Liquid Soul Media (LSM) has been creating some of the most dynamic and effective integrated marketing campaigns of late. Most recently, they crafted the successful campaigns for both the films 12 Years The Slave and Selma.
It’s not just entertainment campaigns the company works on. Their client list is more than impressive: the NBA, CNN, Warner Bros., Walmart and Fox Searchlight. The two men behind the thriving boutique, lifestyle marketing agency is CEO Tirrell Whittley and CMO Nick Nelson.
“I launched Liquid Soul in 2001 with my business partner Nick Nelson. At the time, we were both corporate executives, with great careers, families and tons of existing responsibilities. For me, Liquid Soul was my third business and once again becoming an entrepreneur was a constant desire,” says Whittley. “Thus, we started as what some call ‘passion-preneurs’ where we maintained our full-time corporate jobs and worked Liquid Soul on the side. For a number of years, this model worked for us, but as business grew our desire to transition to full-time business owners grew as well.”
Going for his passion taught Whittley a valuable business lesson. “My biggest business lesson is to NEVER lose your passion! There are plenty of tough days and hardships that come with being an entrepreneur, but thank God, I have never lost my passion,” he shares. “Daily, I have to find ways to motivate myself and keep my mind focused on achieving the next goal.”
To take the company to the next level and to keep up with the demand, the pair had to make a decision.
“After winning a number of large-scale accounts and moving into a Midtown Atlanta office building, Nick and I decided to leave our full-time corporate jobs and pursue Liquid Soul full-time. Up until this time, neither of us had taken a salary from Liquid Soul and with the assistance of three employees we launched out on making our ultimate dreams come true,” explains Whittley. “This process required much vision, faith and trust that God would provide and deliver us into our destiny. I must say that things have worked out wonderfully…”
Liquid Soul has mastered integrated multicultural marketing campaigns that have resulted in about 13 No. 1 box office films and more than 80 film and television properties, collectively generating over $1 billion in revenue, according to its website. Like most companies, Liquid Soul has its share of startup challenges. “Some of the largest startup challenges we faced were: accessing capital. I leveraged much of my own funds and credit to start the company. The good thing is that I had set aside savings specifically for the purpose of my business so the overall impact to my family was very small. We maintained low expenses and high margins to grow the business’ cash flow without having to take out loans or or other types of long-term debt,” shared Whittley.
Another challenge was staffing. It was a challenge to find qualified employees. “When we started Liquid Soul, the film and television industry in Atlanta was really small and enclosed, thus there were not a lot of qualified, experienced talent available. We had a small, but very dedicated team that was able to learn the business as the industry grew in Atlanta,” says Whittley. “Now, many of the employees that started out with us are considered industry experts and have tremendous experience across integrated marketing, PR, social media, media planning and promotions. We now attract some of the best and brightest marketing talent in the city. I’m proud of our team at Liquid Soul,” he says.
Despite the challenges, Liquid Soul has obviously found a winning formula. “Our secret is fresh thinking and innovation. Every campaign is different and requires a level of individual creativity for it to be successful. We constantly strive for excellence in everything we do and I expect our staff to always look to be innovative with each campaign. It’s important to take calculated risks in marketing,” says Whittley. “Our consumer base is always changing, maturing and becoming more and more savvy by the minute. Thus, it’s critical that we stay on the pulse of what makes consumers tick and how to best grab their attention. We can’t expect the strategies and tactics that we used last year, last month or sometimes last week to work today! As creative problem solvers, we MUST approach each campaign as a fresh opportunity to deliver a dynamic solution. We don’t always succeed, but I’m pleased to report that our wins have far outpaced our failures,” he explains.
There was a glaring need for an agency such as Liquid Soul and the company has more than filled this niche. “Liquid Soul fills the niche of targeted marketing for film, television, sports and attractions industries nationally. We are the go-to partner for film studios, television networks, sports leagues and others looking to reach targeted audiences. In addition, we have bridged the gap between corporate brands looking to engage with entertainment properties,” says Whittley.
As 2015 gets into gear, Liquid Soul has some major plans. “The year 2015 is a year of focus and expansion for Liquid Soul. We are focused on our core industries to maintain our position as a go-to agency for film, television, sports and attractions. We also are looking to grow our overall presence and fill the gaps that exist in our industry with solutions that matter and create a difference,” explains Whittley.
Looking even further ahead, Liquid Soul might just change the way the industry operates. “Some of our long-term goals are to find creative ways to help clients expand their businesses by showing them how to think about the total audience while still targeting consumers,” notes Whittley. “There is a lot of confusion in the marketing industry and Liquid Soul works to demonstrate success, not just talk about statistics and key insights. These things are important, but at the end of the day, our clients are looking for results! In addition, we are working to help the independent and disenfranchised content creator find new and effective ways to bring their product to the marketplace. The rise of multi-screen viewing via mobile devices, tablets, over-the-top systems (i.e. Apple TV, Roku, etc.) and VOD/streaming solutions means there are untapped opportunities to reach targeted audiences. Liquid Soul has a tremendous track record and is in a prime position to help usher content creators into this new found space,” he adds.