social media

CEO Spotlight: Kelly Ehlers of Ideas that Evoke


Madison Magnet Board member and aspiring social media nerd, Jess Parker, catches up with Kelly Ehlers, Founder and CEO of Madison-based social media marketing agency, Ideas That Evoke. I first met Kelly at an Entrepreneurship lunch series hosted by the UW-Madison School of Business.

I was immediately drawn to the story of her start-up as well as her down-to-earth and extremely generous spirit. Kelly’s story is an inspiring example of a young entrepreneur using skills built during employment experiences to launch a successful business in one’s field of expertise. Here are the highlights of our chat!

Kelly Ehlers


Kelly, how would you describe Ideas that Evoke and what you do?

At Ideas That Evoke – we are an agency that solves business challenges through social media. We are today – and have been since day one – intentionally niche in our services. This niche has served us very well. We have a great deal of case studies behind us including experiences with Fortune 50 brands and entrepreneurial businesses.

 Tell me a bit about how you made the transition from the corporate world into business ownership:

I always knew I wanted to own my own agency from my first position post college. One thing I’m glad I didn’t do was jump in to that dream too soon. I paid my dues – I learned from a variety of different people and took all of those learnings with me. I’ve applied the good ones and ditched the not-so-good traits of leaders I’ve previously worked with.

Did you have any fears or anxieties about making this transition?

Of course, it was incredibly scary! I was 5 months pregnant when I started Evoke. My husband and I decided to give me one year to see if I could ‘make it.’ Oh – and have our first child in that time, too. One could call it crazy, but…here I am. I bet on myself, but it was the best bet I could have ever made. Was it incredibly difficulty? Yes. Were there times I thought I should just quit? No. I knew I could do it.

Evoke Graphic 1

What was your biggest struggle in the first year as CEO of Evoke?

Juggling being a soon to be mom and a new business owner. It’s likely hard to go in to business with someone who is five months pregnant…but turns out, I’m pretty persuasive.

Is there anything that you know now that you would love to share with your 25- year-old self?

Oh – so much. Be patient. Pay your dues. Trust your instincts.

What advice to you have for balancing work with family life and parenting?

It’s incredibly hard. Don’t ever think that success, or building a company, or raising a family is easy work. Those who tell you it is – are lying (or, let’s face it, have millions of dollars to hire loads of help). I started Evoke when I was 5 months pregnant – I made a choice to go “all in” at that time – I knew there would be sacrifices. My advice would be – strive for balance…cherish the little moments – the little successes and, celebrate the successes.

What's next for Evoke? Where do you see the company in 10 years?

I see us expanding globally – and also in the US in working in niche markets, specifically multi-cultural. I feel the company will be poised for incredible growth – we are early adopters of social innovation and I plan to put that early adoption and learning to work for our current – and yet-to-be-clients!

Evoke Graphic 3


What do you love about living and working in Madison?

Madison is amazing. I love the small town / city feel. It’s a beautiful city that is really innovating in the tech space. I’m excited to see how Madison’s business and tech scene continues to grow.

Are there any available positions at Evoke that you would like YPs in Madison to know about? If so, what are you looking for in a candidate?

Yes! We’re always hiring! Honestly the core of what we do is great writing – and a great aesthetic. We’re looking for entry-level talent – and those who have been in PR/Marketing/Social for a few years! Always open to hiring those who fit our culture.

Can you tell us anything that most people don't know about you?

Oh my! Well, because of the markets we’re in – beauty/luxury/cosmetics brands – people often find it surprising that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. Not sure how interesting that is – but I could recite the 4H pledge if need be… ha ha.

 Keep an eye out for big things to come from Ideas that Evoke. Evoke is not just activenin their business, but also in the community. Kelly and her team have been spotted volunteering at Ronald McDonald House and also helped to make June 30th the official Social Media Day in Madison. Don’t forget to visit their social media accounts for clever and informative content that will brighten your day and just might ‘up’ your social media game!


You’re Social - So are We!

By Steve Van Dinter

As I write this, I’m currently soaring some 30,000 feet over the great state of Indiana but that’s the beauty of the world we live in.  Airplanes now connect us to the rest of the world as easily as Facebook connects us to our long lost friends and colleagues.  And for the more than 100 million people who access the site from mobile devices, those connections are all within a finger’s reach.

So since you’re always on Facebook, so are we!  Magnet is proud to have a strong presence on the social networking site.  Make sure to search for “Madison Magnet” and “like” us.  It’s the quickest and easiest way to stay on top of the latest events, find out what other young professionals are doing, and see photos from our last event.

Speaking of photos, did you know we have a Flickr site dedicated to Magnet?  Just go to and have a look around.  Even if you missed the last big event, you’ll feel like you weren’t completely left out!

Are you tweeting?  If not, you should be.  It’s one of the best ways to cut through the clutter of communication.  Since each tweet has to be roughly 140 characters or less, the information is concise, compact and comprehendible.   If you are on twitter be sure to follow Magnet.  Just look for @madisonmagnet. And don’t forget if you have a smartphone like an iPhone, Android or

even a tablet device to download the twitter app.  This way you can be part of the conversation no matter when or where it happens.  If you are tweeting from an event be sure to use Magnet hash tags like #magnethappyhour or #magnet. It’s a way to easily keep track of what we’re all tweeting about.

Well that’s it for now.  We hope you are enjoying the new site.  And don’t forget to stop by and check in on our blog.  From technology to interview tips to networking and etiquette we’ll cover it all.  If you’ve got a topic you would like to blog about, let us know.  Just email