Episode 57: Lindsey Wagaman and Trey Robinson
Lindsey Wagaman is a senior Marketing and Supply Chain Management double major in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. On campus, Lindsey serves as a Walton Ambassador and is a member of Leadership Walton, Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence, and the Arkansas Supply Chain Association. Lindsey has worked at Modthink Marketing as a Content Marketing Strategist since 2018.
Trey Robinson is a senior Marketing major and Business Analytics minor at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Trey is a Content Designer at Modthink Marketing. He has recently accepted a full-time offer with Modthink after graduation.
00:07 Matt Waller: Hi, I'm Matt Waller, Dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Welcome to Be Epic, the podcast where we explore excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality and what those values mean in business, education and your life today. I have with me today Lindsey Wagaman and Trey Robinson, two students from the Sam M. Walton College of Business, who are seniors. Lindsey is double majoring in marketing and supply chain management and Trey is majoring in the marketing and they have done extensive work. While they're in the school, they've done internships and they're currently doing an internship with a local marketing, digital marketing company in town called Modthink. And the other thing they have in common and that I have in common with them is that we were all born in Kansas. [chuckle] It's kind of unusual, but that happens sometimes. Thank you both for joining me today.
01:10 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, thank you.
01:11 Trey Robinson: Yeah, thanks for having us.
01:12 Matt Waller: Now, the other thing I should disclose as well is that Modthink marketing is owned by an alum of the Walton College, he got his MBA from the Walton college back in the early 2000s, Brent Robinson. No relationship to Trey, just coincidental last name. But anyway, he graduated, he started the digital marketing company eventually and the Walton College has engaged them. Trey and Lindsey are both working on our account but I wanna talk a little bit about their experience in the Walton college and some of the things they've learned through the process of working at Modthink. One of the things that they've been working on is applying agile development to marketing, usually, when you think of agile, you think of applying that to software development, but they've actually been applying it to tactics within marketing. So Lindsey, I'll start with you. Tell me a little bit about why you chose the Walton College?
02:19 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, so like you said, I'm originally from Kansas and I was born in Topeka, Kansas, and a lot of people from my hometown end up going to school. It's like, K or K-State or Washburn which is in Topeka. And I knew that I didn't really wanna do that. I had started touring schools out of state during my junior year of high school, and I'm not exactly sure how I ended up touring Arkansas, but I came during the fall whenever all the leaves were changing and I was completely sold, I really loved seeing favor on the fall and the campus just really felt like home.
02:48 Matt Waller: It is a beautiful during the fall, how about you Trey?
02:51 Trey Robinson: So, I mean, I'm also from Kansas. Columbus Kansas specifically. So it's more rural Kansas, like I live basically on the Missouri-Oklahoma border and most people from where I'm from, go to Pitt State or kinda stay at like a D2 school. I always knew I wanted to go to Walton probably since like I would say seventh or eighth grade. I wanted to come to university of Arkansas mainly because around that time, I switched from wanting go to the medical field, I job shadowed to surgeon and realizing Oh I don't think this is for me, and my family. A lot of my family members owned businesses, and I kinda wanted to go down that path, so I knew Walton was a well-ranked school and I also knew all the connections to major companies and corporations that were based out of northwest Arkansas. So that's kind of the main thing that I knew if I went there it would give me an opportunity to learn a lot. And also make good connections where I could go down that path if I chose to, I kinda switched once I got here. I don't necessarily wanna go a corporate route. I like the agency life, that's why I like working for Modthink a lot and so I've had a lot of fun with that.
03:54 Matt Waller: That's great. And of course, because your internship is with Modthink I've had the opportunity to work with both of you on a weekly basis for some time now. And so I've seen what you've been learning, I've seen your learning come alive, and I really think... I'd like to get your reaction to this but my perspective is that, if you're doing an internship working while you're in school... I do think summer internships are great, but even while you're actually going to school, I think it teaches you many things but I'd like to know why you all wanted to do it. Lindsey I'll start with you.
04:36 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, so I started working at Modthink back in July of 2018. So I've been with Modthink for a while and I've worked throughout the school year, throughout my junior and then now into senior year and I think it's been great. I had worked in high school, since I've been 16, kind of after-school jobs, but hadn't worked in college during my freshman and sophomore year, so starting at Modthink and working during my junior year of college, really was kind of a new way of figuring out time management. My teachers in high school always said the less time you have, the better you spend it. So it's definitely been a learning curve, but it's been really manageable, especially learning more about project management in my classes and just sort of how to balance things.
05:15 Matt Waller: Trey, how about you?
05:17 Trey Robinson: I guess just the way I was raised and stuff, I always worked ever since I could remembering things, so when I got to school, I didn't wanna quit working, but I didn't necessarily, I knew getting a job. Just say nothing wrong with just a job to make money, but say if I worked at fast food or something, I'm gonna learn soft skills and get things from that, but I knew if I could get lucky enough to get a good internship in an industry or a field that I wanted to pursue, I would start learning those things early on. And so the good thing with Modthink is I think the one of the biggest impacts it's had on me is it's like Modthink stands for modify your thinking, and that's what I think it's kind of done. It's allowed me to take things from the classroom and then putting them to use right away. I can later that day start using it, say with Walton on some of the projects we do and it kind of works as like a catalyst where my learning is just way faster than I would say it would be without the internship, so that's why I like it so much, and it's helped me.
06:17 Matt Waller: I think that's always true no matter where you work, you learn and sometimes it's challenging of course to balance things, but... That's the way life is the rest of the time. [chuckle] You're always challenged with balance and... But I also think, especially in business, I mean business has a lot to do with people, and business really is about people, it's about companies are about solving problems for customers, and to be able to solve problems for customers, you have to understand customers. And to understand customers you gotta have empathy and you've gotta learn to converse and ask questions and I've seen you both grow in your ability to do that with us as a client as well. And... But let's talk just a little bit about some of the things you've learned at Modthink, and we can talk about it in terms of real tactical things you learned, but also maybe some more high level kind of life type learnings as well.
07:32 Matt Waller: One thing I'd like to start with... One thing that Modthink does that I don't know of many marketing companies that do is and that is applying Agile. So, if you wouldn't mind... And Trey I will start with you, just describe Agile a little bit and then how you do it at Modthink.
07:53 Trey Robinson: So Agile is kind of like a methodology where the big focus is having really high communication and high turn-around on things without taking a dip in quality. And so one of the effective ways we use that is you set it up and have a very intense focus on one certain... I call it an effort because the terminology gets a little mixed around in Agile, because if you call this a project, they can be confused with the overall project or like one specific task, type thing, so... Say we focus on one effort, then everyone on the team meets daily in a daily scrum where I've been lucky enough to serve as scrum master for those. So that's been a huge learning curve, but I prefer the name Scrum Lord. So that's what I'm trying to get it switched to. [chuckle]
08:40 Trey Robinson: But basically, every day people meet and they explain what they did in the last 24 hours, what they're doing the next 24 hours, any road blocks they have, and that allows for the team to come together. And if someone has an issue, it can be addressed right after the scrum, and you can kinda tear down those road blocks. Everyone is highly accountable and it's very transparent. So to me, I think one of the biggest things it's done for us since adopting the methodology, is it's made it where no one wants to be the person who has to say they're doing the same things a few days in a row. So if I say, "Well I'm gonna go edit this article and I'll get it uploaded in a couple of day... Or tomorrow". Then on the next scrum, I have to say, "Well I didn't do that, now I'm doing it again". And so, no one wants to do that. So that accountability has made it where I feel like our productivity even within weeks has just skyrocketed.
09:29 Matt Waller: Lindsey, Trey has been the scrum master and now he's the scrum master Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and you're the scrum master on Tuesday, Thursday. How have you liked that?
09:39 Lindsey Wagaman: I've liked it, it is definitely different, especially since for scrum you need to keep everyone very much on task. So going over what you've done, what you're doing next, and the road blocks. And people tend to have inclinations to sort of just get off topic and kind of go into other things. I know Matt, sometimes we have to keep you on topic, and still talk about other things that are going on, but it's definitely been a lot especially talking to such high stakeholders and making sure that everyone does stay on topic and that we are being productive, and focused on the one effort that we're working on right now. So it's definitely... And like Trey said been a big learning curve, but it's been really enjoyable and I do think it has provided a lot more visibility, accountability, and productivity just in our overall company, and on these projects.
10:20 Matt Waller: Trey you mentioned by doing this internship, you've kind of decided which direction you wanna go, which I think is one of the big benefits of an internship. I know. So Trey, what made you decide you really wanted to go the agency route?
10:35 Trey Robinson: I guess one thing to note too, is I'm a transfer student, so I spent two years out of JUCO in Kansas, I played football there for a couple of years, and then I transferred to Walton. So this was the year I'd be transferring into Walton. But I also had an internship at a big corporation. And I kind of was just in... I worked in Excel sheets a lot, I had a cubicle, like that kind of set up. And I learned a lot. The people there were great, but it just... I realized it wasn't necessarily for me, specifically, and kind of my personality type. At that point, I knew the next thing I needed to get was an internship where I could work in digital marketing, I knew that for sure, I wanted to work in digital. I'd always loved content. But I actually listened to your podcast back in the day, and Brent Robinson, the owner of Modthink was on it, and I heard him talking about Modthink. So I applied to that.
11:25 Trey Robinson: The great thing about Modthink is you can kinda work into a role that you want to be in, like Brent allows the internship program to go that way. So if you like project management, you can work more on project management, if you like content, if you wanna lean in and start helping with content, you can. So I was able to do that. And that it's allowed me to bring strategy and creativity together in a way that just fits my personality very well, and I kind of like that fast pace-ness of working at an agency, always having different things going on and just kind of realize like that's definitely the path I wanna go down.
11:56 Matt Waller: Yeah.
11:56 Trey Robinson: I wouldn't know that if I hadn't have had the internship.
11:58 Matt Waller: Yeah, there's no question. What made you decide to listen to the podcast?
12:03 Trey Robinson: Me, in my eyes, I was like I know people are going to classes, they're studying, they're doing well, they're doing what they can to give themself a competitive advantage. And so in my eyes, I was like, well, I don't know if everyone's listening to the podcast or not, but if I am, that's something at least, now I can say I'm doing and maybe I'll get information from that that'll help me have a competitive advantage, which I would say it did, because it landed me a role at Modthink just 'cause I listened to that.
12:26 Matt Waller: That's great. Lindsey, you've been working with me a lot.
12:31 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah.
12:33 Matt Waller: I'm kind of your project a little bit. And each week you send me an update on what you've done and what we've been doing with the effort. Tell me a little bit about your role, what you do.
12:46 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, while my title is Content Marketing Strategist I've really taken on a project manager role recently, so it's been really interesting seeing the differences and learning, especially taking on an account like yours and helping with the various things I do for you. The weekly updates have been a great way to build out my own soft skills and communication practices. It's been really beneficial, especially to get everything in one place and to make sure that everything is communicated effectively, and that everything is really on-topic in making sure that we're focusing on the big efforts that are at hand. So I think it's been really beneficial especially learning these skills now while I'm still a student in college that I'll be able to take with me into my career after graduation.
13:26 Matt Waller: I read somewhere that if you look at spending on marketing... If you take spending on marketing and divide it by revenue of the firm that it's been pretty steady for decades. What's changed is the where it's going. Of course, there's a lot of marketing firms that have gone out of business and print businesses that have gone out of business. But there's more and more being spent on digital marketing, and I'd like to know where do you think are some of the biggest opportunities in digital marketing going forward?
14:01 Trey Robinson: Video right now is a huge thing. And people... Like video marketing itself is taking off, it's getting a lot of traction, particularly with those and this is something we kinda helped with is SRT files to accompany those videos. And that's like when, say we upload a video on LinkedIn, we attach an SRT file to it, which basically makes that video searchable now because it's a file that contains all the things that are said, like the transcript of that video. Which from experience we can say has been having a huge results.
14:33 Matt Waller: And you know, the other thing about that, I think you're right, it makes it more searchable. But one thing Brent mentioned to me too was that a lot of times when people are at work, they have their sound off, and so video comes up with subtitles, then they might watch a little bit of it, especially if the words catch them.
14:53 Trey Robinson: Right? You'll just keep scrolling if you can't just start reading right away. And I do that all the time myself so I believe it.
15:00 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, and I would agree with that. We can see a lot of the time where consumers are viewing our content, whether that's on a mobile device or on their desktop, and a lot of the time it is a mobile device. So if you think about maybe you're sitting in between classes or in between meetings and you're on your phone scrolling through LinkedIn, you don't want the volume playing on a video there. So especially having the SRT file with the closed captioning is really beneficial in videos, especially for social media.
15:23 Matt Waller: What are some things you all think about, maybe some real tactical things you've learned? I think, Trey, you mentioned using SRT files with videos that you upload into LinkedIn, but what are some other tactical kind of things you've learned?
15:41 Trey Robinson: I would say just right off the bat, the thing I started learning is how to set a general cadence for content. Or even say it's a social media cadence, like setting it up where you're not gonna be spamming the followers. Where you're gonna... If you're gonna see diminishing returns, kind of, setting things up where you're getting a variety of content in front of people and then also being able to make content in a way that the viewer not only wants to consume it, but they will. And if you can't get the idea across from your content into their head, then it kinda is unsuccessful. You might have got a like or two, but you didn't get what you actually wanted out of it.
16:19 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, I would say in addition to the stopping power that Trey talked about. A strategy that we've taken upon ourselves to learn more about recently is hashtag usage. So we've been doing a lot of keyword research that has to do with search engine optimization and really figuring out which tags would be beneficial to use in the posts that we're making, that will increase the visibility, because of the content that it's related to. So I think that's been something that's been really cool. And we've seen a lot of success with that, especially with trending posts on LinkedIn.
16:46 Trey Robinson: And I think another tactical thing would be, being that I like content stuff. I always know you gotta tell a story with your content. But I didn't necessarily know the actual SEO side of getting your content where now it's...
17:00 Matt Waller: SEO stands for search engine optimization.
17:03 Trey Robinson: Right. Yeah. So that would be instead of just having a big old chunk of text in say a LinkedIn article breaking it up with sub-headings, which specifically H1s and H2s, that which is heading one, heading two, that now makes it where Google can scan it and show this content would actually be beneficial for this person who's searching this particular phrase. And so, learning those tactics and everything, that's been a huge part of it and being able to, I think a really cool thing that I like doing, or a part of my job is, and this is kind of the project management or account executive side of it, is being able to explain that to clients 'cause they always kinda give an aha moment, 'cause they know that something has to be going on. And then when you get ready to explain it, it's kind of cool to see people like, "Ah, okay," and then they start playing around with their own stuff. I know you test a lot of things yourself. You're always sending us an email and say, "Hey I've been doing an experiment for a while now." That's kinda how the SRT files came about. You actually gave us a little... You led us into that a little bit and then we went down that path.
18:06 Matt Waller: Well I believe in the past... You've got planning and you have experimentation, right? A long time ago when data wasn't so high velocity and so readily available, you couldn't do experiments, very easily. So you had to do a lot more planning. I think a fundamental shift has occurred, in business towards experimentation. So I personally experiment as the leader of the Walton College, it's not always necessarily me doing the experiments but our team experiments with a lot of things and when we see things that work, we might build on those things and... But with the way things operate today you can experiment more quickly. One thing that you all have been putting a little more effort into is the graphics that's used in various things. Tell me a little bit about that.
19:03 Trey Robinson: It goes hand-in-hand with the Agile stuff 'cause it's not technically an Agile thing but it's from the same resources we started learning about Agile from and it's about 10Xing everything you do, like making everything 10 times better. And part of that is making content that fits the anatomy of 10X content, and so that means having the right sub-headings, having bulleted lists in your article or whatever it is. Having numbered lists. A bunch of different things to segment up the articles and people don't necessarily always just read things, they scan things. So we wanna play into that scanning and make things very scannable and so we've been trying to implement more bolded list, numbered list but then also, the graphics part of it has been a huge thing for us right now, and we've been trying to make standalone graphics and also in-article graphics and our designer Jack Critser, he's done a great job so I gotta give him a shout-out for that.
19:56 Matt Waller: And he's also a student in Walton College.
19:58 Trey Robinson: He's a Supply Chain major. But we've basically been making custom graphics for all the articles we've been producing throughout the sprint. And one thing that I think has been so beneficial about it is the graphics all fit the same style and the same guidelines, like from color-wise and just how they're made. So it almost brings all the pieces we're doing together. So say, we have multiple people posting articles but it all is to help the same effort if this is getting in front of different audiences, but they're seeing that different people post similar type graphics, that ties it in together and helps us whenever it's influencing them that it's almost like a subconscious thing of, "Well, these have some sort of connection almost." And then that helps us with our goals that we're trying to accomplish through these efforts and then the standalone graphics that we've published. I think one recently, had almost 40,000 views which is... That's a big number for us and for the platforms we're on.
20:54 Trey Robinson: So the graphics have been a huge part. I would say that's one of the things like video marketing. I think, graphics are also a big part of things that if you wanted to start making a big difference in your content marketing, if you start making graphics or get a good designer who can help you with custom graphics for all your articles and everything, that'll start making a huge difference 'cause I think we've seen it make a huge difference.
21:16 Lindsey Wagaman: I agree with that. I think the graphics have seen a lot of success as well, like Trey said because all of them are really cohesive and fit together very well, but also because, after we've been digging into LinkedIn algorithm a little bit more and seeing what it favors, we found that posts that have images in them get a lot more engagement. So kinda like we talked about the stopping power earlier of these posts. It's been very successful, I think, because people aren't used to seeing things like this on LinkedIn. So whether that be a map or just kind of a different standalone graphic that illustrates one of the points that we're trying to make through our SMEs profile, we're seeing a lot of success there because it's sort of unexpected and something that people don't typically see on LinkedIn every day.
21:55 Matt Waller: Well, Lindsey you're a senior, and you have posted maybe two LinkedIn articles, or three.
22:04 Lindsey Wagaman: Up to three now. [chuckle]
22:04 Matt Waller: Oh three, I mean I'd have seen one but I know you posted one on about using hashtags.
22:15 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah.
22:15 Matt Waller: I can't remember you called the title of that.
22:16 Lindsey Wagaman: This is why the best posts trend on LinkedIn and how yours can too.
22:20 Matt Waller: Yeah that's right.
22:21 Lindsey Wagaman: It was about LinkedIn Trending.
22:21 Matt Waller: It was really about the algorithm. But you wrote that based on your experience. And I again think that's a valuable thing about the internship is that you were operating for quite a while, you noticed patterns, you did your research and then you summarized it in the article. Did you enjoy that or was that a lot of work or...
22:53 Lindsey Wagaman: Trey and I are both content people is something that really sparked our interest. So that's sort of where everything started. We actually started learning more about the algorithm after one of my post trended for the first time under the hashtag internship and I had never really seen post trend before but this was over the summer after I'd posted about the internship I just wrapped up, so we were like, "Trending? What does that mean?" So we decided to look a little bit further into it and there isn't really a lot of documentation on it right now. So a lot of it was pulling from different things we found. And sort of figuring out how this process works and the timeline for that but I do think that writing about it really did wrap up the learning experience there, and something that's been really cool is that Trey and I have been able to teach other Modthinkers about it, and especially since we've been at Modthink for a while, we're kind of the senior Modthinkers now so we're able to teach that to the newer interns that we have and sort of relay that knowledge on to them so they can think about things differently, too.
23:50 Matt Waller: You two talk about A/B testing. There are very few people your age that know what A/B testing is. At least I think they don't. They might learn a little bit about it in a statistics class which you all have had to take Data Analysis. Everyone in the Walton College takes Data Analysis but so, did you know about A/B testing prior to the internship?
24:14 Trey Robinson: I think I had heard it but I knew it was a thing, but I didn't understand it on a level where I could actually speak to it or do it myself even. But one thing about being in digital marketing, and this goes to your point earlier about experimentation and stuff is and also Agile, I guess, is we're so fast-paced and things are always moving where it makes it where we're able to A/B test stuff all the time. So we can just split copy on say, we're running a search ad or something on Google, we can change the copy a little bit and immediately start testing it.
24:47 Trey Robinson: Before I started on my internship, I would have had no idea. And I think when I did start, I always heard Brent say like, "Oh well, are we A/B testing that? And I'll be like, "Maybe, I don't know." And then I would go search and figure out what A/B test meant, ask some Modthinkers who had been there a little bit longer than me and then I started understanding it. So, I think to your point about experimenting, though, that's one reason I like digital so much like digital marketing is 'cause it allows you to take something that you think is a good idea, go A/B test it, and now, you know if it's a good idea or not. If it got results or if it fell flat, you have a general idea of, "Well, we need to change something and then come back and A/B test it again." And it makes it where you're constantly improving.
25:39 Matt Waller: So, you both are seniors in the Walton College? Why don't you talk just a little about what you've enjoyed about the Walton College?
25:46 Lindsey Wagaman: I would say that one of my favorite things about being a Walton student is the project-based classes that we have, or just things that we can do in our classes in groups, especially whenever there's industry involvement in that. So one of the most beneficial classes I've taken is New Product Development and Launch, and I took that with Joel Tyler last year. And throughout that class, we worked on a project for FedEx about freight futures contracts. And to get started, none of us even knew what futures contracts were, so we sort of had to go through the research process of that, and then go into ideation and process mapping to figure out a solution for this that we ultimately presented at Demo Day to FedEx and other companies that were sponsors there. Another class that was really beneficial in terms of project management skills was Molly Rapert's Marketing Management class. Molly is an amazing teacher. And especially being in that class and working on a project for Kellogg's with Craig Geiger was a very beneficial experience. And just like in Joel's class, we were able to present our findings and recommendations to Kellogg's at the end of it, which really makes it come full circle. So, I really enjoyed that.
26:52 Trey Robinson: I would say one of the main things I like about Walton, and this is kind of like a love-hate thing I guess, because I'm not naturally a person who goes in the class and sits on the front row and participates a lot. But Walton sets things up where you do have to be very engaged in the classes and participation is a big part of it, and like Lindsey said a lot of these things are project-based. I think I'm in four classes this semester, and all four have group project. So it forces me out of my comfort zone where I have to engage, and that helps because you can't just work in a silo in business, you have to be working with all kinds of different people. And then particularly one of my favorite classes, I would say this is my outright favorite class, was Digital Marketing Applications with Chris Medenwald. Obviously, I like digital, that's the field I wanna go into. But he did a great job, he's a Communications Manager at Field Agent also. And he did a great job of explaining things in kind of the academic sense and then breaking it down into how it applies directly if you were at an agency or if you're at a company how you can start implementing it.
27:53 Trey Robinson: So that class allowed me to take things that I was learning in the classroom, and then immediately go later that day or the next day to Modthink, and implement it at work. So I've had a lot of things from classes that I've implemented into work, but it was the first time where I could go later that day and implement it, so that was awesome to be able to do that. I think Lindsey's in that class now, so hopefully she has the same type of experience.
28:14 Lindsey Wagaman: Yeah, I am actually in that class now and there are two other Modthinkers who are in the class with me, so we're really taking over Digital Marketing Applications, and Chris has noticed. I've already noticed that he really does try to bring lessons from the classroom back to industry ties and sort of relate that to his work at Field Agent, where we're using actually the Field Agent software to take attendance every day, and are using things like Trello to sort of have other project management instead of just using blackboard. So it's been good to be able to use software that people in the industry are actually using and not just school-related software.
28:47 Matt Waller: Yeah, I really think it's true that if you learn something that... This is another benefit of an internship, at any internship, you can take what you're learning and apply it. And I think it gives you a richer understanding of what you've learned. And I actually, I think, Lindsey, when you wrote that article about the LinkedIn algorithm, you were taking things you've learned in college, things you've learned in work, and then you provided this information to the world and to some degree that closes the loop if you will.
29:21 Lindsey Wagaman: Definitely.
29:22 Matt Waller: And you'll probably never forget what you wrote in that article. I find this, I like to write as you all know. It helps me learn even further because when you're forced to write something out, it forces you to look at the logic and maybe what you're missing as well.
29:44 Matt Waller: Thanks for listening to today's episode of the Be EPIC podcast from the Walton College. You can find us on Google, SoundCloud, iTunes, or look for us wherever you find your podcast, be sure to subscribe and rate us. You can find current and past episodes by searching "BeEPIC podcast", one word, that's B-E-E-P-I-C podcast. And now, be epic.