Taking a disruptive thinking approach to marketing is an innovative way to help your product stand out—even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.

It can be hard to break out of your comfort zone.

After all, I suppose that’s why it’s called a “comfort” zone.

And when it comes to marketing—specifically launching a new product—the thought of doing something different, something disruptive, can be downright scary.

But sometimes the risk is worth the reward, especially when you’re looking to stand out in a crowded or commoditized market. There are products in the consumer goods and services industry that we can point to as examples and even in the world of entertainment/film—since that’s exactly what Disney achieved with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (also, because most of my blog posts need to involve Star Wars in some way!)

But first, let’s define what this approach is to better understand the challenges it can overcome.

The idea of disruptive thinking and how this innovation can apply to marketing was created by Luke Williams, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. Professor Williams explains, “All of us have well-ingrained orthodoxies and patterns of perception, almost at a subconscious level, that are reinforced by all our education and experiences. And it’s great because it enables you to get through your job, and life, efficiently. But it’s a problem when it comes to thinking differently.”

The disruptive thinking method takes the expectation consumers have about the product or category and inverts it, creating an expectation gap. It may initially seem counterintuitive to address expectations your customers may not have (or may not know they have), but here are a few examples of how thinking differently disrupted entire industries.

Zipcar revolutionized the rental car industry by introducing a “car sharing” model. Instead of only being allowed to rent cars by the day or week, Zipcar members can pay for car usage by the hour. The reservation process is done solely online, so there’s no paperwork or salespeople to deal with. Zipcar also opened its services to people under 21—traditional rental car companies prohibit this and even have fees for renters under 25. The result was a hip and convenient car service that experienced tremendous growth in large cities and a membership base primarily made up of people under 35. Today, Zipcar has more than 1 million members across 500 cities and 9 countries.

LittleMissMatched started an apparel company that disrupted the notion that socks should match and only be sold in pairs. And since dryers tend to regularly eat socks, leaving us with pair-less foot cozies, they were on to something! But more so, this “mismatch” idea proved to be a hit with 8- to 12-year-old girls who loved the socks’ bright colors and fun designs and the fact that they were sold in threes. “A pair and a spare so you can wear them any way you want,” touts the company’s website. The brand’s sense of creativity and self-expression became so popular among its target audience that LittleMissMatched soon expanded beyond socks to other clothing items, bedding, backpacks, dolls, handbags, and slippers. What started out as an ecommerce site now has store locations in New York and Florida.

Which brings us back to Star Wars.

While fans are excited for a new Star Wars movie every year through 2020, there was some apprehension regarding how Rogue One, the latest film, would perform. Amid (confirmed) rumors of massive reshoots that altered the last half of the story, Rogue One broke the Star Wars mold in several significant ways:

  • It was the first non-episodic spin-off movie
  • It abandoned the classic “text crawl” to start the film
  • The story did not revolve around a Skywalker family member
  • There were no Jedi or lightsaber battles
  • It was the first Star Wars movie to create computer-generated human characters
  • It used text on screen to introduce planets (minor, but still)

In the end, removing familiar Star Wars elements enhanced an already engaging story, giving fans a unique and memorable Star Wars experience. Rogue One is the highest grossing domestic film of 2016 ($525MM+) and the second highest grossing in the franchise.

It’s certainly not the norm, but disruptive thinking has a place in marketing strategy and product positioning. At its core, the approach gives you a more holistic view of the market, while asking you to develop ideas that at one time may have seemed far-fetched.

But who knows—perhaps we’ll reach a point where doing something disruptive will become our new comfort zone.


W2O Social Scoop Logo_1024x512SOCIAL LIVE STREAMING IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD. Not really but, this month, it sure seems like it. The battle of the social platforms continues with live streaming at the forefront. Not sure what the hype is about? Read on, get the social scoop.

Facebook Logo

Facebook Upgrades Video Offerings

  • This week, Facebook added 360 degree video to its Live function. In true Facebook style and with National Geographic as sponsor, the 360 launch featured content from the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. The 360-degree view encourages users to click and drag the screen to immerse themselves in a unique and more realistic experience.
  • What it means for brands: Just like with most hot new trends, don’t just hop on the band wagon without a clear strategy. Take advantage of any opportunities to utilize this function in a way that makes sense for your brand and adds value to the viewer. This is a chance for brands to get creative and make a statement. We can’t wait to see who hits the nail on the head.

Additional resources: RT


(via Facebook & National Geographic)

Twitter Logo

Twitter Announces Direct Integration of Live-Streaming Within App

  • This month, Twitter took a step toward integrating Periscope further into the platform. Prior to this change, users were directed to Periscope’s app to set up an account or log in when they wanted to live-stream on Twitter. Now, users with a Periscope account can stream directly through the Twitter app (via a LIVE button) for a more seamless experience, encouraging more participation in the live video trend. Although live content is still saved into Periscope, it seems Twitter is moving toward phasing Periscope out entirely like they did recently with Vine.
  • What it means for brands: This new function makes it easier to stream live on the go, especially for brands who may be streaming at fast-paced events. Facebook Live is still the top performer in this space but Twitter has also found its niche in live sports streaming, while Facebook has focused on celebrities. For brands looking to live stream sponsored influencer content, Facebook remains more appealing.

Additional resources: Mashable


(via Social Media Today)


Instagram Launches Live Video Function

  • “I’m so surprised Instagram is launching live video features!” – said nobody. Instagram is the latest major social platform to hop on the live bandwagon and the rollout has arrived. Users will access live streaming via the Stories tab, where a toggle will flip to live. Here’s the catch…the videos are not stored anywhere. It’s easy to understand why the platform would want something to distinguish their live streaming from the rest, but more difficult to understand why they went this route, although it does go with their capabilities of not being able to save images.
  • What it means for brands: Although Instagram Live sounds like a trendy thing for brands to do, its inability to save live content is problematic. While it may be an appealing, edgy touch for your typical user, brands will have a hard time with truly live-only audience and metrics. Unless your audience is much more active on Instagram, platforms like Facebook Live may present a better alternative that can reach users even after the live stream ends. As far as advertising goes, stay tuned! We’re interested to see where opportunities may arise.

Additional resources: Romper


(via TechCrunch)

Snapchat Logo

Snapchat Adds 4 New Features, Including Much-Requested Group Chat

  • If you’re feeling like Snapchat group chat seems like the best idea anyone has had all year, you’re not alone. Snapchat Groups can hold up to 16 people and users can seamlessly send private chats to others in the group while remaining part of the conversation. As if that wasn’t enough, the social media giant is also revamping the paintbrush feature, and adding “scissor” and “Shazam” features. The scissor feature will turn cut-out components of snaps into stickers that users can store for later use and Shazam integration will enable users to identify any song that is playing and find out more information about it.
  • What it means for brands: On a smaller scale, this doesn’t mean much for brands just yet. However, when you look at the broader picture, these updates show Snapchat is serious about keeping their skin in the game. Competition between top platforms is sky high and these kinds of updates are what keep Snapchat relevant and retain their user base – which is good news for any brand looking to advertise on the platform. More to come as these features roll out.

Additional resources: TechCrunch; Thrillist


(via Adweek)

Overcoming Today’s Attention Deficit Challenge

Recently, an article appeared in my news feed that surprised me. The subject caused me to think that perhaps we have reached a new level of content generation, a level that we might not be able to absorb.

The article was an instructional piece about how to butter toast. That’s right – how to butter toast. There’s actually quite a bit of content on the topic, but I had not seen it, as I was pretty sure I had that task down pat (sorry).

Remember the term, Web 2.0? Some of my younger colleagues had never heard the term when I asked them. We don’t hear much about it these days because we’re living it. There are wide definitions of Web 2.0, but essentially it referred to a future state of the worldwide web with greater connectivity, user-generated content, social interaction and communication.

What we are witnessing now is the unintended byproduct of this concept: an avalanche of content. In fact, we now face a world with more content than attention. So, marketers and communications professionals find themselves at an inflection point – comprehending what’s relevant to their stakeholders, in order to gain attention and engender action, or continuing to just feed the content machine, so to speak, in the hopes that it actually motivates behavior and action beneficial to the brand or organization.

To achieve success, several critical questions must be addressed. Where does your target congregate online? Is your target getting their content passively or actively – is it finding them or are they looking for it? How do you stand out to them? Are they finding the content they seek? How do you create the right and best content and distribute it to the right place at the right time? How do you determine relevance for your topic, brand, company, etc.?

The good news is that information is more readily available than at any time in history. For marketers and communicators, the mandate is to dig deep, be thorough and know you have the right information for the right audiences in the right format at the right time. There is no need to guess anymore. The data is there and it’s verifiable. Starting with the right data, gathered by asking the right questions and then activating effectively is how we succeed in Web 2.0. (Note: being lured by pre-packaged programs using limited, or self-reported, data sets is a good way to end up with the wrong information, resulting in the wrong solution).

In our work, the biggest obstacle to generating and sustaining interest, increasing advocacy, and improving results is content. Many organizations can boast they have a full library of content, but few can employ it, given relevance, format and context.

There is a lot of content bombarding all of us in the Web 2.0 world. Getting your content in your target’s passive or active feeds is critical to capturing interest and initiating action to drive your business.

So, while buttering my toast better may make for a more fulfilling morning, something tells me either the content or the selection of my news feed to share it missed the mark completely!


We Need Brand Architects to Design and Sustain a Brand.

Brand Stewards Often Refer to a Person, but Ultimately it’s a Culture that Sustains It

What is a brand steward? Simply put, it’s someone making sure that the brand stays true to its promise to customers. It means protecting the equity of the brand and making sure that the customer experience is aligned with what the brand stands for. Someone needs to look out for the brand, but the idea of a brand steward seems incredibly passive and outdated. It’s as if this person is simply making sure everyone is abiding by the style guide and doling out hand slaps if anyone is  non-compliant.

In order for the brand to stay true to its promise, the experience of a brand needs to be delivered by everyone.  A brand becomes real only through the eyes of its audience, built through the accumulation of every touch-point between him or her and the organization. Such a task is monumental, and a single person in an organization cannot perform this task. The best way to “steward” a brand is by building a culture that sustains it.

Building a Brand-Enlightened Culture Requires Architecting

Expanding beyond stewarding is architecting. The brand architect needs to be responsible for strategically positioning the organization and developing a long lasting brand that inspires internal and external audiences continuously.  The chief marketing officer, the chief branding officer or even the CEO can assume this role; ultimately, it needs to stem from the top.

Aside from all the activities that bring to life the experience of the brand, the crucial part of brand architecture involves designing and building a brand-enlightened culture that sustains the growth of the brand. Such a culture needs to have:

1. Awareness

A brand-enlightened culture knows who they are. It’s being self-aware and being proud of everything that the organization is and isn’t.

Take a regular pulse on the organization through internal and customer surveys or town halls and communicate the results to promote awareness.

2. Shared Purpose

A group contributes toward its culture by having a shared purpose of the brand. They understand and embrace the organization’s vision and why they go to work everyday.

Share the vision and purpose of the organization from the top. Back the vision with very specific programs and plans as reasons to believe.

3. Known Behaviors and Rewards

Members of this enlightened group also know how to demonstrate that they belong. They know what kinds of behaviors are accepted and rewarded in the community.

Share stories that exemplify types of behaviors that showcase the brand and culture. At the same time, develop culture specific goals in everyone’s yearly plan.

4. System of Education and Communication

As the brand starts to develop and grow, expect to revisit activities 1-3 so that the organization grows together.

As simple as regularly scheduled in-person meetings to as intricate as developing an engaging intranet platform, the main idea is to engage members regularly.

Sustain your Brand by Developing Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors live the values of your brand authentically. They are infectiously enthusiastic, and they may be borderline obsessed. These are the people you are building your brand for, so find them and then develop them. Whether they are your employees or users of your service or product, the job of the brand architect, that pays tremendous dividends, is to identify them and then develop an honest and reciprocal relationship with them. Give them the inside scoop, the exclusivity and attention, listen to what they love and how you can improve to strengthen your bond. In return, they will become the corner stones of your brand culture.

Brand stewardship is a way-too-narrow lens to look at how to build a long lasting brand that matters. We need to architect brands instead.


With the uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote, Pharma and Biotech companies need to consider a number of unique opportunities to chart future growth in the UK and EU

On 23 June 2016 the UK government held a referendum on either exiting or remaining a part of the EU and 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. Political upheaval and speculation about what this actually means for the UK and the current EU is ongoing, and while we wait for the dust to settle the one thing that is clear is that until the UK government invokes article 50, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

What we do know is this:

  • The UK government must officially invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the process for negotiating its exit.
  • The referendum is technically “advisory” and isn’t legally binding for the UK government to act.
  • To date there has been no indication if/when the UK government will invoke Article 50, so until then, nothing changes.

This was certainly a divisive vote for the country and the resulting uncertainty has heightened emotions and speculation from both camps.  Now, if you view this vote at the highest level, it was a binary vote about whether the people of the UK wanted change (Brexit) or status quo (Bremain). So part of the reason this has been so emotional for many is that change is uncomfortable.

And we are now starting to the see the short-term effects of Brexit described by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, as the UK having “entered a period of uncertainty and significant economic adjustment”. Lack of clarity is leading to a lot of debate combined with fear, uncertainty and doubt.

W2O Group is known for its fluidity (H2O, W2O, get it?!).  We spend a lot of time sitting in discomfort as we challenge ourselves in devising new approaches, alternative thinking and challenging traditional approaches in order to help our clients achieve their objectives. If we look at the Digital revolution, while it created far reaching change to both our clients’ and our own business it created, for many, opportunities. Our aim is to apply this fluid approach and work with clients and the industry to identify the opportunities and minimize the risks as the implications of Brexit become apparent.

So what should our healthcare clients be considering as the situation plays out:

What could Brexit mean for Pharma?

Pharma and biotech companies currently employ more than 222,000 people in the UK and spend some £4 billion each year on research and development.  Prior to the referendum, big UK based drug companies had said that they wanted the country to remain in the EU. Initial uncertainty in the market on the news of Brexit had an impact on pharmaceutical stocks due to major exposure to the European market.  However, the life sciences business sector has shown recovery, but uncertainty remains.  In terms of the geo-political situation three key considerations for the industry include:

  • Potential instability of the UK as an economy (long-term) and the degree to which the UK will continue to be a priority market or part of the EU Big 5, will have far reaching impact from commercial decisions, to reimbursement negotiations, to clinical trial planning.
  • Lack of clarity about the UK’s future relationship with Europe and how this will affect medicines regulations, licensing, R&D funding, and costs for import/export of medicines.
  • Political uncertainty in the UK (short-term) and if/when Article 50 may be invoked and how the sector’s needs will be championed. Key negotiation points that will most impact our clients will be in relation to the “Four Freedoms” which include free movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders.  This is the foundation of the European Union and once the UK is no longer a part of it, how these points will be either included or excluded from a new arrangement will have the greatest effect on our how our clients can do business.

Considerations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU is warranted as it relates to participation in the centralised EMA (European Medicines Agency) regulatory system:

  • Being outside the centralised system could increase the workload for pharma company regulatory departments. As well as necessitating the shoring up of the UK national regulatory body, there will be uncertainty over how or even if the scope of responsibilities will change, both of which could lead to disruption in providing new medicines to patients across the UK and Europe. Our clients should evaluate their current regulatory department SOPs to determine how increased flexibility can be built into their operations.
  • There is speculation that there would be uncertainty within the EMA about the granting of new drug licences or the renewal of existing ones as the default period for initial licensing is five years, followed by an open-ended renewal. The EMA would therefore face a dilemma on whether to approve a drug from a UK company that would not be part of the EU for the lifetime of the licence. Licences may need to be transferred to businesses inside remaining member states and new medicines approved by the EU would not be automatically placed on the British market, but may need to undergo a protracted approval process. Our clients need to be both expediting submission of marketing authorisations and also scenario planning for those that are not yet ready for submission.
  • It could be necessary to relocate the EMA out of London. This means clients should start looking at proximity of regulatory departments to international transport.

Probably the most time-critical consideration is around the new EU Clinical Trials Directive, which was agreed in 2014, introducing a raft of changes that were expected to be implemented by the end of 2017 at the earliest and by October 2018 at the latest, when the new EU CT portal and database are fully functional. The new directive is aimed at the introduction of a simplified submission process that would ease the regulatory burden on trial sponsors by effectively using a single application to carry out multi-site trials across the EU.

With Brexit in the air it now remains to be determined what the impact on CT in the UK will be and our clients need to assess what this could mean for them. Currently, when it comes to non-EU countries operating within EMA rulings there is a precedent with EEA countries which also abide by the EMA’s regulations, so in the best of cases nothing would change.

What could Brexit mean for science, research and funding?

Research funding is one of the few areas where the UK gains more money than it spends.  Of the country’s gross contribution to the EU, £5.4bn (€6.84bn; $7.77bn) can be attributed to the community’s research, development, and innovation activities. But the UK gets back £8.8bn in research grants, so exiting the EU would in theory leave a gap of £3.4bn to be filled. Through programmes such as Horizon 2020 (H2020) and the Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI), the EU provides funding and coordinates research collaborations. UK-based companies without research facilities in other EU countries are likely to lose access to these programmes.

Clients should be looking to emphasise their robust research programs to attract talent and also looking to more closely align with leading UK universities and institutions to establish/maintain a sustainable pipeline of talent, funding and engagement with the scientific community.

What could the impact be on the NHS?

11% of UK doctors and nurses (according to the General Medical Council) hold qualifications from another EU country.  This could mean a loss of non-UK healthcare workers as well as the significant problem of the loss of capacity (a loss of EU healthcare services abroad).

Clients should be looking at devising value-add programmes which support both efficiency and quality of care.  These programmes will be important whether or not the worst fears of the NHS are realised, but it is timely to look at current support programmes and determine if they are truly making a difference, how they can be optimised, and where investment should focus next.

What could Brexit mean for UK public health?

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) is at the centre of a network of communication between EU and EEA member states to monitor, communicate and assist in response to a threat of communicable disease, forming an early warning and response system for the prevention and control of communicable diseases.  The UK will be on the outside of this network which could impact, for example, procurement of pandemic vaccines, where the EU’s greater purchasing power might push the UK down the queue.

Clients who do have vaccine programmes, should look at how these are administered, how they can support the government in shoring up critical medicines, and discuss how to information share in a potentially dis-jointed system.

Everything entirely depends on the direction that the UK government wishes to take when negotiating its exit under Article 50…IF it negotiates its exit under Article 50.  Depending on how negotiations proceed, it may even be possible to keep the UK within the European system for drug approval, and allow UK scientists and companies to continue participating in the EU’s research programmes.

So as we look at our clients’ programming needs for 2017, we are thinking in more dimensions…how we interpret global/EU challenges, how we can help clients confidently move forward with key decisions and programmes/campaigns, how we can support infrastructure changes within organisations, and how we can help UK-based clients do more with less in a challenging environment.  Staying fluid will help define new approaches for our clients’ businesses, helping them to find value in uncertainty.

 This article was written by W2O Group London-based leaders: Annalise Coady President of tWist Marketing; Danielle Whitney, Healthcare Lead EMEA: Effie Baoutis, Medical Communications Global Lead

On February 16th, W2O Group had the pleasure of sponsoring/speaking at the Holmes Report’s 3rd Annual In2 Summit in San Francisco. The event focused on bringing together “the industry’s most innovative minds to explore the future of influence and engagement.” [You can read our agency-wide recap here.]

At this years’ event, BrewLife was honored with the In2 SABRE Award for “Use of Social Media or Analytics for Audience Insights or Influencer Targeting” for our Tejava Tea social media campaign – an award we are extremely proud to receive.

BrewLife partnered with Crystal Geyser’s Tejava Tea last summer to help raise awareness and increase sales for their summer tour in LA. Tejava would be giving out samples at outdoor concerts and along the Santa Monica Pier, sponsoring events, and running billboard and radio ads throughout the area over a six week period. Our agency was tasked with developing a cohesive and consistent voice across all of Tejava social media platforms, which included Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


We kicked off the project the way we always like to: by tapping the W2O Analytics team to help identify Tejava’s target audience in the LA area. This was done through a SocialGraphics analysis, a proprietary analytics tool that identifies key interests and affinities, demographics, and the most important product features to our target persona. After looking at the results, we deemed our target segment the “Lifestyle Changers,” people looking to make healthier life choices – like switching from soda to Tejava’s zero-calorie, unsweetened tea. We then completed a conversation-based analysis which highlighted all of the conversations “Lifestyle Changers” were having on social media over the past year. The results allowed us to identify groups with common characteristics, which we could then target throughout the campaign. We used Tejava’s unique spin on unsweetened tea and all-natural elements to come up with the #PerfectNothing campaign, celebrating the moments of “nothing” in life. Our creative team showcased the #PerfectNothing lifestyle through candid posts showcasing the simplicity of Tejava’s unique fans’ healthy lifestyles.


For two weeks leading up to the LA tour and then six weeks throughout the tour, we posted 2-3 social posts per week. Once the campaign was underway, we tracked performance and adjusted our strategy to optimize each post. For example, analysis showed active imagery and group shots performed better so we adapted the creative to maximize on these insights. Additionally, we worked with our Analytics team to identify social influencers and place paid ads to target them specifically. Our SocialGraphics and conversation-based analysis allowed us to place ads and use social influencers that would come in contact with “Lifestyle Changers” through common page likes, conversation topics, and more. This was a great way to increase awareness as well as visibility across social channels. This award means a lot to us because it demonstrates the added value of working with BrewLife, a W2O Company. Not only do clients get the insights and intelligence of the BrewLife team, but they also get the input and analytical capabilities from our long hallway at W2O. The Tejava #PerfectNothing campaign is a great example of how collaboration across various teams allowed us to create and launch a successful (and award winning) campaign!


Learn more about W2O Group



There is a content and media surplus. Attention defecit. Consumers have tunnel vision. Their media consumption habits and behaviors are unpredictable.

This makes it extremely difficult to reach an audience.

Whether it’s an ITDM, a physician type, millennial, developers or an affluent consumer, you name it. You can’t just launch a campaign and expect to make a difference much less any business impact.

But imagine if you had the intelligence that define their behavior online? What type(s) of media they consume, their specific language and context when talking about key issues? Their platforms of choice or what time(s) they are online? Essentially, knowing what makes that specific audience unique from everyone else?

This intelligence is critical.  And, this is how you break through the clutter and reach your audience with content and ideas that matter – to them, not you.

Everything else is just a guess.

A lot of folks talk definitively about storytelling, being human and of course content marketing.  And many of the campaigns referenced are certainly creative with catchy tag lines, cool hashtags, interactive video, etc. They may even get a nice write up in Digiday or Adweek.

But I wonder how impactful these campaigns really are.

Below are some slides I put together an approach that leads with audience architecture which should be the backbone for all marketing campaigns.




Column published in the November 23, 2015 issue of PRNews

It’s relatively easy to anticipate macro trends in technology for 2016.  It is much harder to predict how those trends will change the communications profession.  Based on work with large brands and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, here is a list of top trends that will matter most for the Chief Communications Officer and his/her team.

  1. Audience Architecture Starts to Replace the Coverage Model: We now can see exactly who our audience is online (all social media channels and mainstream media), so we can listen to its needs, align our story with its desires and measure our success in reaching the target market for our brand or topic. Getting coverage is only one piece of this puzzle. Why? Blogs and Twitter drive 2/3s of content flow. Mainstream media has become a catalyst that blogs and Twitter drive. Think of the audience as becoming more important than the outlet. When you get coverage, the PR pro’s job is just beginning.  He/she needs to ensure that this coverage reaches the audience; the job calls for sharing it via social channels so it gets to the right people.  The end game used to be coverage itself. No more.
  2. Responsive Experience Replaces Responsive Design: Since more than 50% of content is consumed via phone and that figure will rise to more than 75% in three years or fewer, we have to provide the right experience the first time our customer looks for it online. If we direct people to a website and make them hunt for the desired information, we will lose most people and they won’t come back. We have to deliver the exact content right away.  Since people tell us what they want via search, e.g. “company x, product y pricing”, we can deliver this exact content on the first visit.  The search words serve as a trigger for the right content, which you have pre-packaged, to show up.  Imagine preparing for ten types of customers to visit your site.  Once you know who they are via their search terms coming into the site, the content changes to meet their needs.  This is simple technology we can all use today.
  3. We are Entering the era of the 9%: In the 1,9,90 model, fewer than one percent of people create content, approximately nine percent share the content and 90 percent lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. The first ten years of social media have been about the 1 percent. Now, technology advance has made it super easy for the 9 percent to share content, add comments and continue the conversation in any channel and on any device.  This is the second sales force for a brand.  We must know who they are and start building far better relationships with the 9 percent.  They are the best friends of the one percent and should be of us as well.
  4. We Have Fewer Than Three Seconds to Make an Impression via Video: Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, so it knows a thing or two about how users react to video. Its data show that we have fewer than three seconds to grab the viewer’s interest. The result is how we produce video must change. We need to create a strong first impression and should be investing in a wider range of lower cost video, not longer, expensive video.  Disagree? OK. But I usually avoid arguing with what we learn from 8 billion views per day.  That’s a big enough focus group for me.
  5. Internal Communications will Start Learning from External Audiences: We have long made the mistake of examining only internal metrics to measure internal satisfaction of our employees. Now, we realize via new models that we can identify what matters to specific employee groups by analyzing their external activities: where they hang out (social channels, forums, blogs), talk, share and learn from each other.  The answers to how better align with employees can be found outside of our walls and inside their tribes.
  6. The Full Story of a Brand Must be Delivered to the Customer: We can now use technology platforms to deliver the full story of a brand (think 4-6 articles and 2-4 links) directly to our customers in any social channel. We can then watch what they like, what they share and dynamically change the content in all channels in seconds. Interactive storytelling is emerging as a new discipline, since we can deliver content anywhere, any channel, anytime.  It’s time for us to go to the customer, not ask him/her to visit us.

As I finish my first week at W2O I’m keenly aware that every client, every employee, every intended customer and audience is touched by technology every day in some way. And, it also strikes a chord with me that we are witnessing the end of an era in technology as well. The filing of chapter 11 by a landmark in technology, RadioShack. Yes, change is inevitable.

But would we have the technology we have today if we were stuck with the original ‘RS Walkie-Talkie’ or if they never sold you your first RC car? Or, even better, if Jobs and Wozniak had not gone to RadioShack for some of their first transistors and diodes? If the salesperson there hadn’t been explicit about what would work and what would not? It’s human interaction that drives innovation and change, the desire for something better, more useful or new. However, innovation, just to create something new, is useless if it’s not intuitive. In other words, if it’s really cool but too complicated to use, or really SIMPLE but not interesting, no one will care.

New media is innovative, it’s all about digital, algorithms and code. Yes marketing is changing, segmentation has taken on a whole new meaning when we think about people’s digital footprint. But is it intuitive? What hasn’t changed? Marketing and communications still depends on emotion, need and simplicity.

The questions I’m faced with in relation to the tools available today is, are they simply enough to explain and understand to the end user or client? Do they truly understand the need, value and why they should care about the new services available to them? In other words, does the emotional response resonate, rather than is it just pure logic – zero’s and one’s.

Marketing, communications, advertising and public relations are still fundamentally the same as they were a generation ago. Our business is as much about art as it is about science. Analytics, insights-driven content creation, and thought leadership only work if people care and you can explain the “wow behind the how.”

The “wow” part brings me to why coming to W2O Group is such a great opportunity. The “wow” means storytelling. Since drawings on caveman walls to the modern digital content, one thing drives purchase consideration: the story. The analytics that W2O offers are like no other in the industry. They help write the narrative, create the story and offer sound business strategy and inform better media planning and communications. Having come from the client side of the business recently, I know how hard this is to do in-house.

W2O finds the right people in the right places to tell the story to. As I like to say, sounding the intended audience where they work live and play with more accuracy and better insights than any group I know.

My approach is based upon both sound business planning and creative design strategy. I use analytics and insights that assumes pure rationality and objectivity for ROI measurement. It’s clean, economic, results oriented and assume most answers are simply right or wrong just like many of the tools we offer. But, augment it with a designers approach based upon iteration, human interaction and experience (the UI and UX if you will) for services, ideation, products and brand. It’s always a bit “messy” and instinct is as much a part of the decision process as research or facts.  Answers are not always about right and wrong as much as they are about better or worse. Failing faster comes to mind for me here. Art vs. science.

It seems odd to me that marketers and agencies alike are beginning to think that traditional media is dead. It’s not dead. It’s just metamorphosed into something different, more unique, and more complicated even. But let’s not let those old forms of storytelling go the way of RadioShack, where the human, emotional side of the business that helped launch Apple receded, leaving only aisles of cables and tiny drawers of diodes: technology, with no narrative.

*Posted also on tWist Mktg’s blog.

Jon Maron