Here is a transcript generated by of the The Content Mix podcast interview between with Rolf Hammerstein, marketing manager and webinar pioneer:

Shaheen Samavati 0:14
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here with Rolf Hammerstein. Thanks for joining us.

Rolf Hammerstein 0:20
Thank you very much.

Shaheen Samavati 0:22
Thank you, and sorry for my German pronunciation, but I try my best. So you have 30 years of marketing experience, mainly in the marketing—sorry, in the manufacturing sector, and you recently joined STAHL CraneSystems as marketing manager for EMEA and Asia Pacific. Could you just tell us a bit about your background and how you got where you are now?

Rolf Hammerstein 0:44
Well, I studied economics at the University of Bonn, and marketing was one of my specialties. And the reason why I continued, for marketing, and well, I chose the B2B marketing, and I’m still there.

Shaheen Samavati 1:03
I see. And what part of Germany are you from, by the way? And where are you now?

Rolf Hammerstein 1:11
I’m from the Rhineland and now I’m in southern Germany.

Shaheen Samavati 1:16
Okay, and that’s in the southern part, right? Or kind of in the middle?

Rolf Hammerstein 1:20
No no no, it’s in the southern part of Germany. You can say it’s more or less close to Stuttgart.

Shaheen Samavati 1:29
Right, okay. And maybe you can tell us a little bit, I mean you have a long experience in marketing. Your current company, could you tell us a little bit about what they do?

Rolf Hammerstein 1:39
Well, STAHL CraneSystems belongs to the Columbus McKinnon group, and they are specialized in lifting technology and components for industrial applications. So for example, wire rope hoists. So if you want to lift very heavy parts within an industrial factory, you need hoists, you need crane systems, and STAHL CraneSystems is delivering those components.

Shaheen Samavati 2:11
Can you walk us through kind of what your responsibilities are and what your day-to-day is like, as the marketing manager for EMEA and Asia Pacific?

Rolf Hammerstein 2:19
Well, I’m responsible for marketing communication for EMEA and Asia Pacific. Typical job, what you have in marketing in business-to-business, you have to communicate internally and of course, more important externally, everything what is important for our audience. That means first of all customers, but also for the general public. Typical examples are, if we launch new products, typical examples are if you want to raise topics which are important for our customers, or which we think which they should know, this all comprises the job.

Shaheen Samavati 3:03
Right. In terms of like, the types of marketing that you do, what are your main channels? I know that in manufacturing, I mean I guess it’s a long-standing industry. So I imagine you relied on a lot of traditional marketing channels, but that’s changing now with digitalization. So could you tell us a bit about…

Rolf Hammerstein 3:24
I mean, the traditional channels were the professional media and also exhibition and events. Well, in the ’90s came up more the digital world. So it started with the internet. And now you know, all the different things which are available, social media and so on. So the trend, of course, is digitalization. It doesn’t say that the traditional media is dead, or let’s say exhibition and events, but the importance is reduced. I could even imagine in future we will see more and more digital events.

Shaheen Samavati 4:05
We’re definitely seeing that now, with the lockdown situation and coronavirus making it impossible to…

Rolf Hammerstein 4:11
Yeah but in a really, in a bigger area. Let’s say, nowadays you see somewhere that’s true. But let’s say smaller groups, not like a big event, but probably that will come up in future as well.

Shaheen Samavati 4:30
Yeah, I think we’re starting to see, because we’re forced to not be able to do big in-person events, I’ve seen some some very large conferences saying they’re going to do, like, a digital version. And that’ll be interesting to see how they manage that. So yeah, I don’t know if that’s the case in your industry, though.

Rolf Hammerstein 4:50
Yeah, it’s starting. Typically, let’s say the B2B business is a little bit, sometimes at least, lagging behind the consumer business.

Shaheen Samavati 5:02
Yeah, that’s true. Can you talk about, how do you use content, either in your current role or in previous roles?

Rolf Hammerstein 5:09
Well, there are several examples I could give. Webinars, for example, is to my mind a very important tool in digital marketing, because with webinars, you can contact and get in touch with people, which previously remained hidden. In a second you have a direct contact to those people, which are typically very high interested in your topic. This is an example fitted for marketing and where you provide high value content, which gives you of course, value add.

Shaheen Samavati 5:51
So webinars, is that a tool that you use in your current job, or is that something you did in your last company? I know you haven’t been too long…

Rolf Hammerstein 5:59
Well actually I can tell you, I started with webinars in 2007 when I was in marketing responsible at Siemens. So 2007 I organized the first webinar at Siemens for, let’s say, for that business unit where I was working for. And I very well remember, at the time, we started with a publication company, they even didn’t know about it. I introduced to them the concept, how to get started. And yeah, it’s, now you see 13 years ago.

Shaheen Samavati 6:39
Yeah, absolutely. Now that’s a really important tool for B2B marketing for sure. It was definitely cutting edge in 2007, I think. Yeah, so very cool. So I mean, well, how do you think it’s evolved since then? I mean, what was your webinar like then? And what are the kinds of things you’re doing now?

Rolf Hammerstein 6:59
Same principle, it’s the same, it didn’t change. I think… and that’s what I prefer to do is to use a publication company, because if you do and you invite for your webinar, typically you get visitors who already know you, mostly. If you use the database of a publication company, you get access to people who don’t know you, get them because of the topic. And they also have content marketing to get people interested in the topic. And if you have the chance to be one of the lecturer in that topic, then of course, you can can create attention for your company, and for your products and all what you offer.

Shaheen Samavati 7:54
But when you say a publication company, you mean like a PR firm? Or, like how would they distribute that?

Rolf Hammerstein 8:00
No, a traditional publication company of a professional magazine.

Shaheen Samavati 8:05
Like a media outlet, right, yeah.

Rolf Hammerstein 8:07
Yes, exactly. Because they typically, they have a large, okay, depending on the publication company, but they have a large database. They can make the selection, everything for you in there, at least in my business where I’m working, publication companies who understood their business, and they are meanwhile already specialized to offer webinars. And then the publication company, they are inviting. And then you are, let’s say, one of the speakers, or let’s say you are the only speaker. But the point is, if a publication company is inviting, then a third party is inviting. So if you invite directly from your company, everybody understands or thinks, “Oh, he’s now telling something that they are the best of the world.” So I think it’s better if a third party in middle is, let’s say, supporting this.

Shaheen Samavati 9:13
Yeah, it gives legitimacy and neutrality in the way.

Rolf Hammerstein 9:17
I have a similar example, for open house events. It’s another example of content marketing. So if you typically, you know, a open house event, you invite people that they visit your factory, your outlet, what you have, and you combine it with some speeches. And normally the speeches are given by people who are working in the company: let’s say the CEO, the general sales manager and so on. But if you organize an open house event, with a special topic, where you invite lecturers, let’s say from science, or let’s say one of your prominent customers who are speaking, then you put it on a neutral stage; the people are coming because of the topic. And if they’re there for these speeches, you have them in your house, and then you have the chance to get in touch with those people. That way you have a kind of win-win situation.

Shaheen Samavati 10:25
Absolutely. So like an open house event would be like an in-person event, then.

Rolf Hammerstein 10:30
Yes, and here again, in the past what I did is I also used the publication company for the invitation, or another, let’s say, specialized company in the industry, who have a big database, for invitation.

Shaheen Samavati 10:51
Makes sense. Yeah, I guess that the kinds of publications you’re talking about would be like magazines very specific to your industry…

Rolf Hammerstein 10:59
Exactly. So they invite, let’s say, for a special topic, say, look, this is a great event. Here we have a prominent speaker, Professor whatever, and two or three other speakers, everything will be shown and you get the notes, and so on. But you need, of course you need some prominent, at least the keynote speaker should be prominent. Attract the people.

Shaheen Samavati 11:26
Right, yeah. Makes a lot of sense.

Rolf Hammerstein 11:29
But if you say, this is an open house event, and we show you all our products in our factory, the people are coming, okay, who are interested in you, but you don’t get the people who maybe even don’t know you.

Shaheen Samavati 11:46
Yeah. So I guess this concept is something, sounds like you’ve been using a long time, it’s nothing new. But there’s new ways to do it now, right? To create value, basically.

Rolf Hammerstein 11:57
Yes, exactly. So these are, to my mind, typical examples of content marketing. And also, for example, technical articles in professional magazines, or if you produce white papers or videos, these are very common and well known.

Shaheen Samavati 12:19
And I know a challenge when you’re dealing with a more technical product is that the kind of content you need to produce needs to be very specialized. So you need people writing it who know what they’re talking about. So how do you source that content? I mean, is it members of your team that are writing it? Or, because a lot of times people on your team, they might not be writers, also. So that’s always a challenge.

Rolf Hammerstein 12:41
Yes, of course, but this is also a classical job of a marketing manager. You go to your product managers, and then you ask them typical questions. Tell me the features of your product, what’s really important? Why should a customer buy it? What makes it better in comparison to the competition, and all this. And then you put this, let’s say, raw information, and then you have to convert and transform it into either print material or into videos. And the more complex the things are, nowadays, you should go to audiovisual content, because people very often, to my understanding and feeling, reluctant to read a lot. They prefer to sit in an armchair or wherever and watch a five-minute video to get the same content than reading a book.

Shaheen Samavati 13:43
Absolutely. I mean, for the content initiatives, you’ve talked about, like for example, a webinar where you’re doing something that’s less about your product, but something that you want to create value. Is that, who would be the one doing the webinar?

Rolf Hammerstein 13:56
The actual example I have, so 23rd of June we have a webinar, it’s a product manager, or it can be people who are responsible for training. So it should be people who are, let’s say, educated in the products, who are educated in presenting.

Shaheen Samavati 14:17
That makes sense. So in this case, what’s your webinar about?

Rolf Hammerstein 14:20
The webinar is about explosive protected lifting components.

Shaheen Samavati 14:27
Okay, very specific topic.

Rolf Hammerstein 14:28
Yes, a very specific topic. And here again, we are inviting the people who are in our database, of course, that means our customers and so on. But we use the publication company, because they have so many different people in their database, we probably don’t know. We have a very specific target group, and if you want to have a webinar, let’s say with 50, or up to 100, or maybe even more participants, then you need, you have to shoot very broad. And we don’t have the database for this, but the publication company has.

Shaheen Samavati 15:11
Right, yeah, that makes sense. You started at this new company about the same time that this whole crisis was starting. So did that impact your plan for how to get started in the role?

Rolf Hammerstein 15:23
Yes, absolutely. Usually it was planned that I would visit the headquarters; the headquarters of Columbus McKinnon Group is in the United States. I cannot travel to the United States. Then we have several subsidiaries within Europe and also Asia, and I have to get to know the people who are responsible. So I cannot do this. Of course you can do very much again in a digital way, you can use the webcam and all this. But still, some point you have to meet the people in person. It’s not possible at the moment. And besides that, I have also to visit some of our key customers. Because I think it’s important for me to understand how our customers and our partners think.

Shaheen Samavati 16:16
Right. So I guess, since you haven’t been able to do as much in-person work, are you doing, I imagine you’re doing more digital work than usual.

Rolf Hammerstein 16:26

Shaheen Samavati 16:27
So maybe more of a focus on things like webinars and online events.

Rolf Hammerstein 16:32
Yes. Everything what is possible at the moment, I’m doing. But besides that, I have to also internally to organize things. And that’s the main, the major focus at the moment.

Shaheen Samavati 16:49
And then what about use of social media? I know that when, I have a little bit of experience in the manufacturing sector, and when I was working there, we weren’t using social media at all. I don’t know, in your experience, how that’s evolved over time, but I noticed that STAHL does have a pretty active presence on certain platforms, especially LinkedIn. Curious, how does social media play into your marketing strategy?

Rolf Hammerstein 17:12
It really depends where you are. As you know, I’m working in EMEA, also in the company where I worked before, I had a global responsibility. So it really depends where you are. Let’s say in Scandinavia, social media is much more important and common to use in the B2B business than let’s say here in conservative Germany, or German-speaking area. So far, it is really important to understand which country you’re talking about. But I would say, of course, in general, social media is more and more becoming important. Some countries are, okay, highly ones, and some countries are lagging behind. And I would say the major channel in business-to-business, to my mind, is LinkedIn. For German-speaking area, it’s also Xing, which is isolated for German-speaking area. And then in China, of course you have, for example, you have a different channel. There’s it’s WeChat, right? WeChat is, let’s say, the most important channel in China, so…

Shaheen Samavati 18:27
I see. So you have kind of localized strategies for the different markets.

Rolf Hammerstein 18:31
Yes, exactly.

Shaheen Samavati 18:33
And how do you manage that? I mean, do you have teams in each of the places or a person, I guess, appointed to do that?

Rolf Hammerstein 18:41
Yes, yes, you need some, at least to some degree, people who are locally working for you. I mean, let’s say where we have subsidiaries, there are people what we have not where we have partners, then you have really to talk with some partners, and of course internal sales people who are responsible for those countries, what you can do, right.

Shaheen Samavati 19:06
I see. So it’s not only social media, they’re also handling other maybe local events, other types of marketing.

Rolf Hammerstein 19:12
Exactly. You cannot, normally you cannot handle at least bigger events from abroad. So you need people locally and looking after things, talking with the builder, with the local event organizers and so on.

Shaheen Samavati 19:32
And I was curious, being responsible for both EMEA and the Asia Pacific regions, I mean, is there… How would you contrast them? Or do you have different challenges in Europe compared to Asia?

Rolf Hammerstein 19:46
Yes, I mean, Europe is different than Asia, of course. So, I mean, Asia…

Shaheen Samavati 19:54
And like how many different markets are you, I mean, is it every country in that region that you’re responsible for? Are you active everywhere?

Rolf Hammerstein 19:59
Not every country, of course. There are, let’s say, focus countries. In Asia, it’s China, it’s India, it’s also, let’s say then, Australia. But I would say we are not very much, at least at the moment in business, let’s say with Vietnam also. Right? Or, let’s say, Mongolia.

Shaheen Samavati 20:24
Right, you’re focused on the largest markets.

Rolf Hammerstein 20:27
Yes, of course. I mean, you cannot be everywhere if you are, let’s say, a medium-sized company.

Shaheen Samavati 20:37
Yeah, that makes sense.

Rolf Hammerstein 20:38
For giants like Siemens, they can do that, they can everything.

Shaheen Samavati 20:43
That makes sense. But specifically, I guess, the European market is probably more fragmented, considering your’re, I imagine you’re in more markets in Europe compared to Asia, then.

Rolf Hammerstein 20:54
Yes, yes. And of course, we are in many different branches active. So let’s say, one of our key customer branches is oil and gas. Here in Germany we don’t have very much oil and gas, compared to the oil and gas business, let’s say, in the United Kingdom or let’s say, in Norway, Netherlands or France, also France. So you see, depends which country and which industry are available or are strong in those countries.

Shaheen Samavati 21:38
Well it’s about time, we’re getting towards the end of the interview. Just wanted to ask you for any advice you have for other marketers working across European markets.

Rolf Hammerstein 21:51
Content marketing is very much linked to the popular word of inbound marketing. So many people nowadays they talk about inbound marketing. So it’s very, let’s say, very close. I would say you should understand content marketing is not a tool to achieve very quick success. It takes a long time, okay, so you have to constantly provide content again and again and nurture your audience. But also content marketing is very closely connected to quality marketing, okay, and not… some people try to execute “good enough marketing.” So, forget it. So if you really want to provide good content marketing, then the strategy of provide good enough marketing, that means to deliver mass instead of class, so you should really understand this. And I know not everybody understands because there are people also working in marketing, they think they have to shine at their superiors with workload. This is not good.

It’s quality over quantity, right?

Yes, exactly. And this also very much applies for content marketing, provide quality that your audience really get, edit well.

Shaheen Samavati 23:36
Absolutely. Very good point. So, thank you so much, Rolf, for joining us on the podcast.

Rolf Hammerstein 23:43
Thank you.

Shaheen Samavati 23:44
Yeah, I really appreciate your sharing your insights with us. And thank you everyone else for listening in. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out, and stay tuned in for interviews like this one every weekday. See you next time. Bye bye!

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