In 2013, when Sanoma Lifestyle couldn’t find the right people to produce the kind of commercial content its clients were increasingly asking for, the company simply created its own training programme.

When Finnish advertisers started to show interest in commercial content and native advertising concepts, Sanoma was keen to meet their needs as effectively as possible. However, Sami Smolander, Vice President of Sanoma Lifestyle, insists that it’s important to keep commercial and editorial content separate and for editorial staff to remain independent. This called for a completely new way of serving clients’ growing needs for commercial content. 

Specific expertise

Sanoma Lifestyle scoured the labour market for people who could produce the required commercial content but discovered that such specific expertise didn’t exist. "So we created a unique, 12-month training programme for people with professional or educational backgrounds in either beauty or food and train them ourselves," Smolander offers. Beauty and food are very important domains in terms of both content portfolio and media sales. From 250 applicants nine were chosen to follow the training programme.

The programme was designed with two of Sanoma Lifestyle’s major B2B clients from the beauty and food sectors in mind. These were cosmetics giant L'Oreal, and Finland’s biggest dairy company, Valio. Their respective media agencies, OMD and Virta Helsinki, were also involved. During the first part of the programme candidates worked in the clients’ companies to learn all about their business, consumer behaviour and the latest trends. They then devised campaign plans for the companies’ B2B partners. Afterwards they spent several months training with Sanoma editorial staff, learning how to write appealing articles. They also teamed up with Sanoma Lifestyle’s commercial departments, learning about communication and how to create solutions for advertisers. After 12 months, Sanoma recruited four of the nine trainees, who now work at the Commercial Concept Development department at Sanoma Lifestyle.

Exceeded expectations

The results of this unique project have exceeded all expectations, with more than 100 different commercial concepts produced in just seven months. "This is pretty amazing," says Smolander. "Professionally produced commercial content is now a basic part of the solutions we offer advertisers, and we’ve also created a completely new discipline within the business."  Another key benefit is that advertisers are getting excellent results from the solutions created for them by the content producers. It’s hardly surprising then that Sanoma Lifestyle will run a second programme, in 2015, for different domains. "Producing content is what we do and what we’re good at, and now we know how to do it for marketing and native advertising concepts. This training programme has really changed the way our business is done."

Sami Smolander:
"Professionally produced commercial content is now a basic part of the solutions we offer advertisers, and we’ve also created a completely new discipline within the business"