You Should Talk To

Kaylin Durham -- Chief Marketing & Digital Officer at Aaron's + BrandsMart USA

June 01, 2023 YouShouldTalkTo Season 1 Episode 29
You Should Talk To
Kaylin Durham -- Chief Marketing & Digital Officer at Aaron's + BrandsMart USA
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of YouShouldTalkTo, host Daniel Weiner sits down with Kaylin Durham, Chief Marketing & Digital Officer of Aaron's and BrandsMart USA. Kaylin shares her journey from being an "agency rat" to leading marketing for two major brands. She discusses the shift in consumer behavior over the years, emphasizing the increased expectations of shoppers for curated and personalized experiences.

Kaylin also delves into the importance of agency partnerships in marketing. She talks about the balance between relationship-building and delivering quality work. Kaylin stresses that brands must invest time in providing agencies with the context they need to excel and the importance of cutting ties early when partnerships aren't working.

Lastly, Kaylin shares a bit about her personal life, including her first job mucking stalls at a horse farm. She believes this early work experience instilled in her a strong work ethic and the understanding that no one is above a dirty job. This episode is a deep dive into the mind of a seasoned marketer, offering valuable insights for anyone in the industry.


💡 Name: Kaylin Durham Chief Marketing & Digital Officer at Aaron's and BrandsMart USA

💡Noteworthy: From working in an agency to leading marketing for two major brands, Kaylin has gained experience that helps her recognize and nurture high-quality client-agency relationships, and why these partnerships are important. 

💡 Where to find Kaylin: LinkedIn

Key Insights

The Rising Bar: Consumer Expectations in the Digital Age

Kaylin discusses the significant shift in consumer behavior over the years. She notes that shoppers' expectations have increased substantially, with consumers now expecting more curated and personalized experiences from brands. This shift is driven by the vast amount of information and content available at consumers' fingertips. As a result, brands are now held more accountable for creating personalized experiences that resonate with their customers. This insight highlights the importance of understanding and adapting to evolving consumer expectations in the digital age.

The Marketing Conundrum: Achieving More with Less

Kaylin shares one of the critical challenges keeping her up at night: doing more with less. She notes that the days of large marketing budgets are over, and marketers are now expected to be good stewards of the funds they're given. This means leveraging the talents and resources available to make the maximum impact for customers. She also emphasizes the importance of being customer-centric and making strategic decisions based on the brand's position in the marketplace.

Agency Partnerships: Balancing Relationships and Quality Work

Kaylin delves into the importance of agency partnerships in marketing. She emphasizes the need for brands to invest time in providing agencies with the context they need to excel. However, she also stresses the importance of cutting ties early when partnerships aren't working. This insight underscores the delicate balance between building relationships with agencies and ensuring they deliver quality work.

YouShouldTalkTo - Kaylin Durham

[00:00:00] Kaylin Durham: I do think there's been a bit of a shift, and I'm sure you've heard this from a lot of the marketing leaders you've talked to in that it used to be, AORs, you know, you would have one agency of record. they would be really entrenched in your business.

[00:00:13] and now there's a shift towards a more specialized agency. So I think that that really allows you to, one, be a good steward of the dollars that you're farming out for, to agencies and consultants, but also just leveraging their talents in the best way.

[00:00:26] ​

[00:01:05] Daniel Weiner: Hello and welcome to another episode of the YouShouldTalkTo Podcast. I am Daniel Weiner, your host, your sponsor, your everything. We are joined today by Kaylin Durham, who is CMO of Aaron's, as well as BrandsMart USA. YouShouldTalkTo pairs, brands and marketers for free, with vetted agencies and or freelancers because finding great agency partners is a giant pain in the ass.

[00:01:27] Kaylin, thank you so much for joining us. I know this is weeks, months, years of me begging you to come on this podcast, so thank you for finally giving it and saying yes. How are we today?

[00:01:37] Kaylin Durham: Doing good. How are you?

[00:01:39] Daniel Weiner: I'm wonderful. Let's jump right in. what is an unpopular opinion or a hot take you have in the marketing world?

[00:01:46] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I thought about this one. I don't know if it's unpopular, but I do think that, and I've talked to a lot of my peers about this recently too, marketing is a mix of obviously art and science, and it feels like we always tend to over index. That's just because we're human, in one or the other. So I actually grew up, at a pretty traditional branding agency.

[00:02:10] and the focus was much more on the art piece of it. how do we connect with consumers by tapping into their emotions? I was specifically working on a Toyota, account. so making people feel emotionally connected to a Camry. 

[00:02:25] Daniel Weiner: the Camry was the, uh, the car I learned to drive on, uh, growing up. So a special place

[00:02:30] Kaylin Durham: there you go. 

[00:02:30] Daniel Weiner: Are you responsible, are you responsible for Toyotathon?

[00:02:33] Kaylin Durham: Absolutely no. but that was a big event for us. But then, you know, as I've progressed in my career and specifically been more focused on digital, there's a lot more emphasis on the science piece of it. So how do we truly measure impact and ROI against every single ad dollar we spend?

[00:02:50] And part of that, that can be like a slippery slope, right? Because you're holding all channels equally accountable. For the same level of return. And so I think the balance, the best balance is somewhere in the middle. but I think it's just been a, a challenge for marketers, especially with so much data at our fingertips more than ever before to, to strike that right balance.

[00:03:09] Daniel Weiner: As you know, I post, relatively frequently on LinkedIn. I actually talked about it this morning. One of my former podcast guests, uh, Kyle Lacey, who's CMO at Jellyfish, talked about how marketers are like obsessed with attribution, uh, with all of the data they've gotten. And like his unpopular opinion is that everything can be measured, but everything probably doesn't need to be measured.

[00:03:29] Uh, do you kind of agree in terms of attribution?

[00:03:33] Kaylin Durham: Totally agree. I think that, it's also attribution looks very much at one specific part of the funnel, the purchase, journey. But, I think the best brands are creating conversation, uh, with customers. And then of course they have. demand generation tactics, and then demand capture tactics to, bring them through purchase.

[00:03:55] But, yeah, all channels just aren't created equally for every step, in the funnel.

[00:03:59] Daniel Weiner: Sure. You, uh, talked about it a minute ago. You started your career at agency, you've moved to Brandside and in a relatively short amount of time, roughly five years, you landed in the CMO seat. You're now over not one, but two brands. tell us a little bit about that journey and what's kind of like the biggest change you've seen or shift in consumer behavior from, you know, beginning to where you're at now.

[00:04:19] Kaylin Durham: yeah, so kind of a two-part question. I, definitely grew up. I think we fondly call it an agency rat, which I'm proud of. I started my career again at a branding agency and then moved on to more of a digitally focused agency before transitioning over. To, brand side, I think, I mean, in addition to what I was just talking about with the balance between kind of the art side of it and the science part of it and how we're always kind of calibrating to, to get that right.

[00:04:48] the expectations of shoppers are just a lot higher. I mean, think about how much more, information and content we have at our fingertips, uh, than we even did five, six years ago. and so brands are being held. More accountable to create really curated and personalized experiences for consumers. I know I had this experience.

[00:05:08] The other, I'm a huge Nordstrom fan. I think they do, marketing really, really well. and, I got an email from them the other day that I guess it was raining in Atlanta. Um,so they plugged, a, a rain code and some cute rain boots, you know, and said, Hey, I know it's raining in Atlanta, but 

[00:05:26] Let us help you brighten your day a little bit. and so that's the kind of personalization and conversation that customers or consumers are expecting now from brands. and I think that'll just continue, in the future.

[00:05:38] Jeff. 

[00:05:38] Daniel Weiner: Did you purchase the rain jacket and boots?

[00:05:40] Kaylin Durham: Absolutely.

[00:05:41] Daniel Weiner: Of course. Perfect. you attended a dinner I threw a couple weeks ago with other CMOs and heads of marketing and stuff like that. One of the common conversations I had at least was just economies and flux and, you know, Everybody's in a little bit of a state of disarray, with discretionary spending low.

[00:05:57] For folks like yourself, what's your advice to other CMOs out there about how to, you know, gain spending efficiency and optimize spend or maybe cut back, if that's your opinion? What do you think there?

[00:06:09] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I mean, oh man, we have this debate a lot. Um,I think there's two schools of thought. There's don't throw good money after bad, like if the consumers just aren't in a shopping. Mindset right now. Why are we spending incrementally so much more to chase them? and your cost per acquisition is just through the roof.

[00:06:27] so I think that that's one side of the coin. and then the other side is, Okay. Well if a lot of other retailers are pulling out from a marketing perspective, there could be a huge opportunity to win market share during a time like this. and obviously share wall is more and more important, when consumers are stretched.

[00:06:42] So, um, you mentioned earlier that, I get to work on two different businesses and so we're actually taking a different approaeach, um, just given theven the realities of the business and what we're seeing in some of the consumer trends. So, yeah, I mean, I think. Knowing where you get the most value. doubling down on the channels where you feel like you really have returned, but then also just being honest with yourself about, okay, do we save these dollars for a rainy day or do we double down now?

[00:07:07] it's just a strategic decision you have to make based on your brand and where it is in the marketplace.

[00:07:11] Daniel Weiner: How do you split your time between both brands?

[00:07:14] Kaylin Durham: a hundred and a hundred, uh, 

[00:07:16] Daniel Weiner: Good. Good answer. If any of your board or your, uh, peers are listening,

[00:07:20] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I mean, listen, I, it fluctuates depending on the time of year. BrandsMart is a traditional retailer, so obviously there are times of the year that are super, super important to us. whereas Aaron's being lease to own is more of a need based business. So, demand is, uh, relatively steady for that.

[00:07:40] so it'll just kind of depend on, where I'm needed the most at any given time.

[00:07:44] Daniel Weiner: A hundred percent of your time for both. That's totally fair and sounds perfectly healthy and normal. What's your overall opinion on agencies? You said you, you, I've never heard Agency Rat

[00:07:54] good to hear that. Uh, how do they fit into the ecosystem at Aaron's as well as brands Mart?

[00:08:00] Kaylin Durham: Yeah. I mean I, yeah, we love our agency partners. I do think there's been a bit of a shift, and I'm sure you've heard this from a lot of the marketing leaders you've talked to in that it used to be, AORs, you know, you would have one agency of record. You, you know, they would be really entrenched in your business.

[00:08:17] and now there's a shift towards a more specialized agency. So I've got an agency that's really great at digital. I've got another agency that's really good at branding. I've got a whole nother agency that focuses on multicultural marketing. So, I think that that really allows you to, one, be a good steward of the dollars that you're farming out for, to agencies and consultants, but also just leveraging their talents in the best way.

[00:08:39] but I will say the one thing I think we've missed, and I'm definitely biased towards this since I worked toward with an AOR at the beginning of my career, but, having, Agency, representation that really understands your business, especially in a more complicated business like Aaron's, and is really invested and understands what are the true measures of success?

[00:08:59] How are we really looking strategically to drive the business forward? I think sometimes you miss that when you have specialized agencies. so it's again, striking that right balance and figuring out, how to do that well.

[00:09:11] Daniel Weiner: I have seen a huge shift of folks moving from AORs to specialized agencies, usually with like a cluster of services. as I would describe, I think the AOR model is. Not dead, but dying. Do you think that bigger brands will still, remain with AOR models?

[00:09:28] Kaylin Durham: I and honestly think it's like it won't just be that brands will move away, but. I think it's gonna become incrementally harder for agencies to make money doing that, doing that service. I mean, because what happens is, I think I, I don't know if everybody would've agree me on this, but I, I think what can

[00:09:46] happen and 

[00:09:47] Daniel Weiner: hot take.

[00:09:49] Kaylin Durham: no, I don't know, but, I, I do think that, AORs can in some cases become like staff off.

[00:09:56] and so brands I know I'm always looking. at my agencies and, my line of services and I'm like, could I do this cheaper if I brought somebody in house? and so that's where agencies to keep the business go to, like a staff aug model, and then they're just farming out talent but not really making, any profit on the business.

[00:10:14] And so I think that, that, I think agencies and brands will both kind of realize that a traditional AOR model may not make as much sense.

[00:10:21] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, I think after Covid, I think just so much talent was shifted and dispersed, like all over the country and world that like, you know, I always use the website example, I'll, I'll get a lot of times where I'll talk to brands with like a quote unquote bigger name and they'll say like, oh, we talked to our aor, we talked to some big agencies, and they quoted us like, Half a million dollars for this Right. You know, and we talk to some of my agencies and like they're quoting like a hundred grand or something like that. And I think there's just so many, especially with technology even in the playing field, there's so many different ways to do the same thing and arrive at theoretically the same point that it's tough for all agencies, but I think bigger agencies, they're pool of who they can work with just based on their pricing is astronomically smaller than independent agencies.

[00:11:04] Kaylin Durham: Yep. Agree.

[00:11:06] Daniel Weiner: Good. Good. I'm so glad. Uh, most marketers I speak to with your title are getting hit up roughly every 12 seconds. You've told me some funny stories of vendors hitting you up. is that the case for you? Has it just become, uh, untenable?

[00:11:21] Kaylin Durham: yeah. You're talking about by like vendors?

[00:11:24] Daniel Weiner: I won't bring up the specific, I don't wanna throw anybody under the vendors, agencies, tech partners, everybody trying to sell to you because you have a CMO title and they can look up your budget online sometimes and just assume you have a trillion dollars suspended every, uh, second of the day.

[00:11:38] Kaylin Durham: Yeah. Yeah. I've got, a lot of, yeah, a lot of funny stories. I think we all do have a lot of war stories around that. you know, it was interesting. I, uh, my youngest brother, um, was a, I think it's called a bdr, at a tech company, a really large tech company. And it actually, It helps me be more empathetic, to, uh, the sales reps that are calling me and leaving me voicemails and texting me.

[00:12:01] they, and you know, honestly, like give a little credit for some of the creativity. I get a lot of like, baby comeback type of messages. I think probably my most creepy though is I had a, maybe not creepy, but just felt a little intrusive. I had a vendor a couple years ago mail me an iPad. And so, I open, I open the iPad and I turn it on, and all of a sudden it's his face and he's like, holding a sign that's like, Hey, Kaylin.

[00:12:26] And I was like, whoa. and you know, he is like, this message will self-destruct at the end, but you have to like basically hear my pitch, um, before it does that. Um,and so it was, was a, I mean, it was creative but a little weird, you

[00:12:38] know? And then some people me people what? 

[00:12:41] Daniel Weiner: Did 

[00:12:42] Kaylin Durham: didn't take the call.

[00:12:44] People will send me pictures of their dogs and then if I don't respond, I'll be like, it really hurt Barry's feelings that you didn't respond to 

[00:12:51] me 

[00:12:51] Daniel Weiner: I know you're a, I know you're a dog person, so I cuts, I feel like that's unfair playing to your

[00:12:56] Kaylin Durham: It's, yeah, it's emotionally manipulative. I'm like, you're, yeah. So anyway.

[00:13:02] Daniel Weiner: Is there anything that a vendor can say or do cold when you are not in buying mode to catch your attention or, you know, are you, I talk to a lot of CMOs like you who are traveling a ton and their schedules or nonstop every day, and they don't have time to take general phone calls, or. You know, pitches or anything like that, even to learn about new things and usually they task like their VPs or directors and stuff for being a gatekeeper to that.

[00:13:27] Is there anything anybody can do with you to get, uh, on your calendar for something cold?

[00:13:32] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I mean I think it's really tough when people ask for my time, cuz it's just pretty limited these days. and so I think when vendors lead with, Hey, can we have an hour long conversation? Or, Hey, can I take you to lunch? Or, Hey, can we go to dinner? It's gonna always be a no, but what or typically is gonna be a no.

[00:13:51] But what I find really helpful or, or maybe most compelling is when I can tell they've done their research. So I actually took, a call that I was pretty sure I wouldn't even want to use the software, but, a few months ago, because the sales rep had gone in, one of our stores, had identified an issue, um, and some inconsistency in our branding and then followed up with really specific examples.

[00:14:13] and to me that shows that it was interesting enough for them to make the effort. and so I was willing to take the call. We ended up working with them. So I think it's just, there's a lazy way to do it and I understand that part of it's a numbers game and again, have a lot of empathy for that. but I think when you're going after, maybe specifically in more of a leadership position, taking the initiative to show what's important to you is important to me.

[00:14:36] goes a long way.

[00:14:38] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, I have empathy. Uh, when I look back at like, some of the messages I was sending people when I was at an agency, they were fucking horrific. So I people sending stuff like that. However, I put most of the blame onto leadership cuz I think they force short term verse long term. most of the folks in your role that I know and like would consider colleagues at this point are based on like, 10 years of, stuff and relationship and stuff like that versus like trying to form a bond over email or LinkedIn or something like that in like a week timespan, which I think is impossible, but that's what their bosses are tasking them with.

[00:15:11] So I do feel for them. But, uh, yeah, the, uh, the, I would like a free iPad if anybody wants to send me that, but I can, uh, do with, I can do without the video.

[00:15:20] Kaylin Durham: I think as an outtake, you should do, you should read all of your worst emails that

[00:15:25] Daniel Weiner: That I've ever sent. It's so funny now truthfully, like there's, I'll like go to message somebody on LinkedIn that like has asked me to, or like that I've met and then I'll like see my message above from like 2015 and I'm like, shit. Like I see that again. I usually call it out. I'm like, I'm terribly sorry for the like horrific message I sent you a decade ago.

[00:15:44] So I own it. I mean, when I look at it now, truthfully, all of like the sales gurus I follow are like, Literally probably going through the Danny Weiner LinkedIn messages from a decade ago. Cuz everything, they're like, don't ever do this. I'm like, yeah, did that,

[00:15:55] Did that, did that, 

[00:15:56] Kaylin Durham: that, did that.

[00:15:58] Daniel Weiner: We landed. Okay. YouShouldTalkTo, doesn't send any shitty sales messages now as far as I know.

[00:16:02] So, what do we talk about next? Kaylin In general, when you were looking for an agency, what are you looking for? How can a vendor stand out?

[00:16:11] Kaylin Durham: I, I mean, again, I think it goes back to knowing the business. And I actually, I think for me, and I don't know if this is, I think that everybody, like most people, Would say this, I really wanna be challenged. Like I want somebody to tell me I'm 

[00:16:24] Daniel Weiner: Uh, how do I, I call, I hear that often and I take the opinion. I don't know if everybody, if I agree with that from, uh, from CMOs out there.

[00:16:33] Kaylin Durham: yeah. I like because we say that and then we're like,

[00:16:36] Daniel Weiner: Well, I feel like you wanna be challenged if you agree with the challenge, if you agree with the challenge truthfully.

[00:16:42] Kaylin Durham: Yeah. I mean, listen, I've had, one of my favorite agencies to work with. The lead strategist and I disagree a lot, on the way that we should approach things. and I think I'm right, probably like 86% of the time. 

[00:16:56] Daniel Weiner: That's good. Definitely, Definitely, not a, definitely it's not a hundred, so it's 

[00:17:00] Kaylin Durham: yeah. 

[00:17:00] Daniel Weiner: give you that one.

[00:17:01] Kaylin Durham: Yeah. No, but I mean, listen, I think he brings a lot of value because I mean, you know, it's especially.

[00:17:09] You know, internally, sometimes we can drink our own Kool-Aid, and we're just too close to it. You know what I mean? oh, that you, that didn't work. We tried it two years ago. Oh. You know, and so I think somebody to challenge you and say, well, why not? Or, you know, can we at least re-look at this? is immensely valuable.

[00:17:24] And frankly, if agencies aren't doing this, why have 'em? You know what I mean? I don't need a bunch of people to just do what I tell them to do. that's why I have, you know, so.

[00:17:34] Daniel Weiner: I take, uh, I take both sides. I agree with both sides. coming from an agency and selling slash being account person, it's a tough thing to do. Like I can think of times where I challenged and was told like, shut up Danny, we don't care about your challenge. And I can think of times where like, You know, people are paying you to execute and just do what they ask.

[00:17:52] even if we disagreed, I, I won't say who, but I can think of a very, uh, prominent brand. My creative director was like, I can't keep telling them no. Like, 

[00:18:00] and we did the work. Eventually you, you know, you can give your 2 cents, but if they keep pushing back, eventually you're gonna say no. And you need to make money as an agency, so you don't 

[00:18:08] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, that, 

[00:18:09] Daniel Weiner: well.

[00:18:09] So a slippery slope.

[00:18:10] Kaylin Durham: yeah, that's true.

[00:18:12] Daniel Weiner: Can you think of a really great agency, or actually I'll give you the, uh, the option you wanna do positive or negativity first.

[00:18:19] Kaylin Durham: Positive. 

[00:18:19] Daniel Weiner: Positive, start positive and negative. Okay. Can you think of a really positive agency experience you've had, uh, in your current role, and what has made it so great?

[00:18:28] Kaylin Durham: yes, I held a, I'm a big believer, especially post covid, where so many of us couldn't be in the same room of agency summits. and I actually don't think that it should be that the agencies come and have to do all of this work, to re-present work that they've been. doing all year. I actually think it's up to the brands and that we, the brand, owe the agency's perspective and input into our strategy.

[00:18:57] and I remember being agency side and that being one of the most frustrating things for me is like, I just didn't have any perspective. Of what the brand strategy even was. So that's when it can feel like you're just an order taker, cuz you just don't have the context you need. And so maybe a couple months ago I threw an agency summit with, a bunch of our different agencies and vendors and it was really me talking, you know, I don't like to present, but it was me talking for, you know, basically half a day about here's what we're trying to do, and we need your help to do it.

[00:19:27] and hopefully getting them excited about my vision and our team's mission and, So I, that, that was a really good input. And then the positive agency interaction out of that was one of, our multicultural agencies came back with what I thought was a really well thought out, and strategic plan for how we could launch a, Hispanic campaign in San Antonio.

[00:19:47] And had they not had, I think the broader context of what we were trying to accomplish. that may not have been possible. And so, one, I was just impressed by the initiative. but two, I just think brands need to do a better job, of setting our agencies up for success. so

[00:20:02] Daniel Weiner: You're gonna bring a tear to all the agencies, people's eyes, uh, with that line. No, 

[00:20:07] that's actually, 

[00:20:07] Kaylin Durham: at heart? Yeah.

[00:20:08] Daniel Weiner: gonna say that's actually, uh, I think the most unique answer I've gotten, which kind of disproves my entire theory of usually doing these podcasts. Well, usually the answer is never about the actual work that your episode 29, when this, uh, airs, I believe, and you kind of referenced the work, it's usually, More about your previous answer, that it's like one person, it's like one strategist, and it's like the process and they make your life easier.

[00:20:31] I very, very, very rarely hear when things are positive that it's like, like nobody references the work ever,

[00:20:37] why like, 

[00:20:38] Kaylin Durham: part that matters really. Right. 

[00:20:39] So, 

[00:20:40] Daniel Weiner: It is at the end, but like you don't get there before the other get up. That's my unpopular opinion that I say like the work doesn't matter, and of course the work matters, but like there's so much other stuff that has to happen to arrive at the good work.

[00:20:52] And I think, at least in the context of me, like so many agencies I talk to, Over-index by immediately telling me like they're great at something. And I'm like, well, everybody tells me they're great at like everything they do and they're the best. Like what else? You know, people in process, talk to me about that.

[00:21:06] I think those are the more important things that help you arrive at the work. So I don't know if that's unpopular.

[00:21:13] Kaylin Durham: Well, so I, yeah, I mean, I think I agree with you kind of, but like, I think one of the things that's also true is that, we have kind of. Again, over index are shifted toward agency partnerships, being all about the relationships and do they make me feel good and do they basically date me and take me to dinner and woo me.

[00:21:34] And, um, I think that's just human nature to want to be pursued in one over and all these things. But the reality is again, just hire people to work for you that you know are on your payroll and then have to. You know, tell you you're great. I mean, really, I, I don't need to like, love and just hang out with my agency partners all the time.

[00:21:55] I want people who I think are smarter than me. And if I ever feel like I'm the smartest person in a room, especially amongst my agency agencies, then I want new ones. So I think it's kind of the same thing, but

[00:22:07] Daniel Weiner: Interesting. I actually think we, I think we disagree on this one. I, or not necessarily disagree cuz I'm not a cmo. That's the first time, truthfully in all of these that I hear that usually it is like, not that they won't need to be told, like how smart they are and shit like that. It's more like if they don't get along, like.

[00:22:25] Philosophically, I guess like it's really hard to arrive at good work if you're not, like, I hate, I hate to use the word vibes here, but uh, I do hear that often, a lot of brands want like the vibe check before doing pitches and RFPs and stuff like that, just to like make sure they can have a conversation.

[00:22:43] Especially at the level of that I would put like a brand like Aaron's at That's very. You know, the consumer focused and facing and out there and stuff like that. And most people have heard of it that they, they find it difficult to arrive at great work if they aren't. I don't know, I guess enjoy the, enjoy speaking to them and like look forward to calls and stuff like that to like get to the good stuff.

[00:23:08] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I mean, I don't think people can be like assholes, like, you know what I mean? Like there's, there's just like the general rule of like, but I think. For me, I'd rather, uh, an agency be way less worried about winning me over and way more like obnoxiously hyper-focused on my customer. Like to the point where they're like, Hey, you're being selfish.

[00:23:26] You're just thinking about what you want and what you wanna be able to tell the C-suite and what you wanna be able to tell the board and not like you're losing side of your core customer. And like, that's what I think agency's jobs are to be like just completely obsessed with the customer and how can we reach them.

[00:23:43] And the client. It should really just be kind of a conduit to that. So anyways, I get obviously worked up about that.

[00:23:51] Daniel Weiner: We're here to get worked up on this podcast. Now, I think it's a good point. I do often talk to marketers who like, give me a ton of information and I'm like, is that what you're, is that what your, like, you're not even in your, uh, we just had a power outage 

[00:24:03] Kaylin Durham: I 

[00:24:03] Daniel Weiner: side. 

[00:24:03] Kaylin Durham: on, hold on, hold on. We can. Okay. There we go.

[00:24:06] Daniel Weiner: gee, what, what's going on over there at the Aaron's offices? You're now, you're gonna, now you're gonna, after this podcast, you're gonna be like, some power company reached 

[00:24:13] out us to sell us something. No, I think I hear that often that, marketing leaders, it's difficult to take themselves out of like what they're doing and remind themselves like, I'm not the target, I'm not the customer necessarily.

[00:24:25] So I think that's a good point. Let's get super negative and talk about a negative agency experience you've had in the past. And what made it so negative,

[00:24:33] Oh man. Um,even while you're thinking of that, I'll also say like, you've broken my heart with, the strategy. I know I'm not selling to CMOs, but like my entire strategy of my entire life is food and alcohol. Like, let me just buy you food and like have fun with

[00:24:47] Kaylin Durham: Like, 

[00:24:47] Daniel Weiner: then. 

[00:24:48] Kaylin Durham: I think it works on like nine out of 10. So 

[00:24:51] Daniel Weiner: Okay. Okay. That's my entire, I'm like, shit, I gotta come up with an entirely new business

[00:24:56] strategy if that doesn't work anymore. Thank you. Yes. I'm taking notes from this now. You're gonna get a pod. Now you're gonna get an iPad with my face on it tomorrow.

[00:25:05] Kaylin Durham: yeah. I think, okay, so here's what I think my negative, we have finite dollars, even a brand large, like Aaron's. obviously we, you know, just have the money we have and I do not. appreciate or respect when agencies kind of lose sight of that and even if it goes against the brand's best interest, are always pushing for their particular, or, uh, yeah, because to me, listen, if you can prove to me that it works, whether that's through a true ROI model or reach model or whatever, I'm gonna invest in your channel, but agencies that lose perspective of the full customer journey and what we're really trying to do, and again, just aren't customer centric and they're just thinking about, how can I get more and more of that pie?

[00:25:59] that is where I push back a lot and really challenge, um, kind of the strategy. and then if you can't meet me there with the, the strategy, then I guess kind of feel like it's a land grab. and I, I, that's hard to, I think, come back from, so I had that happen, pretty recently. Um, and it was frustrating for me because, it felt like, you know, when you're moving really fast and you've got a lot on your plate like I do right now, can be really easy to say.

[00:26:25] Glance over a recommendation or a proposal and say like, okay, that, you know, generally looks good, but then if you take the time to really read between the lines, you're like, wait, why are we doing this? Why are we doing that? And you realize that, some account rep just kind of put it all on paper with hopes of, of getting a little bit more of the budget, but it wasn't really strategically sound or there wasn't a ton of thought that went into it.

[00:26:47] So, I think that that to me is probably more of a thematic thing, but was also a more recent negative experience.

[00:26:54] Daniel Weiner: I hear that often in the context of performance marketing models that agencies are billing on. And if it's percent of spend, it's hard to trust always, because agencies will make more if they're suggesting you spend more and you have to kind of, default to the whole trust part of like, is this actually good for the brand or are you just trying to get a bigger chunk of the pie?

[00:27:15] I've actually seen a lot of agencies moving towards, Largely fee-based, first percentage of spend, which has

[00:27:20] been a differentiator for some of the agencies I work with when I'm talking to brands, cuz it's just not the norm. Brands aren't used to it and they seem to like it more. have you seen that

[00:27:30] Kaylin Durham: yeah, I mean, we, yeah, we basically work off of fee structures now versus commission percentage of spend, because then again, it's like the, the amount you're recommending is totally based on, or not totally, but can be biased by 

[00:27:42] Daniel Weiner: of interest? 

[00:27:43] Kaylin Durham: So, yeah.

[00:27:45] Daniel Weiner: How do you get the best out of your agencies in general, or what's your recommendations? Other CMOs out there if they're struggling to get, uh, the best out of their partners.

[00:27:54] Kaylin Durham: this is where I'll contradict myself a little bit. I think that one I had already mentioned that I think investing in your agencies in terms of taking the little bit of an extra time to actually to give them the context they need to do their jobs well is really, really important. And I think we can get, lazy or just honestly too busy to do that.

[00:28:13] And then you're not setting yourself up for success or the agencies. but then, you know, in terms of like the vibe check, I do think if something's not working, you cut it early. And I have stayed with agencies longer than I should have, because it's kind of a pain in the ass, to replace an agency.

[00:28:32] But I 

[00:28:32] think know, 

[00:28:33] Daniel Weiner: not need, not need more with. YouShouldTalkTo, you

[00:28:35] Kaylin Durham: know. 

[00:28:35] know. There you go. Listen, that's a plug. but you know how like, okay, you know, you go on a date, you know, in five minutes if you wanna see somebody again, I think that it's not total or an interview, you know, within 10 minutes usually. if it's a good vibe, I think it's pretty similar with agencies and we can just stick it out longer than we need to, um, because we're like, Ugh, I don't wanna have to go through all of this over again.

[00:28:55] But I think making calls early and often, Allows you to really invest where you should, and then frankly have a lot more grace and empathy on the other side because it's like, okay, maybe that wasn't our best go, but I've invested in you. I believe in you. We have a good initial chemistry and attraction.

[00:29:12] I'm gonna stick with it.

[00:29:14] Daniel Weiner: Do you think a negative agency situation can be salvaged or once, like doubt has been, uh, you know, has shown up, think it's over? You said you cut early, typically from agency partnerships at this stage of your career, I.

[00:29:27] Kaylin Durham: think it depends on what happened. I think breach of trust is really hard. I think that as marketers, we have put a tremendous amount of trust and expect our agency to be really good stewards of the dollars they're given. And so for me, that's harder for me to come back from. but like, hey, you know what, Agency brings on like a not great account rep, but I've had a long relationship with them.

[00:29:49] I'm gonna kind of give, little bit of, of room there and just say, Hey, don't think this is exactly the right fit. you know, and give them opportunity there. So I think it just depends on what it is.

[00:29:59] Daniel Weiner: What do you think is something agencies oftentimes get wrong or something that you think more agencies got?

[00:30:04] Kaylin Durham: I think that there is this balance on the agency side where you want to keep your people motivated, and you want to let them work on fun and interesting businesses, and I. Really respect and understand that having been on that side. But I do think that there's something to be said for tenure on an account, because it helps you, again, build rapport over time.

[00:30:31] And I think sometimes agencies in the name of. Keeping their people motivated will swap people in and out. and what they don't realize is the impact that has been on your marketing partners, because we're the ones training them really. Right. Um, you can kind of tell them a little bit about the, the players, but at the end of the day, it's my people who are having to say, no, we do it this way.

[00:30:52] No, this is, you know, and so, I think agencies, keeping people on accounts longer would frankly allow them to grow the businesses more, and probably be more profitable in the long run.

[00:31:03] Daniel Weiner: That is the most common positive and negative I hear about agencies for the most part, is when asking about, uh, Jamie Walker, who is the. Episode before you, she brought up, I think a PR agency who she's had like, such a positive experience with, and when I asked her why, she was like, well, now that I think about it, it's like one person 

[00:31:19] we got so well.

[00:31:20] They, you know, and if they left, like I'd probably follow them and that sort of stuff. And then on the flip side, like, yeah, the most negative I typically hear is our account person has turned over four or five times. Like it's a every single time. Like they do good work. But like, that's why like in my world, Even if the work is great, but they're making their lives not easier, it's oftentimes like, I just can't keep doing this.

[00:31:46] Like, the work is good, but we can get good work elsewhere. They're making my, you know, there's such a pain in the ass to deal with cuz we have this happen every two or three months and stuff like that.

[00:31:54] Kaylin Durham: Yeah. And I think agencies that know, I don't know, it's just balance, you agencies who know how to communicate with you. Like for example, for me, my agencies know that I'm really bad at email. I'm pretty good at text.

[00:32:08] Daniel Weiner: You bad at

[00:32:09] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, I know you've had no experience with 

[00:32:11] good. 

[00:32:12] Daniel Weiner: to hear on podcast.

[00:32:15] Kaylin Durham: I know

[00:32:16] what, 

[00:32:16] um, 

[00:32:17] Daniel Weiner: that, Kaylin?

[00:32:18] Kaylin Durham: I don't, I, but I'm really good at text, you know, and so, and even my team knows that they will text me and they'll say, subject line, you know, and whatever the, and then I'll check. but we just get inundated with a lot of emails and a lot of slack and so, I like agencies that know how to interact with me in a way that gets my attention.

[00:32:38] Oh 

[00:32:39] Daniel Weiner: crucial. At

[00:32:40] every stage of the client agency, 

[00:32:42] Kaylin Durham: huh? 

[00:32:43] Daniel Weiner: least you got a free iPad. 

[00:32:45] Kaylin Durham: It's true, 

[00:32:46] Daniel Weiner: you? Did somebody send you the Stanley Cup?

[00:32:49] Kaylin Durham: yes, actually. but I'm afraid to use the iPad cuz I'm afraid there's like, like a camera on. I'm being

[00:32:55] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. That's not a good look for that person listening. If they are listening, which they probably are at this point. Maybe we don't. Maybe just the iPad

[00:33:02] Kaylin Durham: Just 

[00:33:02] Daniel Weiner: doesn't need, doesn't need to beat the gift. 

[00:33:04] Kaylin Durham: note. 

[00:33:04] Daniel Weiner: Yeah,

[00:33:05] but eh, I don't know. You made fun of me for giving away too many paper products to people, so handwritten

[00:33:10] flyer. 

[00:33:11] Kaylin Durham: dinner.

[00:33:13] Daniel Weiner: Uh, is the coffee table book sitting somewhere,

[00:33:15] I presume 

[00:33:16] Kaylin Durham: It is. It is. I got a compliment on it the other day.

[00:33:18] Daniel Weiner: thoughtful gifts, that's Sometimes they're paper products, you know. What are you most excited in the marketing space at the moment? We've got artificial intelligence taking over the world. I think NFTs are still a thing. We've got events are back post covid.

[00:33:32] What are, what is calendar most pumped about

[00:33:35] Kaylin Durham: Oh, I mean, you just named all the ones that are

[00:33:38] gimmies. 

[00:33:38] Daniel Weiner: excited about?

[00:33:40] Kaylin Durham: No, I mean, listen, I think, I think for us, we are having to redefine the way a customer shops between walking into a store, going online, interacting with potentially a retail app, et cetera. I'm filling that in a really big way on the BrandsMart side, which has historically been a brick and mortar play, um, 

[00:34:02] and 

[00:34:03] Daniel Weiner: smart. Shout out, BrandsMart.

[00:34:05] That's where I used to get all my. I do, I love the brand. I haven't shopped at Brands Mart in ages.

[00:34:12] Kaylin Durham: In a while. Um, you should check it out. Got some new branding coming up. It's

[00:34:15] Daniel Weiner: I for like two minutes, recently actually when I stopped at the H Mart, my favorite Asian grocer, in Buford. And I walked into BransMart for like two seconds and got a little overwhelmed, and I left very 

[00:34:27] Kaylin Durham: It's a lot. 

[00:34:27] Daniel Weiner: because of the good marketing. You know,

[00:34:29] Kaylin Durham: it's a lot. It's, We call it a scavenger hunt, like when you walk into a BrandsMart where it's like 15,000 products that you, uh, but great deals. so I don't know. I mean, I know that's not a very sexy answer, but I, I think it's just true. Like, I mean, I think that 

[00:34:42] AI cool, 

[00:34:43] Daniel Weiner: wa what was the answer?

[00:34:45] Kaylin Durham: just like the optimization of shopping journeys across different channels and meeting customers where they are.

[00:34:50] I think that, I mean, know, we're using ChatGPT for stuff or, I mean, all of that is fun and interesting. But I think again, just refining some of the fundamentals, is hyper focused for us, especially for the, on the BrandsMart side, now.

[00:35:05] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, figuring out, we're all trying to figure out how to give good experiences to our people.

[00:35:09] what is something that keeps you up at night from a business or marketing standpoint?

[00:35:14] Kaylin Durham: how to do more with less. Really, you know, gone are the days of just tons of money being thrown at marketing. and there being a willingness to say like, yeah, let's sponsor a national sports team and not really care about the kind of return, right? we are being held accountable by our CFOs and our leaders, and frankly should be.

[00:35:35] for, again, I know I keep saying this, but being good stewards of the dollars were given. And not only that, but I think teams are getting leaner. and so it's how do we really leverage the talents and the resources given to us to make maximum impact for our customers? And then honestly, how do we get out of our own way?

[00:35:55] so often I just don't think we're customer centric enough and we have an idea of what we think will work. and we chase that down. Or for me, it's managing through executive leadership, right? And so we all have an opinion, on what will work, but being, a champion for our real customer and saying, okay, how, again, how do we use what we have given to us to really reach and engage them, in the most effective way possible?

[00:36:20] Daniel Weiner: I am curious cuz I of course have never been a cmo. I have the opinion that for brands like you all because of how big you are in terms of like foot traffic and web traffic and stuff like that of, or what I presume to be web traffic, only good part about that, I agree, all CMOs jobs are incredibly difficult, but you find out quick what works.

[00:36:38] Like if you think something works, your customers and community are gonna tell you really quick if it doesn't work and they don't like it. Do you find that, like, are you guys making decisions very quickly and testing a ton? Because you do get that feedback loop relatively quickly versus a small brand who their sample size isn't big enough.

[00:36:56] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, no, I mean, that's exactly right. That's one of the things I really love about working on Aaron's. We have, you know, look at you, gimme a, um, We have 1300 stores, roughly, right? So what we can do really quickly is create a test group and then test the impact or effectiveness of either a campaign or a new operational model or whatever, before we roll out, the entire chain.

[00:37:19] So, that is really fun and energizing and also just brings a lot of validity to the work that you're actually doing. So

[00:37:28] Daniel Weiner: Awesome. Should we finish with some fun questions, Kaylin?

[00:37:31] Kaylin Durham: let's do it.

[00:37:32] Daniel Weiner: What was your very first job?

[00:37:34] Kaylin Durham: I was trying to think about this. Okay. So I think I've had a lot of jobs. I was, uh, my parents were of the belief that, summers were for, for working, 

[00:37:43] I think.


[00:37:43] Daniel Weiner: you have such a strong work ethic now, you

[00:37:45] Kaylin Durham: yeah, there you go. Thank them for that. I think my very first job though, I hope this is gonna make me seem a little bit more. country than I am, but I grew up across the street from a horse farm and I was nine.

[00:37:58] And they had a job where you would lead the horses in and out of, like 

[00:38:04] Daniel Weiner: nine? 

[00:38:05] Kaylin Durham: I was nine.

[00:38:06] And there's this picture, 

[00:38:07] Daniel Weiner: have been legal. 

[00:38:08] Kaylin Durham: no, it's not, there's this picture of me. I was like, mom, what were you thinking? She's like, people have gotten so sensitive now. She's like, you are

[00:38:14] fine. 

[00:38:14] Daniel Weiner: worked illegally at a car wash when I was like 14, I think. So.

[00:38:19] Kaylin Durham: You know what, those are the kind of parents we need. We need more parents who are like, ah, you'll be all right. So, plus I was the oldest of five kids, so she was busy, but, um, I went and mucked stalls, and left horses in and out of pastures for a summer. 

[00:38:34] Daniel Weiner: Normally I ask if you think that made you a better marketer today? Uh, I don't, I don't know if there's a, uh, if we can equate anything there, but I'm curious.

[00:38:42] Kaylin Durham: Work ethic. I think it did. It taught me 

[00:38:45] you're never above a dirty 

[00:38:47] Daniel Weiner: of horseshit. That's the clever answer. 

[00:38:49] Kaylin Durham: you're never above a dirty job. 

[00:38:50] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, there you go. What would your, this is, I've been waiting all week for this answer from you.

[00:38:55] What would your final meal be?

[00:38:56] Kaylin Durham: Okay.Um, I think your last guest had something a little bit more interesting. I can't remember.

[00:39:03] Daniel Weiner: Wait a second. Did you just admit to listening to the

[00:39:05] Kaylin Durham: I did. I did, I did.

[00:39:08] Daniel Weiner: Unbelievable.

[00:39:09] Kaylin Durham: but mine would be, there's a little restaurant in Virginia Highlands called Lala, 

[00:39:16] and they have 

[00:39:17] Daniel Weiner: like lots of, is it tla? Tla,

[00:39:20] Kaylin Durham: tabla, I don't

[00:39:20] know, 

[00:39:21] Daniel Weiner: lott. I don't know. Maybe I've been saying it 

[00:39:23] Kaylin Durham: it was tabla. Somebody should, Somebody should, figure that. out for us. 

[00:39:26] Daniel Weiner: ChatGPTthat, 

[00:39:27] Kaylin Durham: Yeah, we should. but they have this mushroom ragu, that I really love and I'm not even a pasta person, but, I actually, the first time I got, I got my first promotion, I was, I went from making $30,000 a year to 33 or $34,000 a year. So I was loaded and I went and I sat at the bar by myself and I ordered the mash ragu and a Matthew Fritz Cabernet.

[00:39:52] And I thought, like, I have made it like this is it. And um, cuz remember I came from Mucking horse also. We, the trajectory's pretty steep. And um, now every time I get a promotion, I go there and I do that same thing, so

[00:40:06] Daniel Weiner: Very nostalgic of you. Uh, my 

[00:40:08] first raise, I believe was from $36,000 a year to $36,500.

[00:40:15] Like, shit, you not, and I remember my boss at the time gave it to me and I was like, kind of confused. I was like, am I reading this right? Like $500? And he was like, he literally laughed. He was like, I couldn't even keep a straight face, like giving this

[00:40:27] to 

[00:40:27] Kaylin Durham: like, don't spend it all in one place.

[00:40:29] Daniel Weiner: I was like, it was like $4 after taxes. Like, what are we doing here? no, that is great. We love, uh, we love nostalgia, uh, yeah, yeah. yeah. and my final question to you, who is somebody who inspires you either personally or professionally? Don't say me.

[00:40:43] Kaylin Durham: Oh, damn.

[00:40:44] Um, 

[00:40:44] Daniel Weiner: a better answer.

[00:40:45] Kaylin Durham: you know, I've worked for a lot of really good leaders, in my career, and I've honestly had a lot of really great people on my team. I'm at, this is a cliche, but I'm gonna say my dad. And, and the 

[00:40:55] reason I'm gonna say my dad 

[00:40:57] Daniel Weiner: I say, I would say my dad as well,

[00:40:59] Kaylin Durham: Oh, there. Okay, great.

[00:41:00] Um, 

[00:41:01] Daniel Weiner: Jeff is listening, I don't wanna give him a big

[00:41:03] Kaylin Durham: and then in this case, absolutely.

[00:41:05] Job. Um, no, he runs his own ministry. but he has taught me a lot about never taking no for an answer. and, valuing yourself. And he's a feminist and I really. love that about him. So yeah, he's just, he's inspired me and he's never made me feel like I'm not capable of doing anything. I decide I really want to do, so.

[00:41:29] Daniel Weiner: That's awesome. Shout Mr. Durham.

[00:41:33] Kaylin Durham: There you go.

[00:41:34] Daniel Weiner: Well, that's all we got for you Kaylin. For everybody listening out there, where do they go for BrandsMart or Aaron's? Are there any deals going on? We've got 

[00:41:41] Kaylin Durham: Always, always

[00:41:43] do 

[00:41:43] Daniel Weiner: Day, 4th of July, anything

[00:41:44] Kaylin Durham: ones for Memorial Day, especially around mattresses. So go get a new mattress,

[00:41:48] Daniel Weiner:

[00:41:49] Kaylin Durham:

[00:41:51] Daniel Weiner: All right, well thank you for joining us and uh, we will talk to you soon.

[00:41:54] Kaylin Durham: Thanks, bye. 

[00:41:56] ​