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63.1 F
San Diego
Sunday, May 19, 2024

From the Corporate Nest to Entrepreneurship

Bryant Walker
Founder and Creative Director
TAVO Media Group

When Bryant Walker summoned the courage to take that great leap from the safety of the corporate nest onto the unstable ground of entrepreneurship, logic no longer mattered.

Walker had been on the fast track to success at some of the biggest ad agencies in town, a young Don Draper who got to dazzle accounts, including Verizon and Warner Bros., with his creativity and marketing savvy.

“I worked in just about every capacity at an ad agency — creative, solutions development, strategy, sales, design, but I never liked being just a cog in the machine,” Walker told the San Diego Business Journal. “I wanted more creative-marketing autonomy. Professionally and creatively, I felt limited on what I could do for our clients.”

Walker — a San Diego native who graduated from SDSU, where he met his wife — started his own agency 13 years ago. Back then, TAVO Media Group (short for his Italian grandmother’s maiden name, Tavolacci) was a sideline for his pet projects, a release valve for the many ideas he had that his corporate projects weren’t flexible enough to or couldn’t properly implement.

“I have the same frustration that my clients now have with corporate agencies,” Walker said. “Too many of them are really good at only one thing. They’ve got too many layers of people acting with their own agendas. And their best ideas don’t always make it to the top.”

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Deathbed regrets are always about untaken chances, never about noble failures. So Walker decided to make TAVO his only focus in late 2018. When it started picking up momentum along with clients, he swore to himself he would never work any other way again.

The pandemic had other ideas, however. When it hit, TAVO’s mostly small San Diego and Orange County clients slashed their ad budgets, forcing Walker to hang up his entrepreneur hat and take another corporate gig.

Instead of returning to the corporate world with his tail between his legs, Walker vowed to view every second of this setback as a learning experience. He noticed every single thing corporate agencies did inefficiently and resolved to use it to make TAVO a better machine once he had the chance.

“Strategy-forward, digital transformation, and so on,” Walker said. “The of-the-moment laundry list of buzz words goes on and on, and I truly did not want to relaunch with the same stream of drowsy creative pitching, just phoning it in. Relaunching TAVO has been something of a renaissance for me personally and professionally — cutting through the noise, the clutter of the agency and marketing landscape. The business itself, the intention and ethos it’s built on is focused on real, raw results for our clients, backed by strong creative and yes, data, too”.

Since Walker relaunched TAVO in 2022, it has tripled in size every quarter, and now boasts clients including Pacifica Companies — which owns 90+ high-end senior living communities nationally, the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla and the Hotel Indigo in Del Mar, supporting local and regional brands as well, including local tech startup Curbside Health and VECKTA.

Walker attributes his agency’s growth to its strategic direction and grit, skipping past the “fluff” in marketing.

“There’s still an amazing amount of attention and investment into vanity metrics, instead of focusing on the actual business-results of clients,” he said, “but I do think there are a handful of agencies doing it well, and I’d like to think we’re among them. Beyond strong creative and campaigns, it’s about drawing the throughput between a good story, strong connections, engagement and growth”.

TAVO’s clients, ranging from ecommerce to healthcare and startups to enterprise, hire them for a brand refresh, new website, and/or a new campaign, but at the end of the day, they are seeking results. And frankly put, TAVO delivers. One way the agency drives results for their clients is ROAS — Return on Advertising Spend — demonstrating 4.5x, or even 10x ROAS for clients’ campaigns.

“In our relative pursuit of excellence at TAVO, I’ve realized that adaptability and responsiveness are key,” Walker said. “Drawing from my past agency and corporate experiences, I’ve honed an approach that we’ve woven into the fabric of our culture here: agile strategy. It’s not just a buzzword for us, it encapsulates a mindset — one that emphasizes flexibility, rapid iteration, and continuous learning to stay ahead of the curve.

“This methodology isn’t confined to our workflows alone; it’s reflected in the bespoke solutions we craft for each client, ensuring their stories are not just told but felt, driving engagement and measurable growth,” Walker continued. “Our agile strategy framework ensures that we’re not just reacting to changes in the market or consumer behavior but anticipating them, allowing us to guide our clients with foresight and innovative thinking.”

TAVO Media Group stands on the cusp of a thrilling growth trajectory. With a recent strategic hire of a new Vice President of Sales & Partnerships, the agency is nurturing a burgeoning pipeline that’s a testament to its vibrant growth mode. This momentum is paralleled by a robust investment in both their creative and media teams, a move meticulously designed to ensure scalability while maintaining the boutique quality that TAVO’s clients have come to expect.

“Our growth is a balancing act between scaling up our capabilities and staying true to the ethos of personal touch and customized solutions that define us,” Walker said. “It’s an exciting time as we witness the symbiosis of expanding our team while honing our craft and growing into our new office space.”

Looking toward the future, TAVO is not just growing internally but also enhancing its external engagement with the broader industry. The leadership team, recognized for its forward-thinking and impactful strategies, is slated to contribute to panels and talks throughout the year and into 2025, positioning TAVO as both a thought leader and a beacon of innovation in the marketing realm.

Walker shared: “There’s an electrifying dynamic within the team as we gear up for these opportunities. Sharing our insights, learning from peers, and being part of the larger conversation about the future of marketing is integral to our growth philosophy.”

Walker’s vision for TAVO is as clear as it is ambitious: to triple the agency’s business by 2025. This goal, while lofty, is grounded in a proven track record of scaling with intention.

“I’ve always believed in the power of positive energy and leading with value,” Walker said. “Our commitment to uplifting startups and non-profits in the San Diego area is more than a business strategy. It’s a reflection of our core values. We’re here to make a real impact, and I believe that by putting forth this positive intent and consistently adding value, growth is a natural outcome.

“TAVO’s journey ahead is not just about scaling up,” Walker said. “It’s about cultivating a legacy of positive contributions and value-driven success.”


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