Since Insider Interviews is about giving you the “insider’s scoop” on media and marketing, who better to give us the scoop than the CMO of Museum of Ice Cream, Erin Levzow? In today’s world, we’re often so focused on work, responsibilities, and obligations that we forget to take time to have fun and experience joy. Levzow explains how MOIC became an in-demand destination for reconnecting with your inner child, or with your children, and eat ice cream while doing it! Learn from someone whose job it is to market fun about why joy is so important, mentally and physically. And learn how just raising your hand can spark success.
Levzow, whose years of experience marketing everything from Caesars to Del Taco have earned her scores of awards, explains how the museum, under the Figure Eight umbrella, was created by Maryellis Bunn, another inspiring woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer: If that sounds childish, well, Bunn had the last laugh, with lines around the block on any given day. Levzow was cut from similar cloth, even citing a favorite book about improv that preaches the power of saying “Yes, and.” The plucky CMO explains how she applied “yes” throughout her career, even at times when she didn’t “know.”
Levzow’s route to this C-suite, a year after winning a “40 Under 40” award, started by first saying yes to half a dozen different gigs and residing in as many states, often with toddlers in tow. She describes her leadership philosophy and how she guides teams with her brand of can-do motivation. She also mentions her love of dance and ballroom competitions.
What she doesn’t mention is the personal hurdle she survived just after landing her Museum of Ice Cream role: her husband took a near fatal fall in their home and was actually pronounced dead three times before making it out of ICU. Through it all, Levzow applied her own can-do attitude to him – and to her own spirit – always believing and encouraging he would not just walk again, but thrive. As a post-note, she recently shared a video of his first time back on the dance floor six months later, if a halting version of the Rumba. That was joy.
Here’s a topline of our conversation flow:
00:1:55 What’s an “experium”? How and why this combo museum and experience center unites and inspires throughout the entire MoIC portfolio, down to the marketing
00:03:43 On the importance of experiencing joy together.
00:05:05 How a banana forest can lead to mental and physical health. “We want people to set their phones down and look at each other and play together.”… And what dopamine means to the brand.
00:09:00 The personal side: Dancing during her downtime and working her way to the C-Suite
00:11:12 Career experience and advice based on “Figure it out, volunteer, and learn it.”
00:15:30 How a brick and mortar got built, survived and thrived: “Coming out of the pandemic people really needed connection. We welcome everyone and attract a lot of families and young adults (on a date night), as well as tourists.”
00:18:46 Using data to “target for good” not evil: “People don’t mind giving as long as they’re receiving something in return.… A company that sells ice cream, let’s say (!), can target mothers with children who may be looking for something to do during vacation time. By showing them ads for this idea, we could help them bond with their children and provide an enjoyable experience. Data-driven targeting can also be used to target tourists who may be visiting a certain area, helping them have a great experience while visiting the area.”
00:20:20 The media methodology for Museum of Ice Cream (a la podcasting?!) “We do keep an eye on what’s emerging but …we’re very particular about where we spend our time because it is about resources. You can’t be everything to everyone, even though everyone is welcome… and we are an immersive brand, so seeing pictures or video helps explain to someone who may not have any idea what the museum of ice cream is. … And we track and tag everything.”
00:23:30: Is the metaverse a “thing” for MoIC yet?
00:25:10 – Partnerships – from creating a Kendra Scott mini-museum outpost of “Bananas and Baubles” to Black History Month with Ida’s, a local Black-owned ice cream shop, the Wishingrad’s Three Wishes cereal being a “no-brainer.”
00:28:29 Brand purpose must be genuine. – “Don’t say you’re for everyone. Show you’re for everyone. We want to make sure you can see yourself in our advertising. …We often check ourselves and make sure we’re doing the things we set out to do and are true to ourselves.”
00:30:38 Employing and encouraging Radical Candor – the right way — “It is a true form of empathy: if I tell you where you’re at and let me tell you what I’m seeing and let’s talk that through…. I’m never just being direct without being behind them pushing…or catching them. People did that for me. …And I believe that radical candor also works both ways. As a leader, I want my team to be able to provide me with feedback as well.”
0033:25 – A shout how to Bobby Shaw as one mentor example
00:34:48 Advice on pushing oneself up the hill – especially for women: “Raise your hand. Learn it! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take risks. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I always said, “yes” and then figured it out. You build your career that way. Our founder said, ‘I’m going to build this…’ even when people said she couldn’t. And look at us today.”
00:36:20 The most important question: Favorite flavor!