Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Nathalie Perchard, senior marketing manager for EMEA for Impinj, on European marketing:

Shaheen Samavati 0:13
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here with Nathalie Perchard, senior marketing manager for EMEA for Impinj. Thanks so much for joining us. So first, could you just tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in the marketing field? And how you got to Impinj?

Nathalie Perchard 0:28
Hello, everyone. So my name is Nathalie Perchard and I’ve been doing marketing for over two decades now. I’ve always been attracted to marketing. So I did study, first in foreign languages, which has just always been very important to me. So I’m a really convinced European, because I am French obviously, I’m now living in France, but I used to live in England and then I spent quite a few years in Germany, in Berlin precisely, where I did part of my studies. In France as well as Germany, I always focused on marketing. It’s something I’ve always been attracted to, so marketing… Obviously 25 years ago we did a different way of marketing, but always been attracted to content marketing, to events and promoting what any company could do. And I’ve always been also focused on B2B marketing as well as IT-focused companies. So it’s really my only background, actually.

Shaheen Samavati 1:24
How long have you been working at Impinj?

Nathalie Perchard 1:27
Almost three years.

Shaheen Samavati 1:29
And for those who don’t know, can you explain what the company does?

Nathalie Perchard 1:32
The Impinj platform uses RAIN RFID, which is a specific technology to collect items and deliver timely data about these everyday things. Again, it can be anything, but connecting those everyday things to business and consumer applications. In markets like retail, and we’ll probably talk about this later, industrial manufacturing, health care, hospitality. Those applications are very important, to be part our technology. It’s very challenging today, and RFID and RAIN RFID is a very important way of delivering also contactless approach, which is important.

Shaheen Samavati 2:17
It sounds like it’s basically replacing the traditional barcode, right, for identifying things?

Nathalie Perchard 2:23
Yeah. So the idea behind it is, you can get data and what you can do with those data, how you can analyze it, how you can better produce, how you can track the products, or you can… secure distancing, if again, we’re focusing on COVID-19 today, so it’s really more about having a, for some industries, a more secure process, automated process. For others, it can be having a better producing or supply chain, which tend to be very important in hospitals, with COVID, how you can better manage your beds, for example. But obviously it is not as simple as this. You need to understand what are your needs, and then you can do something about it. And we do believe, and we know, we have technology and we have also the community of partners and solution partners that can help us build those solutions.

Shaheen Samavati 3:26
And I imagine for this kind of business, it’s really important to simplify the way you communicate about it and also show real use cases and applications, and content must be a central part of that.

Nathalie Perchard 3:40
Well yes, but I would say since I’ve been working within IT companies, it’s always been the challenge of doing marketing and content is how you can explain, in simplifying but not in oversimplifying. So it’s how we can explain in words that can be understood by the industry, because you know, each industry has a specific wording. So how we can explain to them what are the benefits and why it’s important. But without making it like… it’s not a piece of cake. It’s not that simple. It is not complicated. We have the technology, we are making the effort to bring something that is easy to use. But we are still all evolving. In industries that are demanding in terms of, again, if we want to set up a solution we need to be aware of which kind of environment. Is it cold? Or is it hot? Is there some water in it? Those kinds of things will impact the way you will proceed and the way you will deal with your project. So all those aspects have to be taken into account. It doesn’t mean it’s complicated, but you need to take it seriously. So there are steps to cover. And that’s what I always found challenging, but on the other side very interesting, in doing marketing for IT companies, is how you deliver a simple message that doesn’t sound childish. I’m losing some words in English to explain it. As we say in French, it has to be “simple,” but not “simpliste.”

Shaheen Samavati 5:19

Nathalie Perchard 5:19
Exactly. And that’s the tricky part into it. But you know, for content, especially in English as a non-native speaker, we have a great team in the US working a lot on content, and delivering, working on those messages. Because again, we don’t want to over-promise, we don’t want to say things we’re not doing. We’re not here to make promises we can’t deliver. That’s the key of content marketing today.

Shaheen Samavati 5:51
So in your role as senior marketing manager for EMEA, what is your day-to-day like?

Nathalie Perchard 5:56
Well I mean, since Impinj is working with lots of partners, we have a strong partner community. So it’s definitely as a content… You mentioned that you found me, or you found interesting the way I was delivering content on LinkedIn. So part of it is making sure that our partners are getting the right message. So it’s taking the content coming from the US, sometimes, I do also propose some specific local content. So we write an appropriate content that is done at global level. And in Europe, mainly, I’m working on how I can localize it, I can share it with partners, how we can potentially work on what we call the solution brief. So we have partners who are based on some of our solutions and products, they’re based on solutions, so bring their expertise into it. So how we can provide the solution and solution brief to a wider audience. That’s mainly what we’re doing in content. Obviously, my role is going behind content. Since I’m really the person for EMEA, we have events, or let’s say, we used to have events. For the time being, somehow it looks different, but like making sure we are attending the right events or trade shows, sometimes organizing our own events, or partner events or even end user events. A lot of the work, which is definitely related to content, when I’m talking about localizing, is also translating, so having the website in foreign languages. That’s all of it, and making sure obviously that this content is known by our partners. So we do have a great team in the US working on developing tools for partners so that they keep updated on what we’re doing. And obviously then all the social aspect behind it is important. So making sure that our partners are aware of what we have, sharing our latest customer stories, but also making sure that our partners can work with us on new customer stories, and we learn so much sometimes from new use cases, new industries, new ways of using our solutions. It’s really, it’s always, we are in a learning process. I am at least, because again, I’ve been for three years with Impinj almost. And it’s a technology, it’s an industry that is still in education phases. Lots of people need to understand what we can do with RFID. Or maybe people think what RFID is, and they have probably a wrong or very short image of the potential of RFID. So there are lots of things to do. And so I myself learn a lot when I obviously work internally, with other teams, but also when we share with partners, because they also have RFID expertise. And sometimes they come up with ideas, or solutions and deployments that I wouldn’t have suspected. But again, I’m not in the field every day with customers. So as a marketing person, I’m always learning, which is very interesting. As long as you learn something new, you know, you are still in a mood of transmitting to other people.

Shaheen Samavati 9:26
And how important is Europe? You mentioned that the company is also active in the US and maybe other international markets. So how significant is Europe in all of that, and what markets do you operate in, in general?

Nathalie Perchard 9:42
Oh, everywhere. I mean, we’re worldwide. So you have, obviously, headquarters are in Seattle, so that’s where we have most of the team, and we cover also APAC, Americas, South America, so we cover actually all parts of the world. Again, we have a very strong partner community. So we work with them very closely. And yeah, anyway.

Shaheen Samavati 10:06
How much emphasis do you put on the European market? How important is it in the scheme of things?

Nathalie Perchard 10:12
European market is very, has always been important to Impinj, because there is a great potential and as you know, and we will probably focus on Europe today, EMEA is, in terms of inhabitants, and in terms of market potential, not much bigger than the US. The problem is that you have 40, 45 countries and as many cultures, as many languages almost, which makes it always very difficult to enter the market and especially, I realized also since I’ve been with Impinj, obviously I had other, I worked for other companies, but some industries are more mature in countries than in other countries. I could take an example of industrial manufacturing for Germany, like automotive, for example, is very advanced in the RFID business in Germany. So depending on which industry you want to cover, then you need to adapt the way you are talking, the way you will be sharing, obviously, and it’s always better to do it in the native language. So all those kind of things make it very important for a company, so here a US-based company, to have people in Europe because they have the knowledge of the market. So it’s, and again, the cultural aspect is always important. Like, we’re used to say that if you want to be good in France, you need to have at least a sales guy who is French and the same thing in Germany, and it just like, it makes it easier. And it’s not only a question of language, it’s really a question of culture too. So it’s a big focus for Impinj. But again, Europe is a big potential market, but so… with so many countries, and some of them are smaller. Imagine Switzerland that speaks four languages or Belgium, they speak two, for such small countries. So sometimes it makes it hard to drive those countries and this part of the world only from the US. So we have a team in Europe.

Shaheen Samavati 12:25
So do you create like, unique content for the different markets? Or is it more adapting what you have in English into the different languages? And do you have, what about the channels? Are they the same in the different markets?

Nathalie Perchard 12:38
I mean, it’s posts actually, most of it, when we’re talking about the platform set or solutions. And obviously, we take what is done in the US and then we localize it and translate it, but when it comes to writing a customer story or writing a solution brief with a partner, then it’s country specific or it’s partner specific. But it’s not a one-way communication, we have both ways. But again, company-specific scripted content comes from the US, which definitely makes sense. And we adapt when it’s about, we have a few news cases, we have launched two nice ones like two months ago, one with a Finland partner about a Finnish kitchen builder, and one with Brussels Airport. Unfortunately, today, airports and air transportation are suffering but still, it’s a very nice solution. And we work with a local partner in Belgium and with Brussels Airport. So this kind of content comes directly from us. And then we work with the content team in the US to write a very nice customer story, and we have another one coming soon. Then in Denmark, so we have some coming from Italy, from everywhere, which, again makes it sometimes very challenging, but also very interesting and diverse. So you have, like countries are different, industries are different, use cases are different. And it’s very nice.

Shaheen Samavati 14:14
And what about when it comes to social media? Is that something that’s centralized? Or do you localize that for the markets?

Nathalie Perchard 14:23
Today it’s still quite centralized, because we would need to have some posts, for example in French or German, but it requires lots of time and resources. And today, we are getting really good today, and now we’re getting even better at sharing information coming from Europe, and then it’s posted on the global Impinj page and account, and we have more and more Europe-specific posts, for example, like to days ago we had a partner in Belgium. And as I said, we have a partner community and they’ve been awarded Gold Partner. So they wrote a blog post on this, and we shared it on the Impinj page on LinkedIn, and then Facebook and Twitter. So it’s not only when you go on the Impinj page, on again LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, you don’t have US-specific content. You have content addressing customer stories or posts from partners from different parts of the world. So I’m focusing obviously on EMEA, but you can have some from Japanese partners, Chinese partners and others. And I think it’s great. I mean, we’re a global company, so it’s nice to have not only US-focused content.

Shaheen Samavati 15:51
Is there any example of how you think Impinj is doing things in a unique way in its content marketing? Or any project you’re particularly proud of?

Nathalie Perchard 16:02
Being unique, honestly, today. It’s very tough to answer. What I like in the way we work is that we’re really, we’re sharing a lot. And I would say now that also the team in the US is locked down, that we work even more closely together than we used to. So we share a lot. We work a lot, like we do today, in sharing screens, but then we have, everyone can bring his own ideas, or input, feedback, experience, and then there is a lot of sharing through that. So I don’t know if it’s unique, but at least it’s… again, the company, the team, my team is listening to what the field is bringing and turns those feedback and experience into something new, into new content. That makes it also so relevant. Because again, if you write only about US-specific aspects, then people in Europe won’t feel impacted by it. So it’s important, and this is taken into account. And we’re getting, I find that we’re getting better and better at this, like having a real share of experience. And again, you learn from what other countries… and I could give an example of APAC or America. So you learn from what is done in other countries with other partners, and how those solutions or deployments can help bringing the solution forward and helping partners in other countries to also be successful.

Shaheen Samavati 17:59
So for your, maybe you can tell me about your plans for 2020 and how they might have changed because of the current situation, and your goals.

Nathalie Perchard 18:08
We may go then into the emotional part of this conversation. I mean, we were like everyone. We were, to be honest the first time I heard about this COVID, we were all in Seattle. All the company was there, we had our global sales kickoff. And that’s the first time I heard about it. And I was like everyone, okay, there’s a virus coming. And then things apparently did develop very quickly. And I remember, during this global sales kickoff, I presented what we plan to do for 2020 in Europe, and all of a sudden, on the eighth of March, on that day, trade shows we were working on were canceled. Our own events were canceled. Our partners canceled everything. And like in France, and it was the same then a little bit before in Italy, then we go into lockdown things. So, first was, how do you first cope with it personally? So I mean, we’re all working, we’re talking here about me as a marketing manager, but we are also humans. And you need to understand what’s happening. Is it really that bad? So you first have this, it’s a personal reaction on is it really that dangerous? Are we all jeopardized? And it doesn’t last a week or two but like the first two days just a weird feeling on yeah, what’s going to happen? And then you need to go on working, but I found also very difficult to do business as usual because I was just like, writing partners and if they were themselves hit by this virus, so you don’t know like, can you really do business as usual? And this phase, you know, roughly for me last like a week. And then at some point I thought, yes, let’s go on, let’s move on, let’s see. And if people can answer or if we can organize, and I got lots of like pushback saying, partners saying no, in EMEA, like no, we can’t commit on anything before, I mean, physical events we can’t commit before September or October. So it was just like, okay, so we can do business as usual, which means we can still be in contact with our partners and providers, but in a different way. And then came the plan B somehow that… we were lucky at Impinj to be used to, like, how can we use the apps we usually use, like here we have Zoom but you can use Webex, you can use Teams, so how can we work on a digital way only, but still be delivering content, because here it’s a content-focused media. Yeah, so it does have a psychological impact on you. So we were very good at continuing working, but I still think we need to learn a lot and I’m still learning on, yes we have a professional life, but we also have a personal life and we need to find a balance between the two, which helps having a better life in both parts. Like if you find time for both, then you’re better at both. So try not to mix up, which is difficult. Again, when you can’t go out and yeah, I’m covering EMEA so I’m used to travel. And today, if I listen to the news, at least in France, looks like I won’t be able to move for months. Which means I will have to go on working like this.

Shaheen Samavati 21:55
So when you talk about these events and the things that you had planned, what are you doing instead? Like are you replacing that with digital interactions?

Nathalie Perchard 22:04
Yes. We’re providing lots of content in putting together success stories, in doing some webinars, in speeding up some processes where sometimes we had no time for, like delivering some content in local languages. So we are better and quicker at doing that. I am better because I was the one who didn’t have so much bandwidth. And yes, in trying to find another way of driving business, but it’s obviously digital-focused and content-focused. Which is, again, I said it many times today, but having more success stories, working with partners, finding some ideas, and you know, everyone is thinking of how can we do it differently and better. And somehow it’s also difficult to be innovative and disruptive, because today most events are digital. So we also need to find a way to do it differently, so that our audience doesn’t get bored of, again, a digital event or again, a webinar. So if you deliver a webinar, you need to be very, very good at delivering the message without being, again, too boring, and a PowerPoint presentation again with people talking for hours. I did attend a few ones, and some of them were just great, because the speaker was great, and the content was very focused. And some of them were just like, no. But again, for marketers and people who are doing some content, it’s very challenging.

Shaheen Samavati 23:40
Yeah, absolutely. There is definitely like a saturation of online events right now. And I think people are getting tired of them. So it’s like, what can you do to be innovative?

Nathalie Perchard 23:51
But which again brings back to what I said: you can’t live in a world that is 100% digital or 100% let’s say physical. So it’s a balance. So today, no one can say, oh it’s great to do everything online. No, it’s not because it’s about human relations also. You need to talk to people, and at the end of the day, just like e-commerce, you always have the extra mile, you always bring what you bought to someone. So nothing is completely virtual. Nothing is completely digital. So it’s great to have those tools, but we do it because we don’t have the choice today, but I hope we find a balance. And again, it’s a good lesson for me as a marketer to see okay, how we can be not completely this and not completely that, and how you can be innovative. And it’s also lots of discussions we have internally, which are again, very… yeah, very rich, because I don’t think anyone, no one has experienced what we’re living today. Never. So we are writing somehow a new way of doing marketing, so we’re part of it. So that’s what makes it difficult but also so interesting.

Shaheen Samavati 25:08
So I wanted to end by asking you about your recommendations. So first of all, if there’s a tool that you can’t work without? Any tool you can’t work without?

Nathalie Perchard 25:19
I was thinking a lot about it, to be honest. Because I won’t say I’m getting tired of all the digital aspects. It’s part of my work. But today, I feel like taking a pen, taking a paper—it’s not an app. It’s not very innovative, but at some point, it can be. Like before starting, having a webinar or a meeting with someone, or looking at the very latest, I don’t know, meeting tool or innovative… Then just take a pen and write down your ideas. And do yeah, as you were, I mean I always used to do that before when I was younger, like, you have an idea and you can cross and you can take a paper and put it in the basket and then take it back. It’s rich, because at some point, then you’re focused only on this piece of paper and not multiple screens, you know, I have two screens, some people have three. So you’re really focused and it helps. It keeps you away from all those tons of information you get when you are working through a screen. And I think again, because we are marketers and working on content, it’s a good way to stay together with yourself, to focus, and to think. And sometimes you just come back one day later, two days later, and you just look and you think it’s crap or it’s great, doesn’t matter, or you can make some edits.

Shaheen Samavati 26:55
Absolutely, I can completely relate to that. I also really value paper, as a former journalist. And then I just wanted to ask you about a European marketing influencer who you follow?

Nathalie Perchard 27:08
Again I was thinking of, okay marketing influencer, yeah, there are lots of people. But I thought okay, for me the best marketers are the ones who are entrepreneurs. And I was thinking of one in France, because I’m French, and I thought okay, I will also talk about French people. And one is Marc Simoncini. He was born in Marseille, and it’s funny because I live in Marseille. So it’s not because he was born in this city, but because he created quite a few companies, or has been involved, or has been supporting quite a few companies. But he’s the one who really introduced somehow, yeah, e-commerce in France with… he’s not the only one, but one of the most known ones, and he was involved in putting, pushing people in creating their own companies. And that’s what I like. So for me, all those people who were at the right time, at the right moment in creating a company and using a new trend, technological trend or not, are definitely the best marketers. They have a sense of, okay what is needed and how can I bring with my team, with my ideas, with my tool, this to the market? This, for me, is the definition of a great marketer. So those ones have definitely lots of attention from me. And I mentioned him because he did a TV show in France, two or three months ago, where he was giving some advice with other French enterpreneurs. And he was also then trying some new startups, and giving them some money, some budget. So that’s what I like too, he’s been a good entrepreneur. And he’s been always pushing and helping students, in creating schools, in supporting other potential startups.

Shaheen Samavati 29:17
I’m super interested to check out his work. And excited to be highlighting, this is one thing we want to do with The Content Mix, is like highlight people doing cool things in European marketing. So definitely gonna check him out. And also, just lastly wanted to ask you about any European marketing group, association or event that you would recommend.

Nathalie Perchard 29:37
I would probably have given another answer if we were living in another situation. But we have this association in French, in France, but it’s not only France, but it’s very well known in France, and it’s called Emmaus. This association has been created like 60 years ago, at least. And today, the reason why I’m talking about this association is because it was working, and two months lockdown, and this community is really endangered. But really, which means the people I was talking about, all those homeless people will end up on the street again, if they don’t have some budget to start again, and giving them some budget. So they need help. And I think it was something I just wanted to highlight. If at my level, I have this little chance to give them some chance to get some donations, then I’m happy to do that.

Shaheen Samavati 30:46
Yeah, awesome. That’s really cool. So hopefully, yeah, it spreads the word about what’s going on there. And just to end, if you had any parting advice for other marketers in this time? Final closing thoughts?

Nathalie Perchard 31:05
Let’s say again, in this situation we’re living today, probably, as I was saying before, finding the good balance between work, private and professional life, taking the time to connect with people. We always say that oh, I have no time, I have no time, I have no time. So now I think we do have the time. We just need to get organized and find a way of connecting with people, even if it’s only through a screen. Listen more, because also our job is about listening. We are writing down what people are wanting, we are writing down what engineers are developing. We are putting words together for, according to your job, CEOs for example. We are, as people who are doing content, before they write they should listen. And listening is probably the thing I’ve been doing most during those last two months. Also at a personal level, like, again with my children, usually I have no time. So I have more time for them. And it’s sometimes good. Like, you’re not thinking of yourself all the time, you listen more to others. It’s just like, oh good, I’m not the only one. So you’re getting less self… I don’t know, self-focused, which is also a good way of thinking. Somehow we’ve been lucky, we’re an IT company, we have all the tools, we have been working. So maybe I was complaining saying we had lots of work, but at least we have work, we have a job. Lots of people have lost or will lose their job. So we should think of others that have been in a situation that is much worse than ours.

Shaheen Samavati 32:56
Absolutely, it’s definitely something to be grateful for. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and for sharing your perspective with us.

Nathalie Perchard 33:05
I hope that was clear for everyone, and I did find the right words, or at least the words I wanted to express. And thank you for inviting.

Shaheen Samavati 33:16
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you again, and thanks everybody for listening in. We’re going to be sharing a lot more of these perspectives on The Content Mix podcast, so please keep tuning in. See you next time.

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