Interview with Manca Šalehar from Wolt4. October, 2023
Manca is a successful marketing manager at Wolt, with more than 10 years of experience in brand management. Before her current role, she was responsible for the international positioning of Viberate, and before that, she worked at F2 and Propiar, where she was responsible for clients such as Volkswagen, Spar, Adidas, Petrol, and Dana. She has also successfully contributed her skills to some of the most promising start-up projects such as Rok’s nut butter and the positioning of the established brand La Popsi, which also won the HIT Product of the Year 2018.
And we had the pleasure of getting to know her better. You can too, just read on!
Your career path is very diverse and spans different industries – from automotive at Volkswagen to tech-development at Viberat and food startups like Rok’s nut butter. Can you share with us how these experiences in different industries have shaped your marketing approach?
My experience in different industries and from three different perspectives – agency work, working in a startup and working in a corporation – allows me to make decisions and optimize priorities very quickly. Each of them is very different, requires different skills – in agencies I learned different ways of communication, creativity and extremely fast adaptability, in startups I learned the ingenuity to create attention-grabbing and demand-generating content with a €0 budget – this ingenuity still helps me today to not waste money where it is not needed. And at CalypsoCrystal, a high end brand of handmade leather iphone and ipad covers, I learned that boutique production in Slovenia can generate exceptional business results and create a whole new niche of customers from all over the world. In corporations I learned the importance of communication, patience and strategic approach. All of these skills have been enhanced by the incredible lessons and insights of my mentors and supervisors who have accompanied me on my journey. Today, I use all these skills to make decisions in my business and personal life. The most important approach to ensure success in marketing is to understand analytical data combined with a detailed understanding of customers and their triggers to buy. This is the most important approach to ensure successful business results for a company.
You have more than a decade of experience in brand management. What are the key trends or changes in the marketing landscape that professionals should be aware of in the coming years?
In recent years, we have seen an extremely rapid development of digital sales channels and their adoption by users. Companies have adapted their sales channels very quickly, and many of them have been created precisely because of the possibility to fully digitise their business (ecomm). With highly pervasive and relatively inexpensive digital advertising channels such as Google and Facebook, many companies have generated extremely strong sales results. The key objective has been acquisition, i.e. acquiring new customers, not necessarily retaining and reactivating existing customers. I still see a lot of potential in this area. I believe that in the long run, the winners will be those who focus on activating existing customers and find the right levers to increase their loyalty.
In the future, I see a lot of existing operational work being optimised through AI technology, for example, copywriting, content generation, ideation and process optimisation. But the ability to adapt quickly and prioritise correctly will definitely be key when it comes to brand exposure combined with reaching out to the channels where their NEW users are, who are willing to spend more money. A few years ago, a few companies recognised the opportunity in TikTok, which offered a huge opportunity to grow organically and build popularity with Generation Z. This is a generation that already today offers a huge potential for companies to build leads. With a target audience that has huge potential, these types of channels and tools come along every few years, and the winners are those who identify them quickly and adapt their marketing strategies.
Wolt is a fast-growing company in a competitive market. As Marketing Manager, which strategies have you already applied and which are you planning to apply to stay ahead of the competition?
I believe that there is no universal “playbook” for success, which is why the whole marketing team has one important quality – we dare to be bold, think differently and try new approaches. We put a lot of emphasis on innovative communication, whether it’s the choice of channels, the way we reach out or tactics such as guerrilla campaigns. This is what makes us different, more pervasive and builds a base of extremely loyal users. Even though Wolt is a large international company, we swear by dictating our marketing approaches and tactics locally. We also spend a lot of time on analytical approaches, research, understanding the consumer, their needs and above all their triggers to buy. We are also constantly evolving our offer to offer existing customers more options for a comfortable life. For example, today you can virtually order grocery delivery from Wolt, send champagne and balloons to a friend for their birthday, or order a coffee machine.
At Viberate, you were responsible for international positioning. How did you approach this task and what were the main challenges you had to overcome to make Viberate a globally recognised brand?
The music industry is an extremely interesting and diverse field where the paths between big artists (musicians) and entrepreneurial labels and agents converge. So it was necessary to find the right approach to communicate with opinion leaders. Viberate uncovers analytical data in a very innovative way and discovers potential opportunities for musicians, labels, event organisers and agents. In the past, most deals were done in a way that labels and agents went to events to discover new potential stars, but today, with the help of online analytics, they have access to discover fast-growing musicians. The key challenges have come from the realization that the industry is still very rigid and old-fashioned in some respects, while analytical thinking is not as close to their hearts. To make the analytics that Viberate provides easier to understand, we have extracted the most interesting and unusual information from the data cluster and presented it in an innovative way through infographic stories. We’ve also spent a lot of time creating content and data stories for specialist music media, such as stories about who the fastest growing musicians in electronic music were in the last quarter, or say the rise in popularity of k-pop music in the European market. So when, how and what will the future look like.
You are also a great mentor and as such you have worked with La Popsi, which won the HIT Product of the Year 2018. Can you describe the key steps to successfully position a brand to win such an award?
My mission in life is to pass on knowledge, which is why I love mentoring so much. One of my favourite stories was created by the founders of La Popsi, Neža and Karmen, whom I met in 2017. They had it all – heart, an exceptional product and a clear vision. I helped them with the brand positioning, personally and in structuring the pitch to potential investors. I am extremely pleased that La Popsi won the HIT Product of the Year 2018. After years of mentoring, I have decided to take all the knowledge I have gained to a wider audience! As I love to share knowledge and help career growth, I have organised a 4-week academy for women who want to build a successful career and enjoy their best life at the same time. The academy will combine all the principles and tools that enable academy members to define life and career goals, set a clear plan on how to build a reputation and your business, or yourself as a brand, how to articulate your presence and positioning in the world and how to prioritize activities in a way that has the best contribution/input ratio.
You will be speaking at the upcoming E-commerce JAM event on 9 November at Kino Šiška. What benefits do you see in participating in such events, both for experienced professionals and for newcomers to the industry?
Transferring knowledge, ideas and networking is the key to success. The e-commerce JAM brings together outstanding experts from different fields, while at the same time attracting the whole e-commerce business, which is boiling with different experiences. Networking is also an important aspect, as many interesting people with great ideas will come together in one day at one point, all of whom can be an inspiration to us all.