Of all the thinkers who have contributed to his agency’s success, Mark Goodman, chief executive offi cer and partner at Twist Image, believes James Surowiecki might be one of the most important.
Well, he doesn’t explicitly say that, but Goodman credits the author of the 2004 book The Wisdom of Crowds for establishing a philosophy that the Montreal-based digital shop considers gospel.
“[The book] says all of us together are smarter than any one of us,” Goodman explains. “We’ve taken that philosophy and leveraged it internally here.”
Of course, a collective brain is that much more impressive when it’s comprised of intelligent individuals. Twist has no shortage of people who qualify, and the agency’s combination of independent, innovative thinking and team spirit has generated staggering success in a year when basic survival has been considered a monumental achievement.
The numbers tell the story: Twist Image projects a net revenue increase of 61% for 2009 after posting 58% growth between 2007 and 2008. A year ago Twist had 58 staff; today head count is up to 90 spread between its Montreal and Toronto offi ces.
Those heads have been put to work on a range of major clients, from established partners Home Depot, Microsoft and Scotiabank to new arrivals such as TD Canada Trust, Fujifi lm and Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Although Goodman says each client tends to take a different path to Twist, from traditional RFPs to out-of-the-blue project requests, most companies are drawn by the shop’s reputation for strategic thinking and are subsequently seduced by its ability to execute.
“We’re really good at building strategies for our clients, which is primarily how they come to us,” says Goodman. “They say, ‘here’s our company, we feel like we’re behind and we need some one to build our connection to consumers online.’ ” For example, after winning a competitive pitch for Dairy Farmers’ digital business, Twist quickly added its expertise to DFC’s branding campaign to promote awareness of its new “100% Canadian milk” symbol. Using social media tools such as Facebook to drive users to the microsite TheGreatCanadianMoo.ca, home of a clickable “moo” button, Twist created an online event that resulted in more than 1.1 million “virtual moos.” Not only did visitors come to the microsite in droves to moo virtually, they also stayed on the site for an average of four minutes, engaging with the DFC brand.
The “virtual moos” initiative illustrates Twist’s understanding of both the art and science of digital marketing, says Claire Payette, director of marketing for DFC.
“Agencies are either really good in technology or really good in communication, but the combination of the two is something that’s hard to fi nd.” As with DFC, Twist also brought its rare offering to Fujifi lm this year, boosting the “Get Your Fuji Wet” campaign for the Z33 waterproof digital camera with a Facebook fan page contest . John Stevenson, head of marketing for Fujifi lm Canada, says the agency’s most important contribution has been in its role as an educator.
“ Twist has given our marketing a new dimension, one that we didn’t have before,” says Stevenson. “It’s been a steep learning curve, but one that we’ve welcomed on our end.”
Stevenson says he trusts the education he’s getting from Twist because its partners, including Goodman and Twist president Mitch Joel are digital actors, not passive observers.
“They’re actively involved in the blogosphere and other aspects of social media,” he says. “In many ways, they’re active architects of the space, and they’re sort of symbolic of the infl uential voices we want to reach.” Joel, to be certain, has earned quite a reputation as a social media guru . A popular speaker at conferences and seminars, Joel also published the digital-themed book Six Pixels of Separation in September and operates an infl uential blog of the same name .
Joel’s fame aside, Goodman believes Twist’s success is dependent on collective input. That’s why the agency has its own internal Wiki and website, where employees are encouraged to post articles about new media developments .
This virtual library, says Goodman, keeps “a constant energy and fl ow of new information coming into this place” –essential for an agency that prides itself on staying ahead of a rapidly changing digital world.
With a staff and client roster that keeps getting more crowded, Twist Image appears wise to have invested its faith in the wisdom of crowds.