One of the great advantages of an agile, forward-thinking environment like Rewards Network is the ability to grow and develop as an employee over time. Phillip Ashbrook can definitely attest to that.
In his year and a half at Rewards Network, he’s worked in Client Services, helping to expand that team’s responsibilities and goals, eventually moving over to the Marketing Department to help drive business lead generation. Phillip chatted with us about what it’s like to move up in the company and how the culture makes that experience positive all the way around!
What do you do at Rewards Network?
I’m the B2B Marketing Specialist, responsible for three big areas of business.
One, lead processing for all the lead generation that happens through the website and any emails. I make sure these get out into the right hands of each salesperson, so they can take it from there and convert that lead into an actual sale and account.
Two, project management for B2B (Business to Business) emails, I’m responsible for ensuring the process is smooth for all departments and is delivered to the market on time.
And three, search engine optimization, which is a big new area for me with lots of new toys to play with.
For people who don’t know, what’s lead generation?
It’s basically how a potential client makes their way to our website or reacts to our email. Any kind of request for quote or download of an eBook or eTool triggers a notice to us that includes the information they provided.
It’s like a client literally raising their hand, making it potentially easier for them to say, “Hey, I’m interested! Come check me out.” We get that to the sales representative and it hopefully makes for an easier sell. It’s not like hitting the streets or just doing cold calls. This person has already electronically said, “Hey! Come see me!”
This isn’t your first position at Rewards Network. Tell us about changing roles this year.
I started off as a Client Services Specialist in the Operations and Sales Department. It’s exciting! That’s one of my favorite things about the company — the idea that they acknowledge hard work and because of that, I got to go in the direction that I wanted.
Working in Client Services, I liked to think it was like working as an internal account manager of sorts. That position was newly created too, at a time the company was revamping what they wanted Client Services to be. It was building a team to be much more involved in the day-to-day maintenance and retention of clients. It’s fielding questions and answering phone calls, but also being heavily involved in the billing and retention process, as well as revenue management.
I started in October 2015 and it was a little over a year until I moved over. At the time, I really just dove right in. There’s a really great team atmosphere here, and Sylvia [Manager of Client Services] is a really great boss. The company is really supportive, all the way up to John Leen, our CSO. It makes wanting to assist the sales team that much better.
What in your background made you want to move into marketing?
I did go to grad school for marketing and arts management. I have an art background more or less. I was an actor for a minute, but it seemed like I had a stronger business sense. I did retail sales and then started working for non-profits in marketing.
When I decided it was time to branch out, and I got my masters degree, I landed here in the Client Services position. I knew that’s not where I would end up eventually, but I enjoyed the position so much and enjoyed the company a lot. But the B2B Marketing position was a no-brainer when it opened up. Why not go into the direction I want to do and stay with a company I really enjoy?
What’s your favorite part of working at Rewards Network?
Probably the culture and the work ethic. I feel like everyone is always really working their tail off. It’s inspiring. It makes you want to be a better worker.
I like the size of the company. It feels kind of big, but it’s not. It feels intimate, but still has a corporate feel.
And I said this before, but it’s really supportive. You get acknowledged for hard work, and I’m a prime example of being able to move forward in a good direction and get a promotion. Development is such a big thing here. Even though I’d never used half the programs in B2B before moving over, that wasn’t a huge roadblock for me to get the job and be promoted.
Is there anything specific you’ve learned that’s unique to Rewards Network?
Maybe a couple of things. I think with the size of the departments, we have a lot more autonomy and control over what we’re doing. For instance, because our team was so strong, the role of Client Services grew beyond the initial intention. It was like, “This team is so talented! They are capable of so much more!”
I feel like I’m learning so much. There’s the technical side of all the lead generation and B2B marketing tools we use. I feel like my technical skills are growing exponentially. Which is really cool.
And we’re always using data to build a business case. That’s so important.
Definitely. Always using data to support decisions is a big thing here.
Right. It’s exciting to see how it’s used for marketing. We’ve really found some cool ways to back up what we’re thinking and come up with numbers that support it. You get to see the growth. It’s not “Well, I think it’s working.” But here we measure our progress and results with data so you can see the reasons why.
Any favorite restaurants in the Chicago area?
Whenever somebody comes to town, I always take them to Athena Restaurant. And Fogo de Chao is exciting. I was there for the first time recently, and felt like I ate my body weight in meat. It’s mind-blowing.
I think what’s really great about living in Chicago is finding all these unique, not necessarily big restaurants. The local places may be small, but they always look interesting. You get in there and the food is amazing. The people in the kitchen always really know what they’re doing. And I am definitely not a picky eater.
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