Thomas Sanchez and Anthony Shop
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Forecasting the next decade of global opportunities and challenges in emerging technology
Thomas Sanchez and Anthony Shop are the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer, respectively, of Social Driver, a digital agency based in Washington, DC. Social Driver provides its clients with a range of digital services that include social media strategy, web development, video, and brand design. The company has worked with industry giants such as Honda, Sprint, the Motion Picture Association of America, Computer Sciences Corporation, American Hospital Association, and more. Since starting in 2011, Social Driver has grown at a blistering pace: it’s currently the 7th fastest growing agency in the US. The company has earned the DC Chamber of Commerce’s DC Small Business Champion award, as well as the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts’ Communicator Award of Distinction. Additionally, Thomas has been named an Innovator of the Year (DC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) and Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year (Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce), while Anthony has been listed as one of the Washington Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.
Thomas Sanchez and Anthony Shop spoke with citybizlist publisher Edwin Warfield for this interview.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Social media is one of the fastest moving technologies today. Can you tell us how your industry has changed in the time that Social Driver has been around? How do you stay on top of trends and differentiate your services?
THOMAS SANCHEZ: Here we are in 2016, and social media is everywhere. Just like there’s accounting firms on almost every block, or lawyers on almost every block, today there’s digital marketing firms on every block. That wasn’t the case [back in 2011]. Not only are there digital marketing firms, but traditional firms like PR and advertising are also moving into this space. So, it is important that you differentiate yourself.
We have a tagline at Social Driver—we say, “experience digital with us.” Experience is the biggest part. When you work with Social Driver, we have actually engineered our team for performance. We actually call our org chart “the performance loop”. We get creatives to work with strategists, and strategists to work with planners, and we have a really systematic approach to how we tackle problems with our clients. So, when they come to us, they’ve probably worked for the small agency before, or maybe they’ve worked with the freelancer, and their experience hasn’t been so great. There’s a lot of people who say they are experts in this industry who aren’t so great. Or, maybe they are experts but they don’t have the organization behind them to keep up with the fast pace of a Fortune 500 company’s demand. We’ve created a company that actually has the experience, both in terms of the technology and the chops, but also in terms of the organization and being able to get things done with quality.
Q. What role does data play in your strategy?
THOMAS SANCHEZ: The future of marketing is data-driven. Today, we have to use analytics to guide our strategy. And we need to think through this reversal in the relationship between companies and their customers. It was always a “push” world, but today it’s much more bottom-up. We see that in terms of crowdfunding on websites, or open source, and now all business is becoming bottom-up, and to be bottom-up you really have to understand not just a persona of who your customer is, but really what do they do every minute, what do they do everyday? And how can you be part of their story, rather than forcing your story into the customer’s life?
Q. What kinds of companies do you provide these services for? Can you share some of your success stories?
ANTHONY SHOP: We have been fortunate to work with a lot of fantastic clients. We worked with Honda North America; we helped them become the first automaker to use social media in their public affairs efforts. They were the first one to have a Twitter account that they used to communicate with policymakers and to communicate about their investment in America.
Right now, we’re working with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation on the Hidden Heroes campaign. That is really exciting, because the campaign chairman and spokesman is Tom Hanks, and a number of other really well known people like Tim McGraw and Matt Lauer are spokespeople for this campaign. We built a website that has got thousands of people to sign up, to get resources—those who are caregivers to military folks, and they need access to those resources—and the campaign has already reached millions and millions of people. We work with them on social media. We work with the strategy to make sure that the celebrity spokespeople are able to amplify the message as much as possible on social media. We advise those teams and help them create content.
We’ve really run the gamut from major corporations, major initiatives, but, you know, we also work with a number of different businesses of all sizes—and often as a partner. Companies that are PR companies, ad agencies that understand that messaging and that traditional approach but need the digital components—they come to us for the web, the social, the video, because they realize, and we realize, that our work is an important component—every day it becomes more important—but it’s not the only thing that you need to be successful in the marketing and communications landscape. A lot of times, the best way to be successful is to partner together and work on those clients together. And we really designed our business to specialize in doing that—not to just be one of the best digital agencies, but to be the best digital agency partner for other companies that need to bring a partner into that component. That’s strong differentiator for us that’s helped us to grow faster than many of our peers and competitors.
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