USC graduate sets up online marketing agency amid pandemic

Mini Dreamers, one of icepop’s customers, is an online children’s clothing store founded by a USC alumnus in 2016. Banafsheha has been helping the company for almost three years, but has taken on an official role. after icepop was founded last year. (Curry Spencer / Daily Trojan Horse)

When the pandemic struck and many businesses moved online to mitigate the loss of in-person customer base, former USC student Jordan Banafsheha knew it was time to set up the online advertising agency whose he was dreaming. Despite the negative aspects of the new pandemic world, he said he was presented with a surprising opportunity: a niche for entrepreneurship.

Icepop, a Los Angeles-based marketing and advertising company founded by Banafsheha in May, helps businesses grow their online presence.

After graduation, Banafsheha spent several years working for companies such as Tinder and then became part of the co-founding team of the social shopping platform Verishop. Receiving an overflow of messages from people referred to Banafsheha to help him create an online platform, he decided to leave Verishop to focus on building his agency full time.

With a slogan of “Grow Right,” icepop seeks to help businesses authentically increase their Internet presence, Banafsheha said. This growth is achieved in a personalized way to each customer, contrary to what he said many might believe about marketing.

“A lot of people like to think of advertising as a playbook, and we just follow the same playbook for every account. It’s definitely not like that, ”Banafsheha said. “Every business has a different amount of data, a different brand voice, a different group of customers that it targets. Every customer we accept is kind of like “Is this the right solution for us?” “” Do we think we can deliver? “Do we think we can create a story of their own?” “

Icepop focuses on advertising in three main areas: paid social advertising, paid search advertising, and organic search listings.

In paid social advertising, icepop markets customer ads through social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat. Its other two services involve Google and Bing, with paid search advertising, showing ads at the top of search engine results, and improving organic search, allowing the business page to show up. naturally higher in search engine results based on the relevance of someone’s search.

Icepop has a range of clients including Madhappy, a streetwear lifestyle brand based in Los Angeles, and Euka, a wellness brand that has employed other big marketing agencies like 72andSunny, Banfasheha said.

“Just being at the table of these kinds of companies at such an early stage in our business is really cool,” Banafsheha said.

Another icepop client is Mini Dreamers – a “one-stop-shop” for all the hottest clothes for babies and kids – founded by 2008 alumna Melody Nabati in 2016. Although she feels she has sufficient resources to create successful Mini Dreamers and received many positive responses from the community when she opened her business, Nabati said she needed help increasing Mini Dreamer’s online visibility.

Mini Dreamers, a current icepop client who worked with Banafsheha for almost three years before icepop officially debuted, has grown almost four times from what it was before, Nabati said.

“I am really happy with the quantity, the time, the dedication, [Banafsheha’s] commitment to our business, ”said Nabati. “He’s really knowledgeable about what he’s doing. And that has been such a great asset to the business, especially during COVID. “

Garrette Wann, a contract employee for icepop, is directly involved in the creative side of the business, helping to create media and videos for clients. Together, Wann and Banafsheha produce and market videos that generate revenue for clients. Working for icepop for almost a year, Wann said he consistently sees icepop living up to its clients’ marketing goals.

“It’s a very good company,” said Wann. “I love working with them. They really do their customers good and they make sure you know what they are going to do.

Although the agency is still in its early stages, Banafsheha said he hopes it grows into one of LA’s top advertising agencies over the next five years. Banafsheha also said that as icepop works with more companies, it seeks to orient the company’s services towards investing and managing performance markets.

Banafsheha said some of the companies that come to icepop have asked him to invest or advise their business – an area he is open to as icepop grows.

“As our business grows and we grow, I would like us to have a really good portfolio of brands that we also invest in and manage their performance marketing,” Banafsheha said. “We are more than just a service for them. We are also a partner for them.

Banafsheha said he had a collection of experiences at USC that contributed to his decision to start icepop, including an internship through USC TAMID, an organization that provides entrepreneurial students with advice. practices and investments.

For the Banafsheha internship, he traveled to Israel where he discovered Facebook advertising and paid online advertising.

“If it hadn’t been for this experience, I probably wouldn’t have learned to do a lot of the things I do now,” Banafsheha said.

The USC Blackstone Launchpad community also helped Banafsheha grow their network and connections. Due to his success with icepop and entrepreneurial background, Banafsheha has delivered speeches about his journey and business for entrepreneurship classes every semester since he graduated, allowing him to connect more with the community. USC.

Banafsheha said that Anthony Borquez, one of the professors who invited him to class often, is a great mentor and was able to introduce him to many students who helped him connect him with people in need. icepop services.

The relevance of media and marketing to modern society, along with the current global pandemic, has created an environment that Banafsheha says has enabled him to build a successful agency, benefiting both the visibility and success of all of its employees. clients.

“If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, I don’t know if I would have started my agency so quickly; I might have waited another year or two, ”Banafsheha said. “But because so many businesses were looking for people to help them advertise on Facebook and set up their Shopify and all that stuff, the demand was so great that it basically helped me make that decision faster. . ”

Going forward, Banafsheha said he hopes to hire USC students as employees and interns. Not only does Banafsheha foresee his agency’s growing success in the near future, but he also encourages USC students to reach out and exploit their own entrepreneurial dreams.

“I want us to be, if not the best, one of the top three agencies in Los Angeles,” Banafsheha said. “When people think of advertising online, on social media, on Google to grow their business, I want us to be in these top rows. And I think we are making progress.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly considered icepop’s customer to be Yukka, rather than wellness brand Euka. A previous version also mistakenly identified USC professor Anthony Borquez as Anthony Cortez. The Daily Trojan Horse regret this error.

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