About This Episode
Helene Jelenc is an SEO specialist at Flow SEO with a strong background in anthropology and research.
She is an expert in active listening and note-taking, and has an anthropological approach to her work which she applies to her content creation, outreach, and persona creation.
She later joined a remote agency and worked as an SEO specialist, where her anthropology background helped her create a holistic approach to understanding different cultures.
She learned the importance of active listening, note taking, and interviewing to gain insight into her target audience and create more meaningful content.
Helene found joy in creating content from a place of understanding and empathy. Through her work, she was able to help her clients gain a better understanding of their target audience.
This episode is for you if you’re curious about how an anthropological approach to outreach, content, and persona creation could enhance your SEO work.
“Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It may seem really bizarre at first when you hear something that is completely different from what you do, but if you just take a moment and realize that maybe that culture or that person just came from a completely different set of circumstances, have a different set of values and that you should be understanding that culture or those behaviors on the basis of that historical, political, cultural aspects.” – Helene Jelenc
You Will Learn:
- How anthropology can contribute to better personas and SEO campaigns.
- The benefits of practicing active listening and note taking during interviews.
- The benefit of analyzing your target audience on different platforms when creating a content strategy.
Connect With Helene
- Connect with Helene on LinkedIn
- Follow Helene on Twitter
- Consulting Helene (Company)
- Wandering Helene (Blog)
Published articles around B2B content and strategy
- B2B Writing: Pitfalls, Opportunities, and Examples in the Wild
- Interviewing Niche B2B Experts For A Better Content Strategy
Further reading mentioned
- Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa by Kathy Dettwyler
- Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Anthropology News
- The American Anthropological Association
Other episodes you’ll enjoy:
- Episode 20: Emotional Intelligence and Its Role in Digital Marketing Success: An Interview with Jo Juliana Turnbull
- Episode 19: How to Communicate Negative News and Become a Better Listener to be a More Effective Marketer – Dana Theus
- Episode 18: How To Be Persuasive In Managing A Digital Transformation Project – Tony Kopetchny
Loved this episode?
Leave us a review on your favorite podcast app. Tweet and tag us @dmvictories and @kwatier!
[00:00:00] Katherine Ong: Welcome to the Digital Marketing Victories Podcast, a monthly show where we celebrate and learn from the changemakers in digital marketing. I’m personally obsessed with how digital marketers sell through and get their ideas executed. I’m your host, Katherine Watier Ong, owner of WO Strategies LLC. We focus on organic discovery for our enterprise clients with a training-centered approach.
Hi there. Before we get into the episode, I’d love to remind you to subscribe to our podcast email list so that you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And once you’re on our list, that would be the perfect way to give us feedback about the show or learn more about how you can support our efforts to educate digital marketers about the soft skills that they need to be successful. So you can join that list at T.LY/DMVpodcast. Okay. Now, on to the show.
Today we’re joined by Helene Jelenc. Helene is an SEO specialist at Flow SEO with a strong background in anthropology and research. She got her start in content creation after leaving the US, kickstarting a career as a content strategist. And when she’s not writing about the interplay of search and culture, you can find her wandering old European cities, vineyards, and food markets. If I’m stuck here in the US, these sound delightful. This episode is going to be perfect for you if you’re curious about how an anthropological approach to outreach, content, and persona creation could enhance your SEO work. So without further ado, here’s our interview with Helene. Thanks for agreeing to be on the podcast.
[00:01:33] Helene Jelenc: Thank you for inviting me. It’s great.
[00:01:36] Katherine Ong: So can you give the listeners a little bit of background about you and how you became involved in digital marketing and the anthropology piece?
[00:01:45] Helene Jelenc: Sure. So I actually started studying anthropology in my undergrad at university. I started in music education, decided I could not teach children for the rest of my life. I didn’t have that patience and switched to anthropology, fell in love. Went to grad school, got my master’s in anthropology. Then I began traveling and creating content around travel. Started loving it, started learning SEO. Started working for a few small brands until last year I joined a remote agency called FlowSEO where I work as an SEO specialist and manage a handful of clients.
[00:02:27] Katherine Ong: Awesome. So I’m kind of curious whether or not you can tell our listeners a little bit more about this anthropological perspective. Based on my Googling, it seems like there are some key elements – holism, relativism, comparison, and fieldwork. Can you explain all of those to our listeners and how that might impact your approach to SEO?
[00:02:52] Helene Jelenc: Sure. So anthropology is actually a bit different in the US versus outside of the US. It’s studied a bit differently. If you find someone who studied anthropology, say, in Europe, oftentimes they will either be archeology or cultural anthropology, and that’s all they will study. Whereas in the US, there’s a more holistic approach. So we study linguistic anthropology, biological, cultural archeology, and applied. So we have all of these fields that we use. And this contributes to the holism of, you know, my anthropological perspective. I’m always thinking about those different aspects – the biological aspect of being human, how we speak the words that we use, and the cultural meanings behind them. There are a lot of different things going on.
So, with that very diverse approach to anthropology, it can add a layer of depth to your perspective, your research, and relativism. Cultural relativism is a really important concept for anthropology. The best way for me to describe this to non-anthropologists is not to be comparative in a way – to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It may seem really bizarre at first when you hear something that is completely different from what you do. But if you take a moment and realize that maybe that culture or that person came from a completely different set of circumstances and has a different set of values, then you should be understanding that culture or those behaviors on the basis of that, you know, historical, political, and cultural aspects. And I think that’s really helpful, combining that with fieldwork, doing really deep, long studies, integrating yourself into new communities, really getting to know people, your target audience, whoever they may be. I really enjoy doing sets of interviews that are not just one-off because I think it’s really hard to get deep, meaningful information from people by just meeting them once and speaking to them once. They’re not going to share all the good stuff with you the first time.
[00:05:14] Katherine Ong: Interesting. So, the US approach is all those pieces of anthropology.
Helene Jelenc: Mm-hmm.
Katherine Ong: So, a whole sort of background. But I think you mentioned that. And the applied anthropology mostly is taking all of those, the research from the different approaches and just applying it to your work. Is that really what the definition is, or is there more there?
[00:05:37] Helene Jelenc: Nope. That’s it.
[00:05:38] Katherine Ong: That’s basically it. Okay.
[00:05:39] Helene Jelenc: Yes, old-school anthropology. Maybe you’re familiar with the classics, Margaret Mead, going to Samoa and interviewing young women about their sexuality and coming of age and these processes. These were very old ethnographies. They didn’t really have an application to them. They were more just gathering information, so there was a shift in the field where people then started doing more international development, community development policy, nonprofit work. And then that is where that applied aspect came into it.
[00:06:18] Katherine Ong: That makes sense to me. So, how does this impact how you, in particular, create surveys or questions to get to know that target audience? Do you do something different than the rest of us do?
[00:06:29] Helene Jelenc: Probably.
[00:06:31] Katherine Ong: Are you going to tell us any of your secrets?
[00:06:33] Helene Jelenc: Yes, I have actually studied interviewing at so much depth, and I’ve had a lot of experience. I’ve had a lot of incredible mentors, and I’m very very thoughtful about the kind of questions that I’m asking. Leading questions is one of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world. As soon as I read a study, I go immediately to the methodology. I check what questions they’re asking, and then I make my own assessments about how that research went.
But I really think about that. Preparing what you’re going to do with those answers and how you’re going to process that data before you even ask the questions. I think this is the main aspect for people, they want to ask questions. You get in an interview, of course you want to ask lots of things. You’re interested. You’re like, I just want to know.
But should you really be asking them that? Is that valuable data? Yeah, you’re interested, but what are you going to do with that afterwards? Were you just taking something from them, you know, that was not valuable to your research.
So, I think considering this, exactly the questions that you’re going to ask, thinking about how someone would feel if they were asked those questions, think about the order of them, think about the topic that you’re asking about, and really try to understand that there’s a human on the other side of that. And they have, you know, a bad day, a good day. They have things that happened. And some topics may need a bit more sensitivity to them. So it’s definitely something that has to be prepped ahead of time.
So I think a lot of people think, okay, interviewing is easy. I can just ask these questions. That’ll be interesting information. That’s great if you’re just getting a quote. But if you actually want to do something with that data, then you do need to plan it out strategically. Like what are you gonna do with that information once you get it.
[00:08:29] Katherine Ong: So do you have like a little cheat sheet for figuring out whether or not it’s a leading question? I studied analytics with Avinash Kasik’s approach of asking “but why” three times in a row to really figure out if it’s an insight or not, or whether you’re just stating data for the sense of stating data. So do you have something like that so people can check about whether or not they’re asking leading questions?
[00:08:59] Helene Jelenc: I never thought about creating a resource like this or if I’ve ever seen one, so maybe this is something I need to think about creating this year.
[00:09:06] Katherine Ong: I was about to ask if you have something like that to check yourself on each question, but it’s beyond what I could come up with. If you come up with something, let me know, and I’ll add it to the show notes. Can you give us an example of a successful marketing campaign that you were involved in that was impacted by your anthropological approach?
[00:09:32] Helene Jelenc: Sure.
[00:09:35] Katherine Ong: Can you think of one?
[00:09:37] Helenc Jelenc: Yeah. I mean, everything I do has my anthropological approach connected to it. There’s no way to separate it from myself. It’s just who I am at this point. Hmm. But yeah. Sorry, I just spaced out for a second..
[00:09:57] Katherine Ong: Do you have a campaign in particular that you thought was pretty successful where you dug around on social or did some interviews? We can come back to it too.
[00:10:08] Helene Jelenc: And sharing those things with me, sharing what it was like working before that software and then after that software and hearing them speak and using their own words that they use daily. That was really helpful. Those pages are still doing incredibly well, with over a 3% click-through rate. They’re still the top pages on that site to this day.
[00:10:33] Katherine Ong: Yeah, that sort of reminds me of when I was working on healthit.gov. We had something similar because one of our target audiences was physicians, of which I am not one, and I just felt like I really pushed the team. I think we need to do focus groups with them because I don’t know how long it should be or what language we should use.
Like, all, I don’t know what goes on in their head, you know, like, do they research answers on a tablet or their phone or the desktop? I have no idea. Anyway, it was super insightful. The summary was they’re very busy and they really needed bullet points. Really. So, I mean, I guess maybe you could have guessed some of that. But, oh, and the other, actually, the other insightful part was that they might not even read what we were putting out. It was like their assistant, which is good information to note too.
Anyway, so I kind of wonder, does your educational background give you some really strong listening skills that maybe the rest of us could learn a bit from? ‘Cause I, for instance, if listeners of the show are curious about listening skills, you should listen to Dana Theus’s episode 19 ’cause she talks about this. And I’m always looking to increase my own listening skills. But, but so for, how, how about for you? Do you think you got some more skills related to that because of your educational background? Any tips?
[00:11:46] Helene Jelenc: Yeah, yeah, definitely. It really is about practicing active listening and note-taking. These are two of my biggest suggestions for anyone who wants to get into interviewing and to improve, besides practice because really it’s just practice. It’s getting comfortable with having an intimate moment with someone that you may not know and really having a deep conversation, and that could be really difficult. So it’s just about leaving yourself at the door, being open-minded, leaving judgment away.
You are just there to collect information, maybe reflect a little bit, clarify. It’s all about active listening and having those notes. Even, I tell people, take notes before just to set sort of an intention, a mindfulness, how do you feel? Are you nervous about going in? Write about it. Then when you’re done, take about 20 minutes or so, 15 minutes and write the notes on how you felt afterward, anything you might have observed as well. Like, did they look nervous? Were they excited? When did they smile when they talked about certain things? So like these notes can be really, really helpful for just remembering those small moments that can make your content more human.
[00:13:11] Katherine Ong: Do you think there’s a correct way of taking notes, like should it be pen and paper, voice notes, typing? Does it matter?
[00:13:20] Helene Jelenc: If you’re doing an interview, I say always audio record because you will not remember everything, and if you’re writing the whole time, you’re not actively listening, you just aren’t. So I would use my notes like a pen and paper if I’m doing it in person. And maybe just a few words, but I wouldn’t try to write out sentences and stuff. That’s the point of me recording. Of course, you have to get their permission, but having that, so you can go back, you will forget things, like you will lose things, and then there’s so much information in an interview. So I highly recommend recording if you’re doing it, you know, over Zoom or something, you can easily type up some notes while you’re there and not be distracted. But that’s the main thing, just not distracting the person while they’re speaking and just giving them that space to share their stories.
[00:14:11] Katherine Ong: Great. That’s a super helpful tip. So, I’m kind of curious. In our previous conversation, we talked a bit about how you’re using social media. I was particularly curious about how you’re using it to come up with some content ideas or personas. I’m also curious whether you take into account the culture of each platform as a piece of the environment when you’re taking notes.
And I bring this up because if you’ve been a listener of the show, hopefully, you’ve listened to episode two with Joe Federer, where he talks about the different psychology of the different social networks. For instance, I’ll give you an easy one. So Reddit is anonymous, so the vibe there is different because everybody’s anonymous. Facebook is mostly your friends and family, so that might impact how you interact on that platform. So, anyway, I was just wondering what your thoughts were on how you observe social media. How do you use it, and do you think your insights are impacted by the culture of the platform?
[00:15:16] Helene Jelenc: Yeah, there’s definitely a completely different culture on every platform. Even if you’re comparing, say, Facebook to your website or how someone uses search or social, the kinds of topics that you’re probably going to talk about, maybe even the comments, can definitely vary. As you’re saying, is your real name attached to it? Does your mom see it, or does nobody see it?
So, one thing I actually do, which probably goes against every single bit of advice you get on the internet, is I read comments all the time. I just read them. I take them with a grain of salt. I know that anyone could be writing anything. I know that there are bots, but after a while, you’re able to figure out, you know, what is going on here? What is the general attitude? And you can kind of pick it out. It’s easy once you’ve done it for so long.
I started this strategy years ago, I think when I was in grad school. There used to be comments, I think, on the New York Times articles. They have since removed comments from all news articles, but they used to be quite fascinating. There was this article about the use of welfare in the US, and that was a really big topic of research for me about how people are using resources. The comments were devastating, absolutely devastating.
And I did an entire research paper on this and was sharing this lecture around at the university, and it made me realize that people really feel anonymous. Sometimes people are really sharing what they feel, and definitely locating those spaces and understanding the kind of tone that they’re using. So maybe if someone was writing on Facebook, they’re going to be a little bit more safe for work, whereas on Reddit, you can have a lot of not safe for work content there, but it might be really valuable.
It doesn’t mean you have to replicate it, but you learn a lot about the language that’s being used, the values, the culture. It can be quite fascinating. So, I always go to the comments.
[00:17:24] Katherine Ong: So it sounds like you’re hearing culture and values and maybe emotion. So it sounds like you use some of that for your personal work, maybe to apply it to SEO. That was the second part of the question.
[00:17:41] Helene Jelenc: Sure, for example, a client that I am working with was using a very specific set of keywords for their product. But then I realized that because they had switched to a different industry from tech to creators, the creators were using a much different language than enterprise tech companies. So that changes the keywords, that changes the content, that changes the language.
One of my favorite examples that I talk about a lot is if you compare Mailchimp with ConvertKit’s blog. They have the same offering product-wise, but they have a completely different audience. So they have completely different topics there. So yeah, just getting in there, understanding the language that they’re using and how they would use that on search. You know, if they’re gonna write it on TikTok or they’re gonna write it on Twitter in that way, they’re probably searching for it that way.
[00:18:42] Katherine Ong: Yeah. Yeah. So this reminds me, I have one, I guess I stumbled into anthropology once on one campaign. We had one campaign for this farmer company, and the drug was for people that have a condition called, oh, now I’m gonna forget the name of course, but the layman’s term was claw hand because your hand gets crumpled like a claw. But you’re not allowed to use that term. It turns out cuz they’re FDA regulated. But we were trying to just get to the audience and figure out like what are their challenges, what are their struggles?
So we could write content that would resonate with them. I mean, partially for linked building, but then also just to understand who we’re talking about. And once we used the non FDA term, of course, and started getting onto social forums, it was kind of amazing because we discovered that a lot of them. I mean, this is not all of them, but a lot of them were very upset about figuring out how to play guitar and banjo because of the hands getting crumpled and a number of them were Harley Davidson riders and needed unique gloves for it.
Anyway, it was just really insightful. You’re like, wow. Of course the client had no idea about any of this. We’re like, and we were planning a live event, so we’re like, okay, maybe we’ll do some stuff with the motorcycle. And you know, it just gives you all these ideas around how to interact with the target audience that you wouldn’t have gotten from the client. All because of society.
[00:20:01] Helene Jelenc: Yeah. And it’s very human and fun, you know, it puts a fun twist to a very sad topic.
[00:20:08] Katherine Ong: Yes, definitely. Because we were stuck mentally. We’re like, what are we doing with this? You know, the mm-hmm. All we’re getting is like, I’m so sorry, your hand is becoming dysfunctional. Right. So how do you spin on that and connect with them anyway? So social was interesting in that one instance. So how, so here you are learning about your target audience, potentially using social for it, but how do you identify and address any biases that might come up that might impact your marketing campaign? So your bias applied to a target audience. Do you, again, I’m kind of wondering if you have a way to check yourself before marketing campaigns become approved?
[00:20:52] Helenc Jelenc: Yeah. I don’t know if I exactly have, so, to offer others. I guess this is something I really have to think about when creating content. It’s one of those things that you do so much that it’s second nature.
[00:21:06] Katherine Ong: Yeah, but I don’t think it’s second nature for everyone. That’s why I asked the question.
[00:21:10] Helene Jelenc: No, it’s not, and I didn’t realize this, so I never thought about even writing about these topics. So it’s, it’s, these are great questions.
I really believe in leaving yourself at the door, sort of like, try not to bring your personal feelings into it. Of course, sometimes I’ll get excited, I think about things that people would want to read or engage with, but I’m mainly thinking about that client. I kind of humanize them, like if this was someone I cared about, you know, how would I help them at work? Especially working in a B2B space, you know, I try to imagine my family members at work, how would I help them? Like how would I approach this? And sometimes I probably miss the mark.
I started working with a client in Australia. I’ve never been to Australia, there’s a slightly different language that we have to use, but I use my experiences because their industry is working with the trades. A lot of my family members in the US worked in the trades. They had their own businesses. So a lot of those very human day-to-day experiences I sort of had. And then I take the opportunity to ask my clients questions. We meet, you know, twice a month and sometimes I’ll throw in a few questions. I’ll ask them about what they’ve been up to lately, about their clients. Just ask them, you know, day-to-day, understanding the local holidays or culture, these things. That human touch to everything that really makes a difference.
[00:22:37] Katherine Ong: Yeah. Cuz I think if folks haven’t, my undergrad had a third world development requirement, so you had to do something related to that before you could finish graduating. So even though you’re not traveling, you’re deep diving into some third world culture. So I think that plus some travel helped me sort of realize that it’s not the same everywhere, right?
Yeah, but if you don’t have that experience or you don’t get a chance to travel, I think it would be really hard, like I think I shared with you talking about Australia, like when we went on my honeymoon to Australia, I was, they’re English-speaking. I mean, I knew they had a different culture, but I was pretty floored by the radically different terms that are being used for stuff. Like, forget what it was, but I think it was like renting. Like renting an apartment had a completely different term. What was the term?
[00:23:25] Helene Jelenc: Letting.
[00:23:25] Katherine Ong: Letting. Right. There’s no way I would’ve guessed. Letting, there’s just no way. Yeah, there were a couple like that where you’re like, wow, that’s radically different, even though we all speak the same language in theory, right? Mm-hmm. But it’s just radically different anyway, so if you have a resource about how to check your assumptions or biases for our campaign, I think it’d be helpful for the industry. So have you ever launched any formal user testing or used user testing tools, or are you all doing, are you normally doing face-to-face one-on-one interviews?
[00:24:00] Helene Jelenc: Usually face-to-face, one-on-one interviews. I haven’t done anything much larger. It’s quite hard to get a budget for research in SEO and marketing.
[00:24:12] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:24:12] Helene Jelenc: I’ve had a handful of agencies reach out that they wanted, you know, will you sign on? So we can do someone, like, have someone to do research, but then the clients never wanna pay for the part of research. So then I’m the first part that gets cut which is a bit unfortunate. I think there’s a lot of value in creating your own research and having your own original data to work from. But yeah, I haven’t had the opportunity to work with some of the larger tools out there. Yeah, or larger case studies.
[00:24:41] Katherine Ong: You certainly need to have a budget for some of them, that’s for sure. So, I am also sort of curious. I’m familiar with the Jobs to Be Done framework and I know the industry talked about it a little bit about how you walk through a persona and their pain point and challenge and what they actually need to get done on your website along with whatever emotions might be involved in that. Have you ever applied that framework to what you’re doing?
[00:25:09] Helene Jelenc: So, to be honest, I had never heard of this.
[00:25:11] Katherine Ong: Oh, well there you go.
[00:25:12] Helene Jelenc: I looked it up and I was. Huh. Well, this is already what I’m doing. I just didn’t know there was a name for it.
[00:25:19] Katherine Ong: Now, now you know the name.
[00:25:22] Helene Jelenc: Oh yeah. I mean, this is part of the reason I think I love B2B. I think it’s much easier to really understand what people need and what people want, how it’s gonna help them, and understanding, you know, how can your tool solve a problem or how can it make their work experience better, or whatever it may be. I think it’s very straightforward, and I really appreciate that. And I’m always like breaking down things to the very core of, you know, what exactly are they struggling with or what exactly do they love about your product. Like, let’s boost that.
[00:25:57] Katherine Ong: Yeah. And do you say that because you work more in B2B than B2C?
[00:26:01] Helene Jelenc: Do I say what?
[00:26:02] Katherine Ong: Oh, that. That it’s easy to do in B2B. That’s mostly because your experience is B2B, not because it’s not possible to apply the framework to B2C, right?
[00:26:12] Helene Jelenc: No, I think it’s possible. It is just that in B2C, I think it can be very difficult. There’s a lot of emotional components. Not saying it’s not possible in B2B certainly is, but I think there’s a lot more culture and emotion that goes into consumer behavior. You know, in a B2C environment, sometimes I buy things and I cannot tell you why I bought them. That’s normal right now. You know?
[00:26:39] Katherine Ong: Yeah.
[00:26:40] Helene Jelenc: That’s not gonna make a marketer happy, but it’s the truth.
[00:26:43] Katherine Ong: I’m really surprised, and again, maybe this is just because I was curious and have a little bit of a UX background, but I was really surprised how many people didn’t know that strong emotions literally impact how you interact with search and webpages. You know, like if you’re angry, you actually see less, you’re able to absorb less. Like, it’s just fascinating to me how different strong emotions can impact how you’re reading online and what you see and what you select.
And if you’re in an industry where that’s part of your challenge, because I do a lot of stuff in health, right? So if that’s your challenge that people who come to you are in an emotional moment with a strong emotion, you should take that into account when you’re creating the content. If it’s overly complex, they might not literally be able to read it because they have so much emotion clouding their judgment, right? They talk about that, but literally, it will kind of cloud their vision, not be able to see all of it. Mm-hmm. So, let’s see. Do you have a primary book or resources on anthropology that you’d recommend to somebody if they want to learn more?
[00:27:49] Helene Jelenc: Hmm, sure. So I would, it’s a very dense topic, so I would suggest going straight into ethnography. They’re usually relatively short books that deep dive into a specific topic. So why I say ethnography is because the research skills required to do fieldwork are very intense. That usually involves spending a long time with a group, learning the language, learning the culture, and doing a very specific research. So they know exactly what they’re doing.
It’s very parallel to, you know, a marketing strategy. You know exactly who you’re going for, you know exactly what you want, and that will be very helpful to see how to do a big, deep dive in all the different aspects of the human experience that can influence our decision making. So there is an old classic called Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa by Kathy Dettwyler. And I remember reading this book and just breaking down at one point and crying because it was just so heavy of realizing how different the world can be and my position in that and my privilege in that as well. And I just, it really was one of those things to really give you a stark contrast.
There’s a lot of really great ethnographies that have come out in the last few years. If you just go to anthropology news, there’s like the American Anthropological Association, they have a lot of great things that they share, essays on different topics. Or another one, which I’m gonna throw in because I love it, for people who want a heavier read, is The First 500 Years of Debt by David Graeber. Rest in peace. He is an idol of mine in an academic sense. Great, really great insights and criticisms of systems. And he was, yeah. So I think if you want something a bit more modern, on a modern take, go that way. If you want a classic, go with the Dancing Skeletons.
[00:30:16] Katherine Ong: You know, as you were speaking, I was thinking about how we’ve had folks on the show talking about empathy. As you know, the more empathetic you can be towards your client or your target audience, the more successful you can be. But I’ve always been sort of digging into like, how, okay, but how do you get the empathy? How do people build empathy? And just could have been struck by how your approach probably helps you get there coz you’re understanding the tone and the emotion. Mm-hmm. And the environment somebody’s in and their background that might impact what they’re doing, that kind of stuff.
[00:30:50] Helene Jelenc: Yeah.
[00:30:50] Katherine Ong: I mean, do you agree?
[00:30:52] Helene Jelenc: Yes.
[00:30:53] Katherine Ong: Yeah. Okay.
[00:30:54] Helene Jelenc: Yeah, I’m very rare to put myself first. I think it’s like a curse and a blessing, but it definitely helps me in my work by realizing you. There’s a lot of other experiences out there, and if you’re not excited about learning about your target audience, if you don’t care about them, you’re probably in the wrong niche or industry. So, I mean, you should be excited for them. I’ve never worked with somebody that I didn’t like. I’ve been fortunate in that sense. But yeah, if you are not interested in your target audience, then you’re in the wrong spot.
[00:31:33] Katherine Ong: I totally agree. This is why I say no to projects sometimes. Cause I’m like, oh dear God, I don’t care. Yep. If I don’t care, then I’m probably not gonna be very good at creating a marketing plan for you.
[00:31:44] Helene Jelenc: Exactly.
[00:31:45] Katherine Ong: Yeah. Because yeah, there’s a couple, I sit here in DC there’s a lot of politics and lobbyists and stuff, so there’s a few things that I just don’t care about. So anyway, talking about this empathy, cause I know our, I think it was a previous episode actually talked about empathy is this essential tool to building relationships, more thinking about interacting with your coworkers and your clients and folks you work with. But how do you think that your approach to the anthropology approach could help build empathy, both for like target audience stuff like marketing campaigns, my target audience, but then also your team. Like, can you apply it to your coworkers and your clients?
[00:32:26] Helene Jelenc: Yep. I think it’s really, really important. I don’t know if you had this feeling when you were in, you know, school, especially university, it felt like every teacher or professor forgot that you were enrolled full-time, that you had other classes, they would assign work and you’re like, you do know I have five other finals like next week on top of yours. What are you doing? I think that they’ve lost sight of how hard it can be and I try to remember this at work. You know, I work with a lot of large enterprise companies now. They’re busy.
My husband works in a massive corporation. He’s in meetings eight hours a day. So I totally get that. And I understand that they don’t always have the mental capacity to care about what I’m doing or to engage in what I’m doing. So I always try to consider that I’m there as the consultant to take things off their plate. I’m there to help them not add to their load and just be mindful that like, yeah, sometimes people have a bad day. Like don’t get obsessed over someone might have made a weird call, man one day or something. It’s all human, really is just that. It’s very simple.
[00:33:51] Katherine Ong: Yeah. I find it very fascinating in my own experience. You know, I was like the go-getter in my twenties, single and had a particular perspective and it shifted a lot once I got a dog. Weirdly shifted a lot once I got married. Shifted a lot once I had kids. And then you understand how it’s like trying to function, being sleep deprived.
[00:34:10] Helene Jelenc: Yes.
[00:34:11] Katherine Ong: The level of empathy for other people making mistakes is important. Maybe their baby didn’t sleep last night, you know. But I didn’t have that perspective when I was in my twenties because people don’t tell you what kids are really like. It’s not until you have them that you realize what they’re really like. Anyway, it’s just very fascinating how that would be your own life experience, and us not digging enough into what it’s really like for other people. So do you have a format that you possibly use? I mean, I know you instinctively do this, but if other people wanted to create a formula for this and apply this approach to their coworkers and clients, do you have an approach that you can apply so you can put yourself in their shoes a bit more?
[00:35:07] Helene Jelenc: Yeah, I think it’s mindfulness and being intentional. Thinking before you speak. We’re very quick to just react. I used to be very quick to react to lots of things, and I realized that sometimes I didn’t come across the way that I wanted to. Maybe you misread an email and you just blow up because you’re having a bad day, and you could really damage a relationship that way. If I know I’m not in a good headspace, I won’t respond unless it’s a hundred percent necessary. But if I have to take a couple of hours or wait 12 hours, 24 hours, then I will respond to something. But I also try to have patience. It’s not easy, but like I said, I know that my colleagues are great. They’ll support me whenever they can.
But yeah, I also know some of them have children. I don’t, and I know that is a massive challenge for them. They have a completely different schedule, and they’re getting sick constantly. So I know then that I don’t have children. I have a little bit more freedom in my schedule, so sometimes I try to help them out a bit more. I understand that it’s hard, and they’re not my children, but it’s okay because we’re all human in the world. And I know that’s anthropology, but it is, it’s about the human experience. It’s about really just taking that moment and seeing that we’re all here trying to do our best.
[00:36:39] Katherine Ong: Yeah, I always kind of wondered whether or not you could, like, shadow one of your clients or something. I was very shocked by that when I was at Ketchum because the younger PR people went from school to PR, and they had never been in-house. And so as you were talking about, hey, my client might be busy, and I’m not the only thing that’s involved in their world, that was the part that always drove me crazy because they would just bug their clients all the time. And I’m like, I used to be in-house. I’d have multiple consultants, and I’m like they’re probably in meetings. They’re probably busy. But me telling them that is not as impactful. Anyway, I was always curious like, is there a better way for them to learn this?
[00:37:15] Helene Jelenc: Just take a nice screenshot of their calendar.
[00:37:18] Katherine Ong: Right?
[00:37:18] Helene Jelenc: Or just make them go through it for one week, just like all-day meetings and then say, “How do you?”
[00:37:23] Katherine Ong: Yeah, maybe that’s it. I think that’s actually something I ask my clients now, actually, now that you talk about it, is kind of asking a little bit about what their calendar’s like, what their day is like, as like a get-to-know-you icebreaker moment. Mm-hmm., just get a feel. Yeah. Anyway, this has been great. Is there anything else you wanna share? Otherwise, I’ve got some standard questions I usually ask everybody.
[00:37:45] Helene Jelenc: No, I don’t think so. I dunno. That was just great to talk about all that stuff.
[00:37:50] Katherine Ong: I think it’s obvious I gave you a couple content ideas.
I’ve got all sorts of questions for your approach. So have you had an AHA moment recently with your client’s target audience or your target audience for your business, for where you work now?
[00:38:06] Helene Jelenc: Hmm. And how about the target audience?
I think it’s kind of similar to what I was mentioning before about also dealing with clients is that mental availability. B2B, I mean, they’re probably not thinking about buying your software while they’re home feeding their children. And that’s what they’re thinking about at work, right? When they’re told like, come on, let’s get this going. We need to get the contract.
Yeah, it’s understanding the mental availability because I think years ago I would be like, you know, just bash out that work, bash out that marketing, put up all those posts. But especially in that B2B space, I’m mindful about not over-saturating. That and that they don’t have time to read all this stuff. They’re at work. You’re just trying to help them along with their work. You’re not trying to give them more work. So, That’s definitely something that’s love…
[00:39:08] Katherine Ong: That you’re not trying to give them more work.
[00:39:10] Helene Jelenc: Yeah.
[00:39:11] Katherine Ong: Well, that should be like a checklist item when you finish a piece of content. Did I just give somebody more work?
[00:39:16] Helene Jelenc: Yep.
[00:39:17] Katherine Ong: Do you have any recent wins or resources that you want to share with our audience today?
[00:39:24] Helene Jelenc: Yeah, I actually have an article I wrote on B2B writing Pitfalls and some real-world examples, for Flow SEO, which I shared the link with you, and this has been a really great article slash turned into an educational session that we give clients now to teach them about B2B SEO writing. And I also did a piece for Search Engine Journal around interviewing for niche B2B industries. So I think if anyone is interested in learning about interviewing and some tips on how to prepare for that, that article is a great place to start.
[00:40:01] Katherine Ong: Great. Those are awesome. I’ll put them in the show notes. And so how can people learn more about you?
[00:40:07] Helene Jelenc: You can find me pretty much everywhere but LinkedIn, he lands wandering helene.com is a travel blog if you wanna see a little bit of what I was up to pre pandemic. Definitely need to revitalize it a bit , so yeah.
[00:40:23] Katherine Ong: Awesome. This has been great. Thanks for sharing all of your tips. And do let me know if you create additional resources. I’ll add ’em to the show notes.
[00:40:30] Helene Jelenc: Thank you. That’s great. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:40:34] Katherine Ong: Thanks so much for listening. To find out more about the podcast and what we’re up to, go to digital marketing victories.com. And if you like what you heard, subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Rate us, comment and share the podcast, please. I’m always looking for new ideas, topics, and guests. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter @dmvictories. Thanks for listening.