By Karen Rivedal
The Wisconsin State Journal.
Kelly Ehlers runs a growing business that helps other businesses use social media to build their brands.
Ideas That Evoke began in 2009 as a sole proprietorship and today employs 18 on the third floor of an office building at 34 Schroeder Court, just off Whitney Way and the Beltline on Madison’s Southwest Side.
But while the company’s office has a physical location, what Ehlers and her staff of graphic designers, writers and account managers do there is strictly virtual, developing social media strategies that unfold online across digital platforms, incorporating web-based and mobile apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
It’s essentially an advertising agency, Ehlers said, but one aimed purely at creating social media-generated “conversations” between businesses and their customers, or potential customers, to increase brand awareness and, ultimately, sales.
Ehlers, 36, moved to Madison four years ago from Phoenix with her husband, Christopher, who is from Madison and works as vice president of operations for William Ryan Homes. Kelly Ehlers grew up in Iowa, attended Iowa State University and worked in advertising for agencies in the Phoenix area for about 12 years before starting her own business.
At the time, she was five months pregnant with the first of two children — both boys, now ages 5 and 2. She hired her first two employees in 2011.
Thanks to its fast growth, an almost entirely female staff and a deep roster of national clients in the salon, beauty, lifestyle and luxury markets — including Procter & Gamble, Clairol Professional and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas — Ehler’s company has won several national and international awards. In April, Ehlers earned an Enterprising Woman of the Year award from Enterprising Women magazine’s annual tribute to top women business owners in law, finance and advertising.