Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Know Your Audience with Anne-Marie O’Neill

George Grombacher March 6, 2022

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Know Your Audience with Anne-Marie O'Neill

LifeBlood: We talked about how important it is to know your audience, how to think about what success means for your brand’s marketing and engagement efforts, how to turn customers into fans, and how to get started, with Anne-Marie O’Neill, CEO of WhaleRock Industries, an LA-based media company.  

Listen to learn how to get better at knowing your audience!

You can learn more about Anne-Marie at WhaleRockIndustries.com and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Anne-Marie O'Neill

Episode Transcript

Come on

What do I put this is George G and the time is right to welcome. Today’s guest is strong and powerful. And Maria, Neil and Marie, are you ready to do this? I am George. Let’s go. Let’s Let’s go. Emery is the CEO of whale rock industries. They’re an LA based media company, combining TV, podcasting and digital production with strategic business consulting services, Emery, tell us a little about your personal life some more about your work and why you do what you do. Sure. Thank you. First of all, for having me. Here I am. based in Los Angeles. As you can probably see, by my lovely fake background,

Anne-Marie O’Neill 0:48
we love our palm trees and sunsets. Well, rock is based in LA we are as you probably introduced us a combination of a media production company and consulting company. And we really super focused on we work with clients and other brands and businesses or even talent on helping them to hit their business goals by thinking like an entertainment company.

And so that’s, that’s really kind of at the heart of what we do. In my real life. I have worked in media and entertainment for decades, first in Australia, and Sydney at newspapers and magazines and magazines in New York City. And then eventually found my way to LA where I transitioned into digital media TV production. And as mentioned podcasting, and I’m a mom of twins, 16 year old boys. And that’s about it. Originally from Australia, I’ve still got the trace of about sent.

george grombacher 1:49
Some i I was researching well rock and super cool company and this beautiful website, and you’ve worked with literally the biggest brands in the world, and the most iconic people and entertainers. Y’all are doing a lot. And you You did a good job condensing that helping brands, businesses and talent, think more like a media company, is that kind of what we’re all going to be doing, or we’re already on that path.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 2:20
I think a lot of a lot of brands and a lot of other personality, personalities, TV personalities, maybe personalities are already thinking along that path. And I think we’ve seen a lot of success stories over the years from talent that have thought that way and big brands have have thought that way. A lot of the brands that we start talking to are a little lost in terms of finding their way towards that and what it means. And you know what it really means from it, let’s take brands first what it really means from a brand point of view is rather than just looking at your customer, as a consumer of your goods or services, to really consider them as your audience, because what you really want to do with any customers to turn them from a customer into a fan, and create that lifelong loyalty. That translates into all those lovely kind of business metrics we know of like LTVs, and all the rest but but really, if you set out with that philosophy of really informing and entertaining and inspiring your customers, like they’re your audience and creating a community of loyalty around your brand, then you can activate those customers to do whatever it is you want them to do from a business point of view.

george grombacher 3:32
That makes a lot of sense. I what popped into my head and you work with him as Howard Stern. And he was calling himself the king of all media back 30 years ago, probably. And it seems like now, he was just way, way, way ahead of the curve. And so it’s easy for me to get my brain around, okay, people want to be like Howard Stern or like Joe Rogan. But for a brand. That’s, that’s that’s a lot harder.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 4:03
If you’ve seen a lot of big brands do it over the years, when you can think of Redbull they were kind of pioneers in setting themselves up as entertainers. You know, a lot of brands have done a very good jobs, especially this kind of branded content has come to the fore you know, like you’ll see ads on ads anymore, right ads are usually these kind of little ways of enter the best ads, especially the Superbowl coming up. The best ads are those that are these little nuggets of entertainment. So that’s, that’s kind of like the ground floor concept. But with all of the platforms available to brands now to directly relate to their customers and directly talk to their consumers. There really is this expectation among consumers that they’re going to talk to them in a specific way that it’s not going to be the old kind of jiggly sales, advertising, conversation. It really is a kind of community building experience with the customers more experiential

george grombacher 5:01
than it is me talking about you.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 5:05
Yeah. And I think that that’s not, that’s not new. You know, I think the evolution of that has been coming for a long time. What’s different now is that fragmentation of the media and the fragmentation of the entire kind of communications landscape, so that there isn’t just one channel in which to reach your audience. It’s not just through paid advertising. It’s not just through TV branding, or, or billboards. It’s really, you know, connecting with your segment and audience where they are, whether that’s across social media, or your own digital platforms, and really understanding how to make that work.

george grombacher 5:44
Yeah, fascinating. So many different ways to connect with people and more and more and more and NF T’s, and the metaverse and all of that,

Anne-Marie O’Neill 5:54
it’s only going to get more interesting.

george grombacher 5:57
Interesting, complicated, noisy, perfect, all of it.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 6:04
I don’t know if it’s perfect. It’s being able to break through that noise is a challenge. I mean, I, I actually find it fascinating just watching how media has evolved, and how our personal attention spans have changed as consumers. That in itself is interesting. I feel like we’re able to absorb so many more messages, then, and so much more noise as you put it than we used to be able to.

george grombacher 6:34
Yeah, fascinating. How do you think about success, because you’ve got, I imagine a very small number of people getting the vast majority of the eyeballs. But that doesn’t mean that that somebody should try to do this.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 6:51
Right now, I think success is going to be different for every brand or person or personality. And I think it’s really important to interesting before that, because I think it’s really important to start by defining what success looks like. To you, I were very, you know, we’re kind of described as often as left brain, right brain, we come from very creative backgrounds, where all creative producers and business operators are well off. But we’re also very data driven and KPI focused. And so I think that no matter who you are, whether you’re a brand or an individual, you really have to figure out what is that metric that I’m going for what what is going to show me what success looks like, is it deep engagement? Is it growing my fan base? Is it brand awareness? So all of the levers that are out there to be shifted in one way or another to help you are shifted differently, depending on what it is you’re trying to drive? Yeah.

george grombacher 7:52
So you, you, you certainly named, I think probably some of the key ones. But if you would go through that, again, it’s it’s engagement, it’s awareness, it’s just getting more customers.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 8:05
Yeah, I think, depending on where you are in your business life and cycle, it’s very important to look at what your goals are, and the macro goal, be brand awareness, if you’re a small brand that really wants to get consumer attention, then that’s brand awareness would be potentially number one view. But driving customer engagement is very important. For some brands, it’s really increasing the fan base, really, really just adding those followers. And ultimately, if you’re selling a product, or if you’re selling a subscription, or you have some kind of money making model at the end of all of this, then your ultimate goal is probably going to be to make more of that money, right? So you’ve got to figure out like, what are the steps to getting you there? And does it start with brand awareness? Or if you already got that, and it starts with deeper customer engagement? How are you going to take that customer engagement and translate that into an action?

george grombacher 8:59
Got it. Nice. So some of these companies, you mentioned Red Bull. Some of these companies probably have massive amounts of resources in the form of money and time and attention to devote to this for other brands that maybe they say we’re not going to go all in or should they be going all in? How how how should they be thinking about this?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 9:26
I would start by thinking about your customer or as I would put it thinking about your audience and where you’re going to get the most bang for your marketing buck when it comes to that audience. Right. So if I’m trying to reach an 18 year old I’m not going to go on Facebook have gone Tik Tok. So just really being sensible about who the audiences and you might say, Well, my audiences everyone, it’s a broad audience. You really need them to have a multi channel approach and a multi channel strategy where you’re talking different And in a very platform specific way to these audiences, there are different ways to engage on Facebook versus Snapchat or Tik Tok, or YouTube shorts or YouTube itself. So really figuring out what the audience is kids, number one, Who you talking to, and what do you want them to hear? And what’s the message? And what do you want them to do with that message? And then I would narrow that down to Okay, where are you going to get the most value, if you can only afford right now to have a platform strategy and your time only allows you to engage on Tik Tok? But you’re looking for that demographic, then go for it?

george grombacher 10:39
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. In terms of community and starting to foster that, when we have, it seems like a lot more platforms that are coming online that allow brands and even creators to creators to create their own communities. How how do you think about that? How do you think about frequency of different opportunities? It’s really a convoluted question. Perhaps you have some sense of what I’m asking?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 11:11
A little lost month? Try that one again.

george grombacher 11:15
Yeah, I guess it’s a function of how how, how should they be thinking about community? Is it is it providing? Is it thinking about providing in person events? Is it online events? Is it access? Is it all these things?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 11:30
It’s all of them. You know, I really think we, we really, I wish there was another word for this. But we really talked a lot about having a 360 degree approach to everything you’re doing as a as a brand or as a marketer. And again, it comes back to where is your audience, if your audience is likely to engage in person and engagement person, if they’re likely to engage in a forum or on Reddit, go there. It’s really audience first, and then everything else back from that. But I think the whole purpose and sense of creating community first is really developing that trust and loyalty, so that you’re not just peddling messages, and you’re not just kind of peddling products, that you’re really understanding who your customers are, and who your audience is, and creating something of value for them. So that they’re coming to your social media pages or your events through in person events. They’re coming there because they’re, you’ve created value for them. And that’s going to give you long term brand loyalty and ultimately get to those nitty gritty revenue goals that that most companies want to wind up with.

george grombacher 12:39
Yeah, I appreciate that. So it’s probably going to come down to it just it just depends on on what the objectives are, and what a success metric looks like. Is it possible for for, for for big, maybe legacy brands, I’m thinking about a company like like, like IBM, to, to create community or is too late.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 13:04
I want to say it’s never too late for a brand, especially brand events, that magnitude to reinvent itself. You know, you look at something like Microsoft, Microsoft just thought, you know, Activision was it like, they’re, they’re reinventing themselves in the gaming space. And, you know, I don’t know if you’ve been to Microsoft’s campus, but it in when you’re in Seattle, and you go to Microsoft campus, it doesn’t look like Google. It looks like a campus that was built in the 80s. It was and you know, just shows you what kind of legacy not saying it’s not a nice campus, it is true, there’s just not that vibe of an older company. I’m not as familiar with IBM, in terms of their physical presence. But it does remind you this is a company that’s been around for many decades, and yet they’re reinventing and reinventing. And I think that there’s certainly a lot of opportunity for a company like IBM to do that, too. They’ve got so many stakeholders and constituents in their, in their audience, right, because they’re so heavily b2b, as well as going to consumers. But it’s a really interesting space. And as you mentioned earlier, with technology opening so many, not just so many doors, but new universes to us all to play in. I think there there are huge opportunities for for those legacy brands, because they’ve got they’ve got the, as I said, they’ve got the legacy. They’ve got the money. They’ve got the human resources and the brainpower to actually to actually make a big difference.

george grombacher 14:34
Yeah, it’s fascinating. The the Microsoft buys Activision. And who knows what moves we’re going to see companies like Apple or companies like IBM or XYZ companies as they expand and opportunities become different and should be really, really fascinating. You must look at that as as oh my goodness, it’s just so many different opportunities. How, how do you think about different engagements is you’re working with a new client? Because you’re not able to work with all at all, if every company came to you, how are you making decisions about who to take on as a client?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 15:18
You know, I think we’re, we’re not actually kind of moving people out the door, where we’re usually very excited to work with most clients, because we’re, we’re problem solvers at heart. And most clients come to us with some kind of pre existing challenge or desire to grow or to find and fill a whitespace. You know, and, and that’s what we’re really good at helping them with, especially when it’s to do with, you know, even just going back to some brand fundamental fundamentals, like brand foundations, and, and figuring out where those white spaces are with your audience. You know, we’ve got, we’ve worked with retailers, and big communications and tech companies and with big studios, and, as you mentioned, a lot of big talent. So we really do kind of have the full spectrum. And I think being able to bring everything back to that idea of, of engaging an audience, it creates a baseline, so that you can doesn’t really matter what industry you’re in, you’re able to kind of engage in a way that makes sense and is meaningful for whatever client comes in the door.

george grombacher 16:22
Yeah, it’s fascinating. It seems like it all kinds of it all kind of runs has has run together over the past couple of years. But it seems like everybody wanted to do video and platforms are really promoting that and shorter videos, and now longer videos, whatever it might be, is there a certain medium that you’re most excited about?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 16:45
I am very excited to see what happens with web three in in the coming years. I think that we’re seeing just a colossal shift in thought and engagement around the blockchain universe in the last 12 months. And it’s gone from people only having the understanding of NF T’s as collectibles and as art and then many people shaking their heads at that idea to really understanding what is an NF t from a utility standpoint. And, you know, what does that universe offer in terms of some really basic business principles and then also of marketing and entertainment. So I think I think that’s a space that’s going to become really interesting very quickly as people start to gather at more kind of better depth and breadth of understanding of what’s on offer and as it as it develops a more diverse audience.

george grombacher 17:44
Yeah, I am. I am. Are, are you optimistic about being able to bring everything together the way that it is? Or do you feel like certain things, certain technologies are going to be more fads? Just as we it just feels like we have so much. There is

Anne-Marie O’Neill 18:09
so much and it’s I feel like it’s a bit of a gold rush right now, in that space in the world through space. And everyone’s just kind of grabbing is literally a land grab, right? Where, you know, people are actually now buying land in the metaverse. So I think that like everything, they’ll probably run on it, and then things will shake out and the companies that have managed to create successful logical platforms and engagement tools that the audience really wants, and if they’re able to expand that audience, to a general population audience, you know, more women more people of color and or, you know, diverse audiences that aren’t necessarily the the first responders or the first adapt adopters of technology. It could get really interesting, but yeah, everything shakes out. I mean, I find the audio interesting audio super interesting, too. I mean, it’s, the audio is back with a vengeance after being pretty quiet for decades. So it is interesting how things cycled back. Yeah.

george grombacher 19:16
To try to figure out what the audience actually wants. Do we really want to be interacting and buying real estate in the metaverse? I don’t know the answer to that question. And Maria, but I guess we’ll find out within the next how year two years.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 19:33
Yeah. When we find out I’ve got a couple of friends who will be really wealthy or really poor one of the two. I haven’t dabbled there too heavily myself. But it’s fun. It’s fun having these I just always wanted to George like at what point do we as humans and we as customers and kind of consumers of all this media and technology. At what point are we overloaded and oversaturated because it just seems to me like we just keep taking the More and more when it’s thrown at us. We’ll play with it.

george grombacher 20:04
Yeah, fascinating for we just all break our toys and run in the woods or something.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 20:11
Uh huh. So I’ve been waiting for that to happen booth for years, though, and it hasn’t happened yet. So

george grombacher 20:16
Well, you probably have a great test market at home with 16 year olds named probably tell you this. This is great. Keep this get get get rid of that. That doesn’t make any sense.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 20:27
Yeah, they’re the future. It’s certainly really fun to have a little kind of focus group in my own household.

george grombacher 20:33
Right. I love it. Emery people are ready for your difference making tip. What do you have for them?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 20:40
It’s probably predictable. Because I’ve said the word about 50 times in a 15 minute conversation, George, but know your audience. Treat your customers like your audience, turn them into your fans, and you’ll always win.

george grombacher 20:54
I think that is great stuff definitely gets come up. brought it up so many times because it’s so important. People need to finally get this. Love it. Emery thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with whale rock industries.

Anne-Marie O’Neill 21:10
Thank you so much, George. It’s been fun.

george grombacher 21:12
Give us the website. What is the best way to connect?

Anne-Marie O’Neill 21:15
Sure it’s well rock industries.com

george grombacher 21:19
Perfect. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, show me your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to whale rock industries.com and just check out all the cool stuff that they’re working on. And something that we talked about resonated, get in touch and see if there’s an opportunity. Thanks again, Emery. Thanks so much. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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