I wouldn’t say I have a single person when it comes to role models. It’s more about, you know, companies and work that other brands deliver can inspire me a lot.

Shaheen Samavati 21:01
Yeah, excellent. Those are great examples. And then I wanted to ask about any recommendations you might have when it comes to apps or tools, or maybe resources for marketers, like, podcasts or blogs?

Natalia Bochenska 21:14
Sure. So one of the tools that really helped me was Clockwise. It’s an app, it’s an app plugin for a calendar and for Slack as well, that helps you to structure your day. So move the meetings so that they are sort of booked together, have some focus time, so you can actually sit down and deliver some work. So that’s one tool that I’m personally enjoying a lot. When it comes to other events and podcasts. The Marketing Meetup is an amazing resource. They do weekly events every Tuesday morning, on various topics from like content, copywriting, emails, SEO, all the different sort of areas of marketing. And they make it super interesting, and with really great speakers as well. So I recommend that one for sure. One of the newsletters that I’m personally really enjoying is Benedict Evans as well. He always sort of puts together a list of interesting things that are happening in the world, whether it’s sort of from tech worlds, or, you know, key things that are happening, and the way he writes about it as well. It’s very, it’s very easy and readable. It’s something that everyone will enjoy, for sure.

Shaheen Samavati 22:26
Excellent. Those are great recommendations. And then well, I was curious what you think are the most important skills for marketers these days, and any tips for keeping up to date on those skills?

Natalia Bochenska 22:38
Sure. I mean, I think copywriting is probably the most important one. It’s such a crucial skill nowadays, pretty much necessary in every single area, whether organizing events, you need to write, you know, bring in copy to make sure that people come to it. The way you talk about the product as well, that pretty much shapes how people perceive the brand. So I think copywriting is one of the most important ones. Other than that, I am a true believer in being a T-shaped person, so you know, learning as much as possible from different areas so that you don’t have to depend on other people who might be busy or not available to help on something. Being able to produce a piece of content, for example, design it by yourself, write it by yourself and deliver it from end to end. I think that’s key. And that will definitely make you stronger.

Shaheen Samavati 23:39
Yeah, so being kind of multi-talented, multifaceted. Knowing a little about a lot of things, I guess. Yeah. Excellent. And, well do you have any tips on, I mean, how to do that? On any resources in terms of continued learning?

Natalia Bochenska 24:00
Yeah, I mean there’s loads of free resources out there, both free and paid actually, it sort of depends on your company, I guess, and whether they can pay for things. But personally, I learned everything by just using free tutorials, you know, learning Adobe software, for example, by just playing with it and learning as I go. I think, yeah, there’s loads and loads of great free tutorials, whether it’s YouTube or sort of just standard websites. There’s also free places to learn a lot.

Shaheen Samavati 24:34
Yeah, absolutely. That’s my biggest teacher, YouTube, I think. So yeah, we’re reaching the end of the interview. So I just wanted to ask if you have any final takeaways or parting advice for audience of other marketers in Europe?

Natalia Bochenska 24:50
Yeah, I mean, maybe referring to what I said a few minutes ago, sort of continuing to learn. I think that’s a key thing. No matter how senior you are, there is still so much to learn. Yeah, I would say that would be my parting advice to just keep growing, be curious and be brave.

Shaheen Samavati 25:08
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great point and a great note to end on. So, for those who want to learn more about you, or what you do at Somo, can you tell us what’s the best way to follow you?

Natalia Bochenska 25:22
Sure. So, you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Instagram, if anyone’s into that. So LinkedIn, Instagram, and then if you want to learn a little bit more about Somo, then go to our website,

Shaheen Samavati 25:37
Okay, excellent. And yeah, we’ll definitely put links to all that in the show notes and the blog post that go along with this episode. So well, thank you so much Natalia for sharing your insights with us today. It’s been great having you on the show.

Natalia Bochenska 25:48
Thank you, it’s been great.

Shaheen Samavati 25:51
And thanks to everybody for listening in. For more perspectives on content marketing in Europe check out, and keep tuning into the podcast for interviews with content experts. See you next time. Goodbye.

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