Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Teodora Takacs, EMEA marketing director, on getting to know your customer:

Carlota Pico 0:12
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Content Mix, I’m Carlota Pico, your host for today’s show, and I’m excited to introduce Teodora Takacs who is EMEA marketing director at Emerson Professional Tools, and also has over a decade of experience in marketing. Welcome, Teodora, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Teodora Takacs 0:34
Thank you for inviting me Carlota.

Carlota Pico 0:36
The pleasure is our Teodora. Okay, so tell me a little bit about your journey so far. You’re originally from Romania, but now you’re living in Belgium?

Teodora Takacs 0:44
Yes, that’s correct. So I grew up in Romania in Târgu Mureș and I studied in Romania, I started to work there. And I moved into Belgium in 2011. So my studies are in international relations and European parties. And I gradually took over different roles in marketing, in inside sales, in product management. And since 2010, I’ve work for Emerson. I started in a product management role. And yeah, since 2011, I moved to Belgium and I have been working for Emerson.

Carlota Pico 1:26
Okay, very exciting. Our backgrounds are actually really similar. I studied international relations as well. And I also have a very commercial mindset. And now I’m doing marketing. Small world we live in.

Teodora Takacs 1:37

Carlota Pico 1:38
Okay, Teodora, could you zoom into some of your proudest marketing moments to date?

Teodora Takacs 1:43
Yes. I think the, the moment where I feel more most proud, and when I’m really happy with the outcome of our work is when our messages get noticed. Sometimes we spend so much time producing and really working on content and then we move to the next thing. And not all the time, the messages that we want to have there in the market gets to the right audience. So my, the campaigns and the moments I’m really proud of is when our messages are seen by the right customer, by the right audiences. And when all the stakeholders that we want it to get informed, are actually appreciating the results of the campaign. So that’s always something that I keep in mind, is the work that we’re doing visible out there, and are the people who need to know about that product that campaign, that message aware of what we’re doing? So that’s very important for me and my team.

Carlota Pico 2:57
You’re painting like the perfect scenario, but it’s not always so easy to know where your customers are, right? How do you identify where your potential leads could be, especially because the website is full of distribution channels, it’s full of different places to publish your content on and your audience can be virtually anywhere, regardless of if you’re a b2b or b2c company?

Teodora Takacs 3:19
That’s true, that’s true. I think it’s very, very important for marketers to have, to develop a good business insight and to really start from understanding who that customer is. In our business, for example, we have so many different profiles of customers, so many segments and industries we’re working with. And sometimes you focus too much on the content and you forget about the person you’re making that content for. And it all starts from business understanding and from really having a genuine interest for those customers that you’re that you’re working for. And that’s also something that I try to bring in the campaigns that we’re doing, in the work that we’re doing with my team. Always think…try to put yourself in the customers shoes and always try to think like your customer. So once you get that understanding, I think a lot of there are a lot of similarities between the countries between different customer groups. And it’s really important to get that understanding of human behavior in the end.

Carlota Pico 4:31
Yeah, definitely human behavior is key because regardless of what type of company you work for, what type of product or services you’re selling, at the end of the day, there’s always going to be a human buying the product, buying the service. And it’s extremely important to keep that element in mind when you’re producing content.

Teodora Takacs 4:48

Carlota Pico 4:48
Okay, so we spoken about your product marketing moments. What about your most challenging marketing moments? What have those looked like?

Teodora Takacs 4:57
I would say the most challenging you to keep the focus on the right things, on the on the things that really matter for the business, for the customers. There is so much noise everywhere. I mean, everyone wants to sell you a tool or a new platform or a new, magical way of doing your work. And you can get distracted very easily. So I think, especially in the European market, you need to keep the business focus, you need to keep your priorities in line. And try to experiment as much as possible. I always encourage my team to experiment with new tools or learn new things, but keep it to a certain level, like don’t go to too far with it because then you get distracted. So I think that’s the most important thing for us to keep the focus and experiment with some limits.

Carlota Pico 6:02
Teodora, I love how you phrase your response “magical tools”–there’s always a “magical tool” out there–and you’re completely right. There’s always a tool popping up here and there for us marketeers to try out and it’s hard to keep one’s focus on what one is doing, right?

Teodora Takacs 6:15

Carlota Pico 6:16
Okay. Let’s give a little bit more context to our audience about Emerson. What is Emerson in a thirty second elevator pitch? And could you talk a little bit about the different segments? You’re part of the professional tools team, right?

Teodora Takacs 6:29
Yeah. So I would start with presenting a bit Emerson and what Emerson is doing so Emerson is a global manufacturing company. It’s ranked in Fortune 500 and it develops products and solutions for the most critical industries. So think about the oil and gas processing industries, the life sciences, chemical plants, all the the heavy duty, and the most critical industries you can think of. And we have two business groups, automation solutions more focused on developing solutions for and having deep expertise in automation and process management. So from product development, to consultancy, project design, industrial IoT, and so on. And the other group is commercial and residential solutions more focused on ensuring human comfort, food safety, building infrastructures. So for example, we do compressors that go into refrigeration units, thermostats, air conditioning units, all these critical things that let us stay comfortably in our homes and run our businesses smoothly, basically. And Emerson professional tools is part of commercial and residential solutions. So that’s the business I work for. And we manufacture tools for the professional skilled trades people–plumbers, electricians, mechanical contractors, everywhere you have water, gas, electricity, any sort of utility, you need to have a connection to be able to have running water electricity through that installation. So that’s where our tools come in place. And we are managing two brands, RIDGID–that’s more in the plumbing side of the business and then the electrical brands.

Carlota Pico 8:41
Okay, very interesting. And I understand that your clients are all around Europe, right?

Teodora Takacs 8:46
Exactly. So we are managing from from our headquarter Europe and Middle East.

Carlota Pico 8:52
Okay, so that actually leads me to my next question. The EMEA region is a really complex region, because we’re all in close proximity to each other, but we all speak different languages, and our culture is all completely different, right? Like working in Spain is not the same thing as working in Germany or creating content for a UK audience is not the same thing as creating content for Portuguese audience. So do you have any tips or tricks for attracting a multi-cultural and language audience to your brand and to your services?

Teodora Takacs 9:26
Yeah, that’s a very good question and a very challenging one, I guess, when you work in Europe. And I guess because our team is located in three different countries, we have a very nice mix of competencies and languages as well. So in our team of 16 people we speak nine different languages, which helps to keep that collaboration and constant communication with the different areas and with the different fields, the sales teams and so on. So I think that’s one of the key success factors to run a good marketing strategy in Europe, to have those flows of communication with the local teams, and try to get as many customer insights and market insights as possible from from all these different regions. In the end, what I can say from my experience over the years, is that people in the end are not that different. Yes, they will talk different languages, they will have different cultures, different backgrounds, but if you really know what your core value proposition is, and if you really understand your customer segments, you will see that the behaviors are not that different. A plumber will have a similar routine, whether he’s working in Belgium or in Romania or in Russia. He will go in the morning to buy some supplies, buy some accessories and go on the job site. What happens on the job site is also pretty similar. So if you get that figured out, I think in the end, it makes things easier, and it helps you stay focused on what really matters. In the end, what really matters is to be there when the customer needs it, and not create content or create solutions that look fun or cool but your customer doesn’t need these maybe.

Carlota Pico 11:32
Yeah, that makes complete sense. But what about COVID-19. I mean, COVID-19 has affected customers worldwide in different waves. First started off in China then moved into Europe, but within Europe, Madrid, for example, is one of the epicenters, Milan was one of the epicenters, etc, etc. And then it moved into the United States of America. And we’ve had to adapt content in order to resonate with local audiences as well. Could you talk to me about how you had to adapt your marketing approach in order to relate to your local audiences across Europe?

Teodora Takacs 12:04
Yeah, the current situation for sure gives us some blockages and some challenges. Because in in the tourism industry, being close to the customer, and being in the field, showing the product, demonstrating the product is critical is crucial. So of course, it doesn’t really help the fact that it’s a lot more difficult for our field sales teams to make appointments, for demonstrations, and so on. So what we try to do is really keep that close contact with our customer facing internal stakeholders, field sales, customer service, and try to come together to a solution that makes life easier for the customer. And we can reach out or we can be available in an easier way for the customer whenever they need some information or services. So we started recently doing more work with virtual meetings, webinars, we try to adapt everything that we had in terms of content to a more virtual way of communicating. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s not really the expected effect I would say because I think people become immune to, you know, webinar invitations and everyone trying to get their attention in some way or the other. But what we try to do is create that system or that framework where the customer can reach out and get in touch with us whenever there is a need. So we adapted in that sense and I think it’s a continual journey.

Carlota Pico 13:59
Yeah, no, I completely agree with you. There’s so much noise out there, especially now I feel like there’s more noise now than there has ever been before. Because I guess everybody is trying to digitalize their communication and producing more content in order to create more touch points and to address buyer persona concerns and also opportunities, right? Teodora after having worked in or with so many European markets, what has surprised me the most about this region?

Teodora Takacs 14:28
So I think everyone is aware that Europe is a very complex and interesting region, given all the cultures and the languages and the different countries we are working on a daily basis with and I guess that that could be challenging at times. But I think what surprises me or I don’t know if surprises the right word or amazes me all the time is how similar or people are in the end, when you truly try to understand some patterns in the way they work in the way they think. I mean, we are not that different from each other, I guess. And probably, that’s something that’s one of the key learnings from the last 10 years working the indo European environment, that in the end, things can get simple if you break into to the essence and if you really learn from what you’re doing, you can find patterns that help you cut through the noise.

Carlota Pico 15:44
Okay, what about a tip for people that are looking to work in the Belgian market or work with Belgian customers? Do you have any tips that they should pick up on before creating content?

Teodora Takacs 15:56
Belgium is a very multi-cultural country in essence, because of all the different languages. I mean, it’s such a small country with three different official languages. And I think that also makes people very open and very easy to work with. So since I moved to Belgium, that was one thing that I appreciated a lot in this country, the fact that people are very flexible often, friendly–you don’t really feel like an outsider. That is not always the case in other cultures, I would say in Europe, but Belgium is definitely one of the the open minded societies let’s say and a very interesting and positive experience, I guess, for everyone.

Carlota Pico 16:50
Okay, I love that response. Now Teodora, let’s take a walk down memory lane. So let’s say you could do it all over again. One, would you still choose a career in marketing? And two, would you do anything differently?

Teodora Takacs 17:06
One, for sure. I was the choose a career in marketing. I think from from a personal match it is something that passion that I’m passionate about, and that fits very well with my competencies and my skills. I love working with international teams, I love working with different stakeholders in the company, with different cultures with different countries. The complexity of marketing is also something that I’m passionate about, the fact that you always need to keep in mind so many different aspects and it’s not a repetitive work. I mean, every year, every campaign, every project is, in a way different and that’s something I love about marketing–the variety. If I would do things differently, I thought about that many times and what I was mentioning also earlier, the fact that you’re bombarded with so many different solutions and tools and every year there are some other platforms showing up. Maybe, and I thought should I have spent or my team should have spent less time experimenting or trying all these different tools that sometimes didn’t work. But I think I would have still done it because you really build a lot of resilience and learning from all these failures. And maybe we would not have gotten where we are today if we wouldn’t have done all those experiments. So it’s always a thin line but I think in the end, it’s worthwhile trying different things and even if you fail, learn from the failures and move on and adjust next time.

Carlota Pico 19:03
Yeah, definitely. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re in the field of A/B testing, right? So we don’t have a magic ball. that’ll tell us the correct answer. We just have to test out and see what the audience resonates with.

Teodora Takacs 19:14

Carlota Pico 19:15
Okay, Teodora, I’m moving into our set of rapid fire questions, which are basically your recommendations for audience. To get the session started off, I’d like to ask you about a source of inspiration. So a professional role model or an influencer that you really admire?

Teodora Takacs 19:29
Yeah, to be honest, I, despite the fact that I work with social media and from the nature of my job, I am always connected. In my spare time, I try to limit that. So I try to not follow too many influencers and not spend too much time following other people on social media. But I read a lot, so I get a lot of inspiration from books, and especially, I’m passionate about human psychology and behavioral economics. So I like for example, Dan Ariely. He’s a he’s an author who wrote a very interesting book. It’s called . about how people sometimes do irrational things and it becomes a predictable pattern the way they would act in certain situations. And I think understanding those types of theories and ideas helps us become better, marketers more empathetic, so I get a lot of inspiration from that field. And I also like Malcolm Gladwell, for all the inspiring ideas and stories and in general storytelling I find a very interesting field. And I think we should do a lot more of that–really spend more time focusing on bringing authentic stories about our customers about what we’re doing in the organization so we communicate that genuine interest about our community and our customers.

Carlota Pico 21:15
Yeah, I love a good storyteller. I’m in the same boat as you. And as for psychology, I mean, as marketeers, we’re in the art of measuring society’s pulse. So a lot of that has to do with psychology, right? Understanding how people walk, work, buy, etc.

Teodora Takacs 21:31
For sure, very important.

Carlota Pico 21:33
Okay, and to finish up this interview, what’s your favorite app at the moment and why?

Teodora Takacs 21:40
Well, because I like to read, but I know at the same time that you don’t find always the exactly what do you need from a book, maybe I read the book and 10%, or 15% actually helps me, I use an app called Blinkist, which gives you some summaries of books that you want to read. And I like it, because it gives me already a flavor about that idea. I already know is it something that it’s worthwhile reading? Or I already read three books on that topic and maybe it’s not that relevant anymore. So Blinkist is something I use to filter a bit out the books or titles that maybe wouldn’t bring a lot of value. And that helps me prioritize the ones that I really find interesting and want to spend time on.

Carlota Pico 22:37
Excellent. At the end of that day it helps you to save time and understand if you want to read something or if you don’t, because time is our most precious resource. Once it’s gone, it’s impossible to get back! Right?

Teodora Takacs 22:48
Exactly. Yeah.

Carlota Pico 22:49
Okay. Teodora, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It was awesome to meet you to learn about your experience in marketing, and to also learn a little bit more about Emerson.

Teodora Takacs 22:59
Thank you for having me.

Carlota Pico 23:02
The pleasure has been mine, and to everybody listening in today, thank you for joining us on The Content Mix. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every day, so keep on tuning in. Thanks again, have a fabulous day and see you next time. Bye!

Transcribed by