Content Marketing: 5 Questions With Tom Sebok, MXM


Tom Sebok headshotTom Sebok, former EVP and Global Client Leader at BBDO, has just been named Chief Client Officer at MXM, the content-powered digital agency owned by media and marketing company, Meredith Corporation.

MXM, short for Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, provides digital content grounded in data and analytics, and the agency designs digital ecosystems through the intersection of strategy, content, creativity, analytics and technology.

The news of Sebok’s switch is a win for MXM, as Tom’s 25 years of experience in the industry speak to his business accomplishments and creative achievements for a variety of global brands. As Chief Client Officer, Sebok will be responsible for managing client relationships across MXM’s entire client portfolio.

With his experience at BBDO and Young & Rubicam, Tom is no stranger to the advertising and marketing communications world. With over two decades in the field, Tom has been built up some of the world’s most famous brands, such as PepsiCo, AT&T, Campbell’s, FedEx and Virgin Atlantic.

As President and CEO of Young & Rubicam North America, Tom spearheaded several of the company’s business, digital, and creative projects.

“Tom is an innately talented leader known for building great relationships with clients, providing them with the highest level of strategic counsel and demonstrating deep commitment to building their businesses,” said agency president Georgine Anton, who Sebok will be reporting to at MXM’s New York office. “His expertise in assembling and inspiring high-performance creative teams will be immediately beneficial to the entire MXM network and our diverse roster of blue-chip clients.”

We got the chance to sit down with Tom and chat about his new venture at MXM and his experience in the field:

What attracted you to the opportunity of heading up client services at MXM?

We’re in the midst of a transformational time in marketing, and MXM seems uniquely equipped to help clients capitalize on these new opportunities and navigate the exploding complexities of today’s digital marketing ecosystem.

MXM brings together an amazing depth of technical capabilities in data analytics and robust development capabilities, and its editorial DNA and journalistic heritage makes it unique in the industry. The people at MXM are passionate in their commitment to driving growth for clients, and I’m thrilled to have the privilege of serving those clients with excellence.

What takeaways from your previous experience do you bring to this new opportunity?

I’ve worked with leading brands across practically every major industry sector, and while I think every client base seeks growth in unique ways, they all have a common need: to create relevant, quality content across what is an exploding array of channels, platforms and touchpoints.

Our ability to understand consumer behavior has never been greater. The opportunity to mine that data for insights to fuel creativity and enable individualized communications is incredibly powerful. However, this increasing personalization comes with a heightened responsibility to define a consistent brand narrative in our omni-channel marketing efforts. I think my experience will help me keep that brand narrative focus, even as the personalization of messaging continues to change with the expansion of platforms.

Also, the experience of working across a variety of expert disciplines, assembling teams, and inspiring those teams to perform at their best, is an experience I’ve gained over time that I think will be valuable to MXM.

How has digital and content marketing transformed in the past five years?

Over the past five years, there have been significant advances in our ability to access, ingest, and align various data sources. These advancements have enabled us to drive sharper insights, greater targeting abilities, predictive behavior and better visibility into the productivity of marketing actions. All of this has begun to enable improved measurements of the return of marketing investment.

With the expansion of channels and platforms, we’ve had an exciting new array of colors with which to paint, and this has driven a whole host of new opportunities for creativity.

What is the opportunity to keep pushing that transformation and really take advantage of the platforms that now exist to establish and engage an audience?

I think we have a responsibility to move from an era of supplying huge volumes of content to feed the content-hungry ecosystem, to an era that prioritizes the quality of the content.

While much of the energy to date has been on optimization in execution-shaping media decisions in real time for example, I think the most exciting advances will be in uncovering new insights that inform our strategies, messaging, and creativity. It’s an exciting shift that will ultimately result in even more relevant and productive campaigns.

What are clients looking for—and how does MXM fill that need on both sides?

A major challenge that all clients face is finding a connective thread that keeps the brand narrative clear and unique in their customers’ minds, even if they speak discreetly against specific needs or specific segments. Clients need to map out a total brand narrative in a way that is authentic and consistent. The priority, then, is to develop a disciplined understanding of brand’s message in a way that’s consistently visible in all of the touchpoints along the customer journey.

I believe the most critical component of success—whether in marketing, sales, or leadership—is empathy: the ability to really understand another’s needs, desires, and motivations. There is an immense amount of value in the concept of walking in someone else’s shoes and approaching everything you do with a deep empathy for the needs of those that you serve.

In the end, a sense of underlying empathy is the factor that accelerates a company’s technology, expertise, capabilities, knowledge and creativity. Empathy is the component that drives everything else.

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