By Holly Henschen | Photographed By Hillary Schave
We are living in an experience world and Amber Swenor is an experience girl.
“We came out of the information technology era where people sought information online but today, people want experiences,” Swenor says. “Now, it’s not all driven by having access to the Internet and searching for info. It’s driven by ‘how do I feel about the values of a company and engaging [with it].’ ” Swenor is the founder of Strategic Partners Marketing, a Madison firm that offers strategic brand consultation and implementation. Her company has earned two Addy Advertising Awards. She was profiled for In Business magazine’s 40 Under 40 and named both a 2018 Vital Voices VVGrow Fellow and a 2019 Goldman Sachs Fellow. In addition, she helps others build their brands through Impact Academy. Swenor, formerly an ad exec for WKOW Channel 27, founded Strategic Marketing Partners (SPM) in 2015 because she wasn’t seeing firms for small-business clients that combined brand strategy and execution in the changing marketing landscape.
“Where other reps sold ad slots, I focused on helping businesses uncover their authentic brand and marketing opportunity as the root foundation to their marketing,” Swenor says. “This is when I discovered my strength in strategic thinking and ability to help businesses uncover their truth and then market it effectively,” she says.
Swenor says nearly 60% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
Part of the reason millennials demand authenticity from the companies and people they do business with is because many experiences are 100% online with no face-to-face interaction.
Raised in the era of social media, millennials can demand accountability from brands on issues from product quality to environmental consciousness. The best brands, Swenor says, showcase their values through a consistent brand experience from marketing to post-sale communication.
After digging deep into core client values, SPM uses the findings to implement brand strategy. The firm’s expertise is in comprehensive marketing from media strategy and buying. Working within those established brand values, Swenor and her team use media like Google and Facebook to market, share targeted content and build online “funnels” that attract potential clients and guide their customer journey.
Alison Helland, a business, tax and estate planning attorney at Boardman Clark in Madison, worked with Swenor to hone her brand. Swenor encouraged Helland be visible in more spaces with the clients she wanted to reach—professional women, like herself.
“A lot of times, marketing gets commodified. Amber really takes it as a personal process,” Helland says. “She absolutely practices what she preaches and she also understands and appreciates that everybody’s journey is going to be a little different.”
Swenor thrives on helping clients pinpoint weaknesses in their customer experience strategy and building from there.
“No matter where that gap is, I give you some takeaways that you can start implementing,” she says. “Is the gap in the story and in the brand? Is that gap in the outbound marketing? Is the gap in the sales process? They all are part of marketing in the Experience Era.”
Don’t miss Amber Swenor’s BRAVA THRIVE Career Workshop presentation “Adapt Marketing for the Experience Era,” Sept. 18 at the Fitchburg BTC Center. Register here.