High quality, attention grabbing, content is critical to any learning programme. To find out more about how we support our clients make the most out of their knowledge sharing platform, we interviewed our Global Head of Content, Deborah Tan Pink.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to lead the content business at SmartUp? 
I started my career in women’s lifestyle magazines and was doing that for about 10 years when I decided to leave print publishing to go into digital content. In 2013, I set up a content agency with 3 partners where we primarily worked with brands to create customer-facing content such as emailers, newsletters, blog posts, and more.

But there’s, honestly, only so many reviews of lipsticks and restaurants you can write about and I realized I had to “reskill” myself if I wanted to remain relevant. So I set my mind to finding a content role in a tech startup. I joined SmartUp in 2016 as the Asia Head of Content and in 2018, I became the Global Head with responsibilities to grow content services as a revenue stream for the business.

What are the common challenges you find that your customers face when it comes to content?
The most common challenge would be optimizing their content for the SmartUp platform. A lot of our customers have content in PDFs, slides, books, or videos, but they often lack the manpower to transform all that material into engaging microlearning. I think SmartUp’s success lies in the high-touch interaction we have with all our customers. We don’t leave you to enter your query into a message box and respond with a string of generic recommendations.

If the customer finds it helpful, our content team can actually sit with them and guide them through the content creation process in person. This isn’t just reassuring for the customer, it also allows us to support them in a more personalized manner.

Why have you noticed they choose to work with us?

Our content team brings to the table experience and know-how in making content engaging and relatable. Some customers start off a little bit cynical, but once they see the demos we build, they begin to realize that content – first and foremost – needs to be engaging. Magazine writers, like my team and I, are trained in being generalists because they often need to know topics very quickly before going off to interview an expert or an industry bigwig. It’s this skill that makes the SmartUp content team so effective when it comes to transforming our customers’ legacy content.

What would a typical content project look like?
The customer shares with us the content they want to optimize. We take a look at it, draw up a proposal describing how it’d be broken down. If they’re happy with the proposal, we proceed to agree on the deadline and the approval process.
It has to be a collaboration because at the end of the day, the subject matter expert is still the customer. They need to take ownership of the project and ensure the content contains the pertinent industry knowledge for their learners.

How is the SmartUp solution unique? 
The human element is what makes our solution unique. A prospect told us at a pitch, “You know, a platform is a platform. At the end of the day, anyone can build features and fight on pricing. How your team works with your customers is very important.”
I think a lot of platform providers believe that the less human interaction with customers, the “more advanced” their solutions are. I used to feel that way too. But SmartUp has great customer success and content development teams, and our investment in each customer shows our team’s readiness to own projects. This is what makes us unique!

What is the best project you have worked on and why?
From a content development perspective, the best project we’ve worked on has got to be with the Singapore College of Insurance (SCI). The team spent a year converting more than a dozen insurance textbooks for the customer so they can offer certification using the platform. SCI – as a customer – also challenges the team with interesting projects like tasking us to build an InsurTech library for them to use when training up young insurance professionals.

What do customers normally feedback that they have found valuable about working with your team? 
Based on the pieces we have done for them, they are able to pick up tips on how to create their own engaging content. The beauty of the SmartUp content creation tool is that it is very easy to use. If you’ve written on LinkedIn or Medium before, you will find the authoring tool a dream to work with.
And, I love it when customers experiment with the content tool and think outside the box! One customer had a whole team of management associates put together a talent contest using SmartUp. Their employees then proceeded to post videos of themselves singing, doing kung-fu, cooking etc. all on our platform. And this, was after just ONE session of content workshop with us!

What would be your top piece of advice for organizations looking to engage their employees and customers when it comes to learning?
Don’t just populate your community with your own content. Mix things up with content that isn’t related to their work – for instance, content on personal development, soft skills, leadership, etc. Let people learn what they want at their own pace because learning should be broader in its objectives, beyond what people need to know just for their day-to-day work.
To find out more about our content services click here.