SCORE Mentorship Helps Guide the Growth of Depict Media

Julie Riley didn’t know what she wanted to be growing up, but she knew her creativity was her greatest asset. “As a military brat, my family lived in many places across the country. My career path was just as diverse until I found my passion in social media marketing,” said Riley. Today, Julie Riley is the owner of Depict Media, LLC – a social media marketing company with expertise in chatbot messenger marketing. The company name is play on Wichita’s “ICT” airport code and her company’s mission to help clients depict the right ideas and messaging to promote brand recognition, drive sales and enhance customer service.

Riley’s journey that brought her to Wichita started in Florida while working for a Harley Davidson Motorcycle dealership in Orlando. That job led her to a service writer position at another dealership in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When Alefs Harley-Davidson in Wichita was under construction, she was offered an expanded role to pioneer the first e-commerce platform for the dealership in 2007. About a year later, Riley got married and decided to take a break and start a family. “I was looking for a change and decided to pursue education in interior design at area colleges,” said Riley.

From Cakes to Likes

In 2009, Riley started a cake business out of her home to make ends meet. She promoted her cake business solely online, primarily through Facebook, and found her passion in creating effective digital marketing pieces. Wanting to learn more about the digital marketing craft, Riley started taking online marketing classes in 2014 through Fort Hays State University. By 2016, she was hired by a marketing firm and eventually became the agency’s social media manager. “I enjoyed that job, but the company went through a merger that led to the elimination of my position there,” said Riley.

Going Solo Led to Fruitful Merger

The unexpected lay-off gave Riley the opportunity to offer her talents in social media to the market on her own. In April 2017, she founded her first social media marketing company called Inspire Media. At the time, there was a lot of demand for people with expertise in digital marketing, so Riley began collaborating with her friend, Jen Cole, who owned another social media company called Backspace Media. “Jen and I worked in a similar style, were good friends, and liked working on things together. There was plenty of business to go around, so we were all about collaboration - and not competing with each other,” said Riley. Jen and Julie developed a following for their “Friday Facebook Live” show they presented to the public, inside Hopping Gnome Brewery, that showcased other local businesses and nonprofits that were using Facebook to help them do great things in the community. Julie Riley and Jen Cole decided to merge their two companies together to form Depict Media, LLC in January 2018.

Guided Growth with SCORE Mentors

Not long after Riley started Inspire Media, she was referred to SCORE to help the organization with their social media needs. As Riley began to assist SCORE with their accounts and social media marketing strategy, SCORE mentor Ken Smith reciprocated by helping Riley with her own business needs. “When the time came to talk about the merger with Jen Cole, SCORE mentors helped guide me through that process and how to go about it with a clear and level head creating a sound legal structure for the business with good exit plans as well,” said Riley.

SCORE mentors Ken Smith and Bill Ellison helped Riley clarify her business strategy to achieve sustained growth. “SCORE also helped me evaluate my finances and operations to achieve the right balance to grow smart,” said Riley.

Depict Media works with clients to help them balance organic with paid marketing on Facebook, identify their ideal customer persona, and guide them where to be on social media in order to speak to the right audience at the right time.

Moving Forward

In 2020, Riley is planning to expand her capacity through strategic outsourcing to qualified contractors. She also wants to grow her clients’ use of chatbots to enhance their marketing and customer service strategies. Depict Media, LLC happens to be the first agency in Wichita to partner with ManyChat, a chat messaging tool that is integrated into Facebook’s platform.

When asked for any advice she would offer to someone interested in starting their own business, Riley emphasized the importance of starting small (lean) and growing slow. “The marketplace changes rapidly, so be flexible. If someone is starting a service-based company, it’s tough to find that sweet spot in pricing that can sustain the business without leading to burnout or bad service. Learn when to say ‘no’ to a customer. Redeeming a bad reputation is much harder than developing a solid brand. A successful entrepreneur needs to develop the confidence to charge customers the amount you know your service is worth. Lastly, find a good business mentor, like SCORE, willing to give you constructive feedback and honest advice,” concluded Riley.

Company Name: 
Depict Media, LLC
Location: 
Wichita, Kansas