004: Testing New Strategies and Adjusting in Life and Paid Social with Akvile DeFazio
Having immigrated to Toronto from Lithuania as a young child and moved multiple times, Akvile is no stranger to adjusting to new situations. She’s taken those life experiences and the skills she learned from her many mentors over her career and turned them into numerous awards and a thriving social media advertising agency. Learn about the path that got her there and how she was gifted a client list to start her agency journey.
Key Points + Topics
- [1:45] Akvile Defazio was born in Lithuania during the Cold War, and her family moved to Toronto when she was young. Her parents encouraged her to go to school in the medical field for a steady, reliable job. This led her to Physical Therapy. While working in PT, she learned how much she loved helping people and was drawn toward the marketing tasks for the company she worked for. At the suggestion of a college advisor, she pivoted from trying to get into grad school and went into marketing. From her upbringing, formal education, and experience in physical therapy, she learned how to communicate with different people and help them overcome challenges. She also learned to grow her empathy even more, all of which have helped her find success in her marketing career.
- [8:23] A mentor is someone you can trust who will provide guidance and tools to help you accomplish your goals in your career. A mentor should be non-judgmental, candid, honest, and motivating. Akvile finds it very hard to learn from someone arrogant or patronizing. She’s found many of her mentors in the form of friends and peers within the marketing industry.
- [11:34] Pamela Lund was there for her when she got burnt out working in-house marketing. After Akvile worked up the courage to ask to shadow her self-employed friend to learn about running her own agency, Pamela decided she would teach Akvile all her skills and give her half of her clients so she could move on to a different business and career focus for herself.
- [17:20] A long-time colleague in the digital marketing space, John Doherty, has helped Akvile much with his entrepreneurial wisdom over the years. She reached out to him regarding her pricing a few years ago, only for him to respond with, “Ooof! You’re significantly underpricing yourself.” He then went on to help her determine her internal costs, how to maximize her services and provide greater value for her clients, and helped her develop the pricing structure AKvertise uses today.
- [21:35] Why does Akvile think it’s important and fulfilling to mentor college students? It’s imperative for marketing leaders to help the next generation of marketers. They will be the ones employing them. Leaders should ensure they’re on top of the learning curve, learning about new platforms and techniques, and ensuring that those coming up through the ranks are learning the right skills and taking in the points of focus that will help the whole industry as it evolves. The digital marketing community as a whole is very good at sharing wisdom and experiences for the betterment of the whole.
- [25:58] Akvile has much experience and awards in the paid social market on platforms from Facebook, Google, Quora, and more. The beauty and challenges of social media advertising are finding ways to reach an audience that will most likely be interested in the products and services you’re trying to sell. Then you need to get that audience into your funnel. With social media, you’re not targeting keywords; you’re targeting people. The targeting parameters are interests and behaviors. The psychological part of it can be quite fascinating.
- [29:54] Attribution and targeting options within the Meta advertising space have changed significantly over the years. Now, again, one can see conversion data for certain demographic groups. Though the attribution in Meta is more model-based than true data, Akvile still confidently recommends it to her clients. She uses Google Analytics and Shopify to get true conversion numbers. Akvertise then uses all of the data (coupled with a heavy dose of client education) in her reporting so that her clients can see that the truth of the social campaigns is probably somewhere in the grey space between both sources of metrics.
- [33:30] If you’re a service provider and/or running your own agency, Akvile would recommend that you take part in both running and implementing campaigns as well as consulting. It’s good to do both. By managing campaigns, you stay on top of developments, and it gives you the knowledge and experience to convey to your consulting clients. If you start, right out of the gate, with consulting, you’ll likely lack some experience in avoiding certain challenges and pitfalls that you wouldn’t with implementation and management.
- [39:18] Akvile has received many awards and accolades over the years. The one she’s most proud of she keeps within reaching distance on her desk, which is her award for Toastmaster of the Year in 2017. Growing up with stage fright, she knew when she started her own business, she would need to be able to communicate with others competently and confidently while remaining aware and present in the moment. After a chance invite from a friend, she joined Toastmaster, a public speaking organization and educational group. Over her time with Toastmasters, she went from saying ‘Um’ twenty-nine times in a one-minute speech to winning the award and being president of her local chapter.
- Lightning Round – Top 3 Podcasts
- Sold a Story
- The Daily by NYT
Guest + Episode Links
Danny Gavin 00:26
Hello everyone. I’m Danny Gavin, founder of Optidge and marketing professor, and I’m the host of the digital marketing mentor. Today I have the wonderful opportunity to speak with Akvile DeFazio, president and social media advertising consultant with AKvertise is a social media advertising agency that provides consulting, account management and training. They work with a wide variety of social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, or Meta as they call it these days. TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat. anything you can think of next door, Quora, Hulu, anything social advertising related. Akvile started AKvertise in 2014 We’ll talk more about it recently. In 2020 she won the best Small Agency award in the in the US Annual Social Media Awards and shortlisted for three others. And that’s huge. And also, she’s named one of the top 25 most influential PPC experts by PPC Hero in 2020 And honestly, she’s not on my top 25 list. She’s like on my top five list so yeah, it’s a it’s a awesome big deal having her here today. So, AKvile, how are you?
Akvile DeFazio 01:32
I’m doing well thanks thank you for so much for having me, Danny.
Danny Gavin 01:35
I’m so looking forward to discussing social media, advertising and mentorship because that’s what we’re you know why we’re primarily here today. So let’s jump right in. Let’s talk a little bit about just your background. Where did you grow up? I know it wasn’t in the US.
Akvile DeFazio 01:49
That’s correct. I have not had a linear path in life in any aspect of my life, but I was born in Lithuania during the Cold War. And most of my family left and emigrated to Toronto in Canada by the time it was five. So the Cold War ended shortly after we arrived there. And then I’ve just been moving all over the US as you know, my family, my Montgomery, married, we moved. And yeah, just through adulthood and college, and now I’m in the LA area. So I’ve gone continuously West and South my whole life, and now this is where I am.
Danny Gavin 02:20
And I love how you said Toronto like a real person from Toronto. So Oh yeah. You know, it’s awesome. It’s like this is authentic. I love it does come out once in a while, especially when I go back and visit family that’s still in Canada. My Canadian accent will definitely make an appearance, and then it takes a few weeks for it to kind of go back and hiding when I’m back in the office.
Danny Gavin 02:40
Of it. Umm, i have quite a few family members there, my uncle and then my wife’s family. So been there a bunch of times and enjoy going back as well. Alright, so where did you go to school and what did you study? Because I imagine that paid social wasn’t like a course or a degree back then.
Akvile DeFazio 02:56
No, digital marketing was not really a thing back then to date myself, but I actually went to school for physical therapy. I wanted to do graphics design, graphic design when I was younger, but being immigrants, my parents persuaded me to go to medicine. It was pure field. There would always be opportunities to work and make a good living and not you know, we literally moved with like 5$ in our pocket trying to escape from the Cold War. So we didn’t have anything. So I don’t want to disappoint my parents. I wanted to go into medicine and like you know, maybe I could do design as a hobby someday. So I went to school for pre Med and then realized it really wasn’t for me and I moved into physical therapy because I had a knee injury. So I went to PT myself and I really enjoyed working with people and helping others. And I felt like that was a much better fit than maybe being in the and high stress and no sleep. So i acquired my Bachelors of Science degree in exercise science, and then I tried to get into PC grad school to get my doctorate. And I tried for three years and I did not get any of those straight student. I even, I had like 1A and they’re like you should redo it to get an A plus. And I was like, this is my future, this is my money, that I have to repay these school loans. So I made the difficult decision. Tell my parents I wasn’t going to pursue it anymore. Plus it helps having a college advisor tell me just blatantly she’s like, I think you might want to explore other career opportunities and like I think that that’s I need somebody to give me permission to make that step for myself. So I decided to dive into marketing because when I was working at PT clinics as an aide and learning about it, trying to get into PT school, there were some marketing opportunities at the clinics. And I was just so interested in them that I jumped all over them. And I thought that could be a much better fit for me creatively. And also to still help people in the different capacities. So I yeah, I ended up doing one year of my MBA thinking that is the route I needed to get into marketing because I had no education on the marketing front. But after one year of my MBA program I realized it was very expensive and there’s like 2, there were only two marketing courses in a three-year program. There was accounting and finances. Like, you know, I’m going to just bet on myself and really learn everything I can. And I’ve I fought for a few internships and that’s how it all started.
Danny Gavin 05:13
At that point that you brought up about having your advisor tell you like you should look for other opportunities or kind of create that space like it’s OK and I don’t want to use the term fail because it’s not failing. It’s just like it’s OK to come to realization that this is not for you and move on. It’s so important, right, because we have those things that happen to us all the time during our life, right?
Akvile DeFazio 05:33
Oh, yes. I think that really set the tone for the rest of my career to this point where, you know, I tell other businesses to test and optimize, and if something doesn’t work out, you can always revert. And I gave myself some grace after a few years of feeling like I failed and I couldn’t succeed in this other career that, you know, like it’s OK. I’m learning and figuring out my life and who I am, what I want to do. Because at the end of the day, it’s going to be my work and my time and my money paying back for these school loans. So I might as well enjoy something that. We’re doing.
Danny Gavin 06:04
And another interesting point just to for listeners is obviously these days MBA programs are a little bit different but there is such a thing as a masters in marketing as well where it’s kind of like you it it’s still a masters degree you’ve got a lot of courses you know it’s got some aspects of the MBA. So just letting know like you know if Avila was going to redo it today or you are thinking about like a masters degree like there is there is a masters in marketing which can provide some more fun than just accounting and. You know steps.
Akvile DeFazio 06:34
Yes, a lot has changed over the last decade.
Danny Gavin 06:36
So what else would you say like from PT or you know, exercise science, you know, whether it’s in the classroom or out, but during that time like what else did you take from that experience that you’re kind of using today or that’s helps set the groundwork for that?
Akvile DeFazio 06:48
I think just learning how to communicate with different types of people and helping them through a challenge with a solution. And granted, you know, there’s only so much I could do in that line of work because if somebody comes in once a week for PT and they don’t do their home exercises. I can’t help them succeed past a certain point, so it I was already an empathetic person. But I’ve learned more empathy about seeing different types of people from their walks of life and their challenges and trying to be a part of that journey for them to be better in whatever capacity. And I think that really translated over to marketing and working as an agency to help a lot of brands. Granted, it’s not medical issues they’re going through, but they have challenges and they’re looking for solutions and being able to confidently. Communicate that to them that was very helpful early on my career yeah and what do you mention regarding? You know, just understanding people better, I’m sure, especially now, I know we’ll talk about this later, but you know, I believe you’re doing a lot of consulting, right, not just managing. So having that skill of really like being able to connect with people and make them accountable, I’m sure it’s like so helpful.
Akvile DeFazio 07:57
Yes, very much so. Especially when with consulting where you have to tell someone to implement something and then usually they do, other times they don’t. So you have to keep you know, reminding them and professional ways, but also to encourage them to accomplish this. Because they’re paying you to get recommendations, so you’re trying to give them everything else and guide them so it’s beneficial for everybody if they implement what you’re recommending.
Danny Gavin 08:22
All right, let’s jump now into mentorship. So I feel like what I love to ask people is, how would you define a mentor?
Akvile DeFazio 08:30
So I feel like you know the cut and dry is somebody that you can trust that will provide guidance for your career, your goals, that has less experience than you. But I think just from a more. Human perspective. It’s genuinely wanting someone else to succeed coming. You know, to provide them the tools and the guidance for them to take the necessary steps to accomplish their goals. But you’re going to be there to make sure that they don’t run off the rails and accomplish that goal by providing the knowledge, resources opportunities. But you don’t do the job for them. They have to do it themselves, but they will have to want to do it, and you’re just there to make sure that they can get to that certain goal.
Danny Gavin 09:10
Yeah, and it’s amazing because I feel like in when it comes to like human psychology, there’s a part of us where it’s like we think about ourselves all the time right but then there’s a part of self that has so much meaning in being able to give and to also. The other see other people succeed and I love that aspect that you bring out where like mentorship is about. Having that space and want and desire to like take someone else and see them succeed and that could bring you like joy and pleasure and.
Akvile DeFazio 09:43
Meeting, yeah, it’s very fulfilling that. That’s one of my favorite things about my job. And, you know, I had people that helped me get to where I am, and I feel like it’s just naturally ingrained me to want to do that for someone else that’s interested in my line of work or the role or, you know, the type of work that I do.
Danny Gavin 09:59
What would you say are the most important traits in a mentor and in your experience?
Akvile DeFazio 10:04
Judgmental candid honest motivating. I think. I think those are yeah no, that’s perfect. And then like if someone were to come to you and like, you saw that, like one thing and one train and then like, Oh no, I don’t want you to be my mentor. Would be something you would avoid. Arrogance totally.
Akvile DeFazio 10:27
Yeah, you know, you’re coming to somebody that you might be, you sought out as a mentor, but you might be slightly intimidated by them because you know, they’re that whole feel like they’re just more experience than you feel like you might be wasting their time, but if they are warm and receptive. And if you use each other’s time efficiently and effectively, that’s great. But I have run into some people that, you know they need to get off their high horse because you’re the next generation of that role or that industry that’s coming through. So it’s difficult to work with people that aren’t willing to listen and might be little you.
Danny Gavin 11:02
Yes, it’s rough and to be in that sort of environment really. Stinks and it stunts your growth yeah and it might deter somebody from exploring that career as a choice and then, you know, that might be a lot. That’s a huge loss, especially if they were would have thrived in it otherwise yeah and so it’s crazy like you as a person, you know, especially if you have people in your life that you’re mentoring or people look up to, you gotta be careful, right? What you say, what you do because you could like you could change the course of someone else depending on your comments. And so talking about that one of your friends turned mentor turned. Business partner Pamela Lund, and you’ve mentioned her to me before. Yeah, she was crucial in paving your path towards advertise huge, so would love to learn more about that journey and love to bring up like the mentorship of that.
Akvile DeFazio 11:51
Yeah, great question. Yeah, she’s a wonderful human being, so I had known her through the industry, just through mutual friends for a number of years. I was working in House doing marketing and advertising for a few companies, but I felt like I hit a point to where I was no longer able to grow in that company. I was burnt out. I didn’t get to. I had the responsibilities, but not the authority. Even though technically, by role and title and how long I had been there, I felt like I should have had more, but I got to a point where I didn’t enjoy waking up during the week. To go to work, and I yearn for the weekend. I’m like, this is not the life I want to live. And I saw how much more freedoms my friends had, especially Pam, since I I’ve known her closer capacity at that point of, you know, working for yourself. I had never worked at an agency, so I feel like I did myself a disservice. They’re always working in house, and I had a huge learning curve. But I finally reached out to her. I actually wanted to nine months prior to actually reaching out to her, and I could talk to her about anything, but I kept putting off asking her if I could just shadow her for a day. As she does her agency work and works with the multiple, you know, multiple brands. But I was like, oh, I don’t want to waste your time. And I should have given her the opportunity to tell Mino or whatever that answer would have been. But I waited until I really couldn’t work in house anymore. So I finally sent an email, kind of when I was upset about something and I was like, hey, can I chat with you for a day? And she wrote back almost immediately and said, I’ll do you one better. I’ll give you half my clients. I’ll teach you everything I know. And she had about 10 years more of experience than I did at that point. And she’s like, you’ll gift me half of my time back because I’m stretched then. I’m a little burned out. I’ve taken on too much work, and I’d like to start a different business in a different industry. So you would give me my time back. So it worked out really well and. She taught me so much and built up that confidence in me to talk to brands, to do sales calls, to learn about common questions that clients ask, and to respond with confidence because I knew the responses, but I wasn’t used to working in that capacity and having those conversations before to where I had to sell myself. And she taught like it’s just an invaluable gift that she gave me my livelihood, she gave me a lot of freedoms working for myself and building my own business. And yeah, it worked out great for both of us, I think. And we’re still really good, just like one of my best friends.
Danny Gavin 14:13
So let’s unpack that a bit. Here’s someone coming to you basically saying, hey, like on a silver platter. Not that it’s not hard work, but like literally half my business. So number one, like, what do you think she saw in you like to say? Like, Oh my gosh, here’s you know, i’m willing to not only. You know, take this off, but invest in a human being and make them successful.
Akvile DeFazio 14:32
She’s just a great person with a big heart and it’s just ingrained in her to be helpful to people, you know. From what I know about her and the years that I’ve known her, she’s always seeking out to provide solutions, support and help and answers to people, whether it’s for business or personal. So I think those naturally in her and the fact that I had. A picture of curiosity of how I could help her and it was a good mutual deal to where you know she’s not just spending her time to benefit me, I was able to also give something in return to her so. I think it just naturally happened to where it was a good fit and she saw something in me and I think she knows this from how I am I if I tell someone I’m going to do something, I won’t let them down. I’m externally motivated, so I think she also just took a chance on me too because our friendship was relatively new at that point and I think it’s safe to say it’s worked out.
Danny Gavin 15:28
So I’m such a big believer of that. We have these signs and signals that are going around us every day and like we just have to open up our eyes and see like we have these. Opportunities around us and we just have to grab onto it. And to me that’s like, kind of like what that situation was for you. Was it like, was it was that intimidating? Like, did you have second thoughts when you heard about, like, am I the right one or is it like, oh, wow, like, this is an opportunity I’m jumping for.
Akvile DeFazio 15:54
It I wanted to jump sooner, but I felt like maybe timing wasn’t right. Why I held off, but I was intimidated. I didn’t want to impede on her time, and that’s what held me off from asking for nine months until I got to a point where it’s like, what’s the worst she can say? No and knowing her like, I think she’d still be my friend, even though she said no, I can’t do this right now, or for whatever reason that may have been. But asking such a small question that held so much weight, I was not expecting that response. And now when I run into situations where I want to ask someone a question that might be someone I hold in high regard, or maybe somebody that’s not easily attainable, I just put it out there and like the worst they can do is say no, maybe not respond at all. But on the flip side, it’s worth it. Asking that question and putting yourself out there because you never know what kind of things can transpire after.
Danny Gavin 16:44
And when you think about it, like that has such a connection to, like, what you do, right? Yeah, every day we’re running campaigns, we’re trying things out. We don’t know if it’s gonna work or not, but we do that there. So why can’t we do it in life when we’re just asking people questions?
Akvile DeFazio 16:56
A lot of us just hold ourselves back.
Danny Gavin 17:00
Right where are our worst issue, right. We got to put ourselves out of the way to move forward.
Akvile DeFazio 17:05
I personally don’t want to live my life wondering in 1020 years and like what if I just. Ask that silly little question, but what would have happened?
Danny Gavin 17:12
Yeah no, it’s so powerful. That’s so cool. As you’re marketing. Chris started to grow. We’ve spoken about in the past, John Doherty was also a strong mentor for you know, how did he help guide you with creating a successful business?
Akvile DeFazio 17:25
He longtime industry friend. He worked in SEO for a long time for a number of brands you know, who stay usually connected online. We’ve hung out in person a number of times. Our families have hung out. But he when he went on his own a few years back. And started Credo and now editor ninja. He’s really. It’s just exciting to see a friend succeed and grow their businesses. But I’m also learning a lot from him. And he has a lot of entrepreneurial wisdom that I don’t encompass because our businesses are different. You know, he’s learning different things than I am. So I reached out to him and think about two years ago just to talk about pricing, and he was like, ooh, you are significantly undercutting yourself. So I had to do some introspective work of like, what is the value of my work? And how do I feel more comfortable raising my rates? And he helped put together a consulting package for me because I had a few issues I needed to address to have more consistency and to, you know, plan ahead in terms of revenue, profit. But also how much time am I spending doing X because COVID hit, I had a baby. I don’t have a lot of time. So like, how do I maximize everything but still provide value to my clients but also grow my business under these other circumstances that are new. So he really helped shape. Suburb pricing models that we’ve been using last couple of years and he’s just a great resource. If I have a question, I don’t hesitate to reach out to him and feel like it’s mutual since he’ll reach out to me as well.
Danny Gavin 18:53
Yeah i love John. I have never met him in person. But i do follow on Twitter. I love how like because he was like in the SEO world he often will now like tweet out like things that he knows will bug people in SC and i just I find that so funny and.
Akvile DeFazio 19:06
He’s on A roll it.
Danny Gavin 19:08
Lately, I don’t know what’s going on, but yeah, and then also like I saw recently that, you know, he actually offers, you know. Pricing strategy to agencies as like a service which is which is really cool but what So what this makes me think is like for you it seems like you know I know Pamela was you know let’s say not as much a peer but a yes appear but like for you peers really have been like your mentors and those people that you rely on. You know I don’t always think people think about you know sometimes people think about mentors as being like someone like ahead of you or higher or older but like what from what it sounds like from your experiences it’s really been like people you know your peers your friends. People on the same level.
Akvile DeFazio 19:46
Yeah, there was one other one those earlier when I just began working at a search marketing Expo. So I had just begun diving into more on paid search, paid social and Marty Weintraub, who owns the angler, another agency they’ve been running for a long time, very successful, super fun team and just very creative. He, you know, we work closely together because he was very involved with our conferences as a sponsor, as a speaker and I got to know him in that first year. Working for SMX and going to the shows and he cut it kind of naturally just happened that he’s like, I can tell you really into this. He’s like, let me teach you some things. I know if you’d be interested, you can call me anytime for questions because I was learning on the job right? So I didn’t have classes I could take at that point for how to do Facebook ads or Google ads. And you know there’s resources online, but learning from someone else or running into unique scenarios and maybe needing another perspective or someone that is more experienced. So yeah, he he’s older than me. He’s more experienced. He’s been doing this for much longer. He runs the bigger agencies, so that was another person that was critical to the early days of my marketing and advertising career.
Danny Gavin 20:53
Yes, Marty is a special guy and that’s so cool that you that you have a connection with them and it’s cool. It’s like a recurring theme that we’re hearing. If you’re a marketer, go to marketing conferences, because I like to say I like to learn a lot from those. But honestly, it’s the white space in between the time where you get to meet people and you get to meet lifelong friends and peers and mentors, right people.
Akvile DeFazio 21:14
Yeah, networking i don’t think I’d be where I am in my career. That weren’t for events, mostly in person, because there’s a different level of connection than you do online. But it’s good to keep building those relationships while you don’t see each other, while you live all over the.
Danny Gavin 21:26
Globe you’re really good about keeping in touch with people, and you have to give and take, and you do really good about giving. That’s awesome. In addition to your role as a mentor to your direct team at advertise, you also mentor college students, which is something I like to do. So what do you love about guiding the next generation?
Akvile DeFazio 21:44
It’s just exciting to see what they’re into, what they’re learning because I didn’t have those opportunities. So I get to see, you know, I get to learn from them and directly of, you know, how I can apply my learnings of just interacting with them and what they’re learning at school to what we’re doing at work to maybe younger generations. But also just seeing eager, curious minds that are younger and thinking about how I was at that point and you could tell that they’re really wanting to get into this field, but just. Might have questions looking for guidance or internships and providing them the real world experience of like here’s what it’s like to really work in this is this something you definitely want to do? Is there is there something about it that is holding you back maybe that you’re hesitant to pursue this. So I feel like I teach some of these classes like I’ve other friend professors like you and they’ll bring me in for the end of the year, end of the like, you know, just December. They’ll bring me in for like a guest lecture or an ask Me anything type of thing with marketing classes and then. Refuse them. Encourage them afterward to reach out to me on LinkedIn or social channels, or to email me if they have questions. And oftentimes they’ll get a handful of them that will reach back after and they’ll help them through to graduation and getting their first internship or maybe their first full time job in marketing. And it’s just really. It’s fulfilling to see them accomplish these things on their own, but be able to give them resources and tools and some of my experiences to maybe make it easier on them to not run into some of the same hurdles that I.
Danny Gavin 23:15
Did I love it? I wish more were like you and sometimes mentoring a student can be viewed as like a task or to do O why do you think it’s important for marketing leaders and especially digital marketing leaders in our industry to take on students?
Akvile DeFazio 23:30
It’s important to help the next generation of marketers come through and to continue the good work that we do for brands and to provide them what we’re able to tool. So then you know, we’re the ones that are going to be employing them. So we want to make sure that we’re aligned, we’re innovating, we’re being creative and always. Just pushing the needle bit further, you know platforms are changing, technology is changing. So it’s a really far from stagnant terms of an industry. So I think it’s really important to provide what we can to these younger marketers or somebody maybe that’s entering a second, third career and wants to explore it at an older age. It’s a very genuine community of people. So I feel like it’s just natural for most of us. You know as you’ve seen that conferences are just being on Twitter or LinkedIn that people are like hey, I have a question and even though we’re tightly all competitors. Everyone’s like, hey, yeah, I have, I know this. Or here’s the solution for that. I ran into this problem or no, I’ll look into it and I feel like everyone sees a mutual benefit from it, that there’s give and take, and at the end of the day, I feel like all of us just win.
Danny Gavin 24:31
I can’t stress that fact of being part of the digital marketing community because I think sometimes we take it for granted that there’s so much camaraderie and sharing of information and knowledge. You know, it’s like, what isn’t? Every industry like that. So we’re lucky all I’m saying is. We do it a lot from peers, but some people forget about the people at first coming in. I’m not saying everyone. So people like Acvila who are actually like focusing on the students as well is really awesome and very helpful.
Akvile DeFazio 25:01
It’s like a brush breath of fresh air. It’s like in between my daily tasks at work, in life, it’s nice to have something new pop up and questions that will make me think. But also I just always find fulfillment from helping other people.
Danny Gavin 25:14
Before, earlier on you mentioned that clarity, trust and candor are keys success how do you try to instill this into those that you mentor?
Akvile DeFazio 25:22
By giving them examples, by trying to use our time efficiently and effectively because you know, everyone’s busy. But if this is something you really want to pursue, come prepared with questions. Be eager, but also be concise in what your goals are so that I can help you accomplish those goals. I think it’s just important to just dive in and say here’s what I want and here’s how I’m going to do it, but I need you to help me fill in the spaces because. I’m new to this.
Danny Gavin 25:49
That is very sage advice. Thank you. So I think we’ve covered a lot of wonderful aspects of mentorship. So now I want to O into marketing. I like to say that you are the Queen of AIDS social. So this is obviously it’s wonderful to have you here. So for those people who don’t know about social media advertising, but why don’t we give them a, you know, short definition or like a dive into OK, what is social media adds.
Akvile DeFazio 26:11
Tons of platforms out there most people associate with Facebook, Instagram, Meta adds. The SO sponsored content you pay for to get more. Visibility on you know, paid search side, you’ll go to Google, at the top it’ll say add next to it. So it’s finding ways to reach your audiences that will be most likely to be interested and engaged with the content, the products or the services that you’re trying to sell. So to get people to learn about your brand, but also get them into your funnel, to get them to become customers at some point and get them to either open up their wallets to download something, to sign up for something. Depends on the business goals, but it’s really interesting. Because there’s the targeting aspect of it is done by interests and behaviors. So I find that the psychology part of that is very interesting to find people that you think will be likely to become customers and like what you have to offer. And you can see the results right away. Pretty much like you can see this somebody made a purchase. You know, attribution is a whole nother topic, but it’s not seamless and it’s become much harder. But it’s kind of you have to be a data detective too, but you can see how much money you’re bringing into the business from your efforts. So if. You like to be fulfilled in that way, and seeing the whole journey of what you’re doing, this job might be for you.
Danny Gavin 27:25
Just to rehash that, so you mentioned top of funnel advertising like getting people into the funnel, right, they might not be aware and social media ads help in with that aspect and then also behaviors and interests, right. So we’re not, we’re not targeting keywords, but we’re targeting people and what they like and what they don’t like. So you’ve worked on many different social platforms like we discussed at the beginning of the of the episode, you know and we know that social media. The advertising landscape, it changes all the time, always evolving. Is there one platform that you have enjoyed advertising on more than others? And because things change so much, maybe, let’s not say like what was the best one five years ago, but like nowadays, like what? What are you enjoying the most? Most, whether it’s related to clients or audiences, you know?
Akvile DeFazio 28:10
Love hate relationship, but meta ads, it performs really well. You know it has other issues. It’s a little clunky in terms of the platform for running. But it has been around the longest. The prices are still good, you can reach anybody in the world pretty much and accomplish your business goals. But I always recommend diversifying because of media goes down, your account gets disabled, which does happen. You know, you want to still run ads on other platforms. So tick Tock has the big one for us this year. That’s been really fun because it’s more video content, it’s short, it’s engaging. It’s just a new way of getting in front of people, especially younger demographics. So we’ve had. Lot of fun there, and I would also say that I’ve been enjoying. Core ads, it’s kind of like a search and social hybrid, but it’s we’ve been seeing some interesting results there, and running ads, it’s easy. It’s like kind of like a very simplified version of Facebook ads. Fewer options. But it’s interesting by the other types of ways you can target where you can’t on Facebook.
Danny Gavin 29:13
And are you using Quora ads for ecommerce?
Akvile DeFazio 29:16
Yes, mostly like home based products for you know like energy efficiency things like that. Haven’t done it with too many other clients, not like shoes or you know we typically stick to other platforms. Of those in the have a lot of shoe lines for some reason, but we haven’t moved over there for Cora. We’ve done medical and like home based goods.
Danny Gavin 29:36
Yeah, basically areas where people are going to be asking those sort of questions. So they’re actually going to be showing up there. Like, I don’t know if people are going to be searching for like what are the best shoes to wear to the prom, you know? Yeah, maybe.
Akvile DeFazio 29:50
That could be an Instagram question or Twitter.
Danny Gavin 29:52
Yeah, I agree. I don’t wanna like step back, but with meta, you know, obviously with all the changes and tracking and attribution, you know, I feel like everything was taken away from us. Things are starting to come back a little bit. Like I know like when you select you know, let’s say certain different demographics or things, now you can actually see the conversion data. So where do you feel like we are right now from an attribution perspective at least with meta? Like I know we’re not back to where we were, but do you still feel confident suggesting it to people? Where do you think we’re at?
Akvile DeFazio 30:23
Now I do, but I educate with all clients of, you know, it’s overinflated. They’re using a modeling system to kind of guess how many conversions are coming through. We can’t get as granular as we used to, you know, age range, gender, different audiences. So we’ve had a lot of things taken away that give us more insights. But usually we’ll use Google Analytics and Shopify then it’s closer to the source of truth. But as we see, we do see a correlation that, you know, like certain. Contains, they’re performing well on both. But in terms of return on ad spend, you know, sometimes it’s overinflated to a point where it’s not actually a positive ROAS. So we use multiple touch points, but we know we tell clients, here’s what’s going on with the platform. This is a guest, don’t get too excited about these numbers. We use these to optimize what we’re seeing in platform, but we’re also going to use these other, you know, analytics tools to give us more information that might be more accurate. But attribution is difficult now. A lot of people have opted out since I was four. And so we do, we don’t have a problem. No one had pushed back on spending more on meta. And I think that, you know we’ve had one client I think since the beginning of COVID that was like disable it and they took a hit across everything from organic social, huge drop in paid and organic search. And you know that’s a good example of you know sometimes if you’re not seeing a direct return on something, it doesn’t mean it’s still not part of the customer journey.
Danny Gavin 31:49
When it comes to reporting, you can log into Facebook. You can. See what’s going on. As you’re saying, that’s not really the one source of truth. So we have to look at analytics, Shopify. So how do you report? Like, do you just say, I’m not reporting you have to look at all these places or do you actually like have a hybrid report I’d love to know more about?
Akvile DeFazio 32:06
That hybrid report just so the client knows what’s going on, but we will educate and reinforce this like here’s what this platform is saying and but this is the actual truth or it’s kind of like a little bit closer in here since we’re not able to fully attribute everything but. We’re using all the reporting that we have access to that can give us the closest to the truth. So as long as the client understands and they don’t get upset, you know it’s the best we can do.
Danny Gavin 32:34
It’s about setting expectations, and as long as they know then they’ll be OK.
Akvile DeFazio 32:38
Yeah, we’ll be honest in reporting. So we do weekly and monthly some. For some clients, we’ve had fiscal reporting just different date ranges. You know, we didn’t have a great week last week, but here’s the hypothesis as to why that might have happened. And I feel like the benefit of working at an agency and seeing multiple brands, you have more. Visibility into trends that might happen where if you’re working in house, you know there’s pros and cons to both, but you only have access to maybe one and you have to, you know, use your network to be like, hey, did everyone else see this happen last week and trying to narrow down what happened and then be honest with the client? Like, you know, not every week is going to be a good week. There’s a lot of external variables that might impact performance. So as long as you are open with the client, that will instill trust in that relationship and they know that you’re not just spending their money frivolously.
Danny Gavin 33:26
You definitely have to be on the same page, right? When you’re not on the same page, then there’s problems. Yeah, I know that with COVID and with iOS 14 and all the wonderful stuff that’s happened in the past couple of years, you leaned more into consulting. So can you share a bit about what it looks like with consulting versus running campaigns and implementing and basically the top tips? For someone to figure out like, what should I do? Should I do it myself and get a consultant? Or should I actually hire someone to do everything? The fact that you do both, I feel like you’ve got wonderful insight.
Akvile DeFazio 33:58
I feel like if you are the service provider, if you feel like it’s good to do both, so then that way you are in the work, you know if there’s new features, anything happening, you’re able to more effectively communicate that to the clients that are saying, oh, you know, let me, I’m not sure, let me look into it. Which is fine to say sometimes I don’t know every. Answer, I’ll have to do some research, but I’m also managing accounts. I love doing that. I know that’s, you know, typically people that run agencies hand that off, but we’re intentionally small but sidebar. So I feel like being in that practice gives me the knowledge and experience to quickly and effectively convey that information to consulting clients where I feel like if I didn’t do that I would have to go off other information. A lot of people that do consult, you know, some get to the point where they might. Would be in the practice of running ads themselves, but I feel like that’s so crucial to providing the education or the training to a certain client. If you’re, you know, greener, you may want to spend some time actually running campaigns learning how the platforms behave, because you can pick up on algorithmic changes and be better informed. Whereas if you start consulting, you may not have enough enough experience to help somebody truly to the capacity that they might need it from a client standpoint if you are on the fence. If you want to do it yourself through consulting and training, you know, hand it off to somebody entirely, it depends on your budget, I think. And you know, small businesses will come to us for consulting because they usually have a smaller budget and aren’t able to hire somebody in addition to their ad spend budget to manage it fully. So they’ll do initial training. I’ll teach them, I’ll go through all the platforms that they’re interested in, put together recommendations for them, sometimes build out shell campaigns so they can see how I set it up, so then they can copy them over and adjust it. So then you know, if we take a break for a month or two while they implement things and want to come back and discuss reporting and what metrics mean, most of our consulting relationships are like that. Some brands that are a little bit bigger than small business owners that have a little bit more budget, they will usually have someone else on their team be trained and I’ll consult with them because they’re too busy with other things which make sense. There’s a lot of hats to wear owning a business. And then larger brands usually will sometimes happen for an audit. We’ll do consulting for a month and like you know. What would you be interested in just managing it because it’s not what we’re interested in or what’s not, you know, fitting into our schedules and there’s a craft to it, right. Like it’s not rocket science by any means what we do. But if you’re in it like you know how to do it well and you can really show results where you know of a brand that’s trying to scale may not have the resources internally to spread their staff a little thinner. So then that’s where we can talk about having management.
Danny Gavin 36:45
I know a big part of paid social. Is the creative and correct me if I’m wrong, but I know that you don’t actually work with creative. You expect clients to come and bring creative with them. I would love to know like the decision behind that. And then also have you lost any contracts because like they’ve come to like hey, what you mean you we’ve got to do the ads what? So I love to take down that a little.
Akvile DeFazio 37:08
Bit I do worry though every time, but I have another friend that runs a creative agency relatively close to where I live, and we’re very good friends and peers, so. We have worked together on occasion that if they do need somebody making creatives, whether it’s just new specs, maybe completely whole new repository of creative stuff for you know launch or whatever it might be, we do partner them. So I do have somebody that can help. So it’s not through advertise but is somebody that i trust and know to do excellent work and their craft really is and photography, videography and doing ecommerce creative so. But most client, I have never had anybody say no, I do tell them I’m not a design shop. I think about it sometimes if I should start building that out. But it’s such a specialized area now that I’m like, I’m still assessing but I haven’t lost business over it. I have solutions whether you know they choose to work with me or not or we can take their existing assets and I do have tools to where we can add subtle motion, we can add overlay tech. So like we’re able to do things to an extent, but to go shoot a video that’s not in our wheelhouse, I’ll usually recommend someone else and let the client choose but. I feel like we’ve gotten to a point in our business to where we work with brands that typically have in-house creative teams. So we do provide creative direction based on our experience with different platforms, what’s in right now, what, how we can stand out and beat the competitors with something new and future forward. So I don’t have a direct solution internally, but I have solutions that I can offer based on what their budget or their needs are.
Danny Gavin 38:41
And that’s wonderful and I think like this is an education opportunity for many because. A lot of people like, oh, I want to do Facebook ads, but they don’t understand the time and effort and what’s required, right? It’s not just like, OK, put money in the machine, but like there’s all these aspects and you got to find like the right partner for you and who can help with the different aspects. So I love how you set it up and I think it’d be cool one day if you do creative also, but I can understand why you’re staying away from it these days.
Akvile DeFazio 39:09
I have ideas, I’ll share them, but it’s just like maybe I can go back to those graphic design roots and maybe get into.
Danny Gavin 39:16
Full circle right see.
Danny Gavin 39:18
You’ve won many accolades in your career. Is there one that sticks out to you as being the most special, or one that you take the most pride in?
Akvile DeFazio 39:24
I once toastmaster of the year 2017 I know this is gonna be on video, but I have it here on my desk and I had always just had terrible stage fright I would perform since I was a child. My mother, my grandmother, my aunt, they’re all classically trained, professional pianist. So I grew up playing on stage, just black out. I don’t know. I would do the song and I would get up and I have no idea. Would happen. And then same thing kind of progressed through my youth. I took one public speaking class in high school, two in college, and still I would black out and I would just shake and sweat and I would not be present. So I realized when I launched my business eight years ago that I need to confidently convey my what I can do to help other people, my experience, my worth, what my rates are, without any hesitation. And I knew that most of, like all of my industry friends are public speakers. And I was just like. Was hanging out here. Just what are you going to go up and speak, act. And there’s always like, ah, no so I decided to invest in myself and a friend of mine, Debbie, she invited me to go to a Toastmasters. meeting and I’d pushed off for years because I was intimidated and I went. And she’s like, there’s no obligation to speak. You just go and meet at a Panera Tuesday mornings for an hour. Are you have you been to one?
Danny Gavin 40:40
Before I haven’t, but like I’m envisioning it.
Akvile DeFazio 40:44
And they have them at different locations, but you pay like 50$ every six months. And it was just the best value from that first meeting I there’s different exercises that you do, and there’s planned prepared speeches based on this curriculum, so you can progress through it and learn how to give different types of speeches. And there’s. This ones for presentations and sales pitches. I was like, if I need to succeed as a business owner, I need to communicate concisely and effectively and with confidence, right? No one’s going to do business with me if I’m just like. So my first meeting I had to speak for 60 seconds about any topic. There’s just they’re called table topics and I said 29 umms in one minute. I was so nervous. It took me 7 months and I got to zero and every time you said ah or I’m already filler word, they would ring a bell. And I was like, I have condition. So we had moved and I started at a new club. And I would made a promise to myself. I was like, OK, I’m not going to miss a single meeting. And for one year I did not miss a single meeting. And it was just once a week and they nominated me Toastmaster of the year and I became the club president and I put it on Twitter, hey, I’d like to start speaking at conferences. Is there anyone that’s prepping a show for next year that’s looking for speakers? Maybe somebody that’s a novice. And I got invited for my first event to Salt Lake City to go speak at the Adobe campus at SCSM. At the time I didn’t know. So the day of that, I was the keynote speaker.
Danny Gavin 42:12
Oh my God.
Akvile DeFazio 42:13
And I was like, OK, like, OK, put on your big girl pants. I’m here. Let’s just do this. I’ve been prepping for a year and I did it, and that really just brought more opportunities. And I’m now fully present when I speak and I enjoy it. I still get nervous. So don’t get me wrong, but I am present. And that’s the biggest thing that I am very proud.
Danny Gavin 42:32
Of I would have never have guessed that about you. Like, wow. Like it’s amazing because it seems like it’s so natural and I’m sure now it is natural. It’s amazing that you put in that work and to become that. But that’s so cool. Like, ask you to be the keynote at your first talk. Wow, that’s crazy.
Akvile DeFazio 42:49
Well, then everyone told me like, oh, this is your first time. I thought you’ve been speaking for years, and I had worked at SMX, which is the conference company, and I had to do a few like introductory, like, welcome to the show, here’s where you can find things. But I was mostly just speaking online, which I’m very comfortable with, but to speak in front of a large room of people who sweat. So I guess I trick people, but it worked out in the end. It did disappoint anybody.
Danny Gavin 43:12
Well, you set the expectations and then you met them, and then you’re all fine. Alright, we’re gonna move to our lightning round. What are the top three podcasts that you’re listening to that you recommend to our listeners?
Akvile DeFazio 43:23
So I’m a true crime person so I do really enjoy criminal. But I just finished one last week called sold the story and it’s a six part miniseries about reading in this country and how most I have a toddler. So this is. Of Pam actually shared this with me and said it might feel I find it helpful, but I guess about 65 % of children in the US are not up to 3rd grade reading standards. And there’s this whole thing that was implemented in the eighties that the US is trying to undo now about not using phonics. So I was concerned and I wanted to learn, but it’s pretty appalling how many children can’t read very well. So it was just an interesting story about this whole curriculum that got introduced from New Zealand and if you know if your parent, highly recommend. Listening to that, it’s interesting, but also really eye opening. I like the daily from the New York Times. It gives me a quick recap. Doesn’t take too much time, especially with you know, this is kind of the busy season for my line of work. Maybe for you too, but I work a lot with ecommerce brands so I haven’t had too much time. So nice short podcasts are kind of really golden at the moment, but in the new year I’m going to catch up because I have a lot.
Danny Gavin 44:31
Yes, I have that list just like you as we wrap up. What are you currently working on? What’s your next big project? What is 2023 look like for? Aquila and advertise.
Akvile DeFazio 44:40
I’m trying to still figure that out honestly it’s going into nine year of our business and things have been coasting really well. I’ve got good processes down, but I’m trying to think of what’s next. Do we build out another service of some sort? Do I hone in further on something else? So I don’t have an answer today because I think I’m going to take the last week of the year off and I’m going to spend that time writing out some new goals and what I want to do. I feel like I’ve been playing it kind of safe the last year because of other external life factors. And just letting things run smoothly. But I really want to do something that’s going to make a positive impact in the near, so I’ll keep you posted.
Danny Gavin 45:15
It seems like, and it sounds like that everything you put your mind to, you’ve been able to accomplish. So I’m sure that the 2022 planning session or 2023 please God will work out really well.
Danny Gavin 45:28
So, where can listeners learn more about you and your business? You can find me at advertise.com so it’s AKA erti ecom like advertise but people call me act. Or you can find me on Twitter at Aquila de Fazio, I’m very active there. Or LinkedIn as well with my.
Danny Gavin 45:44
Name wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us and being a guest on the digital marketing mentor. And thank you listeners for tuning into the digital marketing mentor. We can’t wait to see you next time.