A few years ago, when LevLane chief innovation officer Timmy Garde suggested the agency run an ad to describe itself to prospective clients, he experienced his share of in-house skepticism. “I wanted $6,000 or $7,000 for it, and it was a hard sell,” he recalls.

But then an intern at a pharma company saw the ad, cold-called the agency, and insisted on speaking with Garde. Turns out the pair had previously worked in the same office building — and even though the intern knew nothing about LevLane, he encouraged Garde to pitch for some of his company’s business. LevLane won the account and, eventually, the intern: Matt Riley is now director of client development.

The firm recently commenced an ambitious expansion strategy when it opened an outpost in Kansas City, Missouri, designed to focus on senior care. The agency also opened its doors in Boston to become more geographically proximate to the region’s glut of biotech firms.

“The future rests in specialty areas such as biotech,” Garde notes. “We handle things a typical agency wouldn’t do, such as vet third-party vendors that bring different services and technologies to the table.”Revenue increased 6.7% to $9.5 million in 2017, up from $8.9 million in 2016. Staff size was basically flat at 56 employees, down from 57.

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The bulk of LevLane’s work, 85%, is digital in nature, even though Garde considers the descriptor outdated. “We need to stop calling it digital. We need to call it marketing,” he says.

LevLane added five accounts in 2017 in a range of health-adjacent categories, from retirement communities (Rydal Park and Buckner Retirement Services) to medical marijuana (Ilera Healthcare). Garde is enthusiastic about Ilera, describing medical marijuana as “a new category with the potential for explosive growth.”

Garde also touts the evolution of LevLane’s life sciences division. Among its greatest skills, he says, is helping companies toe the line on social media while also taking chances.

“Given all the FDA requirements, life sciences companies want to be a little riskier, but don’t want to step out of bounds,” he explains.Elsewhere, LevLane expanded its relationship with Agile Therapeutics, maker of the Twirla contraceptive, to include branding, messaging, and social media strategy. The agency also developed a campaign for the Jefferson Comprehensive Concussion Center.Levlane hopes to operate at the same pace during the rest of 2018 and beyond. Garde points to “diagnostics, including OTC, prescription-based, and subscription model diagnostic health services” as potential areas of focus moving forward.