1:1 With Susan Wenograd, AIMCLEAR VP of Marketing Strategy

Susan Wenograd

Susan Wenograd has emerged as a preeminent fixture in the digital marketing space in recent years. She is one of the newest additions to the AIMCLEAR family. As Vice President of Marketing Strategy, Susan is reshaping opportunities for brands to connect with customers via digital channels. For her, it’s all about injecting the right message at the right online moment.

After joining the AIMCLEAR team in late 2018, Susan is already having a profound impact by deepening the notion of “integrated marketing” in our ever-evolving marketing landscape.

Susan recently sat down with AIMCLEAR‘s VP of PR Strategy, Joe Thornton, for an insightful discussion about the direction of our industry. Below are some of the highlights from that conversation.

Joe Thornton (JT): Susan, it’s awesome to have you as a key part of the AIMCLEAR team. What do you see as some of the biggest untapped or missed opportunities for marketers in today’s digital landscape?

Susan Wenograd (SW): I think we all get so caught up in what sales and leads happened TODAY that a lot of times no one looks up or glances backward enough. Even though the saying is “don’t look back, that’s not the direction you’re going,” there are really important things to learn from historic data that often get overlooked or ignored. The fast pace and immediacy of online advertising has really conditioned brands to feel like everything that’s put out has a short life, and it’s an endless churn of effort bursts. While that’s true to an extent, when you take all that aggregate effort and examine what it’s produced, you often find you’re further ahead and than you thought.

It’s kind of funny that the question is about missed opportunities, because in a way, I think FOMO (fear of missing out) is one of the things that really kills a brand. They get so obsessed with trying to do all the things and then giving them a short time to perform that few things ever get traction. So, in some ways, the biggest missed opportunity for brands is to focus on doing a few things crazily well, and being persistent with it.

JT: You’re an expert in the field, but things change fast. How do you stay up to date on the crazy fast evolution of the digital marketing landscape today?

SW: Ugh, I’m not even sure I do, fully! It’s mind-boggling. I read a lot of sites like MarketingLand.com and SearchEngineJournal.com, but I frequently get to speak at new conferences and do so as often as I can. It’s amazing to discover all these other worlds outside the one we’re in every day, and capitalize on the lessons and expertise of others who are pushing boundaries.

I also find it SO helpful to belong to some Facebook groups that are focused on people who do certain disciplines within marketing overall. That’s usually where I get the fastest information on what’s happening right now, especially when it comes to Facebook advertising. The platform is heavily black box and infamously buggy, so it can be challenging to know what’s not going well (or going great) because of something you did, or if everyone is experiencing it. Groups can be a great sanity check!

JT: There are so many tools in the marketing toolbox – Chatbots, niche social channels, VR, interactive video… you name it.  How should marketers prioritize where they want to explore? How can we delineate fad-du-jour from strategic opportunity?

SW: This ties to what I mentioned earlier: Be strategic about what you pick. There are so many platforms and formats now, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you have to be everywhere. The reality is, you’ll find it’s a core group of platforms that drive your success. For example, Pinterest isn’t going to be for every brand…but if you’re a food blogger, or fashion brand? You’d better be there, and you’d better have a well-baked strategy. When you know the platforms that work for you, experimentation becomes easier because you aren’t experimenting with both platform AND format.

Diversification is important, but we’re also in territory that can be like the wild west. The rules for things like chatbots alone have changed dramatically in the past year, so if you’re finding success with these brave new methods, be ready to act nimbly as they continue to evolve.

JT: We talk a lot about integrated marketing these days, but that’s a rather nebulous term. What is “integrated marketing” in your mind?

SW: To me, it’s the recognition that everything we do in marketing works together. It isn’t a separate effort to do Facebook, search, Instagram and Snapchat. Users move fluidly between the platforms, and we have to do it with them to build a lasting relationship and brand. Segregated marketing teams are a thing of the past, and we all have to learn together how all the pieces work best together. That varies by brand, so it’s a learning experience for everyone right now, but the acceptance of attribution not being a finite model has broadened.

JT: With all of the evolution happening around us in our industry, what excites you about marketing today?

SW: I really love the different ways brands can create themselves online. It used to be they were limited to what they could do on a website, but brands (and their personality) can exist across so many mediums now, and it’s fun to experiment with the forms that takes. Teams work more collaboratively to make that a seamless experience vs. the old days, where the folks who ran display never talked to the people who did email, or something like that. There’s more recognition that we’re all on the same team and we have to coordinate better, even if the tools aren’t all there yet.

JT: What frustrates you about marketing today?

SW: As I touched on earlier, there’s still a large contingent of “what did this do for us TODAY” thinkers, and they’re going to lose in the long run. I see it often with brands who stake their entire strategy on paid media. The costs are rising, there’s more competition, and their sales and profits are eroding because they never re-invested the money back in strengthening their lifetime value to customers. It was all hyper-focused on new acquisition, and they’re running out of folks to hopefully sell to. It’s frustrating to see promising brands fall into that trap, because it’s a vicious cycle that’s at the mercy of paid platforms and their market demand.

JT: When you’re not marketing or speaking on the conference circuit what do you do to disconnect?

SW: We have a 37-foot RV – I know, cue the Uncle Eddie Christmas Vacation jokes here! It’s really such a blast, though. We get to spend a lot of time outdoors in new places, we’ve made so many friends on the road, but we still have the comforts of home. It’s the best of both worlds.

I’m also a foodie, bourbon and/or wine enthusiast, and I do my best to grow a garden every year and always hope it’ll be my best one yet. (We will see how 2019 goes!)

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