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Creative Series: Kyle Schlegel, Weber: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | May 14, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series with Kyle Schlegel. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Creative Series: Kyle Schlegel

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series, focused on the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. Our 6th special guest is Kyle Schlegel, VP, Americas Marketing & DTC at Weber. He’s an award-winning global marketing executive with 20+ years of experience helping brands – and the people that drive them – reach their full potential. Hear how to get internal and external teams to thrive together, embrace teachable moments, be clear and helpful with feedback, manage expectations, and practice empathy with your agency or client-side partners. This episode covers everything from teamwork to feedback. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you decide what tasks to keep internal vs. go external for?
  • What’s a day in the life on the client side?
  • How do you get internal and external teams to work well together?
  • What advice would Kyle give to a young professional entering the marketing or creative field?
  • How do you make sure the agency knows the business?
  • Right Brain vs. Left Brain
  • How have expectations of agencies changed?
  • Quick-Fire: Favorite drink of choice?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • Creative Series: Kyle Schlegel
    • [0:31] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
    • [0:34] Anne Candido, April Martini
    • [0:58] Connect with Kyle at and on LinkedIn
    • [2:19] What is his background?
    • [3:25] How has the creative agency world changed over the years?
    • [3:49] Procter & Gamble (P&G)
    • [5:48] How do you decide what tasks to keep internal vs. go external for?
    • [9:25] How do you get internal and external teams to work well together?
    • [11:04] Mentor
    • [13:41] PowerPoint
    • [14:25] How do you come up with big ideas?
    • [19:18] How do you make sure the agency knows the business?
    • [20:45] Brand Health
    • [24:08] PR (Public Relations)
    • [24:32] How have expectations of agencies changed?
    • [28:37] We’d like to invite you to join ForthRight Women: The Cohort. This community is for females who are ambitious in their careers, but want an equally fulfilling personal life. For more information and to join the group, check out
    • [29:58] How do clients keep up with digital trends?
    • [34:08] What’s a day in the life on the client side?
    • [43:25] Supply Chain
    • [46:28] Right Brain vs. Left Brain
    • [50:28] What advice would Kyle give to a young professional entering the marketing or creative field?
    • [52:42] Improv
    • Quick-Fire Questions
    • [53:37] Best way to unwind?
    • [53:44] Dead person Kyle would most like to meet?
    • [54:01] Favorite drink of choice?
    • [54:28] Elmer T. Lee
    • [55:07] Connect with Kyle at and on LinkedIn
    • [56:50] Make sure to follow Marketing Smarts on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
    • [56:55] Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
    • [57:02] Sign up to view all the ForthRight worksheets & tips for FREE!
    • [57:08] Shop our Virtual Consultancy

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Kyle Schlegel 0:00
The creative is never to solve a creative problem the creative is to solve a business problem.

Anne Candido 0:05
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry. We put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:32
Welcome to Marketing Smarts.

Anne Candido 0:34
I am Anne Candido.

April Martini 0:35
And I am April Martini. And today, we’re continuing our Marketing Smarts miniseries all around the topic of the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. This series brings together folks from both agency and corporate that all have different POVs on this topic, but are all experienced practitioners and thought leaders with decades of experience. Today we welcome special guest Kyle Schlegel, Vice President Americas Marketing and DTC at Weber LLC, who we all know for their grills and accessories. Having served in other marketing leadership roles at Wilson Sporting Goods, Louisville Slugger, and Procter & Gamble, Kyle brings over two decades of client-side experience and working with agencies to our conversation. And this episode specifically, some of the highlights include the importance of understanding that creative work is not in pursuit of solving creative problems, but business problems. Agencies need to understand how their clients make money in order to effectively serve their needs, especially in the world of so many channels and touchpoints. Today, the best agency client partnerships, check the ego at the door, and level the playing field so that all parties are briefed together and agree on the problem being solved as well as their unique roles in doing so. And branding. And marketing gets emotional compared to other disciplines where everyone has an opinion. So it’s important to facilitate the conversation around the problem being solved versus personal preferences. And of course, fundamental to all of this is clear, effective communication by everyone involved. And my favorite quote of the interview when you meet resistance teach. And with that, we will get into the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. And Kyle it’s so good to have you. Please introduce yourself.

Kyle Schlegel 2:15
Hey, April, it’s great to see you again. It’s been so long and very nice to meet you. Yeah, I’m, I’m Kyle Schlegel, I am a small town Kentucky kid. And I’ve just really gotten to kind of see the world through buying a trip through Procter & Gamble and Louisville Slugger and Wilson Sporting goods, and now whatever. And just been really blessed to work on iconic brands that are going to transformations work with lots of really great people and being able to marry profession and passion quite a lot. So excited to talk about all of that. And, and yeah, excited to hopefully provide some something that your audience can use.

April Martini 2:57
setting the bar low, I like it. So obviously, for our listeners, we’re rounding out the series with lots of various guests. So Kyle has always lived on the client side. So hopefully, if you provide one thing, yeah, and and to so you provide one thing, hopefully, it’s that perspective. That’s your job today. So. So obviously, you’ve been in and around the creative industry for lots of years partnering with various agencies, and you gave kind of a quick bio right of what you’ve been doing. But talk to us about your perspective on your journey through the way the creative industry has kind of morphed and changed right? So early days it proctor to where you are now and kind of everything in between just give our listeners a lay of the land of what you’re seeing.

Kyle Schlegel 3:40
Yeah, it’s changed a ton. So I started in at Procter & Gamble in 1989. And that was the days of the, you know, the one TV ad a couple of print ads and and I wouldn’t say the job is done, but you were you were well on your way to doing the job. And, and now we almost have to do that every single day. Right? If you think about social channels, and email and in store and influencers, it almost feels like you’re coming up with what was an annual communication plan on a daily basis. And so, the challenge, the excitement, the pace, all of that is is very different than it was when I started, I would say the model has changed quite a lot as well, as we’ve had almost this fragmentation of media all these new channels that the consumers are engaging with us on the whole agency model has changed along with that. You know, we you think back to my early days, you know whether it was Saatchi earlier Burnett or kind of the usual suspects during the the P&G days, you really went to them for all of your needs the full plan from idea to execution. And now we literally have internal partners and external partners, you know, kind of scattered throughout the planning process throughout the production process. So it’s been really fun to see how that’s evolved. I’ve had the opportunity to work on businesses that are fully agency led, I’ve had the opportunity to work on businesses that are entirely internally led, when it comes to the creative side, wherever sits somewhere in the middle. In that spectrum, we have a really healthy internal team. But we also have external partners that we work with in the creative space. So it’s been really eye opening and just trying to stay, I would say, Stay ahead. That’s a fool’s errand. I’m We’re not staying ahead. I don’t know how anybody stays ahead right now. But we’re just trying to keep up with the pace of change that’s happening in the way consumers are digesting information, seeking information. And how do we create that and get that to them and in the most creative way, but also the quickest, most efficient way as well.

Anne Candido 5:43
So how do you decide in this day and age like what you’re going to keep internal and what you’re going to actually have somebody else do externally?

Kyle Schlegel 5:54
So great question. So I would say one of the the principles that we try to use are those big overarching platforms, ideas, the things that are going to be multi year in their in their life, we tend to go outside for that, that those, a lot of the folks that we work with in that space just have a different level of horsepower, a different experience set, they work with a lot of different brands and a lot of different industries as well. So they have a lot more kind of, I would say breadth to draw from, to be able to come to that idea. And to come to the infrastructure that needs to support that idea. The things that we do internally are, how do we take that idea, and then apply that to kind of the day to day, month to month nature of of our business. And so we’re working on a huge brand campaign or new platform that we’re going to launch in 2025. That idea came from an agency, we’re very excited about that partner and the work that they’ve done, the bringing that to life down into the individual touch points in the day to day will happen inside, there’s quite a bit that happens inside on. If you think about training content that we need to create to educate Salesforce, if you think about the development of what we refer to as the master assets, the photos, the videos, the Met the copy that the consumer is going to experience, we create all of that analysis, packaging is developed in house. So there’s quite a bit of balance between those two worlds and trying to figure that out. That’s probably the easiest way to explain the split. But honestly, each time we come upon a new challenge, we stop and have that conversation of is this best done outside inside or some combination of the two. And if it’s a combination of the two, what’s the best way to blend those skill sets or those experiences, I love having an internal team, I think it’s invaluable, you know, from anything from a hallway conversation, that you can just clarify something really quickly and keep something moving. The fact that we are both experiencing the same things at the same time in the same way I think is really powerful. You develop a shorthand in your own language that allows things to move more quickly. We work in a very tactile category I work at I mentioned I work for Weber and we’re in the grilling space. And you know, it’s not you can’t just talk about it, you need to see it and hear it and feel it and most importantly taste it. And having those people inside the building, experiencing that every day and being able to walk past our grillmaster go sit down with a product manager, I think there’s something just really, really special about that of the creative team being part of the DNA of the company,

April Martini 8:26
we talk all the time with our clients about the idea of working in and on your business at the same time and how hard that can be. So I love what you said about, you know, we go outside for the bigger ideas, which that whole premise of you know, those, you know, us on the agency side, we are working in touching so many different brands. So we know, you know, like an inch deep about a whole variety of things. Whereas you guys know everything there is to know about Weber. And I love that whole idea of once you take those skill sets and marry them together. That’s where it tends to work. I would love to hear though, a little bit more of the specifics of how do you make sure that that relationship stays intact, and that the teams translate the information back and forth, because one of the things we’re talking about across the series is the tension that sometimes exists between agency and client, right. And a lot of that breakdown happens with the relationship and the inability to communicate effectively. So it sounds like you guys have it. I mean, I appreciate that every time you revisit, right, but it sounds like it’s working in a powerful, positive way where sometimes it isn’t. So I would love to hear a little more about that.

Kyle Schlegel 9:35
Yeah, I mean, I have to credit the people involved as well. Right. So one of the things that’s really, really important with a hybrid model is you check the egos at the door, right you’re everybody’s there to to achieve the same thing they understand that they understand that maybe the internal team has a better understanding of the category of the vernacular used in the category, whereas the external team can draw upon other experience says that maybe the internal team doesn’t have. And so I think we have a healthy respect for the value that each party brings to the table in that relationship. And we come back to that a lot, we talk quite a bit about what problem we’re trying to solve, it’s pretty easy to get out of whack. If one team is trying to solve one problem, and the other one’s trying to solve a different one. It’s, it’s really easy to create tension in that environment. So we talked about both of those things, quite a bit of respect and empathy, but as well as alignment on the problem to be solved. And then we tried to keep a really open mind about feedback, right? The, if we think about the internal team and myself providing feedback on the work that the agency is doing, or vice versa, we have to be open minded and come back to that understanding that we have of you, maybe I know something about the category, but you know, something about, I don’t know, this touchpoint, or this mode of communication, or this new kind of broader consumer challenge. If we keep coming back to those things over and over again, it’s really important. One of the things that a mentor taught me years ago, and I’ve, like, directly stolen it, and I use it all the time, if you ever to talk to somebody who has worked in an organization that I’ve been in or been a part of, they’ve heard me say when you meet resistance teach. And so it’s really good. You go over and over again, I think we’re given opportunities every day to teach somebody something very often, when you hit that moment of tension, that moment of disagreement, it’s because one party knows something that the other doesn’t. And if you can use that, as a teaching moment, just pause for a second, take a breath, and not teach down, right? That’s not the that’s not the mode right of, hey, the reason I believe this, or the reason I came at it from this angle was because of X or Y, or we did this a year ago. And we learned this and that’s what informed why we’re approaching it this way. Or the Business Challenge is actually a little more nuanced than that. Let me tell you a little bit more about what’s happening with the business right now. And why I asked the question this way, or why provided this feedback, it goes from subjective to objective a little bit more easily. The teams that I work with, they’re probably tired of hearing when you meet resistance teach, but I, I have pilfered it from a mentor from a mentor that I knew a long time ago, and I use it, I honestly have probably said that at least once a week, in a situation.

Anne Candido 12:24
I love that you said that because it’s definitely something that we prophesize as well, then team situations, but also in personal development situations as well, when people are meeting resistance with regards to promotions or getting that other like funding or whatever that is, it’s a lot of times, it’s because people don’t really appreciate where you’re coming from. And if we can remember that we’re all pieces of the pie. And we’re all about the pie not just our piece, I think that that whole mentality of being a teacher is a really good one to kind of break us out of our own introspective, like myopic This is about me, and really externally reflecting that this is really about the team succeeding and when the team succeeds, everybody succeeds. So I love that you said that. I also think it’s the key of driving alignment. And that is, I think, a really, really critical point when especially when you have some of these hybrid teams coming together with different points of view coming at it from different angles, it can be a struggle to actually drive alignment. I mean, I remember back to my p&g days, and I’m sure you sat in all these meetings, especially as they became virtual, and you’re looking at the agency, sometimes across the screen. And you know, they present their ideas in a really nice PowerPoint deck, and then you put them on mute, and then you have the discussion about how you hate all the ideas. And then you’re gonna send them back for another round, but you’re not gonna give them any really good feedback, right? Because you don’t want to really like stymie their creativity, just gonna tell them all their ideas are like, Well, this was kind of good, but this one could be better, or you’re not gonna cut anything out, you’re just going to kind of just give him like, man, none of these like, go try again, right? Yeah. But now as you kind of come in into this next evolution, you’re really, really trying to mine for good ideas. I’d love to understand how you guys have really refined this process. Because I know you guys are kind of sitting, you said, we’re kind of in the middle of this, like this hybrid process and this hybrid team, really think and understand how do you now brief for big idea? How do you like, Listen, how are the agencies presenting it differently? How do you like internalize and tribal alignment around big ideas?

Kyle Schlegel 14:30
That is a really good question. And we can when we perfect it, I will let you know.

April Martini 14:36
Appreciate all honesty, yeah.

Kyle Schlegel 14:37
You’ll get that for me for sure. So I’m going to answer your question through a story. So we hired a group creative director just over a year ago, at wherever for our internal team. And in one of our earliest conversations, she asked me what what does success look like for me in my role,

Anne Candido 14:57
right? Love it. Love it fully.

Kyle Schlegel 14:59
directing, I’m sure she expected some answer about creative output or efficiency or assets or on brand or something like that. And honestly, my my answer to her was, I need you to help our team become good clients of creative work, right? How to be a good client, because if we give you a bad brief, you have no hope of meeting expectations, right? If if you don’t help us clarify what we’re actually trying to solve for, you can’t solve it. I think we’re getting better every day we’ve tinkered with brief templates, we’ve tinkered with process, we’ve tinkered with, who’s in the room? And when and who gets to expose to what and when? Do we write the brief together? Right? Do we experience the challenge and talk about it collectively? And literally, yes, one person’s fingers are on the keys. But are we actually writing the brief together and having that conversation in real time, the process to get to that we’ve played with a number of different things, both internally and externally, to try to find that sweet spot. You know, the, the things that we bring to bear into that conversation are things like, you know, I’m thinking about a new product launch, in this case of, you know, what’s happening in the marketplace right now? What need is this bill in the marketplace? How are we filling it uniquely, we have the product team present all of that to the marketing and creative teams and our agencies all at one time, right? Nobody special, nobody gets that information earlier or later, or package differently. We all get it package it the same way. And we have that conversation collectively. It’s an opportunity for everybody involved in what we’re referring to as Discovery sessions to ask questions of the product team as well. How did you get to this insight? I see this handle is designed this way? Why is it designed this way versus receiving a PowerPoint and saying good luck, right? This is a great product, let’s just have a really open conversation. And I’m always really inspired by the questions that get asked immediately lead to more questions. You know, we all turn into a three year old. Right? Why Why, why, why, why. And I think that we get a really rich conversation, you naturally start to get this gravitational pull towards what seems most compelling in that story, what things need a lot more investigation to understand how to explain it to somebody else, right, because the product team very naturally lives in, in their product world, right in their product language. Our job is to translate that into consumer language. That same group creative director that I mentioned, uses the phrase a lot of ultimately, our job as marketers is to help consumers choose and use our products. Right? What information are we giving them to help them choose? And then once they have, what information, are we giving them to use that product successfully? To continue to delight them? And so long answer to a short question, which is, I think it’s a lot through dialogue, I think is wrestling endlessly with Are we all agreeing on the problem that we’re trying to solve? And before we take any step forward, and the work to solve it?

April Martini 17:57
Yeah, I mean, I, well, I, of course, as the agency person in the conversation, totally appreciate that.

Anne Candido 18:03
You did, April. You did a lot of times for two that are the – but we are not

April Martini 18:11
going through this part. And

Kyle Schlegel 18:14
we try not to do that anymore. I just remember how incredibly awkward that was. And we’ll be back shortly. And then I’m sure April on your side of the phone, you were like, it’s like a jury coming back. They’re still muted. Does that mean they really like it, and they’re just trying to come up with all the words as to why they’ve been on there a long time, they must not have liked it. But I can’t even imagine the discomfort that existed on the agency side of that conversation. And so we try not to do that anymore.

April Martini 18:41
Well, and as a former creative, I can say that, you know, our egos can sometimes be fragile. And so yes, there was a lot of what I think is unneeded anxiety on that side of things. But where I was gonna go with my question is I like what you said, because I feel like you’re meeting the agency in the middle, right? So I love that like, not briefing separately or before to anyone. So there’s no like upper hand in the situation. I like that every it sounds like a level playing field where everyone can ask questions. So my question for the agency people listening is how do you find in that relationship, that the agency understands the business because I’m hearing you say a lot of like identifying the problem we’re solving and all of that. And I think when I sat in successful agencies, we were able to really understand your businesses and really know what those challenges are versus sometimes. And you know, our friend, John Gleason, who was on here talks about the decoration station and I have several terms for that as well. But that was the last thing that I ever wanted to see. Because then I felt like it meant we didn’t meet any of our objectives. So I would love just perspective on that and how do you make sure the agency we hold them accountable to that I guess?

Kyle Schlegel 19:57
I’m really good question. I think My term for what you just described as the pretty picture department, I never want the team or the creative team or specifically to be referred to as the pretty picture, pretty picture department. I think one of the things that we try to keep in mind is the creative is never to solve a creative problem, the creative is to solve a business problem, right? And so how do we talk through what that business problem is? And so I’m not arrogant enough to think that I alone can look at a piece of data and identify what the business problem is, very often what we’re doing is we’re presenting what we’re seeing in the business to the agency, actually, right, have a brand health trend is this, we’ve spent this, you know, we’re seeing Home Depot succeed really well with this, but another retailer, maybe isn’t, this is what we’re seeing competition do. And this is how we answered it. And this is what happened. We’re having those conversations. And we’re presenting our point of view, we’re certainly not dumping that on the agency and saying, Hey, we don’t know, can you figure it out? We’re coming up with a hypothesis as to, why are we getting the business outcome we want? And we’re trying to amplify or accelerate that, why are we not getting the business outcome that we want? Maybe we’re altogether new to a category or a new problem. And here’s the business situation, as we understand it, and having an open dialogue and asking them for their thoughts. Right? Okay. So if we’ve exposed this to you, this is what we think is happening. This is what we’re seeing. This is the correlation we’re making between what we’ve done and the outcome that happened in the business. What do you see? Right? And so we’d like having that conversation. The other thing that we do is, we try to do a good job of onboarding, the agency from the very beginning on the origin story of our brand. The why does this brand even exist, not from an equity pyramid standpoint, but from literally the origin story of why did somebody bang metal and turned into a kettle from the very beginning, because very often, so many of our solutions in the modern day come back to that, that inaugural moment of our brand or our product, we talk a lot about what the products we make and why we make them. Without divulging too much we talk about the business dynamics related to a given category, right, we’re getting into this category, because it’s a high margin category. And we need to, you know, achieve X or Y here because we do a really great job there. and a high margin category allows us to get into this other category, where margins are leaner, but it’s really important to expand our brand beer. And so we’re pretty open about not just our marketing strategy, but our but our business strategy or company strategy. Because really, that’s that’s the role that any great partner is going to play whether it’s a creative partner, immediate partner, supply chain partner, it doesn’t matter really what what vertical, specifically, they fall in. Ultimately, they’re here to help us realize our business strategy or company strategy. And so we really start with all of that and work our way to the moment in time that we’re at in that moment. And the the data that we have, or the insight that we have, that led us to what we believe the problem is that we need to solve and then seek to understand, do they see the same problem in the same way that needs to be solved?

Anne Candido 23:16
Yeah, I think that’s a really great assessment of how everybody needs to like really come together into be very focused. And I think in that dialogue, there’s a element of evolution that has come to with regards to what are expectations of our agencies, right? Because before there was an element of it, if it was creative, it was okay. And sometimes if it grew the business great. If not, it was just something that could have served a purpose in that moment in time. And now we have so many different marketing channels, so many different things that were operating to the point you were making before by how it used to be like one TV stream and a couple of PR wire press releases. But now it’s like so much. And so we have short term goals. And we have short term expectations. We have long term goals, we have long term expectations, the ability to be able to do full on boards anymore may or may not be feasible. I mean, I remember onboarding agencies and it would take days and it would take at least a month for them to kind of get up to speed on your brand and your business. We don’t necessarily have timing like that anymore. So I guess my question for you is how have expectations changed? Definitely been an evolution back from our p&g days now, but how was expectations like what your your expectations are of your agency? Now with all of this do environment and this evolving environment? How’s that changed versus how it used to be?

Kyle Schlegel 24:49
Oh, that’s a really another really good question. I if I go back to those early days, I feel like the request of the agency was to create a baby A great piece of copy to great a great print ad, it wasn’t necessarily to solve a business problem. And so I think the expectations have changed for what we have our agencies because the expectations we have changed for ourselves. You know, if I think about p&g, marketing, it was brand management. So we were kind of many general managers or you one of these, you know, we wanted to grow up to be one one day. But I don’t know that we we knew enough at that time, or I didn’t know enough at that time of the role marketing was was playing in the the ability to measure exactly how that was performing against the business. On the creative side. Specifically, we had market mix models that told us, if we spend this, we get that, but it stopped a step short of being able to understand the role of creative in that equation. And so I think we’re getting closer and closer to that we’re actually going through a journey right now with our our lead agency, we’ve invested a lot in New martec at Weber over the last year, which is allowing us to get closer go from vanity metrics to like true metrics, right? Is it is impressions actually the right goal? Or is it something else for this channel? Is engagement the right goal? Or is it something else? Can we tie behavior on one channel to a behavior on another, and the combination of those things that actually drive a business outcome? And so I think that’s just going to make us smarter and smarter and smarter in what the problem is that we’re trying to solve? And then therefore, answer your question what the expectation is of our partner and solving that I think we’ve evolved quite a lot from, can you give us a great piece of creative that will cause a consumer to stop and want to engage and listen to you? I think we we moved as we moved into digital, many years ago, we understood that we were trying to get that consumer to take an action of some kind versus passively consuming that that media, okay, now we know where we want them to take an action, what is that action? How do we measure that action? And now I think we’re getting closer and closer to being able to truly understand a consumer journey from beginning to end. And the role that we play in every single step along that way. We thought we knew it, I thought I knew it. But you know, we didn’t, you know, because it’s just way more complicated than what we realized. You know, going back a few years, when I was at Wilson, I got a question. From the on the marketing budget, one year of lies the marketing budget twice what it was 10 years ago, we used to enter? Well, when you meet resistance teach, right. So when you know, when when you got to create a piece of you know, you launched two products a year and, and the marketing mix for that product, whereas these five things, but now we’re launching 10 products a year and the marketing mix are these 25 things. You know, it’s just a very different role that we play today. But actually, then tying it back to one of your earliest questions of how do you think about the hybrid model and what the agency does versus what the the in house team might do? Part of that I keep coming back to what’s the unifying idea, I think about, maybe what that lead agency do is doing is creating the glue, creating the foundation upon which all of these other things happen. And so that the expectation is almost less about the execution for the agency. And it’s more about the starting point that everybody else can do their work from, because the person managing organic social doesn’t necessarily need the agency to create something for them a physical asset that they’re going to put or digital assets that are going to put out into the world. But they need a unifying idea on which to brief that to their content creator to their influencer to their social agency. Yeah, so

April Martini 28:38
you, you went down the path of digital or you started to and this is another lens of the conversation. So we we had someone on who runs a digital shop, and I asked him a similar question, which is, how do you even begin to keep up? And I know you said at the beginning, like, what what we don’t but but outside of that, appreciating that the agency is doing the big idea piece, but then we do have all these channels in the mix. And how do you build the right teams or bring in the right partners, or however you do it to make sure that you as the leader feel comfortable, that there’s enough knowledge to then press go and make decisions and also do it at the pace that we’ve been talking about throughout this episode, where it’s like, we’re not doing one $500,000 TV spot anymore. We’re doing all these things all the time. So I love your perspective on that.

Kyle Schlegel 29:28
We’re going through that as we speak right now the agency that we’re working with right now uses the term digital fitness, which I love, right? How digitally fit is your team, your company your brand? You know, we’re we’re not ready to enter any fitness competitions yet. I got some work to do. But I what I love about that term is it leaves room to grow. Right and we’re having real time conversations as we invest in these new tools. We just invested in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we just invested in a consumer data plan. epharmacy BP for the first time in the company’s history, to connect all of these things that we’re doing. And the way I framed it to our leadership and our board is, we have the right people on the team to know that we need those things. We have the right team on board to implement it and turn the switch on, we don’t have the right team on board to maximize the impact or potential of those tools, right. And so we’re having real time conversations with third parties, including our agency on helped me understand what a fully digitally fit company structure looks like, how do they work? What roles do we have? What’s the hierarchy? Who works with whom? And so a lot of that comes from digital first brands, right? What can we learn from brands that were born in that way? How did they work together? Because we’re a very traditional company trying to become a digitally fit company. And we’ve not only talked about okay, that’s the end state, right? That’s this huge organization with all these new roles that we have to convince somebody at Weber to invest in? Also, what’s the, what’s the roadmap to get there? When do you need to add somebody like a complete change agent that comes in with, like, these crazy ideas on what to do, versus the one that comes in and just knows how to use the tool, and can just just crank away today on that tool and figure out how to get the best out of your CRM tool. Right. And so that’s been really exciting for me, because I’ve, I’ve had the the opportunity to build organizations at each place I’ve been, and built out the team for the context that that team existed in or the context of that brand existed in and I did not grow up a digital native from a marketing standpoint, I’m I grew up a generalist, you know, the, the brand manager path at p&g, and I pride myself on that, like, well, you talked about an inch deep earlier, right? I I can do the inch deep and I can work across the team. And I I want to be I know, in many of these cases, I’m not going to be the the foremost expert. But can I understand it enough to have a point of view to have an informed point of view. But really, it comes back to leaning on those that know, and being humble enough to ask the question of what should this org evolve into in order to be as effective and fit as we need to be? And then building back to where we are today? And how do you get there over time. So I literally sent to my boss over a week ago, coming out of those conversations, here’s what the world looks like today. Here’s what it needs to look like a year from now. And here’s what it used to look like three years from now in order for us to truly derive all of the benefit and the impact from a digital ecosystem that wouldn’t be to build. I

Anne Candido 32:42
wanted to use it a couple of things and maybe pick up some questions, but it’s a little bit of a shift. And if you don’t want to go here and just

April Martini 32:51
need an email.

Anne Candido 32:54
Well, I can Yeah, we have similar history. So I could appreciate but I’m sorry, digging just a tad bit. But I think what I’ve loved to understand, because I obviously I know what it was like six years ago, I left P&G About six years ago. But what I what we hear from a lot of our coaching clients who are especially in the agency world, is that they want to go client side, right? They think client side is some kind of some sanctuary, it seems like for being able to control the work and being able to, you know, be the one to get to say yes and no, and all those sorts of things. And obviously, there’s stability and growth and stuff like that. But I’m wondering if you can kind of give just a little bit of a picture of what the client side looks like, like, what do you guys go through when you are and you kind of you sprinkled it through all the way, which I think is phenomenal. But if you could kind of like put it like a bow around it and just kind of give like a little picture of like, how do you process through these things? How do you like what’s the lens, the perspective and I know we’ve talked like about the business and all those sorts of things. But if you can kind of give like what a day in the life looks like for you, I think that might help people kind of one, we’re gonna teach a little bit, but to give them a little bit of an additional perspective of what it’s like to be you in that position.

Kyle Schlegel 34:07
I can show you my calendar. And I dare you to tell anyone that I’m the master of my, my world and I get to decide everything because the calendar would certainly say otherwise. I think in the way that agencies work, maybe across disciplines across clients, right i i have a whole bunch of clients in house as well. Right. So I have a I have a board of directors, I have an executive leadership team, I have peers, I have the product organization, I have a supply chain organization, I have a sales team. Marketing is a service organization, right? We we are there to make those groups successful. And so a lot of the time that I spent at work is understanding what those folks are doing, what they’re trying to achieve and what our role is as a marketing organization and helping them to achieve that and it’s it says this Britt as a supply chain as a as a has an expectation to save cost on packaging, right? They need to drive out cost in the supply chain in some way they’ve identified packaging as an opportunity to do that. How can we partner with them in realizing that expectation or that, that goal for them? Right? That’s not something that comes up on the marketing resume very much or the the job description, right? You know, product is working on a new idea or chartering a new project. In a lot of companies, the first time the marketing organization is involved is that product is done. And there’s a baton handoff of Okay, now to tell a great story about this product. That’s a perfect recipe to not succeed with a product launch. And so I’m in conversations at least once a week on charter level discussions of we believe there’s an opportunity in the marketplace for this, we believe this is how we’re going to solve it. This is what it might look like an industrial design rendering. What are your thoughts? How can you help us organize this this story in a way that is palatable inside first because as to be sold inside first? And then continue to build that momentum, you know, throughout the day or throughout the life of that project? And so, you know, the sales team, what are what are they struggling with, we had one over the last couple of weeks where our executives that our retailers didn’t feel that we were marketing as strongly behind some of the products as as what they might have expected. And what that led to was a conversation on. Okay, here’s an opportunity to teach. And in a couple of days, we built a newsletter and put together a story of what we’re doing to support these new products. It’s blowing them away as to what we’re doing. But because they weren’t the target consumer, they weren’t seeing it, right. That’s another major change in this digital landscape. You know, before if you put, you know, millions of dollars behind a TV ad, the the executive that the retailer was going to see this, right, and they had a sense of what you were doing. But if we’re targeting 30, something moms that grill young, on occasion, and follow influencers that write cookbooks, you know, the 55-year-old man that lives in the suburbs isn’t seeing that and might might have this perception that the company is not doing enough, I think a lot of my day is spent really trying to understand and digest what other people are trying to achieve in the company and what my role and what our team’s role is and helping them to do that. I had a general manager at P&G, who hosted a lunch and learn and the title of the Lunch and Learn was an immediate, like, grab your attention, which was, Why does my GM make dumb decisions? Like who’s not signing up to go to go to that lunch and learn? And what it was really all about? Was him sharing the general manager scorecard at Procter and Gamble. So his organization or whoever came to that Lunch and Learn understood what was driving his decision making, right? And then how we plugged into that as individuals, and so are in as as functions. And so answer your question, a lot of that that job is, is this chameleon role of going and being a product person for a few moments in a supply chain person on a finance person and a salesperson, and trying to walk in their shoes a little bit and understand what they’re doing? And what they’re measured on? And what they’re trying to succeed against? And what’s our role and helping them to do that?

April Martini 38:25
Yeah, I mean, I appreciate the peek behind the curtain, because I think some of the things you highlighted aren’t naturally what those of us on the agency side perceive to be the case, right. And so I remember trying to teach, right, some of the younger folks coming up, we would always say that as the agency, we wanted to be the bright spot in the client’s day. And we wanted to give them some breathing space and something creative, to react to, and all of that. But on the heels of that we would have to have the conversation about everything isn’t directly related to what we’re presenting or who we are as the people in the room because that client is coming from all of the situations you’ve just talked about, right? So with the way they’re coming in, we have to take some time to assess and make sure we’re having the conversation in the right way to be heard and all of those things, but I do think and to your point there is that perception of like, oh, well, they can come in and tell us No. And then you know, what are we supposed to do? Or what I just heard you say is I’m problem solving all day long. I’m changing apps all day long. And I’m dealing with just as much stress and pressure. It’s just in a different way. And I think conversations like this are more of what we need to get to which is like I said, peek behind the curtain or just level of transparency and communication with each other so that we see each other in the roles we’re in instead of the perceptions that I think we create and the narratives we talk about within our heads.

Kyle Schlegel 39:48
Exactly. I I may be as an agency, April, I may be your client, but I’ve got 15 or 20 clients inside the building on my own to and that I’m serving as well and So a lot of times, you know, I’m I may be coming to an agency to help me as a client serve another client. Right? Right, can we collectively solve someone else? How can we collectively call solve someone else’s problem, essentially?

Anne Candido 40:13
Yeah. And I think that still rings true for me as well, because well, I think the one big thing that has transitioned, at least in your world that I really, really appreciate is the transparency, as you mentioned, and the ability to bring everybody to the table at once. So everybody is hearing the same thing. Because I think what I feel needs to evolve, and it seems like you guys are really the model for how this is all evolving, is you have to trust the roles that people are playing. Yeah. Right. Because everybody has a role to play, that doesn’t mean that we have to swim in our lane. And we’re not allowed to, like think beyond that. But I think the one of the biggest issues that I always had was that I would try to manage all of those internal stakeholders, and align those internal stakeholders. So my agency had an easier job to kind of come in and be able to share work and be able to look good, and then if, but when they felt like it wasn’t kind of going their way, they would want to go talk directly to so and so. Right. And so then that became a problem for them. Because then so um, so I was like, Well, I don’t understand what this is coming through, you know why this is coming to the right channels, and then they would hear the direct feedback. I’m like, Hey, this is what I was like, trying to get almost don’t try to shield you from. And so it became kind of like a, he said, she said all the way kind of around. And so a lot of the trust was broken until a lot of the dynamics start to become strained, a little bit intense. So I think and this is a little me like standing in my tight box a little bit. And not sure I have a question after this. But I think just to say, like, I really, really appreciate the approach that you’re taking, because I feel like that would solve would have solved a lot, a lot of the conflict that we had, and being able to get to the really good work and being able to have these like really integrated, highly high performing very powerful team. So yeah, I don’t think I have a question. But I think that was I just wanted to commend what you’re saying, and kind of highlight a little bit of my experience and why what you’re doing is so different, and why I hope agencies are really, really hearing this, no matter if you’re talking to like a big client, a little client, like your small business man, like it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same mentality of understanding this dynamic and how the operations work so that you can plug yourself in in the right way.

Kyle Schlegel 42:30
I would say this is even maybe more challenging, sometimes internally where I try to say this the right way, but everybody thinks they’re a marketer. Right? So I say this, to everybody has an opinion on marketing, because everybody’s a consumer, right? It’s very difficult for me to have an informed point of view on supply chain, right? Like, why couldn’t you get this product from China to the US any faster? Like, I don’t know how that happens, right? I, I would out myself in a moment, trying to have a point of view on why supply chain could do something better or different than what they’re doing today. But it’s very difficult to navigate points of view about marketing from non marketers, right. And so what we try to do is, again, educate but one of the things that we try to do is, start any of those conversations where work is going to be presented to them with a reminder of what the what the problem statement was. And the way that we’re judging whether this is achieving its objective or not, right? Before we ever show a picture, before we ever show a video before we ever show up like it’s design. We’re very careful about that. Because we’ve had situations even recently, where it would be very easy to send the PowerPoint deck in lieu of a meeting and say, You, we have a new package designed to show you we’re going to send it an email, please let us know your thoughts. We know what that person’s going to do that receives that they’re going to skip right to slide six with the design picture on it, and blow right past what the problem was, and all that kind of stuff. And you’re gonna get subjectivity in that response. And so what we try to do is be very thoughtful about when is the discussion not just warranted, but necessary. Let us walk Hey, I know we’ve already done this. I know this is round three of whatever this is. Let’s walk back to the beginning of the process. This is what we You said we also be we’re trying to achieve. Has that changed? Right? Oh, it didn’t turn around to a design. We actually agreed we were going to tweak the problem a little bit. Here’s, here’s what the new problem statement is. Here’s the way here’s the criteria by which we were judging it. Now, let me show you the work and how can we get to does it meet the problem? Does it answer the problem or not versus Dubai like it? It’s a really, really hard thing to get an organization to that point. And it comes from a lot of effort around credibility of the of the marketing team or the creative team. We’ve spent a ton of time trying to educate and successfully our our leadership team, our board of directors, here’s how we’re transforming what we’re doing marketing. Here’s what we’re trying to do. For the business, here’s how we’re doing it to get more and more that credibility that leads to investment that leads to a lot of other great things. But most of all, it leads to trust. And it leads to, okay, if we can agree on the problem, I trust you to solve it, versus I need to solve it. I know, I need to have a point of view on whether it’s this color or that color or the logos here, they’re like, trust us, we know how to do that. Let’s first just align on what the problem is. I

Anne Candido 45:27
talked about the rocket ship chi. Yes, that’s my analogy. It’s like, if you see a rocket ship going up, you know, just because you saw it go up doesn’t mean you, you can actually build a rocket yourself, right. But everybody believes because they saw a TV ad, or they saw a social ad that they know how to do TV ads and socialize, they know how to do marketing. So I had the same thing. And I’m an engineer by background. So I can even say, like the transition of being having to switch from a right brain to a left brain, or vice versa, whichever way it goes, is a training process. I mean, I spent 20 years at P&G, my first 10 in R&D and product development. It even seeing branding and marketing from that side, I didn’t even have an appreciation for it until I actually got into branding and marketing and seeing how the machine works, you know, and really understanding everything that goes into it. So I hope people understand that this is a practice, it’s a science as much as it is like being able to see and feel the if you’re familiar with it, so therefore, I can do it. Right. Yeah, yeah,

Kyle Schlegel 46:26
I think there’s a way to engage with creatives as well, this, this takes a I think a lot of time to learn it as well. I mean, some people maybe just get it. But a creative person, particularly as we talked about it kind of as creative in like an organization sense or an agency sense. It’s not a black and white endeavor for them. Right? It is it is an artist right there. But they’re putting a little bit of themselves into that. And it always drives me nuts when I see a leader reacts to creative work as if it’s a black and white thing, right? And yes, it takes a little bit more time. And yes, it takes more tact. And yes, it takes more words, it may takes a different approach. But the way you provide feedback to someone who’s built a spreadsheet is very different than the way you provide feedback to someone who has created a piece of art to solve a business problem or a consumer problem. And so, you know, answer to your point, I think the empathy is very important in the way that we communicate that and provide context. And and not just yes, no, like, don’t like, it goes back to your very early in our kind of in this conversation where you were saying, you put mute and come back and say you just don’t like anything? Well, what do I do with that now? Right? And, and so I think just having that that empathetic view of what did this person put into this? And how do I communicate back to them and with respect to that, but you can’t sugarcoat what needs to be done next. Right, and really clarify what the expectations are. But do it in a way that respects the art. Yeah,

April Martini 48:00
I mean, and I think even, you know, on the agency side, I will say to like, the good ones manage the expectations of the creatives, too, right? So I think this is all that we’ve been talking about is seeing each other as people the empathy, the respect, it’s like, you know, I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had over the years, where I’ve had to had to say, if you want to do fine art, that’s fine. You can go do that. But you’re in a commercial business. So what we’re putting together has to be grounded in strategy and insights and business objectives and all of those things. And I think there is the balance of again, the creative bringing to the table, the respect for what they’re actually what they are practitioner of. Net, with the client saying things in a way that’s not only respectful, but where they’ll actually hear it. And I think that that is where those true relationships and the projects on steroids and the big successes happen, because we are taking just that little bit extra time, like you said, Kyle to think I communicate like this, but they don’t communicate that way. So how do I help them hear what I’m saying and not have them shut down, but want to go and be invigorated to do something better? Yeah.

Kyle Schlegel 49:17
I had a manager at one point in my career that we just kind of viewed the world a little bit differently. His you know, they talk about the feedback sandwich of compliment, criticize, compliment, that’s the way I was raised. It was literally the exact opposite. It was criticize, compliment, criticize. So from like, day one I struggled.

April Martini 49:40
Alright, one final question. And then we do a few quick fires that you don’t you didn’t know beforehand, but just to try to get to know you a little bit better. But to round out all of this because I think one we’ve gotten a great lens from the client perspective. So we appreciate that. And we’ve covered lots of angles of this, but to put a bow on it, what advice would you give in general to a young professional entering the marketing or creative field,

Kyle Schlegel 50:02
the number one word that comes to mind for me is curiosity. I think p&g was wonderful in a million different ways, a place that I learned a ton. What I didn’t realize is a part of my curiosity had atrophied while I was there, because there was so much training, that you almost had a playbook for everything. Right? Okay, this is a new marketing touchpoint. Here’s how we do it. This is a new marketing technology, here’s how we do it. For launching products, here’s the new process to follow. And all that infrastructure was awesome. But I when I first moved to my first job outside of PNG, I realized in about six or eight weeks, I was like, oh, all of the safety nets, all of that stuff went away. And I’m leading marketing for this team. Now, I’m the one that needs to provide that to everyone, right? I’m the one that has to educate. I’m the one that has to provide the tools I’m not one has to know the next tool to, you know, to go do or the next trend to follow. And so I called some mentors, and just said, what what do I do? Where do I look for this? How do I go rebuild this? And so it was an awakening for me halfway through my, my career to date of, oh, I need to get really curious again, I need to go read this and listen to this and watch this. And so I would say curiosity is the number one thing that comes to mind. Another couple of one is learn the business. We talked about that a ton, right? But how does the business make money? Why do they make the decisions that they make? What are they trying to achieve the work that the marketing and creative teams do is in service to that, and only to that, we’ve talked about empathy a little bit, anybody that knows me knows I talk a ton about having an empathetic mindset, understanding the role, understand the situation that others are in. Another friend of mine was asked question one time of What class do you wish you would take in college to be a great business person? And his answer I loved which was improv? Yeah, I never would have thought about that. And I certainly didn’t do that in college. But you have to learn how to communicate and adapt, you have to learn how to whether you’re speaking to an exec or appear somebody with a lot of expertise or not, somebody who’s new to the industry or not, somebody has internal or external, like, you have to be able to understand your audience and be able to tailor what you’re doing to that audience and be able to clearly communicate get across what you’re meaning to say, I’m really surprised still to this day, the variability and people that come across whether it’s new to the industry or new to this field, or had been in it for a long time. Some are really, really good at it. And others, I think that’s maybe the one thing that’s holding them back is their ability to clearly communicate to others know what they’re doing, why they’re doing it. And so I would say that’s a really, really important skill to have in the bag. Awesome.

April Martini 52:52
All right, with that, we’re gonna switch gears, you’re ready for a few quick fires.

Kyle Schlegel 52:55
Bring it on,

April Martini 52:56
nothing to do with this conversation. Okay. Ah, best way to unwind exercise. All right. Dad person you would most like to meet

Kyle Schlegel 53:09
my great grandfather. We went to Ellis Island recently and

April Martini 53:16
awesome. No. Great Grandfather. Yeah.

Kyle Schlegel 53:20
We saw his name written on a on a sheet at Ellis Island. So I would love to talk to him. Awesome.

April Martini 53:25
Yeah, that’s really cool. Okay, and last one, this is easy, favorite drink of choice.

Kyle Schlegel 53:35
For the audience that can’t see there’s a there’s a bar over my shoulder. I’m a Kentucky kid. I started my intro out that way. So So a nice nice bourbon, single ice cube is maybe that’s the my answer to how to unwind to I don’t know.

Anne Candido 53:50
Well, then I have a follow up question, which is what is a bourbon somebody should try that you like that they may not have heard of.

Kyle Schlegel 53:58
My favorite is called Elmer T. Lee. So it’s a Kentucky bourbon. The Elmer the guy’s name is actually Elmer middle name, T. Last name Lee. And he actually taught many of the other folks in Kentucky how to make great bourbon. So he was kind of a guy behind the whole scene. And he passed away a few years ago. And so it’s it’s hard to get your hands on these days, but it is still the best in my opinion.

Anne Candido 54:24
I haven’t heard of them. Wait. That’s a great wealth of knowledge. This

April Martini 54:27
Kyle. All right. Well, before we wrap up, Kyle, please let people know where to find you. If they want to continue the conversation. And any last final comments. We’re open to whatever you have to say.

Kyle Schlegel 54:38
Yeah, I think LinkedIn is probably the easiest and best place. Yeah, not a lot of marketing content on my Instagram feed. So if you just want to hang out or see what my what my family looks like, or where we’re traveling to Instagram is a great place. If you want me to talk about work. LinkedIn is probably the place to go. Awesome. And yeah, thank you. I I really love talking about what we do what we all do, not just what I do and it changes constantly. I love the problem solving nature of that right? If it were the same thing I get really bored if it’s just hit the nail over and over again, I love building from scratch. I love new problems to solve. And so, you know, the marketing industry or is, is filled with hosts every single day. And so constantly stimulated with that.

April Martini 55:26
Awesome, obviously check out Weber girls. Yes, exactly. Yeah,

Kyle Schlegel 55:30
please go check out Weber grills, we make some pretty good ones.

Anne Candido 55:33
So we’ve heard.

April Martini 55:37
Right. This has been an exceptionally insightful conversation. And we want to thank Kyle for being one of our experts in this Marketing Smarts: Creative Series, the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. We hope that coming out of this conversation all of you listeners take action on the insights we’ve discussed today to make your agency client partnerships stronger and more meaningful, as well as be honest with yourselves and clean up work cleanup as needed. We can all change the industry for the better this way. Be on the lookout or listen for other episodes in this series. And if you have particular thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear from you as always. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!