NativeAdVantage 10-Q2BA:

(10 Questions 2B Answered)

What do you do best?
What makes you the best?
Biggest success?
What are your aspirations?
Most challenging moment?
Favorite Motto?
Favorite People?
Favorite Places?
Favorite Products?
Current Passions?

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Tom Sito: Chair of Animation, USC Film School

Elizabeth Wynn: Broker, Sotheby's RE

Leonard Greenhalgh: Professor, Tuck-Darmouth)

Ryan Blair: NY Times Best Selling Author/Entrepreneur


Featured NativeAdVice:

Shai Reshef: Founder of University of the People

Paul D'Arcy: SVP of Indeed

Susan Hatje: GM of Mandarin Oriental, NY

Dan Laufer: Co-Founder of RentLingo

Hilary Laney: President of Tri-Digital

Greg Marsh: Co-Founder of onefinestay

Omar Qari: Co-Founder of Abacus

Gabriell Weinberg: Founder of DuckDuckGo

Stacy Rauen: E-I-C of Hospitality Design Mag

Jon Gray: CRO of HomeAway

Joe Speiser: Co-Founder of

Ben McKean: Co-Founder of HungryRoot

John Boiler: Founder/CEO of 72andSunny

Wayne Pacelle: CEO of The Humane Society of the US

Tom Guay: GM at The Sagamore Resort

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Founder of The Clean Program

Rob Flaherty: CEO of Ketchum

Neil Thanedar: Founder/CEO of LabDoor

Andy Grinsfelder: VP of Sales/Marketing, Delaware North Resorts

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: VP/Publisher of Women's Health

Avi Steinlauf: CEO of

Kathy Bloomgarden: CEO of Ruder Finn

Gabriel Flateman: Co-Founder/CTO of Casper

Mark Bartels: CEO of StumbleUpon

Bill Hagelstein: President/CEO of RPA

Adam Singolda: Founder/CEO of Taboola

Jonathan Plutzik: Proprietor of The Betsy-South Beach

Jessica Scorpio: Founder/VP of Marketing at GetAround

Ralph McRae: CEO of Leading Brands

Warren Berger: Bestselling Author

Liz Kaplow: Founder/CEO of Kaplow Communications

Dave Girouard: Founder/CEO of UpStart

Dave Asprey: Founder of BullectProof Executive

Douglas C. Smith: President of EDSA

Val Difebo: CEO of Deutsch NY

Guido Polito: CEO of Baglioni Hotels

Doyle Graham, Jr.: CEO of Valencia Group

Oscar Farinetti: Founder of Eataly

Angelo Sotira: CEO of DeviantART

Ali Khwaja: CFO of Safecharge

Zach Erdem: Proprietor of 75 Main

Jim Beley: GM of The Umstead Hotel

Alexis Gelburd-Kimler: Proprietor of West Bridge

Elie Georges: Proprietor of Hotel San Regis

Kalen Caughey: Founder o VOKE Tab

Michael Friedenberg: CEO of IDG

Donna Karan: Founder of DKNY

Edward Nardoza: Editor-in-Chief of WWD

Scott Dadich: Editor-in-Chief of Wired

Rhona Murphy: Former CEO of The Daily Beast

David J. Pecker: CEO of American Media

Lilian Roten: VP of Swissotel Hotels

Kenny Dichter: Founder/CEO of Wheels Up

Joshua Tetrick: Founder/CEO of Hampton Creek

Paul James: Global Brand Leader of The Luxury Collection

Dr. James Wagner: President of Emory University

Amy Thompson: President of ATM Artists & Management

Neil Gillis: President of Round Hill Music

Brett Matteson: President of Columbia Hospitality

Jonathan Reckford: CEO of Habitat For Humanity

Phil Harrison: President/CEO of Perkins+Will

Chef Bill Telepan

Tony Horton: Founder of P90X

Beth Weissenberger: Co-Founder of The Handel Group

Michael Fertik: Founder/CEO of

Dana Cowin: Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine

Bob Proctor: Chairman of Proctor/Gallagher Institute

Dennis Turcinovic: Owner of Delmonicos

Vittorio Assaf: Co-Founder of Serafina Restaurant Group

Shafqat Islam: Co-Founder of Newscred

Matt Williams: CEO of The Martin Agency

Bruce Rogers: Executive Chef at Hale & Hearty

Caleb Merkl: Co-Founder of Maple

Candy Argondizza: VP of Culinary at ICC

Neil Sazant: President of The Sagamore

Matt Straz: Founder/CEO of Namely

Terry Couglin: Managing Partner of Marta/Maialino

Andrei Cherny: Co-Founder/CEO of Aspiration

Ronen Nissenbaum: Managing Director of Waldorf Astoria NY

Patrick Godfrey: President of Godfrey Q

Sarah Berman: Founder/President of The Berman Group

Michael Schwartz: Owner of Genuine Hospitality Group

Stephan Aarstol: Founder/CEO of Tower Paddle Boards

Peter Shaindlin: COO of Halekulani Corp.

August Cardona: Founder/CEO of Epicurean Group

Nick Kenner: Co-Founder of Just Salad


Brian Onorio: CEO, founder & partner, Walk West

My NativeAdVice:


Brian Onorio is the CEO, founder and partner of the full-service digital-first marketing agency Walk West, based in Raleigh, NC. Areas of expertise include discovery research, web design and development, marketing strategy, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, video production, professional development services and content creation.

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the marketing and advertising industry by complete accident. And even when I was in it, I didn’t realize I was actually in the marketing and advertising industry.

I earned a degree in Computer Science and went that direction for a few years. After getting burned out working in healthcare IT infrastructure, I decided that working for conglomerate health care was not where I wanted to drive my career. In a moment that probably represents my most courageous to date, I gave a month’s notice and quit. I had a laptop and a few clients under my belt and it was sink or swim from there. Only a month later, the 2008 financial meltdown happened. With plenty of nerves, I started doing what I knew I could do well – develop websites. I started freelancing out the design portion and talking to as many people as I could.

For the first few years, I was really a web design and development freelancer. I wasn’t yet mature enough to understand how that played into my clients’ marketing. The early days of Walk West (then O3 Creative) really was rudimentary, but we provided solid services and helped us get to where we are now.

Any emerging industry trends?

It’s no surprise that digital marketing has become a critical piece of any marketing plan. Last year and for the first time, we saw digital marketing spend overtake that of traditional marketing spend. This isn’t surprising as the trendlines could be predicted. I think the big question that we’re all grappling with is how long that trend will continue. I don’t think traditional marketing will become obsolete, but there’s also a reason why Walk West is full service digital. It’s where budgets are going and it’s not because it’s “cool” (although it certainly is that). Output per dollar is much easier to achieve with the tremendous amount of data we’re able to get from online sources.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

As an industry, we’re going to have to deal with the commoditization of the end service. Building websites (even e-commerce websites), taking out ads on social media, and launching digital campaigns is becoming easier and more accessible to the novice. I’m not particularly concerned at this point in time over Wix, Squarespace, or the bevy of applications that promise to deliver digital success on a DIY platform. For the time being, the strategy and approach matter if you really want success. This year, we added a Director of Strategy for this very reason. Doing meaningful work with the suite of SaaS services available is straightforward with the right plan. So far, that plan can’t be commoditized because it’s necessarily unique to each client.

Wix and Squarespace’s value proposition is a great looking website without a huge investment. It can certainly deliver that, but “great looking” is probably the weakest of primary value propositions. It should certainly look great – but it also has to speak the right words to the right people at the right time.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

The inspiration and vision for the business idea has morped over our 9 years. Initially, it was simply I didn’t want to work for a 100,000 employee company. That got us past phase 1 with grit and passion. Now that we’re more mature, the inspiration behind what we do is fulfilling: it’s about the people. We take tremendous pride in taking care of our people who come to work with us everyday. What we do inside the house is to fulfill the visions and dreams of those we work with.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

This month, we announced a merger with an agency local to us who specializes in video production and social media strategy. This was a hole for us as these are services we dabbled in but didn’t own in the same way we did our other services. Now we’re truly 100% full service digital. The future is exciting for us.

We’re also currently in the R&D process on some applications that we believe will be a differentiator for us and a game changer for our clients. I can’t disclose too much, but there’s been a steady drumbeat of developing out IP that doesn’t yet exist towards the goal of giving more information to our clients towards the goal of engaging their audience.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

As a tactical agency historically working on the fulfillment of digital projects, I quickly learned that we had to swim upstream and set the strategy. Once we were able to do that, we were able to expand our services and stopped leaving money on the table. Complementary to website design is building an audience and traffic. We adopted and hired against SEO strategy. We quickly moved into social media strategy and paid advertising as well. We keep growing in areas where our clients are headed.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Growth. Growth can be difficult. I’ve taken a small team into a staff of more than 30. Most of our growth came in the past 24-months where we grew from a two person nucleus. Fortunately, I’ve got great advisors and mentors around me who have been there and done that. That has been the critical piece in maintaining high growth with sustainable methodologies.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Most of our clients are in two buckets. A company doing $5m in business without a real dedication to marketing and companies in the $10m - $200m range who have dedicated marketing departments. Our ideal experience for them has the same result. To the small company, we come in and set strategy and fulfill that strategy towards growth and ROI. For the larger companies, we augment strategy and delivery. The goals are the same.

How do you motivate others?

We’re very people-centric. We’ve got a fantastic team that comes to work everyday looking to make a difference. My job is to make that available to them. In terms of career growth, it’s about setting a plan for each individual and helping them achieve their professional goals which usually align with their personal goals as well.

Career advice to those in your industry?

The marketing and advertising industry is fueled by millennials. Usually, the people in this demographic are on their first or second job without a whole lot of experience. Where I’ve seen individauls put their career on an all-star pace is work ethic. I personally took this mantra early in my career. I may not have been the most experienced person at the table, but I vowed that no one would outwork me. Be the first in and the last out while you have the time to give. Life happens quick and when you start adding families to the mix, your personal equation changes. You can pave your path for that early on by being the hardest worker and being unafraid of things that may be over your head. Willingness to learn and work makes all the difference.