Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Vibha Thusu’s, marketing communications leader for EMEA at HIMEL, on the importance of content for successful brand repositioning:

Shaheen Samavati 0:04
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Vibha Thusu, marketing communications leader for EMEA at HIMEL, which is a global manufacturer and provider of electrical products. Thanks so much for joining us.

Vibha Thusu 0:17
Hi Shaheen, thank you so much for having me.

Shaheen Samavati 0:20
So let’s just get right into it. So your background is in content writing, now you’re leading communications and marketing for the EMEA region for HIMEL. Can you tell us a bit about your role and how content marketing plays into what you do now?

Vibha Thusu 0:34
Okay, sure. So very rightly said, I started not as a content writer, actually I started my career as a customer support executive. From there on, because I had a technology background and at the time there was a big IT boom, IT services were everywhere. So that was the first logical step for me, to start trying out to see where I go, where I land, just the beginning phases of my after college years. I have always been very keen on communications, there was a time when I actually wanted to be a journalist, but that did not happen for a lot of reasons. Actually my parents, they wanted me to become an engineer or do something in technology. So there was always that passion that I had towards communication, towards content, towards looking at what the audience is thinking. So I started after the initial stint in a call center for Dell, I got an opportunity to work as a technical content writer for a very small firm in India, in New Delhi. I fell right in love with it, because I felt it was something that was meant for me. It was a hidden passion to see what the audiences want, how to phrase it, whether it’s technical, non technical. I think my skills came out and I really, really picked it up. Very soon from this small organization, I got headhunted into one of the big technology giants in Delhi, where I was again asked to support technical writing, but more towards the project side, project management sides, where you’re working with the end customer. Getting the requirements, working on technical documentation, editing, proofreading, everything. So that was the next step. Ultimately, from there, I landed into a French multinational, Schneider Electric where I got selected, again headhunted, to work on a particular business unit’s content development for their external market, for their partner’s system integrators. From then on it has been no looking back Shaheen. I think it just started with a very small step where I started communicating on the phone externally with the customers, from there moving on to written content, then to technical content, then coming into very industry specific content with Schneider Electric. From then on it has just been up and about, I’ve seen the transition in the market, transition in the industry, picked up a lot of things. I added a lot of things in there, internal comms, employer branding, marketing, communication. Content has been at the heart of all of it. All that I have done, all that I have built upon in my career. For me, I believe in the phrase content is king. I have really lived by it. I think everything that I do, even today now with HIMEL, where I’m leading the marketing communications and the digital for Europe, Middle East and Africa, content is at the bottom of everything. This brand is a very new brand, a very young brand. We have a very entrepreneurial mindset while we’re trying to position this brand. Which means we have a lot of genuine storytelling to do and content plays a key role in that storytelling. So this is step one and has been in my entire life and my career and here I am today again with content.

Shaheen Samavati 4:01
So could you tell us a bit about the HIMEL brand, what’s the story behind it? You’ve also refreshed the brand recently, so can you tell us about what’s the positioning now?

Vibha Thusu 4:12
Yeah. So HIMEL is a 62 year old brand. It was founded in Spain, we have Spanish roots. We are today established across the globe. We are a global brand, primarily selling in Southeast Asia, including China, in Middle East and Africa, Central Eastern Europe, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It’s what we call the Greater India today. This brand is primarily serving the industrial automation industry, where in we have products right from contractors, to switches, to panels, to home electric devices, to switches, everything. Our brand has gone through a major shift in the last five years, if I may say that correctly. We are part of a big group, a French group, but we are not associating with that brand with the parent company in the market when we are selling. So you can imagine it’s a challenge where you’re part of a big group, but you can’t really associate with them. So how do you do your storytelling, you’re absolutely new, you’re babies. So we have tried to refresh the brand since I took over in the last one and a half years now almost. We were not digitally very active, we have tried to change that. We brought in an awareness of the brand on new digital platforms. We did a launch with Instagram a few months back. We are trying to reposition the brand today, not too much with the end user, but a lot within our own industry players versus our competitors to get that share of voice in the digital landscape and also with our key partners who we work with. So this is where we are today. So the next step for us is to start building a bridge with the end user and we are coming to that, that’s the next part of the storytelling.

Shaheen Samavati 6:18
Okay. So in terms of content channels, which are most important for you right now, where are you putting your emphasis?

Vibha Thusu 6:26
I think what’s working well for us today is Facebook and what is really working well for us after the new launch is Instagram. I have to say Instagram really is one of the most popular content channels today and I’m not surprised why. It’s very pictorial, it’s very visual, it gives you a feel instantly, you don’t really have to go through lengthy text or content to really understand what something is being spoken about. Facebook is working very well for us because the community that we work with, the community for electricians, the community for retailers and resellers are still using the Facebook platform a lot, especially in the region where I am working in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Facebook is very, very popular. So these two content channels are working really well.

Shaheen Samavati 7:16
Yeah, it’s interesting, your audience seems very specific and kind of niche. I think these channels weren’t so popular for this B2B kind of marketing in the past. So what do you think has changed? What’s your tactic for reaching this very specific audience through social media?

Vibha Thusu 7:37
I think on Facebook, my tactic for this, we have a lot of videos, much smaller, very short videos, running about our products, highlighting the key features, what the product is all about or the product is bringing in. So that’s an update that we are getting a lot of traction from on Facebook. I think how this interests B2B business people is that very instantly, very quickly, we to get to know about our products. We get a lot of queries, the distributors are doing a lot of reports on this content. It’s more like quick, handy information that we’re trying to push out through Facebook. Whereas on Instagram, what’s working well, which is not as surprising, doing a small retweet or asking them to post about wherever they see HIMEL products, wherever they’re using our technology, wherever they are in the market, they see us. Any story that they want to share with us, any product and solution that they want to share with us. So I think insight is more like the two way sharing, rather than us just pushing out information. But Facebook is more about us telling them about our business and about our products. So I think this is where we’re trying to build a good mix of not just a monologue on Facebook, but like a dialogue on Instagram. I think this where we are positioning it today.

Shaheen Samavati 8:59
So who are the people sharing on Instagram? That’s like your distributors or…?

Vibha Thusu 9:05
Yes. So our go to market, Shaheen, is the channel marketing, and which means we have our distributors and they have their own resellers and then they’re selling to the end users. So typically, when our distributors take orders from us they stock our product, then their own network of resellers takes the product from them, puts it in the regular point of sale shops that you see in the regular stores outside like electricity shops where you have the buds, you have the switches, you have the extension sockets, and then the electrician comes and the end user comes in and they buy the products from there. So this is a typical channel that we are addressing and this is the audience that we are catering to. It’s our distributors, it’s our resellers, who when they are selling our products or our products do go into big projects or to housing projects, in construction also. So this is where they see our products, so they are supporting the sale of these products. We start getting a lot of hashtags from them, a lot of reposts from them, so just following that. In fact, what we recently noticed, I can’t name it but one of our competitors has started using our hashtag, #HIMEL to get traffic into their posts and get traffic into their platform. So I think it’s a compliment for us.

Shaheen Samavati 10:25
Definitely, yeah. So I wanted to ask you, I guess this is one part of your role but can you tell us a bit more about your overall responsibilities and what’s a day to day like for you?

Vibha Thusu 10:38
Yeah. So I would like to say that I’m triple heading right now and very happily. I manage the usual marcom for the Europe, Middle East and Africa countries, which means that events, exhibition, marcom assets, sales acceleration, sales support, CRM, key things that fall under the marcom umbrella, I’m supporting my sales team with this. What I would like to highlight Shaheen is that I don’t work in a very typical marketing structure. So I work very closely with the sales teams, I am part of the sales structure actually, which means that I am working a lot on ROI based marketing, which means supporting and filling in the gaps that are highlighted to me by the sales team, which could even mean a simple thing like working on a price list for a specific country which is given to the distributors because we don’t sell the same products at the same price everywhere. Every country has a different mix, has a different portfolio of product baskets that we are catering to. So these are the regular and usual activities. Then I’m working a lot on the digital and the comms piece, trying to get in the brand guidelines, brand synergies, creating a standard asset, video storytelling, storytelling on social media, working with the different product managers to see that we have the right timeline in place, what we are posting and positioning as. I’m also working on enhancing our digital footprint in terms of working on our website and seeing the kind of queries and responses we’re getting. So I’m doing the digital bit and I’m doing the content bit underneath it and I’m doing the content underneath the regular marcom operations also that I’m supporting the team with today and with a bit more focus on channel marketing, the retail segment, because this is where we are essentially selling. That’s our go to market. This is what makes up the role today.

Shaheen Samavati 12:37
So it sounds like a lot of the content is based on the products. I was wondering where do you have opportunities for storytelling? What other types of content do you do or where have you been creative?

Vibha Thusu 12:51
That’s a very true comment made there, Shaheen, we are all about product and we are a lot about product. The place where we do storytelling is where do these products fit. So if I’m talking about switch today, that is a smart switch that you can operate with Alexa, I have a story there to tell. I have a story where I can say that this is a smart home, this is a future ready home and this is what HIMEL is bringing to you today. So this is where we then actually started building the storyline with the end users. So we are doing these stories and then we are doing stories where we are actually talking only about, as I said the products, the products applications. Also talking in general about what we call the success story, the project references. For example, we have a big project in UAE where we supplied a lot of electrical components, wiring devices, in the end project. We pick that up, we build that into a story and we talk about that. So we are basically positioning ourselves in terms of application, in terms of product, then in terms of how do our products benefit your life, how are they making your lives easy. So we are trying to build the stories around these three key pillars.

Shaheen Samavati 14:04
Okay. So do you have any examples of projects or campaigns that you’re especially proud of either at HIMEL or previously in your career?

Vibha Thusu 14:14
There are some that I can’t talk about. But the recent ones that we have thought of, basically we did a campaign last year around Father’s Day. We were targeting the DIY segment, DIY fathers are the DIY heroes. We got good traction on that and we do have some products in our wiring devices category, which is basically a toolkit, which any dad or any man would love to have. So that was one success to come in. We were able to link up DIY, home electric and HIMEL bringing it all together. Dependability, HIMEL is all about reliability, we are affordable and we are reliable. I think that’s what fathers are as well, they are reliable and they get everything done at home. They are the DIY champions. So that was one campaign that worked really well. Then this other campaign that I mentioned to you, the storytelling around Alexa and happy homes. Especially during the festivities of Christmas, we did a campaign around this, how during festivities you can forget about everything else, just focus on your festivals and let a bit of home automation take care of your regular mundane activities at home. So these are the stories we’re built around today that have worked really well. As I said, we are in the process of building more stories, connecting with the end users, with end audiences. So that’s where we’re building it up. That’s what I can tell you for now.

Shaheen Samavati 15:31
The sounds like a couple of great examples of storytelling, very cool. I also wanted to just recognize the fact that you’re based in Dubai. I wanted to ask you how you ended up in Dubai, because you’re originally from India, is that right?

Vibha Thusu 15:49
So yes. I’m an Indian, i’m from the northern most part of India, Kashmir. I grew up in New Delhi, the capital city of India, I have done most of my education there. I moved in 2008 with my job with the French multinational Schneider Electric that I was working with. Currently with HIMEL, because Dubai is the headquarters for Europe, Middle East and Africa, I have been based here for the last 12 years now. So yeah, this has been the journey.

Shaheen Samavati 16:27
I see. I was kind of curious what the landscape is like there for careers in marketing in general?

Vibha Thusu 16:41
Okay, not just Dubai, let me talk about the general Middle East landscape today. The Middle East is a region that’s growing by leaps and bounds. If you look at the number of influences you have from the region, it’s massive. For example, Dubai is like any other metropolitan city, you have all the brands, you have all the latest technology, you have the long queues outside Apple stores when the new iPhone is released. People are extremely technology savvy, e-commerce has boomed massively in the last two years not just because of COVID but in general, because the audience awareness here is insane. So trust me, the entire rainbow of marketing, everything can be done here. You can do everything, you have events, you have exhibitions, you have digital marketing, you have influencer marketing, social media is insane, Instagram is insane. There is nothing that is not done here today in marketing that I would say is missing. Everything is covered. The sun and the sand, people love it, it’s nice. Different landscapes and different challenges because this is a country where you have more expats than you have locals. When you’re marketing something, especially when it’s about end user marketing, you have to really keep in mind the sentimentality or the sensitivity that the locals might have towards certain products. Then we as international expats might have our own expectations so it’s a very, very dynamic landscape here, Shaheen, very dynamic.

Shaheen Samavati 18:20
You being responsible for EMEA in your role, that means you’re having to deal with a lot of different cultures. Could you tell us a bit more about how you adapt for all the different markets that you’re working in?

Vibha Thusu 18:35
I have to give credit to my sales team, when it comes to helping me not adapt but helping me understand what the different markets are requiring from us. So I have the central Eastern European team, which is totally different. I have the Algerian team, which is totally different because for them all the content has to be in French, they are very key. They don’t speak any other language, they would prefer talking to me through the sales teams. The sales teams have helped me build the connection and then once I have the brief from them it’s all about localizing and understanding what they need, which is not that difficult to do. Central Eastern Europe, we have multiple languages in those countries. Again it’s the sales team which helps me understand what they want and what I can build for them and then do the localization. That’s it. Eygypt market is a very dynamic market Shaheen. I think Egypt is a country to look out for when you’re talking about Middle East. It’s an extremely upcoming country, they are really running, they’re at a very good pace. So from Egypt I have to get that innovation hat out, have to think out of the box, really competitive landscape, very saturated. So that’s a different challenge there. That country is okay because I’ve been there. I know the teams, I know the dynamics, I know the geography, so it’s my own handling with the local vendors which helps me there. Then Dubai is not new, we have been here for a long time in the territory. UAE being another really strong player in the Middle East region, very dynamic again, and here it’s a direct contact with the customers that we have. So different challenges essentially on localization. Not in terms of adaptability, in last 16 years I have or at least for the last 11 years, worked in a multinational, multicultural environment. So adaptability has not been an issue and I think as a marketeer, I keep my ears to the ground and I keep my ears connected to what my sales have to tell me. That has really helped me bring that value out as a marketeer in the different countries that i’m handling today.

Shaheen Samavati 20:46
It sounds like you’ve done a lot of travelling and a lot of interacting with people in all these different markets. What’s it been like this past year, not being able to do so much of that, especially with a marketing strategy that’s based a lot on events and dealing with people in person?

Vibha Thusu 21:02
Last year has been tough, Shaheen, for all the marketers. That’s why the focus has shifted a lot on digital marketing. We can’t run away from that, that’s a fact. That’s why I think a lot of focus has shifted again on quality content Shaheen. It’s not about the story you have to tell, it’s what and how you’re telling it also now because everybody is aware, everybody’s connected digitally. Everybody has a story to tell. How powerful your content is now is what’s making all the difference. So yeah it’s been a bit difficult by not channelling this arena, we are connected digitally so we’re trying to make the most of that.

Shaheen Samavati 21:43
I see. So you’re actually putting more of an emphasis on content marketing now? It sounds like it’s become a bigger part of your role.

Vibha Thusu 21:49
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Shaheen Samavati 21:51
Excellent. So getting back to your roots. Not exactly your roots but you were a content writer previously. I wanted to ask you about your best productivity hack?

Vibha Thusu 22:08
My best productivity hack is working with two screens. Even at home today, today now I’m working from home. I do have an extended screen and I do have my laptop, I cannot work without them. I cannot live without them. So this is a productivity hack. It might seem funny, but there it is for you. It helps me work on a lot of things in parallel. Especially when I have to cross check things or I’m looking at a content piece but I’m looking at the key inputs that I have got and how I’m updating it. This is what I’m seeing on the website and this is what I need to build for my story or if i’m comparing a lot of things. It is my go to productivity hack. This is it.

Shaheen Samavati 22:47
Very cool. Yeah, I’ll have to try that. I’ve always heard that once you have two screens, you can’t go back. I’ve always been a one screen person. I don’t know what I’m missing.

Vibha Thusu 23:01
I think you have to try it and you’ll know what you’re missing. I just cannot operate wihtout a second screen, absolutely not.

Shaheen Samavati 23:06
Yeah, that’s interesting. So what’s your favorite app or software tool at the moment?

Vibha Thusu 23:13
I have to say it’s LinkedIn. I’m stuck on LinkedIn, I’m addicted to LinkedIn. I’ll tell you why, because for me LinkedIn gets me everything that I need as a marketer. I get industry updates, I get hashtag updates, I get influencer updates, I get latest trends, I get to know what’s happening, whether it’s a business, whether it’s content marketing, whether it’s anything to do with the region or the things that I follow. For me, it’s like my marketers newspaper. So I can’t live without it.

Shaheen Samavati 23:44
Absolutely, totally agree on that one. What’s a source of inspiration or an influencer you follow in the marketing or business space?

Vibha Thusu 23:54
I follow Mark Cuban and I follow Bill Gates a lot. For me one is from the shark, the entrepreneur mindset, and the other is the one who created the technology that we are living with today essentially. So for me both of them are key influences in my life. Of course Steve Jobs, I don’t know who does not consider him to be a role model. But now for today I really follow Mark Cuban and Bill Gates.

Shaheen Samavati 24:29
Okay. Very cool. Great inspirational people. So do you have any professional group, event or publication for marketers that you recommend?

Vibha Thusu 24:41
It’s MoM, it’s called Mad over Marketing. You have to check it to know what I’m talking about. All things interesting about marketing, content, new facts mistakes, best practices, innovation, out of the box thinking. It’s your Bible. Mad over Marketing is what I would like to pitch. Their updates are insane, their insights are insane, the coverage that they have on a lot of things or topics, whether it’s to me, whether it’s to whatever it is, they’re really out there on the top when it comes to marketing.

Shaheen Samavati 25:18
Very cool. I love hearing about new marketing resources on the podcast that’s why I always ask this question. It gives us good inspiration to include things on The Content Mix newsletters as well. I’ll definitely look into it. Do you have a favorite marketing book or author?

Vibha Thusu 25:39
So I am a very old school marketer of what Kotler writes and publishes. So I do read all of his books, I read his recent one also. I do want to mention this new book Shaheen that I started reading. It’s called The Power of Visual Storytelling, it’s by Ekaterina Walter. I think the reason I’m glued onto this book today is because I’m focusing a lot on content marketing through these social media channels. I believe your first impression comes with visual not with words now. That’s why you have platforms like Instagram doing so well. So this is why I’m into this book right now and anyone who’s into, I would not call it new age marketing, but anyone who wants to explore leveraging these platforms more or is a strong believer in pictures being a very key part of content, not just the written word, I would recommend this book to them. As a content marketer, I don’t want to remain stuck on the written word as content. For me, a single picture is, worth a 1000 words as a strong content piece. Sometimes even building that one asset, that one picture, that one digital piece of content, takes a lot of time Shaheen. It takes a lot of inputs. What image goes in there, what are the keywords that you want to put there, what is the message that you want to give away with that picture and with the content that you put in there? To me that is the new content, that is the new thing.

Shaheen Samavati 27:09
Yeah, that’s a super interesting way to think about it. We’ll definitely include the links to all the things you mentioned in the blog posts along with the episode. Do you have any online course that you’ve taken recently, that you’d recommend?

Vibha Thusu 27:24
Yes, I did it last year, in the middle of the year when COVID had hit us strong, on HubSpot digital marketing. I’m also trying to read a bit more on artificial intelligence now, Shaheen. I think AI is going to play a big role in content automation and marketing automation. It already has started, for example, you look at chatbots, you look at algorithms for search. I think that’s the next step which content marketers have to start thinking about. Since we know that next year we will not have the third party cookies enabled anymore. It’s going to be all about our visitors wanting to sign in and agreeing to receive any information from us. So I think there’s a lot of technology change that is coming in and us as content marketers have to be really glued on to and keen on to, so this is something that I’m reading today. I did that course on digital marketing from HubSpot. Please go check out and read on artificial intelligence, how it’s going to have an impact on us as content creators and marketers.

Shaheen Samavati 28:35
Yeah, super interesting. Well if you have any specific resources on that I can definitely include those in the blog post as well.

Vibha Thusu 28:41
I’ll try to share some with you.

Shaheen Samavati 28:42
Yeah, that’d be cool. Definitely the future. So we’re reaching the end of the interview. So I just wanted to ask if you have any parting advice or any final takeaways for other global content marketers?

Vibha Thusu 28:56
I have a quote that I would like to share before I say anything or give any advice. You know, Lee Odden said that content is the reason why search began in the first place because if there was no content, we would have had nothing to search for. Based on that, everything got created. My only advice is, I’m not following the rules, I’m not following the trends to be very honest. What I’m bringing onto the table when I’m thinking as a content marketer is definitely what I would like to see and what would I do if this was my own business, if I was running it from a very entrepreneurial mindset. This is what I think makes the key difference because when we are working in big organizations, we do have a lot of central guidance that comes to us. When you’re talking about a territory or a country you’re being told literally that this is a brand story, and this is how you funnel it down and this is how you localize it, and then you tell it. I would rather not do that, I would rather create something from scratch rather than bringing something from the top and pitching it out at the ground level or local country. I would rather go and dig deep and see what it is that talks to the audience or my audience in this country. I know I have a brand essence to carry forward, but where does this brand essence fit in this local landscape or the local region that I’m talking to. Trust me, we have so many audiences that we cater into that we cannot be telling the same story to everyone. They need to know the story is coming from one source, but the story ultimately will be different. So think about that, always keep your audience in mind. This is not new advice I’m giving to all the content marketers. Listen to your heart when you’re trying to see who and how you connect, that will never fail you. Just be entrepreneurial. This is my advice to all the content marketers out there.

Shaheen Samavati 30:52
That’s great advice and a great note to end on. So thank you so much, Vibha, for sharing your insights with us today.

Vibha Thusu 30:58
Thank you so much Shaheen. It was lovely talking to you and thank you for having me once again.

Shaheen Samavati 31:03
Thank you and thanks everybody for listening in. For more perspectives on content marketing, check out and keep tuning into the podcast for more interviews with content experts. See you next time. Bye.

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