How Manufacturing Marketers Can Get Buy-in for Digital Initiatives

Episode 214

December 13, 2022

Alex Lovdahl, Digital Experience Manager at Brandt, talks with Jeff and Carman on The Kula Ring about getting leadership’s buy-in for digital marketing initiatives by using results to demonstrate their effectiveness.

How Manufacturing Marketers Can Get Buy-in for Digital Initiatives Transcript:

Announcer: You are listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing? I feel like itʼs been a while since weʼve recorded one of these.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, it has been a while. Iʼm doing well and Iʼve got to say, I feel like weʼve jumped into the actual recording from our pre-show chat and banter in kind of almost record time. Like we said, ‟Well why donʼt we hit record and then you just hit record.” I mean there was no pause. There was no deep breath, so folks-

Jeff White: I did take a sip of water.

Carman Pirie: … if we have completely botched this opening, you have my deepest apologies-

Jeff White: Itʼs worth every-

Carman Pirie: … and we promise to return your money.

Jeff White: Yeah, every penny. But, I am looking forward to todayʼs show. Weʼve got somebody on who has been making a lot of waves within the manufacturer they work at and doing some really cool stuff.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Iʼve got to say, and this isnʼt going to be helpful for anybody who ever wants to hire me to do anything for them, but I feel in some way, like I did some of my best work in my 20s. I really feel like I was productive. It was a time when I was able to just make some things happen in the organizations that I worked in and a time of rapid advancement. And today weʼre going to speak to somebody who is in their 20s and doing just that. So if Iʼm trying to regain some youth and live vicariously throughout the course of this episode, I apologize.

Jeff White: Thereʼs enough gray hair in each of our beards and hair. What there is of that.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, thatʼs a thing. Letʼs get on with it.

Jeff White: Indeed.

Carman Pirie: Everybody wants to know about our decrepit state.

Jeff White: Yes, exactly. So joining us today is Alex Lovdahl. Alex is the digital experience manager at Brandt. Welcome to the Kula Ring, Alex.

Alex Lovdahl: Hey, thank you so much for having me on.

Carman Pirie: Absolute pleasure Alex. Why donʼt we just get started with a bit of an introduction to Brandt and your role there. If you can just give our listeners a bit of that.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. So Brandt is a pretty diverse AG company. On one side of the business we manufacture fertilizers, but theyʼre kind of special fertilizers with their own technology. So theyʼve got some uniqueness to them. And then on the other side of the business weʼre a retailer, weʼre located in Illinois, so we have 26 physical locations here in Illinois that farmers can go to to get all their inputs for their farms. Seed, chemical fertilizer, even agronomic advice, you name it. Thatʼs kind of the one two punch of the company in short term. And then what I do for Brandt is Iʼm a digital experience manager, at least thatʼs what it says on my business card. But in short, if youʼre looking at a screen and itʼs got our logo on it, itʼs one of our projects, a product, itʼs going to come through me. So websites, apps, email marketing, digital advertising, all the fun stuff we think of when we hear digital is kind of coming through me and my computer here.

Jeff White: Itʼs very cool. And one term you used on there. I just want to just grab onto a little bit because weʼve had other people say this as well. I believe it was Monique Elliot from ABB Electrification talked about marketing products as opposed to marketing projects and that you use that word I think is indicative of an understanding of the role of these things that we build within your organizations. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, and Iʼd always thought of them as products I guess in my head but always called them projects because thatʼs how theyʼre discussed around here at the office. And then actually I was listening to your podcast. Whenever I got introduced to it, found that episode and I listened, and Iʼm like, it just kind of clicked and made clear sense that these are products, these are not … They are projects to me at the time whenever Iʼm building and creating and developing. But the end result is a product that we can continue on and adapt to and adjust to kind of make it perfect for the market weʼre trying to serve. Whether thatʼs an internal market with employees only if itʼs a product for them or a digital product for customers or end users or something like that. So like I said, I always thought of it as a project in my head and it finally clicked like, ‟Oh man, it is a product, this is how I can kind of maybe use terminology to sell ideas and get things done around here.”

Carman Pirie: I really love the fact that that episode has landed with you and is making some impact, so perhaps weʼll have to check back in like a year or so. And just see how changing the conversation within Brandt around digital products, what impact that has. Thatʼll be a great fodder for-

Alex Lovdahl: For sure.

Carman Pirie: … our second recording.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. Especially like, sometimes projects get thought of as when theyʼre done, theyʼre done and theyʼre over with. And so when I talk about it as a product, itʼs kind of a continuation, you can continue to work on them and upgrade and improve, which is so important with some of the digital tools weʼre creating.

Jeff White: Well especially, I mean if you compare it against the products that Brandt makes, the things that you learn from the usage of certain fertilizers are going to be used to improve that product over time. And why should it be any different with something digital, like an app or a website? Yeah.

Alex Lovdahl: I love that weʼre chatting in the AG space as well, itʼs like growing up in the Potato Belt of New Brunswick, Canada. I feel like I know my first job was in potatoes, so this is like almost like old home week to me.

Jeff White: Yeah, I weeded many gardens and I still hate it.

Carman Pirie: That will be your AG cred.

Jeff White: Itʼs all Iʼve got.

Carman Pirie: Man. Well you know, youʼre going to take what you got.

Jeff White: And if I recall correctly from looking at your LinkedIn bio too you spent some time on a farm as well also.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, thatʼs kind of where we got started, or how I got started. I grew up in small town America where some of the only jobs available were working on a farm. So it was almost like not an option. If you wanted to work you were going to work on a farm when you were younger. But I mean I loved it. I absolutely loved working on the farm and I … The place where I worked, not only did we have a couple thousand acres of corn and soybeans, but we also ran a greenhouse where we sold flowers to people, and we had a produce stand where we kind of grew our own vegetables and stuff and sold those as well. So I worked on a farm and I got my AG background there and then it was a small business at the time. So I really learned a lot about business and how you can operate it kind of congruently too. So it was really, really practical for me to work there.

Carman Pirie: And I wonder can I continue this career conversation because I mean that, I think, Alex a really compelling thing about your story thus far is that in some ways youʼve kind of made your own and have carved your own path at Brandt. So why donʼt you just continue on with that because I think of course after the work on the farm you found yourself in university and then after that youʼre at Brandt pretty quickly if my memory serves.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, so worked on the farm, still worked there while I was in college, but I was actually a customer of Brandtʼs when I was working on the farm. I got to know people there and I always liked the way they operate their business and treated me as a customer. I as always kind of drawn to them. I didnʼt go to college saying, ‟Oh, Iʼm going to go work for Brandt someday.” That was never like what I said. But what I did find was Iʼd be in class and weʼd get a project. And I remember one that was … We were supposed to come up with an idea for an app, that was the kind of the class project.

And in my head Iʼm like, ‟All right, I want to do something different that nobody else in class might be able to do.” And I was the AG kid in class, everybody else was kind of from the city and everything. Yeah, Iʼll do what I know and something thatʼs a little different, Iʼll do agricultural. So I developed this idea for an app about Brandt and then when I went to go apply for my internship, I slapped it on my resume and cover letter. And so it was included in there.

I think thatʼs one of the things that helped me get into the internship. So then I found myself interning at Brandt for a summer where I kind of just did odds and ends in anything an intern does when youʼre working.

Carman Pirie: Well, I have a statement and then a question I suppose. One is, I can tell you without being connected to anyone at Brandt whatsoever that I can assure you that thatʼs what got you in the door.

Alex Lovdahl: And somebody who hires people.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. And then the second thing is, did you get a chance to build that app?

Alex Lovdahl: You know, the concept of the app was great. And then when you get down to the nitty gritty of what it would take to accomplish it, I mean, youʼre talking a mass production of data and API integration and stuff like this. Donʼt get me wrong, ideaʼs still out there. Itʼs just a matter of making sure itʼs practical and worth the time and money and investment just like everything else.

Carman Pirie: Well, itʼs nice to know itʼs not dead. Yeah, no, Iʼm happy that itʼs still on life support. Thatʼs a cool story. So you were able to transition the internship into a full time gig?

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. And Iʼll never forget the call when I was told that, ‟Hey weʼre going to open up a position for you. Weʼd like you to come on full time.” And just how happy and excited I was, because I worked on a farm. I loved it. I interned at Brandt where I loved it and then now I get to continue on and I donʼt have to start fresh. I donʼt have to meet new people and learn a new company. I just kind of keep … I get to keep moving I guess. So, started on right after college. I skipped graduation. I didnʼt walk at graduation. I got in my car and drove home and started work the next day. I mean thatʼs how excited I was. So yeah, my first title here I think was marketing associate where I really was kind of an all hands on deck utility player.

I was doing event management and trade show coordination. I would help copyright a couple of things for brochures and advertisements. Weʼre a small department for how big the company is. So there was just help needed all over the place, and I was kind of that fill in for whatever needs to be done, which I was happy to do so.

Jeff White: What size is your marketing department?

Alex Lovdahl: I think there are seven of us.

Jeff White: Okay. And how big is Brandt?

Alex Lovdahl: We have 500 employees total roughly. And so seven of us in the department, we do a NASCAR sponsorship, so a couple of our guys kind of manage that, and weʼve got the retail side, weʼve got somebody managing that and then the other side. So just not a lot of people for all the different moving parts that we have going on around here.

Carman Pirie: You know, I think thatʼs a common story for a lot of manufacturers that size and scale. They find themselves thereʼs one or two people in the marketing department that are inevitably Jack of all trades-

Jeff White: For sure.

Carman Pirie: … and they can find … I find that those positions in some way almost go one of two ways or paths. You get somebody that gets very comfortable being a Jack of all trades and continues to be that, but maybe doesnʼt narrow in on too much of a focus that can help them advance in a career perspective. And then you have others who use that experience as a springboard for something next. And it seems to me that thatʼs what youʼve done.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. So one of the projects, and this was just really good timing for me is, it had been decided that the company wanted to upgrade their website. And by upgrade, I mean start over, start from scratch. So we were kind of using an older system. Still worked, still got everything done, but we wanted it to be kind of newer and in more control of our website as it became more important. My first day on the job I remember hopping on the phone with the developers to just learn about how the new website was going to work. I didnʼt even know what a content management system was. And then here I am taking it in like, “Okay, what am I going to be doing? This is on me now. Iʼm the project manager for a whole new website for the company.”

So that project really kind of kickstarted my digital career, I guess you would say. And I learned about CMS and what wire frames were and I just kept falling in love with it and I was like, ‟Man, this is some really, really cool stuff about how everything works.” And then, being in control of the website is kind of my thing. Itʼs my baby. Itʼs kind of what I live and breathe every day at work. I really just loved taking care of the website and getting it done and that feeling of accomplishment when we launched the new website and how much everybody liked it. It was really rewarding. So I really liked that aspect of it.

Carman Pirie: I saw some stat, and I should tell you that it was in no way related to our agency at Kula Partners. But around websites, some crazy number of website ‟projects” when they launch. Basically the number one thing that the person has to say about it is they never wanted to be involved in that.

Alex Lovdahl: It was the complete opposite.

Carman Pirie: The fact that that went off well is a great sign, and obviously is in no small part the help to fall in love with digital as a bit more of a direction. To be fair, you were coming up with app ideas in university, so I donʼt think we can …

Jeff White: Yeah. Do you think that they gave you the website because you were the millennial in the room?

Alex Lovdahl: It could have been. I really think it was just everybody else had their hands tied with other things and then it was … They needed somebody to kind of manage this and keep track of it and I had the bandwidth to do it at the time. I guess I am new, you kind of fit that role of being the digital person when you are younger. I think, so I think it was everything kind of coming together at once.

Jeff White: The Kula Ring is proud to be a media sponsor of the 2019 ManufacturED Summit conference, which is being held September 16th to 18th in Chicago, Illinois. Carman and I will be live on site recording interviews for future episodes of the Kula Ring. You could save $200 now with the discount code, kulapartners200 at Thatʼs

Carman Pirie: Have you been able to leverage that into a broader digital role where youʼre looking at app environments, dashboards, and things of the sort. I think you said anything with the screen by Brandt has to come through you. So thatʼs a … In some ways I got to say, Iʼve never … I donʼt think Iʼve talked to a manufacturing marketer that said it in quite that way. Anything with the screen comes through, so itʼs interesting to me that youʼve been able to define that. Yeah, yeah.

Jeff White: Captured it in a way.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, it keeps it kind of broad spectrum on what I can be involved with. But yeah, it really is. Even the social media and stuff like that falls underneath my belt. Not all the content and everything like that, but just the overall management of it kind of falls into my lap, which is good. At Brandt we own several companies and several brands and subsidiaries. And so once we got the main website up and running, then it became, ‟Okay, well maybe these other companies and brands that we own, itʼs time for them to get an upgrade.” So then it just started kind of snowballing where it was one after another, I would give one company and brand done and then it was onto the next one. And itʼs still happening today where weʼre constantly just upgrading and improving everything that we have out there.

Carman Pirie: And how has that extended beyond web properties? As youʼve mentioned apps and dashboards, but can you peel that back from you a little bit further and help me understand? There was a time of course everybody was just trying to simply create an app that was a replica of their website, and that was that. I guess whatʼs the current state of play at Brandt?

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, so we knew we wanted to have an app. We knew we had to have something out there just like you said, to be relevant, but we wanted it to be practical. And then I kind of broke down numbers and stats of saying, ‟Well, on our website, hereʼs a tool thatʼs being used most frequently by mobile users.” And so by taking that information, we were able to say, ‟Well maybe a tool like this but in an app form is our best bet and is practical. And so weʼve got a product portfolio of over 300 products and people are always wanting information on the go. Sometimes our growers and customers, farmers donʼt have service in their fields. Theyʼre out in the middle of nowhere. So we developed an app for end users and customers to find our product labels, find our product information, save them to their phone, and kind of have basically a product database in their pocket of everything we have to offer.

Carman Pirie: Thatʼs very cool. And that makes complete sense to me. Having worked irrigating potato fields out of cell service. I know exactly what youʼre talking about.

Jeff White: What were you talking about? That was even before cell phones were a thing.

Carman Pirie: No, no, Iʼm pretty sure cell phones were kind of maybe around.

Jeff White: Yeah. You needed a suitcase to carry one.

Carman Pirie: Exactly. Yeah.

Jeff White: Alex, the websites that youʼve been developing, you mentioned how much you enjoyed the process and the project. Is there something there like the … Whatʼs the biggest learning that youʼve kind of taken away from diving into a corporate manufacturing group?

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah, so thereʼs a couple of different things that I just … One, Iʼm always learning, no matter what I think I know Iʼll get done with a website and be like, ‟Oh maybe I could have done that different.” But I guess overall itʼs just kind of really thinking through start to finish on the navigation and how things work and more kind of a user interface mindset I guess, to your main navigation, what does that need to be to be the most useful to people? Thereʼs a thousand different ways you can organize information and kind of nailing it down from the beginning and getting buy in on that has been extremely helpful. So, going in with the full … Iʼve done websites without wire frames, which turned out to not be as easy and quick as I thought they would be. So really starting with that overarching plan and getting buy in from it at the beginning so that way youʼre just about done, youʼre on the same page as all parties involved.

Thatʼs one of the biggest things. Iʼve done a couple international websites were those were huge learning processes, understanding how to do translations and how different cultures and different countries works when it comes to websites. I can come in and tell our Brazilian company that we own, this is what your website is going to look at, but you need to listen to all parties involved and get their feedback and take that, use what I know, use my experience and create the best product possible from it.

Jeff White: For sure. I assume youʼre kind of paying attention to how those sites are doing now that theyʼre live. What sorts of things have you maybe iterated on or learn since theyʼve gone live?

Alex Lovdahl: Right. So sometimes Iʼll get … People have kind of seen what weʼre capable of. What is the marketing department capable of as outputting for an online tool, which is a good thing. We want people to come to us for help, we want to help people. So sometimes theyʼll come to us with an idea, and they want this done. Iʼm like, ‟All right, itʼs going to cost this amount of money, itʼs going to take this much time.” And some people have kickback on it. But then after itʼs up and running, weʼre able to take the analytics and the data and say, ‟Well you know, you didnʼt want to do this tool because it was going to cost money. But actually in the month of September it was our most visited page on the website.”

Even more knowledge. And so when youʼre kind of able to take these numbers and stats to everybody and kind of prove what somethingʼs worth based on the numbers. It really helps everybody understand that what youʼre trying to do and what you are doing can be practical. Or on the other end of the spectrum, it can be … It turns out it was maybe a waste. Maybe it wasnʼt something that we needed to do. So, which we havenʼt had too many of luckily.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, youʼve made some smart bets along the way, it sounds like. And also had the wherewithal to put analytics around it to ensure that you could actually close the loop on that and be able to track your results. So yeah, it takes both. It takes the good batch and the close loop analytics.

Alex Lovdahl: And thatʼs kind of what I saw as an opportunity here is we were getting people come and create these tools or different products. And then it just kind of hit me. It was like, ‟Iʼm the person thatʼs doing this, what else can we be doing in this digital world thatʼs not being done now that we can take advantage of?” And also kind of here at the company just because the way the department structured is, we donʼt have that ladder where itʼs like, ‟Okay, you work here—three years youʼre going to get promoted to this, or you put in this much time, you get promoted.”

Itʼs like weʼre all just here in our own little realms and working as a team together to get everything done. And just that there was this kind of opening and opportunity for somebody to do digital. Thatʼs when I took the reigns and I was like, ‟All right, this is what I want to do. This is what I enjoy doing for work. Letʼs make it practical and valuable for the company.” So thatʼs kind of how I started carving my own path was I guess seeing the opportunity.

Carman Pirie: Absolutely. And I think thereʼs something … I kind of want to touch on here because itʼs further interesting to me that this innovation has happened within the AG category because so often in larger B2B manufacturing organizations, thereʼs sometimes an attitude that, ‟Yeah, those buyers really donʼt want much from a web presence. They donʼt use it much.” Itʼs just, itʼs a nice to have maybe. Itʼs not really seen as a priority in many organizations. And that can be pretty evident when you look at their homepage. But here we have a group of buyers who from the outside looking in. I bet a lot of people think are pretty unsophisticated and, well, I guess I know that not to be true. Itʼs been my impression over the years that farmers are very early adopters of computing technology and the Internet and sharing of information via the web, and itʼs interestingly interesting to me that youʼve been able to kind of capture that and use that.

Alex Lovdahl: Right. So, the AG industry as a whole is just unbelievably innovative when it comes to technology. You look at machinery now and in the way weʼre able to collect data and everything from a combine, like itʼs insane. And then even technology through genetics and everything weʼre able to accomplish through how the plant works and operates. So it is like a truly innovative industry. There are just certain, the buying process sticks out to me and how thatʼs pretty traditional. Itʼs very built off relationships. Itʼs kind of old school. But there is always going to be that opportunity and adaption to using online tools to aid in the buying process. So I guess not replacing the buying process by any means, but just helping assist it.

Carman Pirie: I can appreciate that, the not replacing the buying process, and the thinking that the relationships obviously will still be important. I think itʼs going to be interesting to see, I think if we revisited this 10 years from now, itʼd be curious how much our opinions would change there. I donʼt know. I could see it a number of scenarios where all of a sudden, ‟No, relationships arenʼt that important anymore. These digital interfaces-

Jeff White: We order directly.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, and phone support, online support or all that other works, you know what I mean? As people get more out. Iʼm curious to see how that unfolds.

Jeff White: For now though, how are your sales teams embracing, or not embracing the tools that youʼve built for them? Well, for their customers. 

Alex Lovdahl: It has been, yeah. So theyʼre all pretty receptive and they just love having more tools built around them to help them. One thing that jumps out to me that I helped with a couple of years ago was, we didnʼt have a list. A list of where to buy our products and you know, kind of a simple concept of, where to buy. And it just didnʼt exist just because the data wasnʼt there, the information wasnʼt there. We sometimes sell the wholesalers so we donʼt know where they go from the wholesalers. There was kind of these holes in the distribution process where we didnʼt have the information we needed to create this tool.

So what I helped do was work with a sales rep. Say, ‟All right, in your area, give me all the retailers, all the places that can buy your information.” I took the data from our ERP, compiled that and then took all these lists and everything, put it together, built this tool, kind of relatively simple on enter your zip code and Iʼll tell you where you can buy our stuff. And even things that just really go a long way with them. Kind of these simple concepts stuff. So theyʼre all for any type of assistance they can get. It kind of relieves them taking a phone call or something on asking me, ‟Where do I get this stuff?” And so I think stuff like that kind of helps them see that what weʼre trying to do is aid. Weʼre not trying to replace.

Carman Pirie: And I love the to keep it simple notion of that idea too. I mean, people get into board rooms and brainstorm for five hours on innovative new ideas that they could launch. And itʼs like, yeah. And we could also just tell people where to buy our stuff though. Yeah, yeah.

Jeff White: Novel. 

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So, but I agree with you that the change is coming, nobody is ignoring it by any means. We know disruption is out there. Itʼs going to come, itʼs going to hit just like it has every other industry. But itʼs up to us to be on the right side of it. You know, keep our process, keep doing what works, but yet be ready and anticipate these kind of changes that will eventually happen I guess.

Carman Pirie: Well, in the spirit of that, letʼs turn the table a little bit and just kind of start, instead of talking about what has happened, letʼs look ahead a bit because youʼre now, how long have you been at Brandt?

Alex Lovdahl: Oh man, I think four years now. Full time.

Carman Pirie: Cool. So you know, youʼre getting your feet under you now for sure. And are making a significant impact there. Iʼd be curious kind of as you look around the corner as to whatʼs next for the organization digitally. Can you give us any kind of insight without telling us too much?

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. Discussions definitely happen on whatʼs happening in the industry. What can we do better? You always want to be innovative and have that next big idea, but it has to work well for the company. So I think finding that balance of being innovative enough to compete and satisfy your customers, stay relevant. But sometimes if youʼre too innovative, and you come out jumping the gun and introduce a process, it can maybe sometimes turn people away.

Finding that kind of sweet spot of being innovative but yet keeping things still smooth and not throwing wildcards at your customers. I guess what I see as one thing happening is just kind of using whatʼs already there, but kind of compiling it all together. Like I said, weʼre able to collect an unbelievable amount of data from a farm, whether thatʼs soil test, tissue tests, and different history rates of applications and things like this.

Taking this data that exists and compiling it in a way to again aid us in what weʼre good at, especially on our retail side. Weʼve got customers that come to us for agronomic advice, but what if we can compile data and put it together and combine that with a little snippet from our agronomist on what they can do and what might work well for them this season. I think one of the biggest challenges in agriculture is just the number of variables that exist, whether itʼs weather or soil types, tissue type. I mean, the list can go on and on, but data is being used and I think itʼs going to keep being used with different pieces of technology to help present information to customers better and help them make better decisions.

Carman Pirie: Thatʼs, I mean it seems to me that youʼre onto something there and like you say, you have so much data, itʼs a matter of extracting it from the various systems and finding a way to present it to those customers. And to provide some value ad information along the way. That seems brilliant to me.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah. And some people are doing it, thereʼs a couple of companies out there that are kind of running this concept and theyʼve got the tools and the assets to make it happen, but, so kind of looking at what are they doing, whatʼs working for them, what information do we have? How can we maybe process and more custom tailor the recommendations or information.

Carman Pirie: Of course. Of course. Are there be any number of ways that you could kind of cook on that idea and-

Alex Lovdahl: There we go. Yeah, for sure.

Carman Pirie: Itʼs a fun project they had, or shall we say product?

Alex Lovdahl: Yes, indeed.

Carman Pirie: Well, Alex, I wonder if we might be able to get some career advice as we close out the show.

Alex Lovdahl: For us?

Carman Pirie: Well maybe. But you know, I think if there are folks listening who are at the start of their marketing career and kind of wish that four years from now they were a digital experience manager at a major manufacturer. Alex may have some unique insight there.

Alex Lovdahl: Yeah.

Carman Pirie: What can you tell us?

Alex Lovdahl: I guess what just always stands out to me the most and what helped me the most I think was I got started out as a marketing associate. I was coming to work. I was doing what I was told, working as hard as I could to accomplish basically to-do lists on what needed to be done. And then you kind of just have, or at least I did when I first started working was, well Iʼm going to put in … Iʼm going to get promoted. You just assume these things are going to happen maybe, because youʼre here. Oh, this personʼs been here for 10 years and they got a promotion or whatever. And it wasnʼt really until I realized like you got to do something to provide value in order to make that promotion or that pay raise or whatever it may be happen.

And so once I saw how can I add more value to the company, thatʼs when it really clicked and was like, ‟Okay, hereʼs what I need to do in order to move myself.” And so again, just looking for those opportunities on what would add value. So like one quick funny story is, you know, we have the 26 locations here in Illinois and there was one day I was driving to one of them, and I typed it into Google and I couldnʼt find it. And I was like, ‟Okay, we donʼt have a Google business account set up.”

So I turned around, drove back to the office and set up our Google business, claimed all the 26 locations and made sure they had the right phone numbers, addresses, business hours, all this stuff. And I showed the boss, I was like, ‟Hey, by the way I did this, everythingʼs all good. People can get directions now.” Itʼs like, “Oh, thatʼs fantastic. Wouldnʼt even thought of that, doing that. Thatʼs awesome.” And then, I go back a month later and Iʼm able to show him, okay, well we had, you know, 6,000 requests for directions to all locations.

There was 3,000 phone calls made this month to the phone numbers listed and showing them the numbers as well to kind of back my decision up. And so that was just one thing where I saw the opportunity, how would it add value at the company, made it happen and ended up going a long way.

Carman Pirie: And man and did so with just good solid blocking and tackling digital fundamentals. Which is I think a beautiful lesson. Well Alex, itʼs been a real pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much.

Alex Lovdahl: No, I appreciate it. I think I told you last time we chatted, you kind of show up to work. You work hard to get things done. Youʼre appreciated around here. But then to have somebody else from the outside reach out to say they want to hear from you, itʼs pretty humbling. So I really, really do appreciate you have me answer.

Carman Pirie: Been a pleasure.

Jeff White: Thank you.

Carman Pirie: All the best.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Kula Ring with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Donʼt miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at Thatʼs

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Alex Lovdahl

Digital Experience Manager, Brandt

Alex is responsible for all digital and online projects for BRANDT and its subsidiaries. Alex managed the company’s upgrade of in 2016 and has since been bringing other websites to life as well as apps and other intuitive tools for employees and customers. Alex started at BRANDT as an intern. He was named full-time Marketing Associate in 2015 before being promoted to his current role as Digital Experience Manager. Alex holds a B.S. in Marketing & Communications from Western Illinois University. Outside of work, Alex plays guitar in a band with his sister. They can be seen playing live shows throughout central Illinois. He also spends time volunteering in the Big Brother Big Sister Program as a Big Brother.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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