ELLO Media is a marketing agency that specialises in customer experience and rewards. The agency’s proprietary technology and products are powered by The Dining Club Group, and include loyalty platforms.
Michael Kalli is Managing Director and has been involved in well-known customer loyalty and engagement programmes such as Meerkat Meals, Vitality Rewards and Club Lloyds.
Here, he gives us some insight into working in the customer loyalty landscape.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Michael Kalli: ELLO Media creates bespoke, digital-first customer loyalty and engagement solutions for some of the UK’s biggest and brightest businesses. We help these brands to engage their customers more effectively by harnessing and cultivating intelligent data captured through our market-leading consumer rewards and experiences.
As Managing Director, I oversee this process, ensuring our loyalty solutions are delivering the long-term value that our clients come to us in search of, amongst other key duties such as winning new business and crafting strategy with the team.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Michael Kalli: I report to the group CEO on all top level aspects of the businesses such as where we are versus key deliverables, long term strategy, revenues and client wins.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Michael Kalli: Since the industry we operate in is so fast-paced, my role requires an open-minded approach, a willingness to embrace change and quick, yet educated, decision-making. This isn’t to say I neglect strategy; focus and clarity on the end goal is crucial, but an openness on how to get there is equally as important.
There is an element of emotional intelligence required, both internally to ensure every member of the team is working in an environment that facilitates their best work, and also externally, by understanding clients to get to the root of their varying requirements.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Michael Kalli: I start every day by checking-in with the team. I make a conscious effort to speak, or at least show my face, to everyone. I really value this time, and I’d like to think my team does too, as it ensures we’re all engaged and clear on our priorities and also sets the tone for the day ahead.
Following our launch earlier this year, a lot of my time is devoted to networking with potential new product and tech partners, continually evolving the medium to long term strategy of the business, developing pitches, and ensuring we are delivering for existing clients.
As most businesses are, we are also currently undergoing a huge amount of digital change, so any spare time I have is spent with both our CTO and Head of Architecture to ensure I’m ahead of the curve, or at least not behind it!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Michael Kalli: I’m passionate about building strong relationships, both commercial and personal, and the array of people I get the opportunity to meet and learn from in my role is amazing. I’m surrounded by an insanely talented, diverse and inspiring group of people in the office, and having the opportunity to feed off my team’s knowledge and expertise on a daily basis is something I never take for granted.
I also love how the loyalty and engagement space is constantly evolving in line with increasingly complex consumer demands, which gives us heaps of creative freedom and encourages us to be bold and innovative in our decision making. It’s such a relentless business that’s always hungry for more insight to propel our offering forward, which means I’m always learning and developing my skillset.
I guess you could also say that this sucks, as working in such a fast-paced environment means you’re never truly satisfied and always looking ahead to the next big idea!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Michael Kalli: Despite being one of the newer experience and rewards agencies on the scene, we are already gathering speed with some big client wins and a number of exciting and cutting-edge new products and scalable solutions in the pipeline. We now want to build on this and become recognised throughout the industry as the go-to loyalty and customer experience agency that delivers unparalleled long-term value for its clients.
In terms of measuring success, this comes down to happy clients that want to continue working with us, and would recommend us to others, because we have helped them drive incremental revenue from the loyalty programmes and customer experiences that we have delivered. We devise KPIs predominantly around added value and referrals we have driven for clients, which can vary significantly from brand to brand, but ultimately comes back to if we are improving both acquisition and retention to maximise the lifetime value of their customers.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Michael Kalli: There will only ever be one answer to this question, and it’s people.
Good business is built on great people and great relationships, and I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by a circle of incredible people, in both my professional and personal life, with whom I wouldn’t be able to perform in my role without.
From each individual that helps make up my team, to the clients we work with, to my (brutally honest) wife who listens to me rehearse pitches or plan new ideas, people are unquestionably the best tools in the world.
How did you end up at ELLO Media, and where might you go from here?
Michael Kalli: I had been working at The Dining Club Group for a couple of years when we identified a gap in the market to branch off into the agency world and utilise our unrivalled consumer product offerings and technology to craft industry-leading loyalty and engagement offerings, powered by data and insight. And ELLO Media was born! Acquiring this consumer behavioural data is only half of the task, however; it’s how we then help brands use it to refine their services and communications to add value that really counts.
I often refer to The Dining Club Group as a data-fuelled ‘machine’, which has secured long-term contracts with the biggest experience and dining partners in the UK. I feel we have now reached a point where we truly understand how we can best harness the power of our insight to achieve the same levels of success with ELLO Media.
Which brand experiences have impressed you lately?
Michael Kalli: A couple of weeks ago I had a problem with my car. From the moment I first flagged the issue to Land Rover, to receiving my courtesy car, right through to the problem being solved, the service I received was flawless.
When operating in increasingly saturated and noisy markets, it can often be the simple things done well that help you stand out, and from tone of voice to a rounded understanding of my needs and preferences through previously attained data, this was exactly the case in this instance.
Amidst the dealership decline and in the age of digital choice, retention is higher on the agenda than ever before for automotive brands, as increased competition means no one can afford to rely on product alone to ensure customers return.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in 2019?
Michael Kalli: Go out and get it! Don’t play it safe and when you know what you really want to do, give it your absolute all. If all goes to plan, great. If it doesn’t work out the first time, learn from it and come back stronger.
Surround yourself with people who are better than you and absorb their knowledge, have clarity on your end goal but be open to how you might get there, and make it your mission to understand how you can best use technology to complement and enhance the areas of your work that require a human touch.