Jack Welde, Adrian Cohn
November 8, 2019

161: Hitting the Books: Smartling’s Story-based Marketing

Guest: Jack Welde, Adrian Cohn - , Smartling

How many languages do you speak? No judgements here—just curious. But, a safe bet would say that the majority of people reading this have a primary language, and then a rudimentary understanding of a second (if that). Now, this is probably fine for the most part, but if you generate some content that needs to be consumed by prospects in other countries, you’ll need a translation service like Smartling. But, Smartling’s marketing doesn’t just revolve around citing how they solve business needs, it celebrates the translators—the people—who make it run, and the stories that each translator has. On this episode of RTU, Adrian Cohn, director of Brand Strategy and Comms, and Jack Welde, Founder & CEO, discuss how they do that.

Smartling’s values highlight humanity and personality, and they’ve found considerable success taking those values to heart when marketing. Tune in to hear more about their efforts, how they engage employees before rolling out a campaign, their approach to measurement, and more. Plus, hear more about their most renegade marketing effort yet: a beautiful, printed book that tells the stories of 12 Smartling translators, both through beautiful prose and stunning imagery.

What inspired the story-based approach?

What are we in business to do? We’re trying to help companies to reach people around the world. It’s very human. It’s a communication process. I would argue that, in a world of marketing personalization, translation is the most basic form of marketing. Speak my language if you want to reach me, right? So I said: hey, there’s got to be a way to tell a story like this, that perhaps allows our translators and our buyers to connect more and really remember that balance between art and science, not just the technology, but also the humanity.

How’d you settle on the book? How’d you start putting the content out there?

We didn’t have a calculation as to whether or not this would work, but we did have affirmation from customers who continuously told us about how important the translators were to them. This leap of faith was rooted in our customers and their feedback. When we went to produce this, it was extremely challenging. We had to send someone to 11 or 12 destinations around the world. There were dozens of trips, flights booked, hotel rooms—very complicated to execute. But what I was really excited about is that we decided to produce and roll out this campaign in a very agile way. We didn’t actually produce everything and keep it to ourselves until one big launch. As soon as we started getting images from Elizabeth, we started dripping them out across social media. We started incorporating them in our presentations around the world. It was a very different way of unveiling a brand marketing campaign, but every single time we dripped something new, we got great feedback.

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