About Laura: Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Laura Luckman Kelber is a marketing expert, a change maker, and a team leader. Through her illustrious career, Laura has spearheaded marketing initiatives across a myriad of industries from finance, retail, healthcare to IT. Laura’s dynamic and creative approach to marketing helps businesses think outside of the box to make impactful decisions and accelerate growth. Throughout her career, Laura has built and managed marketing teams, sharing her expertise and values of curiosity and collaboration.

Currently, Laura is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Flexera, an IT optimization resource that helps executives turn IT insights into action. Here, Laura has built a world-class marketing team to develop effective branding and growth strategies. In Rudly Raphael's interview with Laura Luckman Kelber, we gained insight into her industry perspectives as well as her career as a marketing professional and executive.

How do you start your day?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I start my morning with a lot of exercise. I have a personal trainer. Every morning, I get up at 5 am, and I go to my personal trainer, Monday through Friday. Then, I meditate for 10 minutes. Since COVID, I started meditating daily. And that has been helpful. So helpful. And then my tea. I'm addicted to tea with steamed milk.

How are you adapting to COVID?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I think it doesn't bother me as much as most people. I'm an introvert, and I'm a homebody. I like to cook at home because I eat very healthy and most restaurants aren’t very healthy. So I eat more of a variety if I cook at home.

What do you miss about working in-person?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I miss being in the office. Because I miss the serendipity of the interactions you have in an office. I'm personally missing my team, [they’re] global, but I would bring them in at least twice a year to see them in person.

Do you travel a lot for work? Do you or did you like to travel?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

There have been periods of my career where I did. There were five years where I was in and out of Kansas City every week. I did some international travel when I worked at Sapient, not a ton. And I've done some [at Flexera] because I have a global team and a global company. I don't mind travel, sometimes it can get old. When I travel, I generally don't stay in a hotel, because I just got sick of hotels. I'd rather rent a house and go to a local grocery store.

Where do you like to travel to?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

Well, I love the beach, but I recently was on a safari in Tanzania, and I have fallen in love. The Tanzanian people, there’s a warmth about them. They’re down to earth. I want to go back to Tanzania when I travel again. I’m not the go back type of person. I go to new places all the time.

Why is email dying?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I think people think that email is free, but it's not free. There's an opportunity cost, thinking about it from an economics perspective. To do email well, it's a one to one communication, so you should have some personalization. I always believe from a user experience perspective, that whatever content you send to someone or engage someone with, you have a value exchange. It needs to be useful. It needs to be entertaining. I think most of that content is not, it's just bad.

What do you see replacing email?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

Things that are more like the behavior of chat. You see all the bots on corporate websites, 'hey can I help you?'. That sort of thing. Consumer behavior also impacts B2B behavior and voice. The smart speaker thing is coming to B2B, believe me.

What is your approach to branding?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

The first step is internal discovery. Find out everything you can about the institution or the person. Do a lot of internal discovery and then you do some qualitative research. You don't have to do a ton. You have to do like 20 to 30 one on one interviews with the right people. You see a pattern, you could build a brand off of that. You have to start with research and strategy, then you give that strategy to a creative powerhouse, and then they can come up with your brand elements.

Looking back on your career, what would you do differently?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I think I’d have more fun. I would choose more for my heart and less for my head. I've always chosen roles because I'm like, that's a good resume builder. I'll get a new vertical under my belt. I’ll learn a new thing. I’ll learn digital. And I have to tell you, in terms of my career, it has saved my ass because I did that intentionally. Now I like to learn new things so you could argue that that was fun. But a lot of what I did were shoulds. So I think I think that's the wisdom I would have told myself, worry less and have more fun.

What are your favorite books to read?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

Some of my favorite books are classic literature like Anna Karenina and Invisible Man, or I like poetry. One of my favorite books that I recommend to people from a business perspective is, The Six Questions of Socrates. I also like All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten By Robert Fulghum.

Do Marketers rely too heavily on tools?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I think they get lost in their spreadsheets. I think they get comfortable with the concreteness of their spreadsheets. However, the world is not concrete like that. Particularly Marketing, you’re supposed to be dealing with people. People make decisions based on emotion, and then they support the emotional decision with data. So, you really have to tap into something eternal with a lot of empathy and insight to get [your audience] to even listen to you.

Is there a benefit to automating Marketing?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

There is, but here’s the thing, I think people also get lazy with that. So, there are all sorts of marketing automation. It's all really cool. We have experimented with and now use something called PathFactory, which is awesome because it kind of scales you.

What do people in your space not do enough of?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I don't think people think enough. I don't think they question enough. I don't think they read enough. I don't think they do enough research. I don't think they're willing to change enough. I think they get stuck. I'm always hired as a change agent. I’m a fixer and a changer. You hire me to do something very different than someone who comes in and just follows the rules and the formula. I'm not that person. I would lose my shit.

Are there any misconceptions about Marketing?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I don’t think there’s a misconception. I think that like no one cares. Just a lack of understanding, it's like, I don't care to understand, just go do it.

Do you feel specific sectors define marketing differently? How do you define marketing yourself?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

People take a segment of marketing and call it marketing at the top level. They think marketing is lead generation and sales enablement. That’s not really marketing. I'm old school. I believe that marketing, fundamentally, is the four P’s: price, product, placement, and promotion. I also feel like the world, and marketers, have narrowly defined marketing to be just promotion. That's a disservice. I think increasingly because customer experience is so important.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I hate lazy language, I hate cliches, and I hate business lingo. Like one plus one equals three. All those damn cliches. Like oh, come one... it’s like you’re imprecise with your language.

Where do you get pushbacks?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I don’t get pushback on the technology. I get push backs on the price. Like, do you really need that? What’s the ROI on that? Can something else do that?

What are your thoughts on creating a company culture?

Laura Luckman Kelber:

I’m big on making you feel like you belong. My initial business education was at DDB, which is one of the brilliant creative agencies in the world. I believed in their values because I saw the type of creativity it could foster, and I rather have the freedom to fail.

That sums up our interview with Laura. Her marketing insights are a testament to the importance of trusting your instincts and staying agile. By consistently seeking out opportunities and thinking outside of the box, anyone can become a changemaker in their industry.

If you enjoyed this interview and want to know more, please share this article on social media. We love to hear from you! Come back next week for a brand new Executive Insights interview with Vivek Bhaskaran, CEO of QuestionPro.

Interviewee Fun Facts

Dogs or Cats? I have three dogs. I like cats too, but I love my dogs. I want to rescue dogs.

Prince or Michael Jackson? Prince, Prince, Prince! Prince is a genius.

Apple or Android? Oh, I’m an Android user all the way.

Before starting her illustrious career, Laura planned to go to law school. After finding a passion for marketing, Laura received an MBA from the University of Illinois, beginning her journey to becoming a thought leader of the industry. In addition to appearing in several publications for her unique and successful brand strategies, Laura has also been named one of the most notable marketing executives by Crain's Chicago Business. Her curiosity and openness to new experiences are seen through her expansive marketing career, as well as her travels. Laura recently embarked on a safari through Tanzania, where she fell in love with the people and the culture.