'All Brands Can Benefit From Some Form Of Influencer Marketing'

We spoke with Sean Swentek, Executive Director & Chief of Marketing at A Walk On Water


Sean Swentek started his nonprofit career in 1999 with Special Olympics Southern California, who he continues to volunteer with to this day. He helped develop the snowboarding program for the Southern California Winter Olympics, and served on the Game Management Team for many years.

Over his nearly 20 years of nonprofit service, Sean has worked with Surfers Healing, THERASurf, Mighty Under Dogs, Children’s Miracle Network, Junior Achievement, International Surf Therapy Org, and others; in addition to co-founding A Walk On Water in 2012.

Sean is a marketing strategist with a mixed Gen X / Millennial heritage and a broad wealth of experience across a multitude of verticals: nonprofit, finance, healthcare, hospitality, food & beverage, retail, and CPG. Sean is keenly aware of trends and changing tides, with a unique ability to reconcile them against traditional marketing practices; developing holistic, multipronged campaigns that reach the target audience at their moment of aperture. He is laser-focused on the humanity of advertising, placing the customer first, and subsidizing brand broadcast marketing with real-world, human-to-human storytelling focused on the relief of client pain points. 

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit this March 20 - 21 in San Francisco, we spoke with Sean about all things digital marketing, from the use of data to influencers. 

1. Some look to the size of their audiences, others look at engagement metrics - how do you judge the success of your social channels?

When it comes to judging social channel success, audience size is an important metric for understanding your market penetration, but its growth is often mistakenly focused on at the detriment of connecting with passionate brand supporters.

Engagement as a percentage of audience size (and reach) is a much more dependable social success metric, cluing you into how well you’re connecting with your audience around content that they find valuable.

The most valuable social channel KPI is being able to prove the ROI of your social marketing efforts.

2. Today, it seems everyone wants to be making video content. Do you think there’s a chance of marketing becoming oversaturated with video?

We have probably already reached market saturation with video marketing; however, we’re nowhere close to oversaturation when it comes to meeting the specific viewing demands of the individual viewer.

The delta lies in marketers’ (or technology’s, really) inability to precisely tailor content to the user’s desire in the moment, whether or not those needs are explicitly stated or known.

3. What emerging technology can you see having a major impact on digital marketing going forward?

Device-specific (and eventually user specific cross-device) is the future (read: now) of digital marketing and advertising. The ability to target a specific device based on its location or current need is already proving to be a valuable tool for many businesses.

The ability to take this to the next level of customer-specific service across multiple devices and the IoT will bring amazing opportunities to marketers and advertisers, in a way that is also beneficial to the end user.

4. How can brands best merge data with creativity in their marketing efforts?

The big opportunity with big data lies in marketers’ abilities to extract the meaningful information presented, and restructuring the learnings such that they inform marketing decisions in a 'human' way. It’s all about removing data from its scientific setting and applying it in a way that restores the humanity.

An example could be a business that uses traffic data to influence the number of customer care representatives available at any given time. The trap that seems to exist sometimes today is marketers trying to force their customers to match their data, instead of weaving data into the customer journey.

5. What can attendees expect from your presentation or panel participation at the summit?

In the era of big data, the IoT, data science, AR & VR, and so much more; where’s the humanity? We’ll examine the ways marketers can reconnect with customers H2H—leveraging data to be more human.

6. Do you think all brands should be considering influencer marketing going forward?

All brands can benefit from some form of influencer marketing, though the current narrow definition belies all the different ways it can be achieved. Influencer marketing should not conjure images of a dystopian Kardashian future. Influencers exist everywhere and in every vertical.

The 'trick' for savvy marketers looking to break into influencer marketing is identifying those micro-influencers who can make the biggest and most immediate impact at the lowest price. Here’s a hint: they’re often on your payroll, already.

7. How are you and your team preparing for the impact of GDPR?

The important thing to remember when it comes to GDPR and client data is YOU are the first and most important line of defense in protecting that data. Organizations that will succeed going forward are those who recognize the importance of data security is second to none.

Some of the ways that businesses can protect themselves and their clients in a post-GDPR world include limiting ownership and access rights, performing regular security assessments and identifying opportunities for improving security, and working closely and openly with your customers and your vendors to ensure that privacy is at the forefront of all transactions.

You can hear more from Sean, along with other industry-leading marketing executives, at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit this March 20 - 21 in San Francisco. To see the full schedule, click here.

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