Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Peter Holmberg, global marketing communications manager for Marshall Headphones at Zound Industries:

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 Peter Holmberg, who is global marketing communications manager from Marshall Headphones, which is part of the Zound Industries group. Welcome, Peter, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Peter Holmberg 0:35
Thank you, Carlota. Very nice to be a part of this production. I’m very happy to be invited to speak. I hope we have a great conversation.

Carlota Pico 0:43
I’m sure we will. I’m excited to hear about your thoughts as well on marketing, and also really cool headphones. Are they Marshall?

Peter Holmberg 0:51
Oh, yeah, of course they are. I use the small inner ones. But I mean, I do have everything ready if I need them. But yeah, I do prefer for the tiny ones.

Carlota Pico 1:01
Excellent. I’m gonna have to get myself one of those as well. Okay, Peter, could you tell me a little bit about your background experience? How did you get to where you are today?

Peter Holmberg 1:10
Yeah, of course. Well, after university in Lund in Sweden, where I graduated from the University on a master’s degree in media communication science, I started working in Stockholm in PR, so I worked at PR agencies. for about six years, I mainly worked with consumer related communications, very b2c, also a lot of digital communication. That was like a specific sector back then, where I spoke specifically about digital and social media. Now, everything, of course, is very integrated. But back then, you were able to be some kind of a social media expert. And I was put in that corner. So I worked a lot with digital strategies and social media back in those days. So I ended up being head of consumer/digital—that was the title and my last agency I worked for. After that, I started as a global PR and Social Media Manager for Visit Sweden, the official visual organization for promoting Sweden as a destination, which is a great company, partly owned by the Swedish state, working only with marketing, basically, making sure to market Sweden and all parts of Sweden, and what you can do in Sweden, in other in other markets. So I was managing a team that existed in 12 different markets outside of Sweden. So that was the big start of my function as a manager for a global communication team. So working with global communication has been a part of my life ever since then. So I worked there for four and a half years. I worked producing like digital strategies, the brand promise for Sweden, doing a lot of of course, strategies for PR how to measure PR, and work with social media structure, and then doing a lot of great campaigns that I’m still very proud of today. It’s quite cool to be able to, to represent the country in that way when you do marketing. I always said like when if I ever leave the agency side, it should be for a cool brand. And then you get like the whole country as a brand. It’s like, yeah, awesome!

Carlota Pico 3:55
That’s awesome. And I can totally relate to that as well because actually, my background is in PR. I used to help markets promote themselves to other countries overseas in order to attract outside investment. And so I’ve worked with loads of the “invest in” or “visit in” so I’ve worked with Visit South Africa, Visit Ukraine, Invest in Malta Invest in Hungary, which are also state-owned agencies. And their job is, in fact to promote their country overseas, right? I found that that fascinating. I loved it.

Peter Holmberg 4:28
Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s great. I mean, it’s very, it’s very positive communication, always. So it’s very inspiring. I mean, the whole idea is to inspire and engage and traveling and it’s like, yeah, I mean, I love Sweden. I love all parts of Sweden, which is quite like, we have very different faces of thihs country. So it’s like, yeah, what’s there not to love with that? Yeah.

Carlota Pico 4:55
So how did you go from Visit Sweden now to Marshall headphones?

Peter Holmberg 4:59
Yeah, I mean, I’ve always had a big passion for music, at least rock music. So I’m not like, I don’t know, I mean, how many brands I can say I’m a big fan of without being like, involved in them. But Marshall is definitely one of them. So when I saw this opportunity, I needed to go with it. I mean, I grew up with Marshall basically, playing, you know, guitar, playing in rock bands, punk bands, I mean, always played Marshall, I really, I really love that brand. So the there was, I got in contact with the recruiter who’s we’re looking for, like a global PR manager for Marshall at Zound Industries. And I was like, yep, that’s me. And it was. So I started in the spring 2018. And then I just grew into the marketing of what we do, and I advanced one step up. And now I am Global Marketing Communications Manager, making sure that we communicate the brand for headphones to speakers, in best possible way.

Carlota Pico 6:13
Okay, well, congratulations, not only on landing that job, but also on the recent promotion.

Peter Holmberg 6:18
Thank you. Thank you.

Carlota Pico 6:20
Peter, so tell me about Marshall Headphones. If you could give me like a thirty second elevator pitch, that’d be fantastic. It’s quite an iconic brand. So I’m sure our audience already knows about it. But anyway, some more information is always helpful.

Peter Holmberg 6:33
Yeah, definitely, I think it’s quite important to know that I work for a company called Zound Industries, which is a Swedish company based in Stockholm, while we have global presence as well. So that company was started in 2008 by some guys that said, “Why don’t headphones look good? Basically, we can make them look good.” So they started a brand called Urbanears, which we still represent. And then, a few years after that, they went to the British company Marshall Amplifications in the UK, and said, “Hey, we want to do your headphones.” And they said yes. And then we got the license. So the license to use the official headphones of Marshall. So that’s what we still do, quite successfully. If I can say it myself. After a while, we started to do the official home speakers as well, that has grown into portable speakers, smart speakers, and so on. So this is what we do at Zound Industries. But the license, is still a license. I mean, Marshall is an old brand that goes back to 1962, started by Jim Marshall in the UK, producing like guitar amplifiers. So we’re just lucky to be able to work with that.

Carlota Pico 7:53
Beautiful, and I can totally tell how much you must love music by all the CDs in your background as well.

Peter Holmberg 7:59
Yeah, true. I mean, there are not many people that still listen to CDs I have. I have my vinyls down there as well.

Carlota Pico 8:07

Peter Holmberg 8:07
I mean, even though I mean, we produce like a lot of like, I mean, all our products now are very much WiFi or Bluetooth based and we listen to a lot of Spotify on them, I’m a big fan of the physical format as well. I mean, being a music lover, like going through record store and just like digging in some crates of vinyl. It’s like, the best thing I know.

Carlota Pico 8:29
Very cool. Very cool. Okay, from a marketing and communication standpoint, how do you evoke the desire to buy a product, your product online, that’s as delicate as a headphone, which fits each person differently and has a sound element to it as well, that can only really be tested out in person? Do you have like any advice for people who are in your same shoes? How do you go about that?

Peter Holmberg 8:55
Yeah, I mean, I think brand is everything. Basically, you need to have a brand that your target group trusts. This is why it has built, you know, the Marshall brand for so many years. It’s a brand that you as a musician, or nowadays, as a music listener, can trust. You know what the brand stands for, which means that you can feel confident in purchasing this brand online. It’s also a brand that has some kind of statement to it, for our part, at least. If you if you want to have like Marshall on your head, you actually want to say something—you want to say something like I do care about music; I have some specific knowledge about music, and it’s important to me. So that’s one thing, of course, making sure that our online sales work well. Then there’s also of course, there’s an interplay between the online and offline. People do visit a lot of physical stores and to try headphones, some of them purchase them in that store. Some of them purchase them online because of pricing, maybe? I don’t know. But then I think it’s, I think that interplay is important because people need to get in touch with our products as well. Then we try to do marketing activities where people get to touch and feel products as well. I mean, that’s important, because you live with your audio products every day. I mean, your headphones is part of you. So you, for many people, it is important to try before buying and so on. So I mean, that works very well. Then when it comes to online purchasing it’s of course, it should be easy to buy, it should also be easy to return. And then we have like the, the Amazon setup in the US that, yeah, it’s like, it’s extremely convenient for consumers to try, even though it’s an online purchase. So there’s still a lot of factors that goes into that. But online is booming. So something is working.

Carlota Pico 10:59
Yeah. Okay, so let me take that response and localize it to current times, current COVID-19 times. Spain, for example, has faced a very severe lockdown, where we weren’t able to go to stores, we weren’t able to buy anything in person, everything that we bought, had to be bought online, which required marketeers to tap into those emotions, as well. As a marketing professional, how are you tapping into the emotions of your audience during COVID-19?

Peter Holmberg 11:27
We did set up a policy, when the fact came that we were in a pandemic situation. We have in our marketing, been trying to be very considerate, and be very…take the situation, the target group and the people around the world, very seriously into consideration when we market. I think there’s a way to produce marketing that fits that situation without being opportunistic, you know what I mean? I mean, yes, we do want to sell products, but we also want to be relevant to the target group. So yeah, maybe it’s not as important to promote traveling anymore, because people aren’t allowed or have the ability to travel in the same way that they used to. So maybe we exchange that communication to something that is more relevant, like home speakers or headphones. And I think you can do that without like, like I said, being too opportunistic about it—more being like, I mean, being very clear about it. We know about the situation, we know about what’s happening. We know that people can go to a store and try our products out. So what we did, for example, with our own e-comm is that we we extended the return policies from 30 to 90 days, just to you know, make sure that people can feel like safe with, with the ordering of products and so on.

Carlota Pico 13:01
Okay, excellent. I noticed on your website that you also added a COVID-19 section to it.

Peter Holmberg 13:07
Yeah, we did, which is pretty much based on what I just explained, that I mean, there’s one thing about the logistics about it, that the you know, have more liberal ordering rules and so on. But then there’s the communication side of it as well, we make sure that we are being very considerate about people’s situation. I mean, we try to. For instance, we had, we had a campaign that we call “Hit the Road,” pretty much based on the freedom of the road trip, and you know, traveling and so on, which we tried to like down tone a bit, because we understand that even though people want to hit the road, they’re not possible to hit the road to the extent that they would like to, maybe. So yeah, that’s an alteration, and that’s like, based on the policy we did set up for COVID-19.

Carlota Pico 14:00
Okay, very interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about best practices. So what are your tips or what advice would you give to our audience in terms of running effective multi-language, large-scale, B2C marketing projects? Wow, that is quite a mouthful.

Peter Holmberg 14:17
That’s a long term, yeah. I think for our part, at least, it’s very important to have global strategies and to have like a global brand foundation. And then be open to the local adaptation of those strategies and the interpretation of the brand. But it’s always a balance, you know—how strict should you be on like global brand guidelines, and how much should you adapt to local? Well, it’s always like, you need to be quite pragmatic about it. There’s quite a lot of differences in markets like US or Europe, compared to, for instance, China, or other markets in Asia. And you need to have quite a lot of knowledge on those markets on every market in order to do effective market work there. So, yeah, global strategies and local activations of those strategies and adaptations. That’s one part, definitely, then a dear subject to me is KPIs and measurements, being able to measure what you do in marketing, in order to learn, because we all need to learn. And I mean, we need to learn about markets, we need to learn about trends and the media landscape and so on. But we also need to learn from what we’re doing. So when we go out with marketing in some markets, we do so with some set targets, and we do then get the results from the activities we’ve done. And we need to see, did we achieve what we aimed for? Why did we, why did we not? And do evaluate that in order to improve everyday. So I think that’s also a very important way to work on a global scale. And yeah, and then what I just touched upon as well, I think, like local insight is crucial. Not only have like, I don’t know, research, insight planning, department on a global office, but also really have people, have contacts in those specific markets, because you can’t really read up on what’s happening in a society, you need to live that society in order to make the best decisions. So I try to listen to people across the world as much as I can, internally and externally to our company, to be able to understand more, to be able to make the right decisions in how we produce global strategies that could adapt to these markets. So yeah, that’s some big, big topics, at least that I think is important to running our global marketing organization.

Carlota Pico 17:08
From a marketing standpoint, what have been some of the cultural nuances that have surprised you the most?

Peter Holmberg 17:15
I think that, yeah, like I said, we have some key markets we work on, where China is very, very different, of course, being one of those key markets. Not only do they have they, of course, they have their different social media platforms, but also how they engage with social media. The media, like the editorial media landscape is very different from, the other markets, at least we work with. And I think that, yeah, every time I’ve gone to China a few times, to do some like media things and so on, and I mean, it’s been very good, very successful, but I learn a ton every time I’m there, it’s like, “Wow, is this you know, this the way it works here?” It’s like, “Yeah!” it’s always…you always get surprised. And I like that, because that’s a challenge and a challenge is something that you you want to have in order to improve.

Carlota Pico 18:14
Yeah, definitely. Have you had to unlearn anything about marketing?

Peter Holmberg 18:21
If I had to unlearn anything?

Carlota Pico 18:23
Yeah, like looking back on your career, because I mean, like, when I got out of uni, I had these set ideas and then through experience, I’ve had to, like change the way that I think about marketing or change my style, especially with the digital revolution, because I got out of school quite a few years back.

Peter Holmberg 18:41
Yeah. No, I mean, definitely. I think on general thing I’ve learned over the years is to be quite cautious with trends, especially digital trends popping up. I mean, you can invest millions in something that is happening now that will not happen tomorrow. And I mean, we’ve tried everything, we did, like virtual reality a few years back, we did like all the like, “everyone should have a blog!”, “everyone should do this!” and “everyone should do that!” You know, you have all these trends, which you kind of adapt to when you do marketing because you need to—it’s happening right now. But you also need to take into consideration what happening next year. What’s like, Is this like something that’s gonna last or something that’s just here now? Because in my early marketing days, you were kind of like 100% on board, you just like “Alright, this is the future. Let’s roll!” Now, I’m no more…I don’t know…I’m more thoughtful now. I wouldn’t say cautious, but I need tons of more insights in order to, you know, spend a lot of dollars on new marketing, so to speak.

Carlota Pico 20:05
Yeah, more budget savvy?

Peter Holmberg 20:08
Yeah. You need to be, yeah.

Carlota Pico 20:12
Okay, speaking about the, future companies are expected to spend $120 billion US dollars on marketing by 2021, and obviously, a big chunk of that will be on digital marketing. With that in mind, what do you think the future has in store for us marketeers? So can you think of any, like future trends?

Peter Holmberg 20:32
Well, I mean, for one, I mean, and that’s been the case for several years now—we are heavily dependent on the big platforms right now. Facebook/Instagram, of course, I mean, everything they do impacts the way we do marketing, basically. So whatever they change, we in the rest of the world about to quite heavily. I don’t really see that as a trend, I definitely see that as a part of now and a part of the future, for this shorter period of time, at least, probably longer than that. So I mean, we rely heavily on social media advertisement. And also, of course, organic social media. But I think that I mean, the way these companies work these platforms like, yeah, like Facebook, and Google, and so on, we need to make sure that we keep up with like doing effective marketing on those platforms in order to reach a target group in a way that the target group acts nowadays.

Carlota Pico 21:44

Peter Holmberg 21:45
So, and besides that, I mean, outside of that, I think it’s, I mean, but that if you can see, like, general trends of what’s happening right now, more and more you try, I think, as marketers, you need to earn your attention. I mean, the market has always been crowded, and the communication landscape has always been very crowded. But more and more you kind of like need to earn your attention. I mean, especially for us being quite a small brand, if we compare to the big ones in consumer electronics and audio, we definitely need to know that we earn it. So we need to engage the target group, we need to know a lot about them in order to produce the content that they feel add value to them. So do the homework, yeah, of course, always important. And, you know, make sure to engage the target group for real. And if you want to speak like specifically, I mean, what is engaging nowadays? Well, we see a big increase of CSR related communication, which I love. I mean, it’s I think it’s great that the bigger companies take more responsibility now, not only like greenwashing anymore, you need, I mean, brands now need to take a stand for stuff. We need to, you know, we need to be sure that we take like climate issues, we take actions against racism, we take actions, pro-gender equality, and so on. These are important now, not only are statements—you actually need to do stuff, and that’s, that’s a trend I don’t see going anywhere else than up from here.

Carlota Pico 23:28
I love that. I love that. So what about tools? What tools do you use in your everyday activities? Or what are some of your favorite tools, for example?

Peter Holmberg 23:38
Well, I coming from PR, I’ve been working a lot with PR analytics tools, I work, I actually actually tend to work more with tools that I can tailor most or like services that can be tailored to what I actually need. I’ve been working with a Swedish company called Whispr Group heavily to be able to measure the impact of PR worldwide on a global level and also to have like some kind of comparison between like markets and previous activities and so on you. You know, what I spoke about earlier about KPIs and being able to learn, a lot of the tools that can provide that knowledge to me. So yeah, and now I work a lot with monitoring tools, just just to know what’s being written about our products. And I think it’s quite important to keep yourself updated of what’s happening in media right now, because even though I stepped up a little bit from PR, PR is still like the foundation of marketing of what we do. It’s such a bit such an important part and important discipline of marketing. So I keep myself updated on everything being written about our products and always like, try to analyze what what can we do from here? How can we make reviews more? How can we make them better? How can we make sure that media in the future loves the Marshall brand? So, yeah, that’s basically the main part of what I what I use tool wise right now.

Carlota Pico 25:15
Peter, I love how you’re still promoting Swedish brands like, although you don’t work at Visit Sweden anymore, you’re still all about Sweden—Swedish tools, Swedish brands, etc. That’s fantastic.

Peter Holmberg 25:29
Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, I’m just like, I think we are we have a lot of great companies here in Sweden. But no, I mean, I have a good network here in Stockholm. I think Stockholm is quite in the forefront when it comes to communication and marketing. So yeah, I’m just, I don’t I don’t think it’s an opinion—I’m just fortunate to be here. It’s a great city.

Carlota Pico 25:52
So Peter, on that note, what are a few Swedish brands that you think are disrupting the market—obviously, besides Zound Industries?

Peter Holmberg 26:01
I mean, there are a lot of big Swedish brands out there that I think are doing really great communication, like Volvo and IKEA, and those kinds of big players. But I mean, one of the major disruptive companies lately—or lately, I mean, this millennium—has been Spotify, which definitely has been a big impact in how we listen to music nowadays. Sweden in general has a really strong startup environment. There’s so much tech going on, at least in Stockholm. And I think that there’s a great potential for people trying to find out new digital solutions to like, to the future generations here in Stockholm. And yeah, I’m promoting Sweden quite a lot now. But no, I mean, I love it here. It’s good.

Carlota Pico 27:06
Excellent. Well, I’ve never been, but I will definitely add it to my list of places to visit in the near future—once they find a vaccine for COVID-19.

Peter Holmberg 27:15
You should, you should!

Carlota Pico 27:16
Okay, let’s take a walk down memory lane, Peter. Could you talk to me about some of your favorite campaigns or marketing projects to date? So their purpose? What made them stand out in your career? What did you accomplish? Stuff like that.

Peter Holmberg 27:32
Yeah, absolutely. I can start with like, one thing I did back in my PR consultant days. I worked with a brand, a bigger brand in plant based dairy alternatives called Alpro, where…that produces like soy milk, soy yogurt and so on. Me myself being a vegan, I’m quite passionate about that matter. And we took that quite far. We did stir up quite a big conversation in Sweden about plant based diet in general, talking about, you know, not only animals situations, but like health issues, speaking about climate impact, and speaking about what is consumed in public schools in Sweden, how can we get more plant based into the everyday life people and so on. We talked to politicians and so on. And this was stuff like this consumer brand that had not been done in Sweden before. And I was, yeah, there was, there was a very, it was a client that I was very passionate about, which meant that it was very fun working with. We did a lot of cool stuff.

Carlota Pico 28:58
Awesome. So how did you start that conversation? How did you get those conversations going?

Peter Holmberg 29:03
Oh, you do a lot. You…in Sweden, we have a big gathering each summer called ‘Almedalen,’ where you gather like everyone in every businesses and every politics and everything in an island outside of Sweden, in a city called Visby. And that’s one thing, I mean, that’s where…that’s a that’s a place where you can stir up a lot of conversation because everything is happening there. Then you just like, you try to just like add communication that talks about the the matter. You can like, write articles about it, making sure to sit down with politicians, for instance. I mean, they’ve never been approached maybe by a food brand in that sense, so I mean, in this specific matter, so that was very fun to like explore other parts of the communication area for a consumer brand. Yes, so…

Carlota Pico 30:02
So interesting!

Peter Holmberg 30:03
Yeah, and if I should mention like a specific campaign, I’ve been a part of both like producing and rolling out, I can take quite something I did for Visit Sweden, a campaign we called Sweden on Airbnb—we actually took the whole country and put it as a listing on Airbnb in a way to promote our what we call “Freedom to roam” in Sweden, which is basically if you visit Sweden, you have like freedom to sleep wherever you want, eat whatever you want in the forest, you know, pretty much treat Sweden as your own living room. And that’s a freedom that’s not common to a lot of countries. So we put the whole country on Airbnb and we did that in collaboration with Airbnb, in a really clever way, and it got massive attention. It got like, it was in all international medias. And we had like a video as a centerpiece content and then we did like, a lot of content, you know, related to the freedom to roam in Sweden. It was a great campaign and I’m very happy to have been a part of that from the beginning to the end.

Carlota Pico 31:27
That sounds like such a fun campaign as well.

Peter Holmberg 31:29
Yeah, it was it was it was really, really cool. And now like working with working with Marshall Headphones, and speakers, we’ve done a lot of like mainly product launches. We did one thing, when we launched a one headphone called Major III and we did some big parties in New York and UK—we’re very much pro-parties as a brand. A rock and roll experience should always like be a part of our brand! So we had like great artists playing on those events and so on. But we also added a very unique exhibition of the Riot Grrrl movement from early 90s mainly. This was an exhibition that was created quite uniquely, these events. So it had…we no one had seen this exhibition like prior or post these events. And I mean, also, like for me being very passionate about music, this, is like, this is just all everything in the world that is good melting together. It’s like, okay, I can do marketing, I can do nerd down music, and I can engage the target group in something that they should be more engaged in, you know, it’s like, it was super fun. So we had like media and influencers and artists and everyone coming to this. So it was, yeah, I loved that.

Carlota Pico 33:01
It was like your dream come true! Your dream campaign.

Peter Holmberg 33:03
Yeah, exactly

Carlota Pico 33:05

Peter Holmberg 33:06
No, it was great. It was also extremely successful, which was really good.

Carlota Pico 33:10
Excellent. Well, we are almost at the end of our interview, but to wrap our conversation up, if you could do anything in this world would it still be marketing, Peter?

Peter Holmberg 33:22
I think so. I mean, I’m very passionate about communication and marketing. So I guess it would be marketing, but it might not be consumer related marketing. It would—in the future—would be great to also work with marketing for IDs and causes. I do have, like, an urge to change the world in some way, you know? Don’t we all? I mean, I love a lot of rock’n’roll. I love music. I love the Marshall brand. And I’m going to keep working with this for quite a long time, I guess. But I mean, in the future, it would be great to work for a bigger cause as well. Hopefully with marketing, hopefully with communication in some way. But that’s like, that’s something I see for myself in the future. Who knows? Right now, I’m very happy to represent this brand and work at this company. So we’ll see!

Carlota Pico 34:12
Excellent. One day at a time!

Peter Holmberg 34:14
Yeah, exactly.

Carlota Pico 34:16
Okay, Peter. Well, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It was a pleasure to meet you, to learn more about Marshall and to pick your brain on so many different subjects.

Peter Holmberg 34:24
Oh, it was a real pleasure to to be a part of this. I hope you got something fun out of this or something valuable, let’s hope! But I enjoyed it, at least.

Carlota Pico 34:36
I did as well. And to everybody listening in, thank you for joining us on The Content Mix For more perspective 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!

Peter Holmberg 34:58
Thank you. Bye!

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