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Alysa's Story

Hi! I'm Alysa.

I'm so excited to be here and to share my story with you - it's a pretty awesome one. 

But before dive in, here is a little bit about me.

  • I have more than 18 years (gulp!) experience in marketing, brand, communications and project management. 

  • Worked for large brands such as Bose, Liberty Mutual, Digitas, Accenture, SmartBear and across multiple industries. 

  • Passionate about marketing and building strategies that allow for a deeper more meaningful connection between the brand and the customer

  • I'm a mother of two elementary aged kiddos, a bonus mom to a 23 year old, police wife, and I absolutely love to cook!

  • Joined CatalystU in November 2021 after learning and applying the Seventh Level Framework throughout my career.  I like to say I've been a student of this Framework for the past few years and when offered this role, it's like the greatest gold star any student could ever get. 

Before going any further, I want to make sure you know what the Seven Level Framework is. Here is an illustration to help ground you. You can also learn more on our blog. 


How did you first learn about the Seventh Level Framework

I first learned about the Seventh Level when I was working my first BIG job as a VP of Marketing for a credit union. I found Amanda Slavin and her Seven Level Framework by simply researching "engagement strategies". The organization I was working for was looking to really branch out and reach an entirely new audience, while also maintaining and deepening the relationship they had with their existing customer base.

The brand was nearly 100 years old at the time and though had gone through a few brand makeovers, they were in need of something much deeper. So while we worked to rebrand everything from the logo to the look and feel our branches, I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to generate the growth we needed. We were close to 100k members at the time and knowing it can cost 5 times more to acquire new customers, I set out to better understand how we could nurture these 100k members and deepen the relationship. I began researching Customer Engagement and that’s when I discovered Amanda Slavin (CatalystU co-founder) and her Seventh Level Framework. I immediately fell in love with the methodology. It was exactly what I need to apply a new strategy that would engage our existing membership and I could apply this new strategy to engage new members.  After taking a course online, I was armed to begin building out a strategy to segment our existing membership - based on the Seven Levels. 

This required looking at our data and segmenting our members based on what we considered an engaged or disengaged member. It went a little something like this:

Engaged Members = Those who were with the Credit Union for more than 5 years, had more than 2 products (savings, checking, mortgage) and also opened our emails.

Disengaged Members = Those who had less than 5 years with the credit union, or had only 1 product with us and had not opened an email from us over a certain time period. 

How did you apply the Seven Level Framework at work?

Once we had a solid starting point, we could then begin to apply the levels. 

So for example, if a member who was labeled disengaged segment and had one product with us but met the criteria (demographics or behavior) for someone who would need a mortgage or CD, we would then nurture them through a series of intentional communications, using the Framework as our guidance. This was primarily done through email and in some cases, a special communication via the mail.

The most important part of applying the Levels is that you no longer send anything and everything - your communications are intentional and by understanding where they are in their journey with you, you can tailor these communications in a way that increases the likelihood that they will be read and the intended action will be taken. 

Now, when we looked at our engaged segment (those who had been with us more than 5 years or had multiple accounts with us), we considered these members to be at a higher level. So we tailored our communications based on this heightened and deeper relationship. We focused less on cross-selling additional products and gave them more of an exclusive experience into upcoming changes within the organization and how it may impact them. We asked their opinions more as it related to activities we were planning within the community or product upgrades. 

The results

Applying the Levels not only increased our email open-rates and our click through rates - but we saw an increase in accounts opened and appointments booked with our financial wellness coaches. It was such a big win for us and we felt a lot of pride. We were no longer just engaging when it was a members birthday, anniversary or when their payments were due or worse, late. Members could count on us for so much more. 

Why do you think learning the Seven Levels Framework is so important?

I’ve done a lot in my career and had to adapt, like all us marketers do, to the changes around us. I seriously started out running newspaper ads and if you purchased a big enough, colored ad you received a digital banner on the newspapers website at no charge. That was the beginning of digital marketing for me. Soon I would be placing ads all over Altavista (that’s right, I went there) and learning as I went. At that time, I remember just wanting to make sure that ad, running on the World Wide Web, was linked to our homepage. That’s it. I wasn’t thinking about the customer journey and if we’re talking to the right segments.

Today, it’s common practice for many businesses to employ a relationship orientation to marketing, which encourages customer retention and loyalty as well as continued interaction with the brand. Digital marketing channels make it easy to deliver re-engagement incentives to consumers, and social media campaigns make brands highly accessible. However, here is the problem. We are measuring success with our customers by using vanity metrics (likes, follows, comments and shares) versus looking at the data and insights we have to measure and build deeper engagement with our customers.

The Seventh Level Framework defines a new way of measuring success that is more meaningful than any social media metric. The Framework teaches you how to connect with your customers, meet them where they are - not in the sense of where they are digitally, but meet them where they are from a relationship stand point with you, the brand. With this knowledge, it won’t matter what new channel or social metric is used to define success, you will already have the tools you need to be successful. 

I have often said this is the only marketing plan you will ever need. And I truly believe that. Especially now. With Web3 and the Metaverse promising to change not only the way we work, but the way we interact and collaborate with each other. It will no longer be the brands calling the shots, but it will be a community, a network of brand champions who share your values and beliefs and are shaping and building your brand along side you. With this Framework, I know I have a strong foundation to build on as new channels and new ways to engage emerge.

Advice to someone looking to get started
Now, it's no big surprise that I'm going to advise you to come join us at CatalystU. We have a ton of free resources and courses (both free and paid) for you to access and start your journey to a new way to engage your customers and learn new skills to help you stay relevant, competitive and meaningful to your customers. Our certification course with Amanda Slavin as your instructor is available to you as well - more information can be found here.  You'll learn first hand how to apply the levels to your business and walk away with a certification to show off on your LinkedIn. 

Once you have joined, I want to hear from you. Email me at [email protected] and give me your feedback and let's talk about how you can apply it to your business.  I know this can work for you, like it worked for me. And who knows, maybe we will get a chance to work together.