After a decade helping turn a $400 startup into a multimillion-dollar company, Chaz Cervino is heading out on his own.
Digital Marketing Maven Goes Solo
When Chaz Cervino started his first business out of his parents’ basement with just $400, expectations were modest at best.
However, after securing several high-profile athletes as clients, those expectations blossomed into a multimillion-dollar company.
Now, Cervino looks to take his experience as the former CEO of Today’s Business personal management services and incorporate it into his new outfit, Cervino Co.
His plans are for Cervino Co. to be a one-stop shop for all digital marketing needs. Having worked with several high-profile athletes, Chaz understands the importance of image, likeness and networking. Along with his brother, Luke, who manages former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins, Cervino looks to take his new company to the next level.
Zenger News reached out to Cervino to find out more about his new business venture and to get a better understanding of the mission of his new enterprise.
Percy Crawford interviewed Chaz Cervino for Zenger News.
Zenger: A lot has happened since the last time we spoke. Tell us about what happened and what you currently have going on.
Cervino: Yeah, so since we last spoke, I had started my last agency in 2011. And recently just exited about a month ago. So, from October 2011 to February 2021, and you know what, after 10 years we had a great run. Those guys are still going to run that agency. I just decided it was best for me to move on based upon the lack of alignment we had on the vision we had moving forward. Overall, love those guys, what an amazing run. Started out of my parents’ basement to build something with $400, to a multimillion-dollar full-service digital agency. I mean, those experiences and traveling the world together was truly unbelievable. I’m excited for those guys to continue on their path.
Now, I have opened up my own consulting practice called, Cervino Co, where I will be helping agencies, partners, athletes, from a sales, business and digital perspective. If somebody comes to me and needs a website, or social media help, SEO, hey man, they wanna build an NFT, I’m their guy. I have pretty much acquired amazing contacts and relationships over the last 10-years and throughout my life. I played college football, as well as AAU basketball since I was about 5 years old. So, all of my contacts growing up and relationships that I’ve built, now I have people come to me and I quarterback the deals on how I can refer to other agencies, other partners, and assure my potential clients that they are in good hands because I’ve vetted out the process, I’ve been through this thousands of times. Building websites, doing digital plans and creating strategies for companies. Now is the time that I can utilize that and refer them over to the proper party where I think would service them best.
Zenger: It sounds like there were some creative differences, but what made now the time to move on and do your own thing?
Cervino: It was all about timing because of how I wanted to move forward and run the business. You go through a lot of ups and downs over 10-years, but if you’re not happy in what you’re doing, and you’re not energized every day to go crush it, then you probably need a change in scenery. I think that’s what I needed. Believe me, everything I talk about is basketball and football related, so if we don’t have sports fans that are going to be reading this article, I apologize (laughing).
But it’s kind of like, look at [NBA player] James Harden. The guy was in Houston, they were calling him overweight, he was lazy, he didn’t wanna play, and the Rockets weren’t really doing well. And then they trade him to Brooklyn and the guy is an MVP candidate. He is crushing it. He is back to being an MVP-caliber player because of the scenery and the people that he surrounded himself with. I would say, that’s a huge part of your happiness, your motivation moving forward and building something that’s truly going to be special. And I think surrounding yourself with the right people that are going to push you to do better is critical.
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Zenger: You recently did the Trendifier podcast with Julian Dorey. You spoke a lot about the importance of being happy. No amount of money or important clients could replace you coming to work everyday happy. Do you feel like you have found that sense of happiness with, Cervino Co.?
Cervino: One hundred percent! I did mention this on the podcast as well, when you’re in a partnership … and believe me, I have a partnership, I have a wife, so I do have to run everything by her from a personal standpoint. So, when you’re in a partnership, there’s millions of different questions and millions of different decisions that you have to make on a daily basis for your business. And I felt like when you’re not aligned on those decisions, and it can be the dumbest little things on a daily basis that you just aren’t aligned on, then you have to decide to say, hey it’s time to move on.
And that’s what happened when it comes to Cervino Co. I do have to make a lot of decisions, and it is on me and I do run a lot of things by my counterpart, being my wife. With that being said, it’s nice that I can make those decisions by myself being my own business owner. And at the same time, I’m working with just as many people if not more people. At Today’s Business, my last agency, we had about 50 full-time employees at the height of the business. That was a lot. Now, I’m working with all these different partners and all these different companies, and you have to overly communicate with those partners. At the same time the decisions that I make are on me, but they’re also the decisions that you make with your partners that I’m also referring business to, working side-by-side with to execute on a lot of these campaigns and projects.
Zenger: Explain digital marketing and how it works and benefits your clients.
Cervino: The simplest way digital marketing can be explained is, from the start of time, it was word-of-mouth. Peer to peer telling each other about a business or an endeavor or an investment. And I think digital marketing is just the new word of mouth. Instead of having a business card, you have a website, or you have both now. You mix the physical world with the digital world. It’s your online presence. So, when I say digital marketing there is a lot that goes into it. It’s a very broad term.
There’s a lot of aspects that go into it. It goes into owning your own assets, owning your own website, owning your own email database, owning your own text message community. Instead of passing out flyers or depending on friends to spread the word, you post it on social media, you do email blasts, or you post it on a blog on your website. Your resume is on LinkedIn, Instagram, or you’re putting out content on YouTube. When people read this article here, Percy, they’re going to say, “Who is Chaz Cervino?” They are going to search me on Google to see what it is that I do. And your digital footprint and your online presence is your resume. Digital marketing in a nutshell is the new word-of-mouth and how people are communicating.
Zenger: A lot of celebrities are going to the “Text me,” method of communicating with their fans. How does that work exactly, because obviously they’re not giving out their personal phone numbers?
Cervino: Yes, I’m pretty adept with that. It basically goes to a dashboard where you can send out mass text messages. You can reply to the messages that come in. It can come to your phone as well as your desktop. It’s a number that is yours. It might not be your personal number, but it is associated with you and your brand as a lot of people do. Like Gary V [Vaynerchuk], who is top of the industry in the digital industry, has been promoted for a long time, it’s a way that people can interact with you without personally doing so, if that makes sense. They can still interact and talk with you through a number that may not be your personal number, but you’re still communicating with that individual, just on a scale. That celebrity can share updates and interact with fans in a very personal way, without giving out their personal cell phone numbers.
Zenger: A quick search of Chaz Cervino and you will find that you have worked with several famous athletes, but the two synonymous with your name are NBA and NFL Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Ray Lewis. How did you build those relationships?
Cervino: Just building trust with one another. Bringing them opportunities, bringing them different investment deals and then being able to really create that bond with one another and also creating that bond with their team. A lot of these guys at that level have their assistants, their managers, lawyers and agents, so creating that bond and relationship involves their entire team. I think that’s truly important. It can be their, sister, as well. You create that bond with them as well as their inner circle and in essence you become part of their family. Their business family. I think that’s the special part about working in this business. It’s personal because it’s their brand. If you’re doing something on Kevin’s Facebook or Instagram, that’s his brand.
I think maybe like 10 years ago people were really loose with their social media. And small businesses would have their daughter or their son post on their Facebook, “Oh, they know how to do that.” Well, it’s the same thing with celebrities, too. This is their brand, so when they put out something … and you see it all the time now. If a celebrity puts something on their Twitter, it’s on every media outlet, it’s on every TV station. If somebody puts out something that is not truly authentic or really true to their brand, it will cause an uproar and cause unneeded stress for that particular celebrity or individual.
When you’re talking with these guys in particular and the hundreds of different athletes and celebrities I’ve worked with, it really just comes down to the trust that you have. They have to trust that you’re going to put them in the best position for them and their family to generate money, but also to protect them from other individuals that might want to do business with them because they are a major fan and just want to be associated and around these guys. You have to have a sense of security when working with these high-level guys.
Zenger: Short-term, where would you like to see Cervino Co. in 3-5 years?
Cervino: I would like to see Cervino Co. be the premier consulting agency. If you have a digital need, you need to monetize your social media pages or your YouTube, I need to create an awesome brand and enhance my marketing, I need a bad-ass logo, I want people to see Cervino Co. as a one-stop shop. Instead of dealing with five different agencies, or “I hired this one and it didn’t work out,” because that’s usually what happens.
Even when you do things in life, you have to hire a few people until you find that fit. I want them to come to me and trust me and what I have done and what I stand for. I want guys to trust that I am going to put them in the best position to be successful. In a short time, that’s really what I strive to do. Cervino Co. is me, it’s my personal brand, it’s my last name, it’s something that I take a lot of pride in. And I put a lot of effort in doing right by the individuals that I work with and making sure they don’t have to go to several people to find a solution that works for them and their business.
Zenger: Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
Cervino: I just want to say, thank you so much, Percy. I appreciate your continued support to me and my family. Nothing means more than that. I definitely want to give a shout out to my dad [Bobby Cervino] and his cigar brand, Lucia Cigars. He’s coming up on the 1-year anniversary of starting that brand. He’s put so much time and effort in building great relationships for himself, and now that he has an awesome brand, an amazing cigar to associate with him and his network is truly amazing. It’s fantastic. I am super-pumped for him and want to give him a nice plug. I appreciate you and the time.
(Edited by Judith Isacoff and Matthew B. Hall)