W2O Group

As it has over the course of the last half decade or so, W2O Group pressed forward with its transition from a PR-oriented operation to one sophisticated in its data-mining and analytics offerings.

Not surprisingly, given the intensity and enthusiasm with which W2O has pursued this mission, solid results have followed: The company reports that revenue grew by 17% to $88.5 million in 2015, extending its growth streak to 14 years. And further growth is likely in the cards: In part to fund an ambitious growth strategy, W2O sold a non-controlling share of the company to private equity firm Mountaingate Capital.

Founder and CEO Jim Weiss believes the recent successes can be attributed in part to the way W2O has capitalized on the adoption of digital channels for disseminating messages. “We're seeing less reliance on one-on-one interaction with sales reps and HCPs,” he says. “Now the push is for more specific and engaged relationships with patients.”

Weiss notes a swift uptick in its clients' adoption of digital messaging, even though the infrastructure needed to support its rollout may not yet be completely up to snuff. “We all remember being in meetings discussing how social media didn't matter — and now CEOs are involved, asking about Twitter handles and Facebook likes,” he says.

In 2015 W2O Group — which houses WCG, Twist Mktg, and BrewLife — expanded its European footprint with a new office in Basel, Switzerland. Staff size grew to 427 employees (a 6% jump), with its Boston office doubling in size to accommodate local demand. Notable additions included group director of healthcare Eric Shenfield, formerly global head of digital analytics at Roche; group director Jaime Needel, recently with Treato; director of MDigitalLife Dana Lewis, formerly head of digital strategy at Swedish Medical Center; and creative director Lynn Pulsifer, recently with CleaResult.

As W2O continued to nurture existing clients such as Medtronic, Roche/Genentech, and Merck, the team snagged new business from Crispr Therapeutics, Stryker, and Intercept, among others.

“Our broad breadth of expertise helps keep our creative work fresh,” notes Jen Gottlieb, COO and head of client services. W2O clients span the specialty, medical device, hospital network, and biopharma sectors.

At a time when the healthcare system is focused on giving the right patients the right treatment at the right time, W2O has embraced a precision marketing strategy. “We can position the work we're doing as the first generation of precision marketing,” says Greg Matthews, MD of MDigitalLife, a W2O agency.

Along those lines, W2O expanded its analytics capabilities with the acquisition of social engagement and CRM platform Vintank — renamed TMRW Engine — and the continued development of MDigitalLife. “We want to be able to help our clients reach individual patients through creating the content they want to receive,” Matthews notes.

Chief creative officer Mike Hartman adds that, “We're applying the big data message to marketing so that we can create the perfect package, moment, and medication for the patient,” he explains.

Weiss has an ambitious goal for the year ahead. Come next spring, he hopes to crow that W2O Group has gone from zero dollars in revenue to $100 million — in 15 years.