Brian Onorio, who launched the O3 agency in 2007, adds another Triangle marketing firm to his recently rebranded “Walk West” group. The two mergers over the past five months are part of his “digital first” strategy.

The latest addition are Penn and Kim Holderness plus WNCN-TV anchor Sharon Delaney McCloud, who have merged their Greenroom Communication with Walk West.

In September, Laurie Onorio, LLC was brought into the mix.

And the deals are expected to drive to West Walk;s growth.

“Conservatively,” Onorio says, “we are expecting 70 percent growth YOY for 2016.”

Walk West focuses on:

  • discovery research
  • web design and development
  • social media marketing
  • search engine optimization
  • search engine marketing
  • content strategy
  • marketing.

Backers of Walk West include Triangle serial entrepreneur Donald Thompson, who serves as executive chairman. And Thompson obviously likes what he’s seeing in Walk West evolution.

“We have walked alongside our clients delivering solutions in the area of branding, web design, content development, and search optimization,” he explained in a blog post Tuesday. “Our clients have rewarded us with a firm that has tripled in growth over the last 24 months.”

The Skinny recently caught up with Onorio (an NCSU graduate BS in Computer Science and a minor in economics) to talk about changes taking place in his business and the marketing industry.

  • What are the 5 key factors driving your growth?

1. Finding excellent advisors that have been there and done that.
2. Finding great people that buy into your vision.
3. Creating ambassadors out of your clients; over serving them and creating a tide of recommendations.
4. Finding time to work on the business instead of in the business.
5. No substitute for hard work and drive.

  • What sets your firm apart?

Our initial research and discovery allows us to inform every step of our process – UX [user experience], design, development, marketing and more.

  • In your words, why the new name? What was wrong with O3?

The simple answer is that we were unable to obtain a trademark for our previous name which brought some risk to the company, but the more accurate answer is that we’re not the same company as we were when I started it in 2007. We’ve grown and evolved significantly, even over the last year.

  • How many employees do you have now [before the latest merger]? Are you hiring and if so in what areas?

We are right at 20 employees now and hiring in project management, creative and development. It’s amazing to think that we’ve grown to 20 from a staff of just three in early 2015.

  • Why has the past year been so explosive in growth that you added 20 employees?

Fully transitioning to a full-service digital agency that can take a client from research and discovery, through design and development, into marketing strategy and implementation is the difference. We’ve also built a talented team and have been fortunate enough to partner with many great clients.

  • What are clients seeking help to address now as their “pain points” beyond website construction?

We used to design and build beautiful websites for our clients. Then SEO and social media become critical. You can’t succeed in either of those without great content, so we’re helping create that great content. Now, the biggest pain point is managing it all – orchestrating all the moving pieces of a website, SEO, paid search, email marketing, social media, content creation and a marketing automation platform. We’re doing all of that now for our clients.

  • Are you profitable? Can you give me a range on revenues?

We are comfortably profitable, but privately held. Conservatively, we are expecting 70 percent growth YOY for 2016.

  • How is the firm financed? Are you seeking any outside funding? Have you taken outside funding in the past?

The firm is privately funded. We are not seeking additional funding at this time.

  • Why expand to cover government services [with the Laurie Onorio, LLC merger]?

We are bringing a marketing philosophy and technique into the advocacy space while also performing traditional government and public affairs activities. This approach is unique to the space and we saw the opportunity to do things differently.