LA Business Podcast

40. Sean Foote, Director of Digital Marketing at Wilton Brands

Witlon Brands, Sean Foote
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We talk to Sean Foote of Wilton Brands about growth marketing, and building customer lifetime value.

Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to the LA business podcast. A form for business owners and senior executive is to share the experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of an Inc 500 company. Delivering the power of hyper-local advertising. Robert writes for Forbes, Inc, and ad trade publications.

Our goal is to bring you the stories about successes and failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing, entrepreneurship, and management.

Robert Brill: [00:00:37] Welcome to another episode of the LA business podcast today. Our guest is Sean Foote, director of digital marketing at Wilton brands. Thanks for being with us today, Sean.

Sean Foote: [00:00:46] Absolutely glad to be here.

Robert Brill: [00:00:48] So you’re a CPG brand you sell, baking products. Tell us a little bit about Wilton and what you guys do.

Sean Foote: [00:00:54] Sure. So, the foundation for Wilton actually is in creativity.  it’s a 90 year old American brand. Like you mentioned, CPG focused retail, really honed in on creativity and inspiring creativity and everyone everywhere every day is kind of our motto and I lead the digital charge there.

All of the owned, earned and paid media.  I kind of facilitate all of that and make sure that, you know, it’s in supportive of growth of the brand.

Robert Brill: [00:01:27] So when I look at your LinkedIn profile, you know, I see Google and a number of other really fine establishments.

Tell me a little bit about your career and how you got to Wilton.

Sean Foote: [00:01:37] Sure. So, it’s been, it’s been a wild ride. I’m actually, I’ll kind of go way back. I actually started on the brand side. So, I started more as a creative, I have a big design background. I was a creative director for a while and, just naturally transitioned through operations to marketing.

So, I was a really early adopter on, inbound marketing and content focused marketing. And really, again, that kind of educational focused SEO Laden marketing strategy. That just progressed into media. And, and now it’s stuff holistic kind of full-fledged media. I’d say growth marketing is kind of like the term that a lot of people throw around these days, but that’s really what I drive for Wilton.

Robert Brill: [00:02:22] Tell us about what growth marketing is. Cause I’ve heard that term and I don’t use it very much. It’s not a common phrase in, the way I talk.

Sean Foote: [00:02:30] Sure. So, it’s really about, for me, I think some people would probably give you a different perspective. I mean, depending on how it is applied in their organization, but for me it is full funnel marketing.

So, we’re where you’re looking at, and if I get too jargony here, please, like don’t, don’t hesitate to jump in and ask me like more specific questions. But if you’re looking at, I know a lot of people are familiar with like the sales funnel. Right. The marketing funnel lays right over that. And the top of the funnel, which is the widest, it is, awareness, right?

The middle of the funnel is consideration. And the bottom of the funnel where people really make their decision to purchase is conversion. Right. And growth marketing really pays attention to that full funnel. You can’t just focus on what would be more performance marketing, which is where you’re, you know, the paid media where you’re converting, users into customers.

You can’t really just focus on the mid funnel, which is where a lot of like social media. And, you know, influencer, some of those more, engagement, nurturing channels, you know, really focus. And you can’t just focus on like some of the brand plays affinity plays, with, with like display advertising, programmatic buys and things of that nature.

So, it’s really. Why I love it so much is its tiny and altogether. And this really complex puzzle, of sorts that, to really nurture and nurse, you know, users down that funnel, to become brand advocates at the end of the day is, is what your goal is.

Robert Brill: [00:04:02] So tell us about some of the tactics you deploy for nurture.

And before we actually go in there, I want to just frame for the, for the listener or the viewer. Tell us about some of your products. Like what, when people are buying Wilton brands, what are they buying?

Sean Foote: [00:04:15] Sure. So we actually, we have to, again, I would say categories of product, one of them is on the consumable side.

So anything from like frosting to sprinkles, to anything you’d use to decorate, cakes, cupcakes, anything you can think of that, that a lot of the diehard bakers, you know, like to work with. And then we have durables, which is more of the bakeware, right? The more classic, just durable type bakeware, whether it’s glass or metal.

 Those two things obviously work together right? When people are creating, if you get a chance, if you haven’t already definitely go to, you know, our Instagram and Facebook pages, you can see some of the stuff that, you know, our, advocates are turning out. It’s pretty impressive.  That’s really, I’d say the foundation of our strategies, building that community, and in a sustainable pattern of growth for the brand.

Robert Brill: [00:05:07] Yeah. And so tell us about nurture and the reason I bring that up specifically in just for a frame of reference, my background is a hundred percent in paid media. Programmatic. Real time, bidding, algorithmic, decisioning. That’s all we do. They actually out. Right. So my favorite business term is programmatic and I’m probably one of the few, few people who likes that word.

I know it’s going away though, but nurture, you know, we’ve, we’ve recently, expanded, just minimally our capabilities to also help really small businesses with kind of like what you’re talking about from the perspective of nurturing. So, the idea of nurture, I’m still getting used to that, frame of reference.

Paid media, you can do scale. Programmatic and scale. So tell us, I want to learn more about what nurture means to you and how it’s integrated into your business.

Sean Foote: [00:06:02] Yeah, well, I mean, that’s a great question.  I think it’s to properly nurture and scale, you have to look at inbound and outbound, outbound being paid in inbound, being more education or content focused marketing, and it will turn, we do both.

I’ve really helped build, both the last three years, but it’s nurturing. It’s a combination I would say, of both channels, smartly being employed. So, on the inbound side, it might be more smart, like email segmentation. Right where you have someone that signs up for your email list and you’re engaging with them based on their behaviors and based on their interactions with your brand on the paid side, it might be more like remarketing, which is probably what you’re more familiar with.

Right. And staying in front of them, smartly at the right frequency of the right times with the right creative and messaging. And you kind of you know, Wilton, we combine those two things, and really just present the brand in a very smart way with the right content on trend, and the right media, ideally, at the right time.

And that’s, that’s really how we build that sustainable, that, that, that path to purchase. I don’t think you can really do one or the other, really. I think if you want to retain and build that. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard of customer lifetime value, you know, build that customer lifetime value. You really, I think a brand needs to invest in both.

Robert Brill: [00:07:27] So is it really about being in front of the consumer on a consistent but not annoying basis?

Sean Foote: [00:07:34] Yeah, I’d say it’s, it’s being relevant. It’s staying relevant, right. And relevancy isn’t. I’m annoying if you’re relevant, it’s okay. It’s meaningful and, and, and helpful. Yeah. And if the frequency is too high or the content, isn’t the right fit, you know, you hear another term that you’re hearing thrown around a lot these days is personalization.  And that’s another, I would say buzzword, that’s been kind of, I don’t wanna say blown out of proportion because it is important, but what does that mean? Right. What does personalization mean for a brand?  And part of it, it really starts with the audience and understanding your audience on it, intimate level and the content and the content you serve activation levers, whether they’re inbound or outbound are more tactical.

Right. And that’s more timing. So, it’s really doing what I always say is, putting your lab coat on doing the homework and really understanding your audience so you can be relevant. And at the end of the day, I really believe passionately that good marketing is, is helpful. Right.  It’s not noise, it’s helpful.

And it’s in service of not just the brand, but in service of your audience.

Robert Brill: [00:08:46] That’s really cool. Do you think. Trying to think about where to go with this. There are so many places. Right. So, with your content, are you doing combination of creating your own content and working with influencers and guiding the influencers on the journey?

Like is it kind of like an even split on what you do with that? Or do you kind of like focus more on content, internal content development or influencer content development?

Sean Foote: [00:09:19] Sure. Yeah, no, it’s a balance of the two.  I think you, really at the end of the day, our goal at Wilton is, I would say combination of accessibility. And really just being again, that relevant piece to our users. So, but what does accessibility mean? Well, it means the content that served up, helps them with where they are in their journey as they develop as a Baker, a decorator. And whether that’s leverage the blessing at Wilton is we have a huge creative team, of like 20 to 30 people and house design in house video.

It’s really a content factory. What, one of the reasons it’s beyond the distribution of that content for the digital team, digital media team is to kind of form a close circle and feed the data back to that team to make the content smart. Right. And that’s a key piece here. And one of the things we’ve one of the capabilities we’ve built at Wilton, you know, the last 30 years is, social, or I’d say online listening, not just social, but online listening and really being responsive to trend.

Because trends come and go trends don’t last a month or even a week. Sometimes they last a day. Right. So when the trend and COVID is, we could have a whole discussion around COVID alone, but you know, what, how has that changed the online user? How has that changed the Wilton customer? How, like, how has that changed everything from their search intent?

Right. Meaning what search terms are they looking for to what they might be shopping for to their interests and what inspires them? So, it’s really, I would say, I like to say keeping an ear to the rail. Listening to position that whole content or brand and creative teams for success, right. And data, a combination of first- and third-party data is how you get there.

Right? And you get that through listening and you know, your wheelhouse, you get that through paid media performance, too. Right. Like what’s working. What’s not, what has the highest return on ad spend? What’s getting the click through rates, you know, it’s the same on both sides of the house there, but it’s really just making sure you’re staying really relevant to the audience.

Robert Brill: [00:11:37] So I want to touch on two points. We’ll touch on return on ad spend. Secondly, but first, you know, I imagine you’ve had to develop your creative folks have become much more agile in the way that they create content. Right?

Sean Foote: [00:11:52] Yeah. They’ve had to, especially with COVID. Our team has understandably been hamstrung because they haven’t been able to be in house, you know, they haven’t been at their studio.

So you’ll see a lot of our content, over the last couple of months has been shot at home. It’s been shot, with mobile phones.  It’s been, what’s considered low fi I don’t know if you’re familiar with that term, but low five video is really, I would say the last couple of years, you know, huge brands like media brands, like Buzzfeed, have done a lot of that type of work.

And it’s really how they’ve built their media empire is often more, accessible, authentic type approachable type of video where, you know, mistakes are made. In the video, like right now, you know, for example, like live type streams are, and that’s okay. You know? Okay. To may not be perfect. And it’s okay because you know, what are none of us as human beings are.

Right. And, I think that’s a key piece here and it’s scary for some brand teams to cross that bridge and to talk them over the bridge and say, you know what, the way you do it is through data. And you say, here’s the video and testing here’s video. Hey, here’s video B. This one was more polished and I would say more traditional.

This one was done by the social media team with their cell phone. Right? Here’s the data. Here’s the click through rate. Whatever it is, or impression reach depending on the channel it’s distributed on, you know, cause that’s a big push for us for the brand. Because we haven’t done a lot of advertising historically. A lot of people don’t know about Wilton, but on the, especially on the consumable side, you know, we’re not in the big channels, like grocery as much or more in craft and more in mass and you know, pretty big, obviously direct and you know, through Amazon, but that’s, that’s part of my mission is to get this brand out,  in a very mindful, smart, efficient, especially as far as paid media goes where you have to invest, you don’t want to double down on a bad investment.

So just making sure you do it really smartly and pace it smartly. So, it supports products. That’s one of the challenges with COVID right now, too, you know, it’s not just the front end, meaning what is your creative look like? The timing, the pacing, the just how everything works together. It’s the backend, you know, because there’s been so much demand, for, especially for our product, you know, with COVID that can we even fulfill, you know, which is a good problem to have it’s better than having too much.

You can’t yeah. Know inventory burning a hole in your pocket, but so that’s a whole other, I’d say factor in the equation is like, okay, well I could sell, it through the roof right now, but can we fulfill it? What’s the user experience like. Right, which is, which is King user experiences King.

Right. And what kind of user experience are we creating? And that’s where I think that the brands that understand that separate themselves a whole other league from the brands that don’t.

Robert Brill: [00:14:51] I could have sworn I’ve purchased Wilton products at the local grocery like I’m in Los Angeles.

I think you’re in Illinois here in Chicago.

Sean Foote: [00:15:04] We’re, based out of Chicago. So, we’re worldwide, right? This is a worldwide brand, largely focused in North America, especially the US we’re in grocery, but not compared to our largest consumable, you know, competitors Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, you know, they own that aisle. Right? And so that’s where you get that offline and a brand exposure. People see it right every week over and over and over again. And you only see it for a hundred years, even, you know, it’s passed down through generations. And I think that’s where well, I like to say Wilton was kind of like the original inbound marketer because, you know, the founders, Wilton himself was an educator.

He was out there teaching people the, the Wilton method and, that’s how this brand was built, like bootstrap that way. And it was built, I would say, even for the majority of the last 90 years, that way with that mentality of like scrappy, you know, instruction focused, that’s where the Wilton method comes from.

Right. Instruction focused, passive marketing or inbound marketing. Right. We’ve had to shift, you know, channels like YouTube, have come up. You’re as familiar with it as anyone, you know, and the how tos are out there, you know what I mean? In one way or the other, and you have to find a way to shift the model away from they’ll come to us no matter what, we can still continue that they’ll come to us and we’ll inspire them, but we have scale.

You have to pay to play. And, you know, speaking your language, right. You have to, to scale quickly because I could build organic all day and that’s the foundation of the house at Wilton. But to scale, you have, you have to invest in advertising, cause your competitors are doing it. And if you’re not, you, you know, you’re losing.

Robert Brill: [00:16:54] Yeah. I mean, the challenge, when we, when we talk about paid media versus social media, one of the key things, you know, we talk about is imprecision on social media. It’s put a lot of time and effort and you’re in it, for example, general totally like made some random Greek restaurant in Los Angeles, go viral with like millions of views of a video he did.

Yeah. But like, who cares if you’re like, not within a five-mile radius of that restaurant? Like it’s so I’m in the last day, I’m in the Valley. I don’t know how familiar you are with LA, but let me just tell you in a non COVID world, when there’s regular traffic, going to the West side from the Valley is geographically undesirable.

It’s really difficult to do. Like you kinda like have to like psych yourself up over it, but like this restaurant in, like West LA near Santa Monica, like, I really would have to make a big effort just to go down there and I’m like 10 miles away. Right. so you really have to be within a two to five mile radius to take advantage of that, but it makes it makes good notoriety.

It’s a good case study. Whereas with paid media, you know, I was recently,  we were talking on the last episode, we talked to the folks at,  cosmic crisp, fascinating, which I’m going to, you know, at the time of this recording, for those of us watching it hasn’t been aired yet, but it’ll air fascinate.

These are people who manufacture apples and they’re branding apples. Fascinating thing I’ve never heard of you can brand an Apple.

Sean Foote: [00:18:32] Yeah. I mean, I think there’s, it’s not either a war, you know what I mean? It’s again, that full funnel you really to build sustainable, sustainable sustainability is the key word here, right?

To send the right users to your website or the right, the right customers, potential customers offline to the store requires. Dozens of touch points across. I think the average family household, how has like 10 to 13 devices, you know, five years ago, it was like three to five. You know what I mean?

And how you use as a brand, how do you position yourself to stay smartly in front of those folks and what channels again, being consumer centric, what channels are they engaging on? You know what I mean? That’s that goes back to kind of coming full circle here to the earlier part of the discussion about understanding your audience.

Yeah. Wilton has over 5 million highly engaged eyes on social media. So, it is a substantial audience. That’s been built almost entirely by organic efforts.

Robert Brill: [00:19:35] And it’s a passion business, right?

Sean Foote: [00:19:37] It is absolutely. It’s, it’s emotional, it’s an emotional and traditional and you know, it’s definitely emotionally charged, right.

People have fond memories of their mother and father and grandparents, and is passed down through generations. And, you know, especially with a brand like Wilton with 90 years experienced in this country, you know, I’m very, very impactful there, but it’s still, you know, the competitors. And this is where, like you start talking about marketing mixes and things of that nature.

I know you’re familiar with, like, you can’t even focus just on what you’re doing. You have to listen to your competitors and you have to, especially if you, if you’re talking about media at scale, you have to, it’s not just it’s what your competitors are doing or not doing. It’s it’s the industry. It’s things like tariffs.

You know, if you’re a manufacturer, it’s all of these things firing together in a way that, and all of these things that need to be considered when you’re, building out a digital marketing plan, right. Especially if your Omni channel like Wilton is where we have DDC business. And we have a business on Amazon and we have a business on

We have business offline and just about everywhere; you can go for the most part.

Robert Brill: [00:20:48] What’s you’re most interesting. Like, what’s, what’s interesting for you. Like, is it, you know, a marketing effort that you’re doing or, you know, partnerships with Walmart or Amazon, is it a specific type of marketing? Like what gets you excited?

Sean Foote: [00:21:02] Yeah, I think a lot of things do. I think, I’m a big data guy and we haven’t really talked about, about, you know, about analytics,  but, predictive modeling, exciting for me, it might be too technical or geeky for you or your audience, but

Robert Brill: [00:21:19] Let’s talk about that. I really, I want to know.

Sean Foote: [00:21:22] Yeah, so, it’s leveraging artificial intelligence and algorithms to help make smart business and marketing decisions.

Right. That’s I would say that’s a very simplified way of looking at it, but how do we do the magic we do it’s art and a science, you know? Right. But how, how do we support human capabilities with machine learning, which is the technical term, right. Machine learning to create again, that ideal user experience.

So for example, personalization, right? Let’s say you’re a new user to You come in and through a search ad. Right. And that’s how you first hear about us. Non-branded right. Cause you never heard about Wilton land on the website. You know, you check it out. Oh, this is cool. You know, I’ll consider it my neck and my next purchase or whatever, then you leave.

Right. And then you see us on Amazon. Right. And you leave there and then you come back and you follow us on social and then you sign up for our email list and then you’re nurtured, like we were talking about. Right. Especially with those two channels. Well, all of that data lives in different places. Know what I mean, the stuff that paid media data lives in ad words or Google, a lot of it gets pulled into Google analytics. But if you’re talking about like the root place of where it lives, social media stuff lives in 10 to 12 different platforms, depending on the channel. I mean, you’re familiar with all this, right?

Robert Brill: [00:22:47] It’s a log. You can’t get the log file data.

Sean Foote: [00:22:51] Yep. So, so what you try to do as a digital marketer, I’d say just a business person at this point, if you’re on top of it is get that all into one place. Right. And it’s called a data lake, and we’ve built a, a pretty significant data Lake with like 2 billion lines of code.

Last I checked, just digital data, by the way, that’s not point of sale or channel or anything. And, we take that and we, and we put it through a rigorous, process focused around business questions. Meaning, if I were to come to you and say, what are your top five business questions? Or, or maybe business challenges you have, and then you take that and pose it and look at the data that you have available and say, how can we answer the questions? Right.

And you do that, not just with a button should Excel spreadsheets, which most people can’t consume or don’t want to, but you take it and you visualize it in an impactful way. So, they can then do something with it. Right.  Actionable data is the key keyword here, right?

You can’t, you can’t build that predictive model to effect without having an actionable takeaway. So, you pull all of that information in and it could be, you know, for, our product team, how do we innovate here? Like what are the blind spots, right. I mean, we can take keyword data from searches and search volume from, you know, our various from Google trend long-term.

And you can look at, you know, we use SCM rush for SEO to kind of pull on all of our searches and get an idea of volume and I, and that speaks to what people are asking for or what they need. Right. And then you pull in and you pull in more first party data from your website. Meaning what are people doing on your website?

You pull on paid media clicks, right? Cause that’s a signal. Put it all together.

Robert Brill: [00:24:38] It’s a very, not so robust signal. My recommendation. I mean, not that you’re asking for it, but like I immediately think of like the trade desk. I’d rather be, if you have access to the trade desk, you can pull in log file data for all your paid media.

Sean Foote: [00:24:56] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it depends. I mean, it’s, there, there are lots of homegrown models. We use Domo.  which is a platform converged data platform to pull it all together and, and visualize it. It’s actually been really impactful, not just for our digital team, but we’ve informed our product development strategy.

We’ve informed our, obviously our creative we’ve informed our brand marketing team.  So, it’s not this, this, this, this Russian is FA is founded in digital, but this is about the enterprise. And the strength of the enterprise and taking that data, whether it’s paid owned, earned, because we could probably have an hour-long conversation on each one of those media channels, but, and putting it together in a way that can be consumed by that business owner.

So, like the brand team will have very different questions than the creative team and the exact team will have very different questions and those teams that are more based tactical. Right. So, it’s really, I think business, it really is about understanding your audience. Understanding you’re kind of doing regular SWAT analysis, you know, understanding your challenges and your strengths and opportunities and your competition and what questions come out of that.

Meaning what, what are your blind spots and then how do you solve with data? Right? Cause it’s out there, it’s out there and it’s a lot of it doesn’t even, you don’t even need to pay to play to get it. You know, like anyone can run Google trends. You know, it’s free. So, how do you get at that?

How’s it relevant to you? Well, what are your, what are your personas? Are your segments of users that, you know, if you don’t know you got homework to do, what are the keywords associated with their needs? Right. What’s the volume, meaning what drives the priority? And that’s how you start to build a very smart strategy around digital data, right?

That, volume, what your audience is telling you with their searches.

Robert Brill: [00:26:49] Is there anything that you can share about an insight that came across that something that’s publicly available, that you can talk about it, you can say, okay, look, we did this analysis either on social or pay it or something, and you know what it was. A red alarm, not, not in a bad way, but it was just like blatantly in front of us. Once we visualize the data, it was like, it was very obvious that X, Y, and Z happened. Is there anything that comes to mind?

Sean Foote: [00:27:16] Yeah. Well, I mean, a lot of more recent stuff that just kind of came to mind immediately is just like staying hyper elastic and agile with COVID.

Yeah. You know, and, every business right now, that’s relevant to us, especially if you’re an econ, if you’re omni-channel and you have an eCommerce channel, right. It’s so important to understand on or off your channels, what people are talking about and what they’re searching for. And, you know, we shifted ours, we basically railroaded our entire contents strategy when this thing came up, which is a big lift and focused more on I’d say, if you go to our Instagram channel, you’ll see a lot of it.

Excuse me historically is more like high end decorating and I would say Insta worthy. Right.  But we pivoted away from that. We P we went straight back to the roots of like baking and bread baking. There was like this Renaissance of bread baking during COVID it’s still here. Right? You’re nod your head probably because you probably know a few people that just picked up baking as a, as a hobby, or they took it to the next level where they wanted to do more with it.

And that, moving that huge, you know, 20 to 30 to 40-person team and shifting that, that direction, you know, using data as the influence, the mechanism to show that this is what we need to do. And having it be a pretty resounding success was kind of, I think, one of the more relevant, today, especially to what’s going on right now to the market, kind of takeaways we had is it’s really forced, organizations and even forced our organization to become a lot more agile.

Robert Brill: [00:28:46] When you look at return on ad spend, are you looking at, I mean, if you’re selling on Amazon and Walmart, you can definitely track return on ad spend because it’s a closed loop there. When you mentioned return on ad spend, what was that what you were referring to? Because immediately I thought, okay, well, how do you track return on ad spend?When you’re selling something in store, like it becomes a little bit.

Sean Foote: [00:29:09] No, that’s much tougher. I wish we, I think, I think there are two brands that have that maybe three at a at scale. And you mentioned two of them it’s Amazon, Walmart, maybe target. Right? I think that have, you know, I’ve had lots of discussions with people at target about, you know, on their, on their data team and.

They have that because it takes some enormous marketing technology investment to connect all those systems, you know? And I, they were not, I’m talking about the front end or what it looks like, or the user experience we’re talking about, just systems that talk to each other. And you know, also what’s their competitive advantage.

Well, it’s their first party data. You know, that’s how they, that’s, how they can leverage, you know, their clients to buy advertising is, is because they have that data that no one else can get. So I think, I mean, this is a whole, another part of the discussion potentially today is GDPR and CCPA and data privacy, and how that is going to just forcing it.

I would say a tectonic shift. Yeah. I mean, everything we all do as marketers and it’s the right cause it’s the right path to take. It’s the ethical path to take, meaning like what’s best for the user. But to your point, you know, like third party cookies, And, and it’s just this whole shift.  arguably it could be good or bad for and Amazon, but, you know, brands are being forced, especially CPG brands, you know, where we don’t have work, we have to work through the Walmarts and the targets of the world.

So far as offline goes.  We need, we need that first party data. Yeah. You know, we need our, we need there’s. I think there’s a shift. I’ve done some, some reading recently with reports published by like Merkel and some pretty big, big players in the industry. And all the brands are scrambling right now to build out marketing tech stacks, and a larger D to C or direct to consumer e-commerce environment.

Allow them to capture that data for themselves. And it’s not just about return. It’s about learning about your audience. And I can’t get any of those metrics on Amazon or Walmart or their black box for the most part, as you know, especially Amazon, but I can get anything and everything for it’s an of course anonymous, but anything so far is like behavior and affinities and everything when they come to

Right. And that then again, to the full, to your point, the full circle and makes the whole enterprise smarter. So I think you’re going to see brand, there’s gonna be a lot of brands and they already have been with COVID because they’ve had to build out e-com they didn’t have it,  that are shifting in this way to get data is going to be, if it isn’t already even more so going to be the new gold, you know, first party owned data is going to be a competitive advantage.

Robert Brill: [00:31:57] One of our, one of our clients is selling eighties DVDs.

Sean Foote: [00:32:01] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if there’s a niche market for it, and they can turn it and they can make a profit and they have the craziest thing. Yeah. And I think you you’ve seen a lot of, with COVID you’ve seen a lot of restaurants to your point.

I think even mentioned restaurants earlier. Well, you don’t want to drive for it. Well, you know, there’s grub hub. And there’s Uber eats and they’ve all, even if they don’t build out their own first party solution, they’ve had to pivot, you know, they’ve had to evolve really quickly to partner with, the middleman if they don’t do it directly themselves,  at scale because they, you know, people aren’t necessarily, depending on the state you live in, you know, coming in.

Right. So I think that’s another example of this evolution and the question remains what’s the, what’s the quote, unquote new normal coming out of this, you know, do, it’s almost like a sociology experiment, do users, re-up elegance this isolation and e-commerce and go back to the store, because they’re tired of being cooped up and, or do they, you know, do they really.

Double down on e-commerce and realized that, Oh my God, this saves me so much time. I didn’t realize it until I was forced to try it. And I don’t know about you. Time is my most precious resource these days. So, there could be an eCommerce Renaissance.  maybe, or maybe it’s both, you know, maybe there’s just a boom where people are like, you know, maybe we have one of the biggest holiday seasons ever because people just want to be with their families and they want to celebrate at scale because they’ve been cooped up and they haven’t been able to see them.

So, it’s going to be, I think we’re going to see, it’s going to be really interesting to observe, in the back half of this year.

Robert Brill: [00:33:40] What are you on that note? What are you preparing for for the next six months or 12 months for Wilton?

Sean Foote: [00:33:48] Yeah, great question. Well, we’re definitely shoring up the backend, meaning, you know, our demand.

I could build the best market, digital marketing strategy and all the tactics to support it. But if we can’t fulfill the orders, so that connectivity, I think all businesses need to be really focused on the connectivity between the front and the back end, meaning sales market,  logistics, IT, all of it, working together,  inventory, demand management, all of that stuff, because if you, if the data and there.

And the performance isn’t being shared or under-performance, isn’t being shared, then that could be a potential huge pitfall. Right. So, I think that piece, I think remaining, you know, it would be really interesting to see what marketing goes out the back half this year too, because we’re, planning to stay very focused on trend.

We already were, but almost scrapping or evergreen, like campaigns and just saying, what is today telling us? You know, and it’s a little crazy to think that way, but that’s almost how you have to be, because, you know, and we haven’t even talked about like BLM or any of the other movements, you know, it’s, you, you have to just be listening with, with such empathy and such high intent,  and, and ready to take action in a smart way, because the brands that don’t are getting roasted.

You know, and whether it’s performance or whether it’s politics or whatever it is. Right. I think that that listening component is here to stay and, you know, the brands that can build it out if they don’t have, it is the ones that are going to win because they’re going to stand out, they’re gonna look more compassionate.

They’re gonna, be more relevant to their audience. They’re the, everything will just perform better. Efficiencies will be found. And the brands that don’t stay stuck in their ways, you know, will, falter. So, it’s going to be, the holiday will be fascinating this year.

Robert Brill: [00:35:40] What’s the next effective way to listen, right? Because either you have tools or you have your gut.

Sean Foote: [00:35:46] Yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, I’m always, one of the, everyone says, you know, marketing is art and science and it is, I tend to lean very heavily on the science, but I’m a design guy too. And I understand you could have a great marketing strategy.

If you don’t have good design, it will fail. It will, period. Right. So, it’s a combination of those two things, but I would say. You know, look there, social listening platforms out there, you know, and some of them are cost more than others you can do even do what’s that.

Robert Brill: [00:36:14] Can you name some?

Sean Foote: [00:36:15] Sure? Well, the one we use is Talkwalker it’s more enterprise grade.

But there are plans. There are platforms for free that just allow you to watch trends, you know, Google trends. I keep bringing up cause it’s a platform. I think that’s underutilized Google search console. For seeing what’s coming in and out of your website, as far as like keywords impressions, you know, what’s really getting the reach right in the inbound reach.

This is not paid. And you can leverage a lot of different Google tools, Google analytics, like understand your audience, understand their affinities before you make, you know, direct media buys were, do contextual buys that make sense for your audience. Right.  which is speaking, you know, your language.

I think it’s just; it’s really tying it all together.  but, but Talkwalker has been a game changer for our brand. It’s like table stakes for us at this point.  cause it informs not just digital, it manages it, it watches brand sentiment. It does competitive analysis and tracking. It really listens.

It’s a third-party piece effective third-party piece that listens off our platforms. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of the extension of everything we do on and our own properties sends to the new online news though, you know, the blogs, anything that’s really relative to our brand, that’s where people are typing in Wilton really, or our competitors. Right.

And, we use that and then just that and inform our strategy with it.

Robert Brill: [00:37:45] Amazing. We covered a lot of ground. This is really cool. I think, I think we’re gonna wrap it up because, I want to be respect of your time. Sean Foote, director of digital marketing at Wilton brands.

Thank you, you so much.

Sean Foote: [00:38:01] Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Robert Brill: [00:38:04] Thank you for listening to this episode of the LA Business Podcast. If you like what we’re doing on this podcast, please consider subscribing on Apple or Google play, leaving a five-star review and sharing with your friends. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations for a guest you’d like to hear on this podcast, please do email me Robert at

Thank you. Have a fantastic day.

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Intro Music: Echegoyen Productions

Created By: Brill Media