On Starting A Digital Marketing Agency
My name is Evan LaGasse and I own eboost consulting along with my business partner Chris Root.
We are a digital marketing agency specializing in Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, and Amazon Ads. Our clients are a mix of B2C, B2B, eCommerce, Lead Generation, Franchises, and National Brands.
Our business has doubled in the past 12 months and we continue to be on a strong growth trajectory due to our laser focus on paid advertising and an experienced, seasoned team of expert media buyers.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, moving to California for college when I was 18. I studied English and Film, and my first job out of college was in journalism. I was a reporter for a daily newspaper for several years before leaving to launch a startup. During that time, I also worked in the film industry in Los Angeles, working on set designs for several short films and commercials.
Every action you take gets you closer to either succeeding or failing. The more you do, the more you learn and the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you will eventually succeed.
I moved to San Diego while working remotely on several content websites around gaming, apparel, coffee and more. I could live anywhere and the best weather in the country sounded great after growing up with Northeast winters.
The content sites were making ends meet (barely) but I craved more camaraderie, mentorship and the excitement of working in teams. That’s when I started at eboost. The company was originally founded by Micha Mikailian. I started there as an employee and I learned and developed so much during that time. By the time the offer was made for myself and Chris to buy the company, I was ready to run a successful business. The experience I gained through all those different jobs and industries and learning marketing from the ground up all played a part in preparing me for being a business owner.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
I always had the entrepreneur gene inside me. From the time I was 8 years old, selling pencils in front of the grocery store. That wasn’t a great business and I’ve had more than my share of failures along the way including an online gaming startup, various content-based websites, and even selling exotic fruits to local markets!
I started working at eboost after that gaming startup failed and after working my way up as an employee over the course of 8 years, Chris and I bought the company! Since then Chris and I have focused the company on paid advertising, built out sophisticated internal systems and built a strong reputation among clients that has resulted in lots of additional business from client referrals.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are thriving today and I owe that success to the clarity of vision we had several years ago when we focused the business on paid advertising. Eboost had previously been a full-service agency, working on everything you could imagine when it comes to digital marketing. But we found that this spread our team too thin and contributed to some tough times and poor client experiences. When Chris and I took over the business we resolved to narrow the focus significantly. There were some tough times during the transition, where we had to say “no” to a lot of business. We turned down SEO projects, website development projects, conversion rate optimization projects and more.
It’s never fun to turn down revenue. But we believed in our vision and we were determined to see it through.
Slowly, our clients and leads learned more and more how serious we were about this focus and also the expertise of our team just grew and grew as we spent more time on the things we were good at without being distracted by trying to do everything for everyone.
Our business took a step back the year we changed our focus. But it has grown every year since, including more than doubling over the past 12 months.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The most important things we did right were:
We focused our business and stuck to it. That allowed us to become great at a few strategically selected services and not get distracted by doing things we were just OK at. There was a transition period where we were having to re-train current clients and adjust how we talked to leads to explain the new focus. This process helped us refine the details around our new-found focus including developing our pricing model and defining our services around the grey areas (For example, we don’t do web development but would we help set up the Facebook pixel as part of our Facebook Ads service? The answer was no - we’re not developers and this would distract from our core focus and potentially lead to poor client experiences - but we developed instructions and support that we could send to client developers to assist them).
We built systems that guaranteed everything we did as a company had a level of consistency in terms of strategy, tactics, and execution. This freed up our team to be creative within that system, knowing they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time but could try out strategies and know what worked and what didn’t across all our clients. It ensured that every client got a certain level of service and could count on us to deliver strong work and consistent results every time. We also got so much more efficient at our work that it allowed us to take on more client accounts per team member while actually improving our level of service.
We made generosity a core tenet of our company culture. This meant going above and beyond for clients and our own internal team.
We made a concerted effort to understand the true goals and needs of the clients and geared everything we did (from our client onboarding process to reporting, to regular communication and systems) toward meeting those objectives. We were generous with our time but also with our listening and level of effort. We also put an emphasis on being upfront and honest about things we don’t help with and explaining why. To me, Generosity doesn’t mean always saying yes to everything and giving freely of time and resources without any criteria. It means always looking for ways we can achieve our common goals together in the spirit of collaboration and open communication.
For our internal team, we offer company matching retirement plans, health benefits, unlimited vacations, remote work, and competitive salaries and commission structures. This has attracted top talent and made everyone excited and happy to come to work and give it their best. That creates a work environment that is not only enjoyable for us but shines through in the work and improves results for clients. Even more importantly, everyone has an equal voice and everyone is respectful of one another’s perspective. Giving people space and opportunity to thrive is probably more important than company benefits, though it’s great when you can do both!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We love our Facebook Ads Management platform Smartly.io. It helps us more effectively and efficiently manage ads.
Our website is on Wordpress and we love it. For hosting we use Siteground and it is a significant improvement in terms of support and site speed over bigger brand hosts we’ve used in the past. Many of our client websites are on Shopify and that is our preferred eCommerce platform. The app marketplace and support documentation make integrating with the ad platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon so much easier. For instance, we can install the Facebook pixel on Shopify in 5 minutes or less. For Wordpress sites, Woocommerce is a good alternative.
We use Salesforce for our CRM and our favorite email marketing tool is Klaviyo.
When we need expert developers we use Codeable. They helped us with the development of a Chrome Extension we created called eboost ad spy. It’s a competitive intelligence tool that allows us to quickly and easily see the Facebook Ads of clients, competitors, leads and more. The extension now has more than 3k users and a perfect rating on the Chrome store. It’s free to use for anyone that finds it helpful.
We love Slack for internal communication. Our Slack is structured by client and service so everything stays well organized. This is crucial for a remote workforce. To make it even more fun to use, we like to add custom emojis with Slackmojis and have non-work-related Slack channels about animal GIFs, basketball, travel and more.
For our design needs we use Design Pickle. They charge a flat fee for unlimited designs. We use them for our own website, client ad creative, and marketing materials among other things. They even integrate into Slack and Google Sheets so we can simply update the Google Sheet for a design request and it gets delivered right into our Slack!
For client reviews we use Clutch. They rank agencies with unbiased 3rd party reviews by actual clients. We’re very proud of our status as a top-5 ranked Facebook Ads agency out of thousands from around the world.
I am a big proponent of mindfulness and I like the Headspace app for daily meditation. Taking just 10 minutes in the morning to sit in silence can have a profound impact on the quality of your work and human interactions (which are essential to success in business!) the rest of the day.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love the How I Built This podcast. Listening to the stories of successful entrepreneurs and hearing about all the tough times they faced and how they failed along the way is so inspiring.
Some of my favorite business and marketing books are:
I also try to read books about a wide variety of topics outside of the business. A few of my most recent favorites were Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, and Why We Sleep.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Every action you take gets you closer to either succeeding or failing. The more you do, the more you learn and the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you will eventually succeed. You don’t have to plan every little detail out before you get started. I’m a big fan of the MVP (minimum viable product) method of doing things. At the same time, it’s important to stay grounded, stay curious, and always be evaluating yourself, your team and the market around you.
As with anything in life, entrepreneurship is about finding the right balance for you. Live your life and don’t make work the be-all, end-all. You’ll find that solutions will come from the most unexpected places and that everything is interconnected. If you are too in your own work bubble, you might miss the thing that actually unlocks the power of your business waiting for you at the end of a hike somewhere. You’ll also be a lot happier.
Where can we go to learn more?
Keep up with our expert tips on Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Amazon Ads on our blog.
If you’re interested in our services, contact us to get a proposal.
If you’re a marketer and run Facebook Ads for your company or clients, check out our free eboost ad spy Chrome Extension for competitive intelligence.
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