Five Minutes With: John Foley, CEO/Principal Brand Strategist of LEVEL

What are your biggest opportunities and challenges for the next 12-24 months?

Our biggest opportunities will be in the areas of strategic brand content development, regional expansion and helping our clients continue to grow their businesses. Working as an advertising, digital and strategic shop we are very excited about the potential growth given our agency’s experience and expertise. The largest challenge is finding the talent to meet our growth plans.

What keeps your clients up at night?

Our clients’ concerns are directly related to the dynamic markets they find they are competing in today. The Affordable Care Act is having a seismic impact on the entire healthcare industry. The financial services industry continues to be in recovery mode with low interest rates and many investments in technology, and the technology sector continues to be challenged with the relentless pace of innovation. All of these issues represent both opportunities and threats for our clients’ businesses.

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

We continue to struggle with helping our clients differentiate between market strategy and digital competency. Digital solutions represent amazing new channels for building brands and customer relationships. However, they are tactical and need a strong brand strategy to optimize their potential. Clients many times mistake being digital with being strategic. Our ongoing challenge is to help them make the most of the emerging technologies that are available in the marketplace.

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

The biggest unmet need is applying brand strategy to content development. There’s a plethora of resources offering content and storytelling but they don’t have the background to really understand content development in the context of brand. We are working to fill this need by helping our clients understand the role of brand development with content development.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

New platforms are popping up every day. They can quickly find a niche audience, but in an increasingly competitive market, longevity is based on broad appeal and the ability to gain critical volume quickly. The generation that was weaned on Facebook has migrated to Snapchat, Yik Yak and Blab; we see platforms like Slack advertising on network TV. Periscope has become easier to use and ownership by Twitter will boost its usage.

Social networks are multiplying rapidly, and we have tools that allow both individuals and marketers to post across platforms.  However, posting everywhere does not guarantee participation and engagement.  We will experience new social platforms that have a quick, meteoric rise, but survival and longevity will belong to a few.

–John Foley is CEO and Principal Brand Strategist at LEVEL

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