Inside JBN: Q&A with Senior Content Strategist Joseph Sales

We all know that agency life can be challenging, especially in an industry like content marketing, where technologies, practices and trends change on short notice. And in this hectic space, it can be hard to really get to know the people we work with, how we work together, or even what exactly everyone does!

We sat down with the latest of the courageous souls who decided to join John Brown Novus — Joseph Sales, Senior Content Strategist — and asked him about his story, his work and aspirations.

Q: Tell us your story — where have you been, what you have been doing and what made you decide to move to JBN?

A: Before joining JBN, I used to be on the media agency side, doing digital media strategy, planning and buying. I have worked with various clients such as Coca-Cola, P&G, Audi, Microsoft, and MasterCard over a period of a little more than a decade.

I have been working in the digital space since I started my advertising career back in Manila with a company called Yehey! (a localised Yahoo!). Yehey was a pioneer in digital advertising in the Philippines and we helped brands to establish digital presence, developing websites, banner ads, and content for them (it was not even called “content” back then). After years of being with media agencies, forming and leading teams, I felt like I missed my roots — storytelling. My last stint opened the doors to content marketing for me (again) as I was trusted to be the content guy in the media agency setting.

Joining JBN was like a serendipitous moment for me. The day after I left my previous company, our former APAC lead for content contacted me and asked if I was open to doing some consulting work, as JBN's content strategy lead was leaving. After several discussions, I joined JBN, mainly because this was the role I had been searching for, one that brought me closer to my storytelling roots. I may not be the one actually creating the stories but I help shape them by building the underlying strategies. I love it because for me it's more creative and less media; it's more colour and less numbers. 

What do you think everyone should know about your role as content strategist?

No one actually knows what I do, except for my friends in the industry. My mother doesn't know what my actual job is. What they know is that I am in advertising, and by that they probably think I make TV commercials. To make it more relatable, I usually explain that I am the one annoying them with all those ads on YouTube that they cannot skip (or can only sometimes skip) and the sponsored content on their Facebook feed.

Aside from the technical aspects of the role, my job as a strategist is to understand the deepest desires of people and find a hook to connect them with my brand. I have to appeal to their emotions and stimulate their minds through stories that will encourage them embrace my brand.

What inspires you to wake up every day and do this work?

For me it's about working on different brands, understanding different people, and crafting different stories. It's so dynamic and fluid that it never gets boring. Beyond selling a product, what really inspires me to do this work is the thought that with the stories we make we can touch and change people’s lives, maybe cure some of society's illnesses, or maybe just make our world a little better to live in.

What are some of the challenging aspects of your work?

In general, working in advertising is tough. You face challenges every day from all sides. I don't know how I survived 10 years working on and solving problems that weren’t even mine to begin with. But to conquer these challenges I tried my best to always be calm, think positive and happy thoughts, and choose my battles wisely.

What have you liked most about JBN so far?

Having worked with the team for just over a month now, I have seen how talented the people are. I love team collaboration and this is what I experience every time we sit down to brainstorm and plan for our clients. The expertise of each department and the dedication towards our craft is evident in every project we do. People are just wonderful to work with.    

Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Five years from now, I would like to believe that I will still be telling stories. That I will still be trying to understand people's desires and finding ways to make their lives better, one story at a time.

Perhaps the most important quality required to become a content strategist is a deep understanding of people’s needs and the ability to figure out how content can provide the right solutions.

What's your advice for people who want to become content strategists like you?

I’d say it is important to cultivate a habit of constantly asking why something is done the way it is. Never stop asking why. It is also important to have a thorough understanding of your client's business and their competitors to be able to identify a gap and create an opportunity for the client to rise above the competition. But perhaps the most important quality required to become a content strategist is a deep understanding of people’s needs and the ability to figure out how content can provide the right solutions.