Samantha G. Wolfe: Making the never-done-before a reality

Women Special


Business today is driven by technological developments and innovations, the majority of our life functions are ruled by it. Be it education, communication, travel, fitness or health every aspect of our lives is served by technology. The business world seems to be changing more rapidly than ever before launching new, game-changing technologies almost every day. For example, the IDC, Digi-capital and Fast Company have predicted that the worldwide revenues for AR & VR would reach more than $150 billion in 2020. Although it can be argued that all industries will be affected by this new age of virtual reality, augmented reality, and spatial computing; the potential changes brought about by these technologies are almost too big to be believed. Recently, Airpush published a study carried out by Nielsen Research, based on the effectiveness of VR ads vs. traditional digital video formats which concluded that advertising in VR is 1.5x to 18x more effective than digital videos. AR and VR have the potential to be the biggest shift in technology since the launch of the internet and mobile phones. Businesses are only beginning to understand the applications.

Samantha G. Wolfe, a marketing and branding strategist, knew that innovative brand marketers always look to integrate new technologies into their campaigns. Yet it’s impossible for an individual brand manager to see every new technology and its applications across a tech landscape that is constantly shifting. She also noted that emerging technology companies often struggled to explain the value of their product or service. Effectively, there was a need for a company that operated ahead of the technology adoption curve in the emerging tech and marketing space. A need that led to her solution: We Are Phase2. A little over one year ago, Samantha as the Managing Partner with her co-founders Debra Davis and Jennifer Usdan McBride, started We are Phase2 as a full-service consultancy firm and agency. The company works with both cutting-edge tech companies and brands looking to integrate emerging technologies. For emerging tech companies, they position and market their products and services in order to gain traction. For brands, they identify the newest and best technology and digital channels to deliver on their goals.

“I constantly ask myself, and we ask our clients, “Why should [your target] care?”

The path to market was anything but easy. “When I started working in virtual reality and augmented reality, tech executives would say that they don’t need to pay for branding or marketing. On the flip side, the decision-makers at brands and agencies I spoke with didn’t understand the specific value of XR,” shares Samantha. “I knew I couldn’t be the only one who was struggling with this, so I started a Facebook Group [the largest VR/AR/MR Marketing & Branding Facebook group] as a resource for VR/AR marketers and people interested in marketing with XR. That group has since grown to over 2.7k members.” Samantha has also presented at events for the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Association (VRARA), The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the VR Voice, at SXSW, the NYVR Expo, and at AWE (Augmented World Expo). She is a Board Member of SXSW Pitch and an advisor at XR Ignite. She co-authored the book ‘Marketing New Realities: An Introduction to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality Marketing, Branding, and Communications’ and is a contributing author to Charlie Fink’s book ‘Convergence: How The World Will Be Painted With Data’ with a chapter focused on ‘Augmented Reality & Brands’. Above all, she has been named in Top 23 Women in VR and Top 101+ Women Leading the Virtual Reality Industry. “If someone had told me 3 years ago that I would be an author, a speaker, and an entrepreneur, I would never have believed them,” chuckles Samantha.

Samantha G. Wolfe, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, We are Phase2

This success she believes is the direct result of grounding herself in reality. “One of the things I live by is the brutal truth that “no one cares.” It’s not a fun thing to remind yourself of, but it’s a good reality check,” says Samantha. She proposes the same insight to her clients. She adds, “I constantly ask myself, and we ask our clients, “Why should [your target] care?” Even if you have made the most ground-breaking technology, you have to make it really easy for your potential customers to understand your value and why they should buy what you are selling. Most people are just too busy to take the time to understand why your company’s product or service is really cool.” Another factor that contributed to her success looking back, she says maybe being one of the first girls to go to a traditionally-boys high school, Deerfield Academy. “There were about 100 girls and 450 boys that first year. All of the girls were considered pioneers, much like the women in XR now,” says Samantha. “Having that kind of experience makes it much easier to be a pioneer in spatial computing – to build the market for emerging technologies and educate people on the possibilities.”

For the fellow women striving to be leaders, Samantha has a simple formula: Start a list. She recommends, “Start a list of projects with proof points that you can reference whether it be in a resume, an interview, a meeting about a job promotion, or even if you ask yourself, “Have I done this before?” She also stresses the importance of building a great team. Samantha surrounds herself with smart people. “I adore people more creative and more innovative than I am. I got into marketing to sit next to and to work with those people,” says Samantha. While building her team, above anything, she appreciates passion. She says, “I’m happy to teach someone how to do something if they really want to learn. In interviews, I like to ask the question, ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’ If their answer is to work in a different industry or to travel the world, I likely would spend the rest of the interview helping them to try and figure out how to do that. But I won’t be hiring them.” She also appreciates it when people are ‘just nice’ even when they have different points of view. “I know that isn’t really a requirement for a business, but it makes the days much better,” says Samantha. “I was drawn to my partners as we all come at marketing innovation from different perspectives, but we fundamentally agree on the need for valuable and purposeful technology. No ‘tech for tech sake’.” 

Personally, Samantha is indeed a sorted individual with a clear vision and the passion in her heart. She adores the emerging tech space but is honest about her struggle of being a perfectionist. “I have joked that I would love to have some clones, I think I need about 7-8. Then I can juggle all that I want to do at work and at home,” says Samantha. “Maybe, in the future, AI and holograms will be able to help. In the meantime, I have to struggle with my confidence that “good enough” is in fact good enough.” Samantha goes all out to maintain effective communication and never hesitates from taking risks. “I love to talk to innovative technologists and creatives about their personal, departmental, and company goals and to identify ways I might be able to help. It might be forwarding an article I read. It could be having them join a panel or go to an event. Yes, sometimes, it’s our company that can help solve a problem,” shares Samantha. “But ultimately, I am on a mission to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies, especially augmented and virtual reality, spatial computing, conversational AI, holograms, and volumetric capture.” She is indeed, creating an exciting future!

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