Cameron Gawley From Buzzshift

On Tuesday Oct. 8, Ad Club had the opportunity to host UNT Alum, Cameron Gawley, CEO and Co-founder of Buzzshift, a DFW Advertising Agency.

He presented some recent shifts that have, and are, occurring in the world of advertising, while offering great advice on how to tackle them.

The challenges we tackle and the tools we have to work with have ALL CHANGED

“It was literally Twitter that did it for me,” he said. At South by Southwest in 2007, Gawley found himself at a “Twitter party” and was, for the first time, exposed to a massive shift in communication trends. He called this his “‘Aha!’ Moment”.

To set the stage, Twitter had just recently come out. People could now post their thoughts on a social media platform, anytime and anywhere, in the form of 140 character “tweets”. There was massive, seemingly overnight, growth of the brand with the number of tweets multiplying by the thousands day by day. 

People weren’t just exposed to a product. They were exposed to an idea and a trend, adopting it as a part of their day to day life.

The rate at which messages were spread on this new platform was revolutionary. Tweets were coming in by the thousands, and for the first time, there was an opportunity to communicate dynamically and personally with an audience. More than that, the opportunity to grow a brand through digital interaction.

“What I realized was my ‘true north’ was growth,” Gawley said.

We continue to see this with other social media platforms. Take Snapchat, for example. Gawley explained that rather than using a billboard or a magazine advertisement, a brand can cater to a specific audience through customizable social media platforms.

“We don’t try to get people to shop right away,” Gawley explained, “we want to form a relationship.”

Traditional spots are still being created, however, we can repurpose assets and distribute them in a new way.

This new age of advertising is focused on people. An audience wants testimonials. They want a storyline rather than a billboard. They want something that they can connect with. 

And if they don’t engage? Simply show them a different angle. 

People choose what they want to see, and social media opens a door that allows brands to shape their media strategy around who is seeing what, and when. Agencies can now target a specific market of people by knowing what it is they want to see…and knowing exactly where to find those people.

It’s the concept of “post-methodology”.  Instead of starting with the technology, start with the people.

“Go where the people already are.”

The Social Media Landscape

It all revolves around the idea of self-awareness. 

“If you can be empathetic and self-aware, you’re gold in this industry,” said Gawley. 

It’s not about hustling until you burn yourself out, but rather taking a moment to understand the pain and the needs of the consumer.

Gawley explained that traditional advertising agencies have been, in a sense, “order takers”. A client comes to an agency with a need and the agency fulfills that need. “You’re taking orders,” he said.

But just how effective is this process?

The agency is supposed to be the doctor and the brand is the patient,” he said. A patient would never walk into a doctor’s office and tell the professionals how to do their job. The results would be harmful. 

In the same way, it’s the job of the agency to know what will strike a chord with the consumer. 

Ad Agencies are “brand centric”

“We need to improve the way we create content and how we distribute it. Sometimes we complicate things. We think of this 30 second spot, but you don’t necessarily need to.”

Many brands lead with features of their product, but the consumer doesn’t understand features. They understand benefits. They want to know how they can connect with the brand and how it will impact them.

If you do the same things over and over, you’ll continue to get the same results. Gawley emphasized the importance of understanding what level of exposure your target audience is at.

These levels include:

  • Awareness of brand
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

“Be a ‘dabbler’. Learn a lot.”

Gawley’s final note of advice is to be a “dabbler”. Hone in on what we find interesting and fine tune those skills, while also branching out and not being afraid to explore possibilities.


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