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How to Partner With Disruptors

Published: July 30, 2018

Author: Hillary Read

This week on the 3Q blog, we’re covering strategies for disruptors. Today, VP of Marketing Hillary Read shares what working with some of today’s biggest disruptors means to the 3Q team:
From the Cambridge Dictionary (note: not from Silicon Valley):

Disruptor (specialized for business): a company that changes the traditional way an industry operates, especially in a new and effective way

Like just about every agency with the budget to yell about it these days, 3Q likes to say we build disruptors. But we actually build disruptors. It’s how we’re built and why we come to work. And though it has a lot to do with our Silicon Valley birthplace, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Before I get into how enabling disruptors works at 3Q, some bona fides: I joined 3Q in 2011. Even back then, our clients (GoPro, Fitbit, Minted, SurveyMonkey, Eventbrite, etc.) were changing things big-time, to the point where the industries they created have been thoroughly adopted by the mainstream. Today, we’re working with clients (e.g. Motiv) who are 2.0-disrupting industries so young they weren’t around before I joined 3Q. And boy, do I wish I could mention clients we aren’t allowed to cite publicly. (Ah, the NDA: the agency marketer’s bane.)
Suffice it to say, 3Q clients are all over the list of Fast Company’s most innovative companies, and that’s been true for years. And it’s not just new companies; it’s also older companies who see the way the customer experience is going and invest in ways to stay aligned with it.
Yeah, great. But how does that actually work? Disruptors have different needs than more established brands looking for incremental growth. We follow a few tenets at 3Q that align with those needs:

  • More than established companies, disruptors need to gain inside-and-out knowledge of their industry, the competitive landscape, and the wants, needs, and expectations of their customers. We research the [insert choice word] out of the industry and competitor landscape (if it exists), customer wants, needs, and expectations, and the brand’s own internal alignment. If we see red flags, we raise them. If we see growth opportunities that the brand may not have thought of, we make a case for pursuing them. And then we test, execute, optimize, etc.
  • A big part of disruption is meeting your customers where they are – and that includes all channels, especially newer ones. We push for early channel adoption by looking for good channel/offering matches and testing aggressively while CPCs are at their lowest. When it doesn’t work, we scale back; when it does, we’re already expanding, optimizing, and forging new best practices when competitors are still mulling things over.
  • We test quickly and often. Brands trying to do new things don’t have time to wait for months to see if something works, whether it’s a landing page, a value prop, or a new channel or ad type. We test and iterate, test and iterate, test and iterate – as VP of CRO Jeremy Epperson likes to say, the faster you test, the more you grow ROI.

Notice that I haven’t talked much about paid media optimization – although I could, of course, or I could cite any number of awards. And that is absolutely critical to growing any client. But it’s the next layer that blasts out the ceiling of our paid media scale and performance – which is what allows for the exponential growth that successful disruptors have in common.

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