Maurice Cherry is the founder and creative principal at 3eighteen media, a design and consulting studio in Atlanta, GA that helps creative brands craft messages and tell stories for their targeted audiences, including fostering relationships with underrepresented communities. Past clients and collaborators include Site5, The City of Atlanta, NIKE, Mediabistro, and SitePoint.
He is a pioneering digital creator who is most well-known for the Black Weblog Awards (the Web’s longest running event celebrating Black bloggers, video bloggers, and podcasters) Other projects of Maurice’s include Revision Path, 28 Days of the Web, and The Year of Tea. His projects and overall design work and advocacy have been recognized by NPR, News One, CNN, AIGA, Creative Bloq, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and The Los Angeles Times.
Maurice is also an educator, and has built curriculum and taught courses on web design, web development, email marketing, WordPress, and podcasting for hundreds of students over the past ten years.
Maurice was named one of Atlanta’s Power 30 under 30 in the field of Science and Technology by the Apex Society, one of HPs 50 Tech Tastemakers in conjunction with Black Web 2.0, and was selected by Atlanta Tribune as one of 2014’s Young Professionals.
He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Morehouse College and a Master’s degree in telecommunications management from Keller Graduate School of Management.
5 Solid Tips For Finding Your Niche
- Social Media Ubiquity – Get an active social media presence. It is a technique that you can’t afford to ignore. Despite the fact that you might feel like there is so much noise on Social Media and that you may not be reaching out or hitting the right audience, you still need a social media presence. Even a small one.
- Target Advertising – Reach out to your TARGETED audience and followers. Most small business owners are consumed by the number of people on their list. That is “okay” but the REAL question is: How many people on your list are targeted? You can even use Targeted Advertising. You can also target your audience by messaging. In it’s simplest form, messaging can just be having a conversation and telling your story. By doing this, you’ll see people start gravitating towards you. When this happens, you’ll know that that your message is starting to radiate out and picking up traction.
- Direct mail – Hands down – even still, it’s the best offline target marketing available.
Yes, with the advent of online marketing, we naturally want to use that, but You can’t just ignore the proven, tested, old school methods of sending direct mail. Called “zip code targeting”, you can produce a targeted list of prospects and customers. Done right, it will also bridge the gap between the digital and analogue target marketing.
- Email Marketing – Many experts will tell you about the importance of building your list…and not just any list – one that is targeted and segmented. Marketing through email is still a powerful marketing technique. With Email Marketing, you can stay connected with your current clients and reach out to new clients.
- Immerse Yourself – Immersion is a great self-marketing tactic. Take a great example and piece of advice from Maurice: He is a graphics designer and he understands that exposure is very important. His way of self-immersion is by volunteering to nonprofit businesses. They may not have tons of money but, if you bring your “A” game and really provide value through your work, you might just be surprised at how enthusiastic they will be in helping YOU. Maurice has noticed, they often happily provide testimonials, new client recommendations and overall, just want to stay in touch, giving him even more work.
It’s really a win-win situation.
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Take advantage of the one thing most entrepreneurs and business owners ignore…
While trying to figure out where an how to find their target audience, most business owners completely ignore using social media, forums and message boards to offer value and create connections with their audience. In most niches, core audiences participate on these platforms just waiting for some one to come along and offer them value. Most people will really appreciate it and some will even join your list.
“Go out there, volunteer and provide value through your work” – Maurice Cherry
“If there’s something that you really want, something that you want to attain. You can’t just sit back, relax and wait for it to come. You have to be bold and go after it. If the opportunity does not exist, create the opportunity and forge the way where you want to go”
How To Forge Relationships With Your Target Audience
The first thing you should realize, is how important it is to forge relationships, whether it is with an individual while networking, inviting someone out for a cup of tea or coffee, cold calls and emails.
Forging relationships should be the core of your business and is a great way of letting a prospect or company know that you’re offering value. In return, they get to know who you are, what you offer and what you’re looking for.
Really exert effort to get familiar with and understand your audience on a more personal level. Establishing familiarity will help you leverage relationships for your business success.
Expert advice from Nile Nickel, host of The Social Media Business Hour:
“As a networker you don’t want to be a card gatherer, you don’t want to always be asking. You want to give, you want to provide value. When you do that, it becomes easy to ask for a favor or ask for an introduction or whatever it may be. I think most people today still undervalue the power of that kind of networking…and face to face is certainly the best form of networking. Virtual is second best. Due to geographic boundaries, in some cases virtual (or online) networking is the only thing that you may have available. You can still see incredible results by using online networking as well”
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How To Get Personal With Your Audience – One Terrific Example
True to his advice about getting personal with your audience, Maurice shared with us a little something about himself. If you like tea, then you’ll be interested in this…
Maurice is quite a tea connoisseur. His expertise is obvious just from a quick conversation. To date, he has sampled over 300 types of teas. He loves it all: Bottled teas, loose leaf, bagged, powdered and fermented teas. You name it and Maurice knows his cup of tea. In fact, he continues to sample a new tea almost every day and then reviews it online afterward. Reviewing teas and offering his recommendations is what he calls his “Passion Project”.
If you happen to be a Tea Lover, then check out some of his expert recommendations…
- Morning Tea Recommendations: If you want a good boost in the morning, Maurice recommends a nice roasted matte tea or a classic Earl Gray tea. You might even try a regular green grebe matte.
- After Lunch Tea Recommendations: Go for a tea with a little bit lighter body. Try a tea like oolong which can aid digestion.
- After Dinner Tea Recommendations: Go for an herbal variety type of tea. Look for a good robust tea maybe with chocolate and banana. Herbal teas are good because they don’t have caffeine it which promotes calming and soothes you.
- Summer Time Tea Recommendations: Try unsweetened Ice (which is more refreshing than water) found you can find these in health food stores or Japanese markets.
5 Proven Lessons For Running A Profitable Business
- Mindset: If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, you have to come to the realization that you CAN’T help everyone.
- Sometimes you have to turn people away. If it isn’t worth your time or if it’s not cost effective (for either you or the client) then it’s the right thing to do. However, when you turn people away, help them by guiding them to their next step and even give them recommendations.
- Not everyone that walks through your door is necessarily a customer. Not everyone that contacts or calls you is your “next” client.
- Work with clients that know the meaning of the word “togetherness”. There’s no place in your business for them to treat you like just another set of hands.
- Your business needs to have a filtering system or strategic plan for leads to be converted into customers and clients.
Terrific Advice From A Successful Entreprenuer
- “Fortune favors the bold”
- “Go out there, volunteer and provide value through your work”
- “If there’s something that you really want, something that you want to attain… You can’t just sit back and wait for it to come. You have to be bold and go after it. If an opportunity does not exist, create that opportunity to get you where you want to go”
- “Done is better than perfect”
Maurice: Hey, this is Maurice Cherry and you’re listening to the social media business hour with Nile Nickel.
Nile: Hey, welcome back. You may recall on last week’s episode on the social media business hour we spoke with Megan Reckar who’s a B to B journalist, digital marketer and advertiser. She creates successful online campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and one of the things that we discussed in last week’s episode was the elements of successful marketing and advertising campaigns. A lot of it revolves around branding and storytelling. So, to continue to allow you to build and develop your marketing and advertising message I’ve invited Maurice Cherry to join us today. Maurice is the founder and creative principal at 318 Media, a design and consulting studio in Atlanta, Georgia that helps creative brands do four important things. One, craft messages and two, tell stories. Three, for their target audiences including four, fostering relationships. In Maurice’s case that’s with underrepresented communities, past clients and collaborators include Site 5, the city of Atlanta, Nike, Metabistro and Site Point. And by the way, those are pretty big names so not small stuff. He’s a pioneering and digital creator who is most well-known for the Black Web Blog Awards which is the longest running event celebrating black bloggers, video bloggers and podcasters. Other projects of Maurice include the Revision Path, 28 days of the web and the tea -- I’m sorry. The Year of tea. I’m excited about the tea Maurice just so you know. His projects in overall design work and advocacy -- can’t talk today but that’s not unusual. Have been recognized by NPR, News One, CNN, AIGA, Creative Blog, The Atlanta Constitution and the Los Angeles Times and many more. Maurice is also an educator and he’s built curriculum and taught courses on web design, web development and email marketing. He also covers Word Press and podcasting and that’s been involving hundreds of students over the past 10 years. So, man I read more and more about you Maurice and I feel like we should have a pedestal that we could put you on here because you’ve got some really impressive stuff going on.
Maurice: Thank you.
Nile: Well, listen, I know that you’ve been super successful at what you’ve been doing and I know that super successful people typically have a one or two inspirational or motivational quotes that they say to themselves all the time. What’s one or two of yours?
Maurice: Well, before I go into the quote thank you for that introduction and thank you for having me on the social media business hour. This is a real treat for me. In terms of quotes that I think probably I go to a lot it’s fortune favors the bold and what I get from that quote meaning is if there’s something that I need to go after, if there’s something that I really want, that I want to attain I have to be bold and go after it. I can’t sit back and wait for it to come to me. If the opportunity does not exist I have to create the opportunity or I have to forge the way to get to where I want to go so fortune favors the bold is definitely a quote that has stuck with me throughout my personal and professional life.
Nile: Yeah, that’s a powerful one too and so many of us tend to forget that because I think -- your thoughts on this too. I think we allow perfection to get in the way. We all look at it. It’s got to be perfect before we put it out there.
Maurice: Right. And I guess there’s probably another quote that might be a good corollary to what you just mentioned is that done is better than perfect meaning that as long as you’re able to ship it and get it out of the door -- the things is that depending on your audience they probably don’t even know the state of “doneness” that it’s in. I mean, of course because we tend to be very close to our work and to our projects. We have blinders on when it relates to making sure that this is really something that’s good for our audience and that we’ve gotten it down perfect. Oftentimes you can release it in a good enough state and I kind of hate to say it that way but release it in a state that you think is going to be good enough and then make improvements along the way so that your audience can see that you’re actively working on it as opposed to just putting it out there and letting it kind of sit on its own.
Nile: I love when you mentioned that and yeah. I have to share myself because -- and nobody wants to put out work with mistakes in it. We all want it to be perfect. But sometimes we keep saying and we keep noticing little improvements that could be made along the way and in my experience I’ve released now probably a half dozen software products and in those software products we think we know exactly what the customer wants and how they want it and we’ve talked to some people. We haven’t just done it blindly but whenever we’ve released a product without fail every single one within the next 60 days the users who are using it have a whole different list of things that they want or they would’ve liked us to have done different that we never thought about. And so we’ve found that it’s more important to get it out there even if it’s not perfect because our users are going to give us more feedback faster and better than we would ever come up with just trying to do it ourselves.
Nile: So, I think that’s a great piece of advice for all of us. One of the things I’d like to do and would you mind if discuss your top marketing techniques that you find benefit your clients the most?
Maurice: Sure. So, I think social media is -- just the ubiquity of social media is something that my clients and really any business can’t afford to ignore. I know that a lot of it out there can come off as noise particularly with fast moving mediums like Facebook and Twitter. There’s so much information that’s going out there. It might feel like you’re not really reaching and hitting the people that you need to reach but I think you can’t ignore social media even if you have just a small active presence. I think it’s something that you really can’t deny. I know both Facebook and Twitter have gotten a lot savvier as it relates to doing targeted advertising and things like that where you can really reach that audience through targeting, through different messaging and programing and also just carrying a conversation and telling your story. You’ll be surprised how many people will gravitate to what you are doing without any sort of advertising at all as long as you are reaching your target or reaching your core audience and you’re making sure that you’re serving them. You’ll find that your message will start to radiate out. Also I think depending on the type of business you can’t overlook niche social networks, message boards and forums and I say that because even though these are smaller sometimes -- in some cases almost completely hidden from the web when we look at how people talk and communicate online. There are so many different types of people that are in these forums and message boards that you can end up reaching an entirely different segment of your audience or even a new target audience that you didn’t even know about initially just by hitting on a particular niche so for example one of my podcasts is the Year of tea. There’s a special social networking site for tea drinkers and tea lovers called Steepster so when I’m there I can reach people that love tea but these could be people that are business folks, stay at home moms, captains of industry etcetera but they have this one thing in common that’s different so I’m able to reach people just based on whatever that specific like is which is tea but then it also kind of permeates into other parts of business so social media, message boards, forums. Those are probably the things that I would recommend. Oh, and kind of niche social networks. That’s what I’d recommend really for marketing types of purposes. In terms of offline type marketing with -- I’m thinking like direct mail and things of that nature because I also work with a lot of nonprofits and they’ve had some success with direct mail and things of that nature. You can’t really I guess knock those tried and true old school methods of zip code targeting and things like that but something that sort of bridges the gap between the digital and the analogue I feel is email marketing. Of course dozens of experts out there will tell you about the importance of building your list, making sure that you’re targeting and segmenting people based on the -- your email list is really a super powerful, potent part of marketing to your current clients and to reaching new clients so that’s something also that really should not be ignored.
Nile: Yeah, great advice and I like some of the niche things that you talked about there. And let me ask a question and we’ve only got about three minutes before our break but the question is you deal with really some very niche markets and you deal with some nonprofits, grass roots, political things and all of that. How did you get into that because I’d really like to understand exactly what you’re doing there and I think what you’re doing there is so much -- has such a great level of importance because it’s leveraging some knowledge in a niche market that really works extremely well enough for a profit market. So, would you mind talking about how you got there?
Maurice: Sure. So, one thing with being someone that works on the web -- I mean, I’m a graphic designer, web designer, web developer etcetera is that a lot of the work that we do can tend to be very ephemeral meaning that because of the pace that the industry is moving there might be things that we built maybe two or three years ago now which are completely obsolete and for me, I’ve always wanted to have some sort of a -- like tangible foothold in the design work that I do so not everything that I do is online. There are some things that I do which are offline so one thing that I found with nonprofits specifically is that they always need volunteers. Whether they say it or not there’s always a way that businesses can reach out to nonprofits and ask them how they can help. Now, granted nonprofits generally may not have a ton of money but if you’re coming in I think with just bringing your own value you would be surprised what they can find for you just in terms of a job or a gig or just something that you can do that will help them out as well so for me it started out with working on a political campaign here in Atlanta. I worked on the 2009 mayoral campaign for one of the candidates and so I got to use my design skills towards civic advocacy and reaching constituents and political campaigns are almost like these little mini startups in that you get something together, you build it up and then once the campaign is over it just all comes down. It’s sort of a brilliant almost Shakespearian kind of thing to see but from there I was able to really reach other nonprofits so they could see the work that I’ve done and from there, from working on that campaign they see oh, well this is a designer that is also interested in having some kind of a civic focus so I think just getting out there and volunteering, really just putting your face out there helps a lot. It helps more than I think people realize. That can be a very easy way to get a gateway into working with nonprofits and doing civic design work and things like that.
Nile: Well, I think that’s a great idea as well because clearly you’re able to get into some positions that you probably would never be able to get into if you weren’t volunteering so the fact that you’re volunteering and jumping into that works all the better.
Maurice: Right, because the nonprofits depending on the size, what you do may be just the thing that they need. So, for example nonprofits I work with may not have a dedicated design or tech person but if I can come in with my email marketing skills and my design skills that’s something that helps them out. It’s also for a good cause so that helps me feel good. It’s just kind of a win-win situation.
Nile: Sounds wonderful. Well, in the next segment we will come back and we will talking about leveraging some of what Maurice has learned so that you could leverage that power and that experience in your business. We’ll be right back after this short break. Hey, welcome back to the social media business hour. This is Nile Nickel and I’m here with our expert guest today Maurice Cherry and if you haven’t yet, listen to the first segment. You want to sort of figure out where we’re at and where we’re going. You absolutely want to go back there. There’s some really -- some golden nuggets in that segment. But in this segment one of the things that we want to do -- he’s talked about some of the biggest tips that he’s learned but I wanted to ask Maurice what’s your biggest tip that you have for us to leverage what you’ve learned so that we don’t have to sort of learn it all over again.
Maurice: I would have to say that I cannot stress enough the importance of forging relationships and whether this is forging relationships with individuals, with companies etcetera, just getting to know them on a personal level instead of always going after the ask; it just helps out so much I mean, in the work that I do and I think that your listeners will probably agree with this. There’s often a fair amount of cold calls and cold emails and things of that nature where you’re not sure what your reception might be if you’re reaching out to someone but just forging a relationship, offering value, not just always asking for things from them really can help and go a long way. I know that certainly helped me not just with my business and to be able to reach the clients that I’ve reached but even with my shows and my podcasts. The people that I’ve been able to reach out to all over the world all started with just a simple cold email and forging the relationship and saying I want to talk to you, I want to hear your story. And from there it sort of has blossomed bigger than that. So, definitely relationships and whether that is through formal networking, whether that’s taking someone out to coffee, whether it’s a phone call every week or something like that. Just something to let the person know or let the company know that you’re offering value and so when you do need to ask for something in the future it’s just a lot easier because they at least know you. They know who you are and what you’re looking for and it’s not just oh, this is just some yahoo of the street that’s looking to get something from me but they’re not offering anything in return.
Nile: Well, I like that and our show is sponsored by Linked In Focus which is one of my businesses actually but really that’s where we talk about leveraging the power of your network for your personal and professional advancement but there’s so many things that come into play there. As a networker you don’t want to be a card gatherer, you don’t want to always be asking. You want to give, you want to provide value and when you do that it certainly makes it easy to ask for a favor or ask for an introduction or whatever it may be when you need one and I think most people today still undervalue the power of that networking and face to face is certainly best. Virtual is second best. In some cases virtual is the only thing that you have because of the span that you have geographically between where everybody’s at but you could do an awful lot of good things just through virtual networking as well.
Maurice: Absolutely, absolutely.
Nile: So, as sort of a more personal question if you don’t mind sharing with us and that is through this journey that you’ve been on because really you’ve come a long way, you’ve done a lot of things. We’ll talk more about that probably in the third segment talking about your business and maybe even some of your other successes but who’s inspired you most through this professional journey of yours?
Maurice: I would definitely have to say my mom is the person that’s inspired me the most. I mean, I grew up in a single parent household. It was just me and my older brother and she worked a job, she worked long hours, she didn’t make a lot of money but she always found a way to provide for both of us and now of course as I’ve gotten older I can see the sacrifices that she’s made to get me where I am and so that just makes me even more grateful and thankful for the successes that I have in my professional life because she really paved the way. She sacrificed so I could get to where I need to go so definitely my mom is someone that is a true inspiration.
Nile: I find it so fascinating and that’s so much for that. It is inspiring. But one of the things that I find so fascinating is remembering back to the teenage years what I thought of both of my parents and obviously nothing changed between the way they were in my teenage years and the way they were when I got older but I certainly looked much differently at them when I was older because you really understand so much more of what they’re doing and what they’re sacrificing to allow you to pursue your dreams and in many cases realize those dreams.
Maurice: Oh, yeah. I can remember like probably -- I’d say probably when I was in middle school or going on high school my mom then was the age that I am now so certainly I could think about if I had a teenager that age that was into all of these other crazy things I don’t know if I could do the same as she did so absolutely. Just being able to have that perspective is so important and that also just I think humbles me in general even with the things that I’ve been able to accomplish. Just knowing that I’ve come from those humble beginnings really sort of grounds me and doesn’t let me get too I guess caught up in my own hype.
Nile: Well, that’s a good thing because I know moms could bring us back down to reality real quick.
Maurice: In a heartbeat. In a heartbeat.
Nile: And to them it’s just off the cuff passing comment.
Maurice: It can be a comment, it can be a look, it can be a gesture. It’s -- yeah.
Nile: I love it. I appreciate that so much. Well, I’m going to do a couple of things with the next question but the next question is -- I really do know you’re a tea connoisseur. We’ve talked about it here but I’ve also learned that from a number of different ways. Your profile and some things like that. So, for all of us tea lovers -- that tells you something about me and my family. What expert recommendations do you have for us?
Maurice: For the types of tea or just --
Maurice: I’m trying to -- okay. So, the types of tea I think with all the teas that I’ve done and to date I sampled over 300 teas so the way that the premise of the show works for your audience that’s listening I sample a new tea every day. The episodes that I record for this podcast where I’m reviewing these teas are very short. They’re less than five minutes so in the time it takes you to brew a fresh cup of tea you can learn about something new. I’ve tried bottled teas, loose leaf teas, bagged teas, fermented teas. You name it. Powdered it. You name it I’ve probably tried it. In terms of recommendations I would say tea really depends a lot on mood and energy so there are some teas particularly black tea blends mattes or _____25:30 which have a certain amount of caffeine in them which will give you a boost so in the morning I would usually recommend like a nice roasted matte or a classic Earl Gray is really good in the mornings just to kind of give you that nice jolt or you can do just a regular green _____25:47 matte. I think they even sell that now in Big Box supermarkets in bags, in tea bags. That’s what I’d recommend in the morning. I would say for lunch, dinner time, particularly after lunch I would go with a nice _____26:03 maybe like a coconut _____26:05 something that is a little bit lighter on the body but would also aid indigestion and then for good after dinner type of teas there are so many herbal tea varieties out there. I’d say maybe a good _____26:20 with chocolate and banana is good. Any _____26:24 really because --
Nile: I like the sound of that.
Maurice: Because _____26:26 is a -- it’s not actually a tea. It’s an herb. It’s from a South African bush and so it doesn’t have any caffeine in it, it’s very forgiving for long steep times. I’ve sometimes let _____26:37 steep as long as 30 minutes and it hasn’t got a tinge of bitterness to it so it makes a great after dinner type of tea. Something like that I would probably recommend. And also it really kind of helps cam you, soothe you, things like that so you wouldn’t want to drink a black tea at night because that’s going to keep you up and awake but mood and energy are what I would go with when you’re trying to select the type of tea that you would want to have. Usually during the summer I will carry a big two liter bottle of ice tea and you can sometimes get this in health food markets or Japanese markets. It’s usually unsweetened tea and to me it’s more refreshing than water. I certainly get more out of it than water because green tea has certain anti-oxidant properties and things like that so yeah. It really depends. It varies. It’s really kind of based on what you’re looking for at the moment as to what kind of tea I would recommend.
Nile: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Not only for the tea advice but where I’m going to take it in this discussion so for all of our listeners that are out there going like this is the social media business hour. You talk about social media in business. What the heck are you doing talking about tea? And I think there’s a critical message here and I noticed this in your material and I don’t think it’s accidental but I’d like to talk about it because what just happened was a couple of things. Is we got really personal. We’re not talking about business. You’re giving me value and you’re saying hey, you might want to try these things. You’re letting me get some insight into you and what you’re about with all of this but all of that lets people get to know us and generally because of some of the recommendations they’re going to like us more and part of that no like and what comes next is trust is the basis for all business and so what you just did was brilliant and you talked about your tea podcast and what you do which I also think is brilliant but you’re giving people a reason to tune in that doesn’t have anything to do with business but it keeps you connected. So, I like that. I don’t know if that’s your strategy. I’d love to hear it but I always look for some things that people do that a lot of us could do because it’s your passion clearly. You enjoy doing it but just in sharing it all of those other things are side benefits.
Maurice: You probably hit it right on the head there. Certainly with the Year of tea and with provision path also, when I first started both of them I sort of called them my passion projects because these were things that I was really passionate about, they really kind of had nothing directly to do with my business. Like I wasn’t marketing my business through either of these shows. It was just me talking to people or talking about tea. I really do like tea. I have a huge collection of tea and when I started the project one reason that I wanted to do it was so more people could kind of get a glimpse of who I was behind the work that I’ve done but also because I live in a small apartment and I don’t have room for all this tea and so I needed to go through and like catalogue it and drink it in a way that would let me know okay. These are the things I like because sometimes I’ll just go on a tea bender and buy up a bunch of teas and may never get back around to drinking them and so I want to go through and see what these are like. Also it sort of helps I feel and this was sort of a corollary to all of this is it kind of establishes me as a subject matter expert in a different type of field. So, I’ve really liked tea for a long time and so the fact that I’m able to review these every day really quickly in and out and give you a link where you can purchase it if you want to purchase it for yourself. People now come to me of course just like you did now. They want tea recommendations. I was at the grocery store yesterday picking up some tea because the show was about to -- just picking a few bottles of _____30:41 and I’m talking to the cashier about the things. She’s like oh, what do these taste like? I was like I have no idea. I’m going to find out and I’m going to review it on the show and she took down the address and said she would listen to it and everything and it’s that kind of a marketing I guess if you want to put it that way. That kind of a marketing way that you really can’t pay for because I’m enthusiastic to talk about the show. She wants to find out more about it and just like that we’re able to connect whereas if I told her yeah, I was a designer she may not have a specific design need or anything like that but at least through this she gets to know a little bit about who I am and what my voice is about and maybe find out some more information about me just from learning that I really like tea.
Nile: And I think that’s such a valuable tip and I appreciate you sharing that. Well, listen, we’re getting ready to take a short break. We’ll be back in just a moment but in our next segment we’re going to talk about 318 Media. That’s Maurice’s firm and a few other things that I think you’ll like so join us right after this short break. Okay. Welcome back to the social media business hour. We’re on our final segment. Segment actually four today because we start out with our weird ass news segment that everybody always gets a laugh on. We’ve tried to kill that segment and I know Maurice you’d talked about this. Not a big deal. But you hadn’t listened to the show yet. We start with not just typically one story but multiple stories that sometimes you just can’t believe but they’re true and what we do is we do that just to let everybody sort of lighten up, get a laugh and get into it before we get into a little bit more heavy and serious discussion sometimes so -- but we’ve tried to kill that segment or I have a couple of times but the listeners won’t let us so we keep hearing feedback that it’s one of their favorite segments of the show so it keeps going. Yeah, I guess that’s my tea segment? So, listen, you’ve got a media company. We haven’t talked about it at all really. It’s called 318 Media. Now, the first thing that I really drawn to is I don’t believe that we get names accidently so I’m curious about 318 Media.
Maurice: So, there are a number of different I guess numerical media agencies here that are in Atlanta. There’s 360 Media, there’s 352 Media. I think there’s probably a couple of others. 318 itself actually -- it’s my birthday, March 18 and so that’s where the numbers came from.
Nile: Hey, I like you better already. I’m March 26 so I like you better already.
Maurice: But I wanted it spelled out in a way that was not just numbers. Something that was a little bit unique and so I did the three, the number three, the word 18 just kind of together like that. 318 Media and kind of one of the benefits -- I guess accidental benefits of that is that when you look at the way things are alphabetized _____33:47 numbers tend to come first so if my company is ranked with a bunch of other design agencies or consultancies or something like that 318 Media tends to rank out near the top just for because of the way things are alphabetized. But that’s where the name came from. From my birthday.
Nile: That’s a brilliant strategy though and again I like the name because it brings more view in your personality and your person into the business so I love it. Love it. Hey, what would you say is the most challenging aspects that you typically encounter running 318 Media?
Maurice: I think the most challenging aspect is knowing that I can’t help everyone. As you know I’ve worked with different nonprofits, I also have these sort of outside business ventures that I do where I’m really reaching out to other communities so I have a keen interest and awareness about underrepresented communities but I know that with my design firm, with my consultancy I can’t help everyone and I think anyone that knows the business knows that. Everyone that walks through your door is not necessarily your customer. Everyone that calls you, everyone that contacts you is not necessarily your next client. They could be and I think we all have some level of a filtering system for leads that convert into customers and clients but that to me is probably the most difficult thing. How many people -- and I’m not saying it’s a lot of people but I do end up having to turn people away if they come with just a very simple job that I know is not going to be really something that I can devote resources to or time to or it’s not cost effective for the client or for myself so that’s the biggest challenge for me is having to turn people away.
Nile: I understand that and sometimes it makes you feel bad too because you know they need help but it’s just not the right fit.
Maurice: Yeah, and I often try to give them an option of somewhere they can go if they need -- depending on what it is that they’re looking for, if I can’t help out at least let me help you try to get to the next step because for design specifically this is not something that I think a lot of people have a really keen awareness of in terms of how to work with the designer, how to work with a design project or something like that so they often need to be taught what are the questions I need to ask or what’s the terminology or things like that and I try to meet people where they are certainly but depending on what it is they need I also just want to help them along a little bit so when they go to the next person they have just a little bit more knowledge than they left with when they came to me. There’s that old saying four -- what is it? Forewarned is forearmed or something like that. So, just when they go to the next person or to whomever I refer them to they’ve got a little bit more information so they can get things going off on a smoother clip.
Nile: Now, one of the things that I’d like to share in this discussion is -- maybe give a little bit more of your background. You were named one of Atlanta’s power 30, under 30 in the field of science and technology by the APEC society. One of HP’s 50 tech taste makers in conjunction with the Black Web 2.0 and you’ve been selected by the Atlanta Tribune as one of 2014’s young professionals. So, you’re doing a lot of great stuff, you’re getting recognition for it. That’s awesome. Give us the details of exactly what all you do at 318 Media so people get a good idea and they get a good flavor for that.
Maurice: Okay. Gee, when you line up those things like that it really sounds good. So, with 318 Media, we’re actually kind of going through a bit of change right now because we’re coming up on our seventh anniversary so we’re shifting a little bit from a discreet design studio into more of a kind of design consultancy and strategy type of studio and with that will come a name change which we’re still -- still working out the kinks on that but what I do as creative principal is I basically oversee most of the operations of the business so I have a client relationship manager. She is kind of the front line with clients when it relates to projects or when it relates to incoming inquiries from the website or from any other places where we might have a lead generating device. I have a support person. Here’s where -- any support tickets come through if customers are having problems with their sites on certain things they work with that. I mean, I also have kind of a small remote almost like a collective. A small, remote collective of designers and developers that I can sort of bring in and pull on when work comes in based on the projects. So, I’m sort of the overseer of all of that but I also interface with the client as well so my client relationship manager, she might be the day to day with the client but if there’s something more then they escalate that to me and usually with the client at least prior to signing the contract I’m kind of the one that they work with so I’m putting the proposal together. Me and my client relationship manager going over it, making sure it’s good, we’re sending it off to the client, we’re making sure that they get started off on the right foot and so once the project starts they’re mostly working with the client relationship manager. I’m overseeing projects, making sure that things are getting done on time and of course I’m doing my own business development to try to bring in more clients and stuff like that. The types of clients that 318 Media works the best with, we work well with large companies, we work well with nonprofits. We work well really with creative businesses that have a good idea of what it is they want and I know that sounds vague but you would be surprised how many really have no idea what they want when it comes to a design project and so there’s a certain amount of levity that we have with that. We certainly want to work with the client and make sure that we’re working together to build a solution. We’re not just a set of hands so if we have a client that kind of just treats us like a set of hands like do this task, do this, do this, that’s not the kind of client we work with. We work with the clients that want to help build things together so we’ll build something, we get their feedback and usually through every step of the process we kind of follow this waterfall type method where we don’t move forward until we get your feedback. So, every step of the way as we’re going through the project we’re getting your direct feedback to make sure that we are improving upon what we’re doing and that we’re delivering exactly what it is that you’re looking for. So, the products and services that we do -- web design, mostly Word Press, Word Press themes, email marketing, we work a lot with Mail Chimp. We do some graphic design work and we do consulting, design strategy, branding, logos, things of that nature. As I said, as the business is kind of transitioning we’re looking at how we package all of that together in a more comprehensive way for clients so when they come to us they can really get like the total package instead of just one thing here, one thing there etcetera. We can really help build and shape what it is that they’re doing in this kind of ever connected world.
Nile: Well, it sounds to me like one of the things that you do as well is you really help people craft their message and help them develop their story.
Maurice: Yes, absolutely.
Nile: And I think that’s so critical because so many people don’t work on that portion of it, the branding portion and I know as I’d mentioned early you help -- those are -- of the four things you do you craft messages, tell stories, develop and make sure that you’re targeting their specific target audience to foster relationships. I loved that formula. And so many people just don’t do that. So, kudos to you for walking people through that process.
Maurice: Thank you. Yeah, it’s something that -- like I said, if they -- they shouldn’t come to 318 Media if they just need a set of hands to do something. We’re really there to work with you and help you build this thing together.
Nile: That makes perfect sense. Perfect sense. Hey, tell us a little bit how you find new clients today and how that’s changed over the years.
Maurice: Well, I would say a large amount of our clients come through referrals. We have our happy client base and they usually end up referring people to us. Every now and then we do get just like leads through the website or we have leads through other methods and there’s a certain amount of qualifying that we have to do to make sure that they’re even good and usually that’s what my client relationship manager does. She will ask them a set of questions to get more of an idea on what their project is so we can know whether or not this is something that we can undertake. Oftentimes that’s where we’ll find out right away like yes, we can work with this person. No, we can’t work with this person. And oftentimes it’s the ones that want us to sign an NDA before they tell us anything or they just want to get on the phone and talk to someone really quickly without really explaining what it is that they need -- because we don’t want to waste our time. We certainly don’t want to waste their time so the questions and things that we ask are to make sure that we are both a good fit for each other. But outside of that it’s usually referrals. Like I said, when I talk about relationships, a lot of the big clients that I’ve worked with, those have strictly been through relationships that I’ve fostered with my clients, even though relationships that I fostered with people I’ve interviewed for my podcasts. They’ve been able to introduce me to someone else that is doing something that they need my help on and so because there’s that warm relationship already there it’s much easier to then go after the work. Like I said, I’m providing the value already so when it comes time for the ask it’s a very simple kind of thing to ask for because they already know the work that I can do, they’ve already gotten a pretty good testimonial from someone else. It’s kind of a no brainer.
Nile: Well, we’re almost out of time. I had some questions I was going to ask related to the podcast and all of that but tell people very quickly and of course this will be in our show notes at socialmediabusinesshour.com but tell people where they could find out more about your or connect with you if they’d like.
Maurice: Okay. Well, my main website is mauricecherry.com when you’re on there you’ll be able to find links to Revision Path, 28 days of the web, The Black Web Blog Awards, 318 Media etcetera. Specifically for my business we’re at 318media.com. That’s the number three, the word 18 media.com. You can also search for us on Facebook and Twitter. Just look for 318 Media. Revision Path is at revisionpath.com. There are new episodes on iTunes every Monday at 10 AM Eastern and you can find us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for Revision Path. And the Year of tea is my daily podcast that’s every day eight AM Eastern without fail and you can find that at the yearoftea.com or do a search on Facebook or Twitter. Just search for the Year of tea.
Nile: I love it, I love it. And listen, I want to thank you sincerely for being with us. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been fun and entertaining for me but to our listeners, thank you for being with us as well on another episode of the social media business hour. You probably learned a few new ideas or concepts. Maybe you were just reminded of a few things that you know but you haven’t been doing to improve or grow your business. You know that my desire is you take just one of the things you learned or were reminded of today, you apply to your business or your life this week. I know that a small change will make a big difference and I’m committed to bringing you at least one new idea each episode that you could implement. So, go back and listen. Identify just one small change that you can make to your business this week and see what a big difference it will make for you. Coming up next week we have Bob Burg. Now, I don’t know how many of you know Bob Burg but he’s written a great book called the Go Giver and we’re going to talk about that next week. It’s going to be fun and exciting so make sure you’re there with us. Again, Maurice thanks so much. I can’t tell you how much I thank you for being with us.
Maurice: Thank you for having me on.
Nile: And we’ll look forward to talking to each of you again soon
Twitter: @mauricecherry, @mcherryjr, @revisionpath, @3eighteenmedia