Now in its fourth year, L3 Media has utilized Partnership resources to market itself, build relationships and grow to the point that its owners now find themselves turning away business.
L3Media founders Anderson Boothe and Marcus Jones are both 2002 South Panola graduates and both hold full-time jobs outside their media venture. Jones holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Ole Miss and works in Memphis for the Internal Revenue Service. Boothe works at GE Aviation while he studies non-destructive testing with Cowley College and represents Batesville Realty as a salesman.
After forming a limited liability corporation, Boothe and Jones found Small Business Development Classes offered by Ole Miss at the Batesville library. The director of the university’s Small Business Development Center suggested they join the Partnership.
“We took full advantage of everything the Partnership had to offer,” Boothe said, “on every level, from the workshops that they offered — whether it was social media and development, marketing, the use of the office space; … they allowed us to have meetings there. When we first started, we didn’t have any ‘hard space.’” The Partnership also gave L3Media “networking opportunities with the other members,” Jones said.
“They molded some of the decisions we’ve made,” Boothe said. “For instance, just knowing how to market your business — don’t be close-minded; … a lot of times you may think of video and photography as either weddings or senior pictures. That’s the reason we wanted to go with L3 Media because we wanted to do all media aspects.”
“Just that marketing component helped us out a lot; we actually do photography now for one of the top three linen tablecloth distributors in the country, and I truly believe that was aided just by knowing how to market your business, how to have a conversation,” Boothe said.
“Our initial goal was just to do church services,” said Jones, whose own entry into video came at his church in Memphis.
“At one point we were paying someone to film our services, and I thought the price was outrageous,” Jones continued. “I went to my pastor and I told him that if he were to invest in a small amount of equipment, I could learn how to use it and then I could take it over and not charge the church anything, so that way they could save money.”
Jones’ videos of the services are televised on a local Memphis station.
Boothe and Jones reinvested L3Media’s earnings back into their business.
“That’s something else we got from the Partnership: learning how to scale your business,” Boothe said. “We didn’t jump into it thinking, after our conversations with them, that we’re going to be making money the very first six months to a year. I think that’s where a lot of small businesses are hurt. They automatically think they start a business on Monday and by Friday I need to be able to become a complete entrepreneur and let all other finances go,” Boothe continued.
“They also taught us to diversify and come up with innovative things,” Jones said. “Originally we were just a video company. Working with the Partnership, they started helping us network with other people and learn that you shouldn’t put yourself in that box.”
“Not only did we do church events, we started doing plays and fashion shows and beauty pageants, covering live events,” Jones continued. “A lot of our events that helped us to diversify from what we were doing came from our connections with Meredith (Partnership Economic Development Assistant Meredith Fleming).
“We actually did the commercial two years in a row for Springfest that ran on the local cable channels here,” Boothe said. “That actually opened our eyes to doing commercials. From there we expanded and started doing commercials.”
Diversity and innovation led to L3 Media’s decision to purchase the photo box that has made recent appearances at a cotillion event, the Charity Ball, the Partnership banquet, multiple weddings and “Sweet 16’s” providing instant images in prints and on Facebook.
“Just thinking outside the box, trying to be innovative, keeping up with the latest trends,” Jones said, recalling the reasoning behind their investment into one of a very few such devices within hundreds of miles. “Most people normally just have photos online, and you go get them. We started to think, people are in an instant society now. So everybody wants it right now.”
L3 Media has the photo box booked for 25 to 30 additional occasions. “That photo booth is paying for itself in less than a year,” Boothe said. Another photo box is on order.
“We thought this would just be weekend work initially,” Jones said. Partnership affiliation and the Small Business Development Center has been helpful, he said, “kind of holding our hands on the front end, telling us about filling out our proper licenses, getting certifications, getting our tax ID, insurance, it’s just amazing how many companies or small businesses in the area are going on and they don’t even have those things,” Jones continued.
The Partnership has referred outside queries for videographers and photographers to L3 Media, Boothe said. It has also facilitated in-house business relationships between L3 Media and other members.
Boothe and Jones have expanded into television with “Lights in the City,” a show that airs on Memphis Comcast 31 and features people who make positive impacts on the community. Another production of L3TV is “The Style Center.”
For its productions, L3 Media has used students as part-time employees, helping to launch other media careers at the same time. One student leveraged her L3 Media experience into an internship at a Memphis TV station; another into a job as a “red carpet correspondent at a Los Angeles station.
L3 Media also gives back — providing pro bono services that also reflect its owners’ “out-of-the-box” innovation — benefits for the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Mississippi in Batesville, sponsoring a social hour that hosted 350 people during last fall’s South Panola homecoming/tailgating event, providing photography and videography for Partnership events.
“I’m very pro small business; I believe strongly in supporting your local business owners,” Boothe said.
“My goals are that others take the opportunity of starting their own businesses. I think a lot of the hesitation in some people is they don’t know the steps of starting your own business.
“It’s not that you have to have a million dollars to start. Marcus and I started off with one camera and from that one camera we’ve grown exponentially,” Boothe continued.
“Think outside the box; use your talents and your gifts to better your life and the lives of the people around you,” Jones added.