Less than a decade ago, Eric Parent was a self-described (with a laugh) unknown “rock star” who played in “dive bars.” He was a “bar musician” who sang and mostly played acoustic guitar, living in parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. He actually began to perform years earlier, barely a teenager.

So, ask Parent to title a song that would aptly represent his thriving Melbourne advertising agency, and what does he come up with?

“Data Is King.”

And the theme? “There’s a lot of truth in looking at the numbers,” he explains.

Much has changed in Parent’s life since those early days, but his intrigue with numbers — of the data — clearly hasn’t.

Back then, he used such information to help attract patrons, through social media, to watch his shows around town. He was his own promoter. Not coincidentally, he shifted his song choices from acoustic hip-hop to more mainstream music pop music — “playing what people wanted.”

Then eventually, he began to help bar and restaurant owners promote their other events and dining coupons. And with success, although he concedes that the pay wasn’t especially great.

“I really found the whole strategy of everything quite fascinating,” he recalls.

Now, as cofounder of Next Level Digital Media and Marketing, LLC, Parent has a very different set of clients, but his approach to marketing is largely the same.

“The agency a machine of data-focused marketing and advertising, focusing on return for clients,” Parent said without a hint of boast. “We only spend [clients’] money when we should.”

In September 2016, Parent met Matthew Vasquez, a Titusville native who, Parent noted, has “sort of business-focused mind.” They met over “whiskey and wings,” Parent joked.

A month later, they decided to partner and establish Next Level Digital Media and Marketing, LLC.

They were ideal complements. Parent was enamored with social media, vowing to be paid only when his work “moved the needle” for a client. Vasquez brought the requisite business sense.

“I was interested in recording results, data and analytics, and quantifying. Matt knew how to turn that into a business,” said Parent, now 35, adding that Vasquez serves as CEO.

The move to Melbourne was made following an initial 2.5 years in Eau Gallie.

Agency services range from web Search Engine Optimization and creating relevant brand content to video production, web design and using YouTube and Facebook to target audiences with strategic messaging.

For example, regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO), work is centered on crafting digital experiences that drive revenue and profits by delivering top-notch web-search results. According to Next Level Digital Media and Marketing, LLC’s own website, “… To avoid being pushed down under competitors, we integrate a great variety of strategies in order to ensure that your website is always optimized to show as a top rank.”

“You’re the pioneer, we’re mission control,” the website wording continued.

Another sample of the agency’s thinking: “Reserving a TV spot was the golden ticket to advertising success. YouTube and Facebook have changed that; the ability to target specific audiences, track engagement, make them more effective and they’re cheaper than TV.”
And again, Parent repeats his mantra of cost conservation: “We only spend money when we should.”

Next Level Digital Media and Marketing, LLC has five full-timers along with approximately 14 others who work on projects. “My team is way better than me at everything when it comes to advertising and marketing. I’ve been smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to do it all,” Parent said.

In addition, Parent adds the agency is committed to nurturing organic growth from within. He points out that among his top professionals is a former intern who worked at a coffee shop next door to his office.

Similarly, a significant component of Next Level Digital Media and Marketing, LLC’s success is its presence — and helpful engagement — in the community.

Both Parent and Vasquez are omnipresent in groups, organizations and efforts that span philanthropy, economic development and general civic service, among others. They encourage their staff to do same.

Almost like lyrics in a song, Parent waxes poetically about the desire to help others.

“Community is 100% how we’ve been able to succeed this entire time — by having people believe in us, even though many have never been clients,” he said. “… I like to think it’s helping our whole area become better.”