A lot can change in a decade. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Business pages–these all did not exist when No Limit Agency founder Nick Powills decided to launch his own media consulting company providing public relations and social media services to its clients. What he did know, however, was that social media was not something to shy away from for brands. It was an opportunity, and media teams needed to take a different approach to presenting their stories to the press. After 10 years of forward-thinking and innovative client work, No Limit Agency has been ranked on the Inc. 5000 for 4 years, taking the No. 3,822 spot in 2017, with $5.1 million in revenue and a team of 28 employees. With more than 25,000 media placements, thousands of relationships with reporters, over 100 segments on cable news’ leading show Fox and Friends and 500 placements in The Wall Street Journal, there’s no plan of slowing down any time soon.
Powills always had a passion for storytelling since his childhood and even worked as a journalist. As he shifted to working for a PR firm, Powills went from storytelling to story hunting–never losing sight of a journalist’s interests and priorities as he pitched the media. As he rose through the ranks quickly at Fishman PR, he realized his innovative ideas weren’t being accepted and old-school best practices continued to be pushed on him. In 2008, No Limit Agency was born–known as No Limit Media Consulting at the time–in Marietta, Georgia and soon expanded with a team in Decatur, Georgia.
Powills explained, “I chose No Limit Media Consulting because we were consultants of the media and to the media. It was a completely different approach to media relations. We weren’t going to try to push bad stories to the press for our clients. Instead, we were guiding both the press and our clients and media consulting them, and social media was just another form of that media. That’s why we’ve been so successful.”
As No Limit Agency started to build up its client roster with smaller brands and those who were willing to take a chance on them, Powills took the company to downtown Chicago, close to his hometown Oak Park, Illinois. At that time, social media was a huge differentiator for the firm, and because No Limit Agency was working with franchise brands, Powills started to think more about why people would invest their whole life savings into a business. That’s when he landed on a new theory for promoting a brand. It’s one heard around the No Limit Agency office often–brands don’t sell brands, people do.
“It started through a conversation I was having with Scott Sutton, Vice President, Corporate and Franchise Development at Safeguard Business Systems, who was an early and current client of ours. We were talking about what makes people want to buy a franchise. We landed on the theory that it is the people and it’s the ‘like me’ story. They can see themselves in the shoes of someone else. It put a true spin on the way we looked at getting press for our clients. The human interest piece was much greater than the brand. We had seen this with Michael Jordan and Gatorade and Steve Jobs and Apple. Great brands were having success with this strategy, so we landed on that message.”
Even with changing social media platforms, technology, strategies and clients, one aspect of No Limit Agency’s values has always stayed the same–its ability to hunt down stories that feature the people behind the brands and making sure that message gets in front of the right audience.
“The most important things we do are listen and then act like a sponge as an agency. We listen to things that are going on in people’s lives and our brands’ lives, and then collectively our team will strategize across all of our experiences and our brands’ experiences. Those things together give us such an edge. It’s powerful to ask someone, ‘What’s your story?’ You can tell a lot about a person’s grit and how they’ve overcome obstacles just by the way they tell their own story.”
Powills also believes in a people-first philosophy when it comes to running and promoting his own agency. When explaining what he is most proud of from his past ten years in business, he said, “What I am most proud of is the relationships that the business has created and the pathways that it has created for its employees. We have had people start their careers here and then go on to some of the biggest agencies in the world or become big-time journalists. We have done a great job of starting a foundation to allow for friendships and even a marriage. We take the philosophy that people sell brands seriously and we have to find a way to put our people first in order to win.”
In 2012, No Limit Media Consulting became No Limit Agency, as the company was continuing to connect the silos for its clients and branching out from media relations and social media marketing to also offer web design and development, franchise consulting, paid social media and content marketing.
That long-term evolution has been in the making since the company’s inception. In Powills’ original business plan, he included an idea that would change the industry forever–1851 Franchise–a franchise publication, content marketing platform and franchise development tool all in one. It had more than three million story reads in 2017 alone, and with 60 clients on board, it has no plans of slowing down. In fact, No Limit Agency has launched its second publication, ESTATENVY, and plans to bring its content marketing platform to other industries outside of franchising, all while changing the message to bring people to the forefront.
So, where is No Limit Agency headed as it enters its next 10 years in business? Powills said, “Ten years from now, we’ll have to have a good pulse on the way media changes. There are going to be different platforms and different strategies. We have to continue to have a pulse on that, act as a sponge to be ahead of those shifts in the industry and let the culture of our agency create itself. From day one, I wanted to create a business that changed the lives of others, and not just the founder’s. I’m still dreaming, and as long as the visionary of the business is still dreaming, then anything is possible."