Introducing Our Level Up Hosts
Tyler Williams: Welcome to Level Up, a marketing podcast. If you've listened to us before, you may recall that our podcast used to be called In The Clouds. We're excited to announce that In The Clouds is now known as Level Up. Level Up is a podcast for marketers by marketers, created by Lev, a marketing focused consultancy that sits at the intersection of marketing, technology, and customer experience. We help clients continuously evolve and develop scalable marketing strategies and solutions, because we believe that marketing is the glue that holds the customer experience together. What started as a boutique, Salesforce consultancy has become so much more. Becoming a member of the Cognizant family in 2020, we are actively helping marketers across many industries with all sorts of MarTech as they digitally transform their operations, so that they can connect with customers at the right place at the right time. In today's and future Level Up episodes, you can expect us to discuss marketing best practices and strategies, trends, and challenges marketers are facing within their day- to- day and how you can continue to grow as both a marketer and a person. Let's start off with our first episode by introducing our hosts. My name is Tyler Williams. I lead one of our sales groups here at Lev. I'm focused on the retail consumer goods industries, as well as tourism, hospitality, and technology. I've been with Lev almost four years now. I am based in the Indianapolis area, and I have been in the MarTech or marketing strategy space my entire career. Shout out to my most recent former employer prior to Lev, Element Three, a marvelous Indianapolis marketing agency if you're looking for that sort of help. As I mentioned, I lead our sales team here at Lev, focused on those specific industries, which means I help our customers make the most of their investments, improve out business value when it comes to their marketing strategies and how to place resources in the right areas. I'm now going to pass it to Jordan Krause.
Jordan Kraus: Hello. Hello. Hi. My name is Jordan Kraus. I am a Client Success Partner at Lev. I've been with Lev now for two years. I see myself as really the protector of my client's investment. I am the internal advocate for clients at Lev. So my role is really ensuring that the promises that we made when we're meeting our new clients are kept during delivery. I also spend my time getting up to speed on MarTech trends, leaning into different business directed conversations, and overall being a sounding board for my clients in determining what direction they should be headed. Yeah, and that's a little bit about me. And with that, I will pass it over to Joe.
Joe Kaltenthaler: Hey, everybody. My name's Joe Kaltenthaler, and I'm the Senior Manager of Interaction Studio and Datorama here at Lev. I manage two technical solution architect teams, specifically focused on marketing, data analytics, and web personalization. I've been in the technology consulting game for about seven years now, which is crazy to think about, on products spanning a lot of buzzwords. So get ready. Business intelligence and data analytics, real- time web personalization, audience management, and media activation. So a whole gamut of things. Basically, what you can interpret from that, I love data and I love helping our clients solve problems related to their data and also helping them connect more easily to that data. Specifically here at Lev, I've been here for almost four years. So I think I started right around the same time as Tyler did, and I have enjoyed just an awesome ride along the way. I actually started as part of our Next Lev program, which is a program that essentially helps newer college graduates learn marketing Cloud basics, get ready to be a consultant and have their own clients after finishing that onboarding program. After finishing our Next Lev program, with my background in data analytics, I actually pivoted into helping the growth of our emerging services team, which you can think of as our new product incubator group, where we would pick up newly acquired and released Salesforce products and essentially help learn and grow a team of consultants to be able to consult on those platforms. In that time, I grew from a solution architect into managing a team of solution architects. And I've been really, really fortunate to develop a deep understanding of the problems our clients face and just have firsthand experience being in the driver's seat of solving big, crazy technical problems. And with that, I will pass it over to Laura.
Laura Madden: Thank you so much, Joe. My name is Laura Madden, and I am the Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy and Services here at Lev. And what that means is I lead a team of fabulous marketing consultants and design consultants across all marketing channels and platforms. And we really aim to help our clients achieve marketing success, and we measure that through MarTech ROI, which really means we want our clients to get the most out of their MarTech, get everything optimized and working to its full strategic potential, and really get the most bang for their buck. I have been at Lev for about two years, so right around the time that Jordan joined, and I've been in the digital marketing space for about 15 years. I actually started out on the client side, mainly working in email marketing, but got a little bit burnt out from spending the holidays in the eComm space. And I also wanted to get a little bit more variety in my day- to- day and exposure to some more marketing channels, strategies, challenges, all of that good stuff. So moved over to the consulting side about nine years ago. And while a lot has changed, I would say that strategy is still strategy, regardless of the specific channel, the piece of MarTech that you're working in, or even the industry to a certain extent, right? It's really just what can we do from the best strategic perspective? And that's a big reason why I love being at Lev, is I get to consult with such a variety of clients, channels, strategies. And also, I get to work with all of these fabulous people that we've introduced on this call. So with that, since you've met all of us and have probably already fallen madly in love with all of us as your podcast hosts, I'm going to kick off with our next question, which is what's the most influential project or pitch that you've worked on at Lev? And I'm going to start, not just because I'm afraid Tyler's going to steal mine at the last minute, because this is one that he and I got to work on together, and it was super fun. Mine was a pitch for a global CPG company. It was a company that I had actually worked with in a past life. So I was really excited to be able to reconnect with some of those client contacts, because they were super fun, and get back into that CPG space, because I hadn't been there in a while. But it was really fun to help put this together with the team at Lev. So Tyler and a bunch of other people, we were really able to put together a truly dynamic pitch that showed Lev to its best potential. Our content was awesome. We prepped the heck out of it, had so many dry runs and comments in the deck and all of that. And PowerPoint decks are my love language, so I was like, " Yes, I'm here for it." The best part was that we decided to put a fun personal spin on it. So not only did we have fun virtual backgrounds with some of the client's products behind us on the call, we somehow all ended up wearing T- shirts with the client's products on there. So that was a really fun surprise for a Friday afternoon pitch, and it was really well received. And it's something that we still talk about and have a great time remembering working on that pitch. So that was my favorite. Sorry I stole it, Tyler. But hopefully, Joe's got one that we can talk about next. Go for it, Joe.
Joe Kaltenthaler: Yeah. For sure. So I would say the most influential project that I have worked on here at Lev, it's less of a client facing project, but it impacts, I would say, all of the clients that my team of solution architects deliver solutions for. So our practice, the emerging services group, grew really, really quickly over the past two years, I would say, especially. And we just found a really big need to be able to scale that group and deliver consistent quality to our clients. And as a result, I figured that it made a lot of sense to kind of do some internal trainings. So my most influential project has not really been any one particular client, but I'd say it's impacted just about every client that our practice has, where I was able to create an internal series of training sessions for our consultants to be a part of, as well as simulating being a client myself, so that our consultants would have hands- on experience consulting to clients, because as you might know, it's really hard to get experience on something you've never done before. So creating a safe environment to provide direct feedback on how a conversation is going or how a solution is being proposed was really, really valuable for our team, especially as we were growing really, really quickly. So with that-
Laura Madden: And Joe, I'm going to argue that it was valuable for other teams, too, because my team works really closely with Joe's team, and I could really tell having new people coming in, partnering with them, you might think like, " Ooh, they're new. This is emerging tech," and then you get on a call with them and you're like, " Oh, they know... Okay. They're on it. They know their stuff." And I know that was a direct result of the work that you did. So I say, sir, that it benefited more than just your team. It benefited a lot of different teams at Lev. So kudos to you.
Joe Kaltenthaler: Well, thank you.
Laura Madden: That was awesome.
Jordan Kraus: I was going to say the making of the internal trainings just gives my client success heart all of the warm fuzzies and what great leadership that is, too, as an influential project for you. It's just very special. My most influential project was one of my first projects at Lev. When I first joined Lev, I felt confident with marketing Cloud. I'd come from another Salesforce partner. I had my email specialist certification. But I wanted to specifically learn the emerging technology that Joe is referencing, which was a real- time interaction management tool that Salesforce had acquired called Evergage. And my leader at the time did everything she could to find me projects for me to take on. And lucky for me, Lev was one of the very first partners trusted to implement this new platform. And we were very much pioneers in this space. But specifically, one project stays near and dear to my heart, and maybe that's partly because I am such a warm, fuzzy sucker. But I worked with these wonderful people at a brand called Wild Birds Unlimited. Wild Birds Unlimited is one of the very first exact target customers. Naturally, they're just early adopters of a lot of technologies. And so they rose their hand to be a part of this brand new technology and implement it specifically for abandoned browse and abandoned carts. So what I loved about this work was it was a meaningful work with a brand new technology and a very, very loving team with each other. And specifically, we launch an abandoned browse web use case. So when a user was a about to make a purchase and was navigating away from their cart, a pop- up would appear with copy that would encourage that user to convert. And then in the second phase of work, we created a series where anybody who didn't convert would be injected into a marketing Cloud email journey. And if they converted, so if they made a purchase before they even received the first email, then we would change the creative of that email to show a thank you message instead of an abandoned cart message. So the phases and the way that those phases laid out in order to accomplish the same goal is why I felt like that was, for me, the most influential project that I've had a chance to work on with Lev. And I love the story, and it's something that you can still find in our Ultraviolet series on our website as well. Oh, goodness. So nostalgic. Tyler, what's yours? What's yours?
Tyler Williams: Well, I think first it's important to recognize that two of the three groups so far, Jordan and Laura, have mentioned customers and/ or pitches that I was involved on from a sales front. So let's all just remember that I only work on the most interesting pitches and bring us the best customers as a sale link representative here. So all of that-
Jordan Kraus: We can cut that out, too.
Laura Madden: Or you used to. Yeah. You...
Tyler Williams: Yeah. I'm just a washed up leader at this point. I don't actually do anything anymore.
Joe Kaltenthaler: You just host podcasts. No other work to be done, just talking.
Tyler Williams: Yeah.
Joe Kaltenthaler: Gabbing.
Tyler Williams: Update your opportunity, please. I'm going to go do a podcast for eight hours. Don't bother me. I'm getting in the mood. Thanks, Jordan. I would say that a specific deal sticks out in my mind, and it really ties into, I think, part of my Lev journey. So I'm not going to get sappy. I'm not going to clue into my emotions, as you are so good at doing, Jordan. But this organization is a multinational company. You can't even put them in a specific vertical, actually, because they do so many different things. This was about two years ago. And as I mentioned and as part of my intro, I've been with Lev for about four years now. And something that I have been in a really unique and exciting position to do is see how our organization has grown over those four years. And this deal, about two years ago, at the time was one of the larger clients that we had worked with. It was a relatively basic marketing Cloud implementation, to be clear. But the fact that we were doing it across so many different geographies, there were potentially different languages at play, and it was just a large program that had to be managed and delivered was really exciting. And when I think about four years ago to two years ago to now the types of programs and clients and initiatives that clients are trusting us with, it's a really, really exciting thing for me to be a part of that growth and maturity as a business. So as I think back to this specific customer, it was a little bit of an aha moment for me personally to say, " Hey, this Lev thing is really going in a neat direction. We are being trusted with and honored with some really exciting client goals, obviously being good stewards of client budget and really impactful business goals as well." So that was a neat thing for my personal growth here at Lev, but also a fun realization of where our company was growing and certainly now, as I look back two years ago, where we have grown to date. So now that I just shared a bit about my favorite pitch or project, I guess you could say, the final question so you can get to know all of us, well, the three of those lovely people and myself, the final topic here is the best advice you have ever received. This could be something in your personal life, marketing strategy, that sort of thing. I am going to actually talk about a quote that I received from a previous sales coach, but this sales coach also focused on the marketing agency, marketing strategy space, which means this really ties into marketing as a discipline as well. And that quote is, " People make decisions for subjective reasons, then find objective reasons to justify their emotions." And from a selling perspective, what I took away from that is it is important to be liked, but also you got to deliver the goods to make sure people know that what you're talking about should be respected, trusted, et cetera. So do good work and be good. However, when you think about it from a marketing front, marketing is truly, at the end of the day, connecting with your end consumer's emotions to influence a behavior. So when I think about connecting at that brand emotional level, if you achieve that with your end customer, in all likelihood that customer is going to find an objective reason to buy your product or your service or whatever you may be offering them, right? So when I think about both from a sales methodology as well as an approach to marketing, connect an emotional level, win that subjective choice, and people will find an objective reason to do business with you. Jordan, what do you think? Was that any good? You got a better one?
Jordan Kraus: So I really like that advice. I think it is critical to understand people's reasoning emotionally. There's also a lot of decisions behind the scene before they come to us and before the decision is made to even start the conversation with a vendor, with a partner. So being sensitive of everyone's point of view and all of the emotions behind those point of views as well, I think, is critical to our success. Prior to what I did in marketing, I worked in customer service for just under 10 years, and that's where my big softy side comes through. And so as a CSP, I think I've found a perfect role, which is a mix of the marketing that I enjoy so much, as well as the empathetic customer service that I really pride myself in. And when I was early on in becoming a leader in one of my first jobs, one of my mentors at the time said, " Fail fast." And what they meant by that was be willing to make the mistake, to try, and to fail instead of holding yourself back from trying at all. And so it really inspired me and encouraged me to be messy, to make mistakes, to take chances, and to open myself up for all of the learning that comes with failure. And I think that once you realize what you're really afraid of, you realize it's not that big of a thing. Especially in a world of marketing, where our whole lives are test and iterate, all you can do is just give it a try. And if you fail, you learn from it and you move on and you try again. So that's the best advice that I've ever received. It's something that sticks with me. Joe, what's the best advice you received?
Joe Kaltenthaler: Yeah. The best advice I've received was a nice little nugget of wisdom that was shared to me from a more seasoned veteran solution architect in my early days here at Lev. And that was this, " We're not saving lives. It's just email." And so you could hear that initially and you can have a knee- jerk reaction of, " Well, email's really important." And I'm not trying to discount or minimize the things that we're solving as a client facing agency or the problems we're solving, or I'm not minimizing the customers or the work that we do. This was really in a crisis situation that I was facing and helped me get some grounding perspective that I think is helpful for everyone to understand. Whether your role is in email marketing or if you're on the web marketing side, if you're in internal facing role, I think this can be condensed down to in a scenario, especially a crisis scenario, because that's when I received this, in a crisis scenario, how we choose to show up is really important. So specifically, choosing to be calm, choosing to be rational, and having an openhandedness of, " We may be facing a problem right now, but I truly believe we can work through it together. We just need to be calm," I think there's a lot of wisdom in that that goes... Again, just it goes beyond just specifically email. That was just the specific case that we were facing at the moment. So this is everyone's reminder and suggestion that it's going to be okay. We'll figure it out. We're not saving lives. It's just email. So that's mine. Laura, I would love to hear from you on what the best advice you've heard is.
Laura Madden: Well, I'm still just soaking in yours, because that really resonated with me. As I mentioned, I came from the email space and the high stress eCommerce Black Friday, " Oh my goodness. What are we going to do?" And many of us joked that we needed to have T- shirts that just said, "# ItsJustEmail" for that very reason. You can really get caught up in it. But at the end of the day, you're like, " Okay, perspective. Let's go for it." So mine is similar to Joe's in terms of putting things in perspective, but it is something that I had from a mentor when I was in the eComm space, and that was, " It's not art. It's commerce." So while it was specific to digital design and thinking about, yes, we want it to look beautiful, but at the end of the day, the point of doing this work is to sell things. And that's what we're trying to do. So you can take that a lot of different ways. One is something that our design consultants are wonderful at, is really taking into account all of the backend things and the best practices and saying like, " Hey, let's make sure that we've got a healthy blend of imagery and live text, because that's going to have better inbox placement and it's going to resonate better with people and all of that good stuff." But also just thinking about what is the end goal? And that's where it can go past where you're just talking about design and email and saying, " Let me take into account my end goal for whatever strategy I'm trying to put in place, whatever project I'm trying to do." It's really easy to get distracted, go down a rabbit hole, and go all of these different directions, but really rooting yourself in what are we trying to accomplish. In this case of that, it's not building the most beautiful email in the world. It's selling things. So let's make sure that everything that we're doing is focused on that. So lots of email heavy advice, but it can definitely go more broad into digital marketing overall.
Joe Kaltenthaler: Looking to continue to level up your knowledge on the latest news, technology, and marketing trends affecting marketers day to day? Stay tuned for future episodes of Level Up, with new episodes coming out every two weeks on Spotify and Apple Music. Until next time, thank you for leveling up your marketing knowledge with us.
It’s time to level up with Lev's new podcast for marketers by marketers that distills best practices and strategies focused on helping you continue to grow personally and professionally.
For those of you who’ve been subscribing to us since the very beginning of our In the Clouds podcast, you still can expect to gain strategic and technical best practices, how-to's, and real-life use cases and solutions that you can implement to 1-UP your marketing strategy and overcome any challenge in your way!
In our very first episode, learn more about our Level Up co-hosts, Laura Madden (Sr. Manager of Marketing Strategy & Services), Jordan Kraus (Client Success Partner), Joe Kalthenthaler (Sr. Manager of Lev’s MC Personalization and Intelligence), and Tyler Williams (Managing Director of Sales) as they discuss what led them to Lev, the most influential project they’ve worked on, and the best marketing-related advice they’ve ever received.