DeRonte Craig is a successful entrepreneur and managing director of the digital marketing agency Nine27. Throughout his four years at Bowie State University, DeRonte transitioned into a new venture in business and has learned the ins and outs of taking a small business from ground zero to its full potential. Since the peak of the pandemic, Nine27 has been helping businesses solve their everyday problems, scale, and stand out through advertisements, content creation, brand development, and web design. DeRonte has accomplished great things within his company and for other entrepreneurs, but most importantly he is an entrepreneur who gives back to the community. I had the chance to sit down with the entrepreneur and learn more about him and Nine27.
Q: What inspired you to start your business?
DeRonte Craig:Nine27.co started during the mist of COVID- 19, before starting Nine27.co I worked at a sales and marketing agency. We sold products and services, to small businesses. I traveled 100% of the time and doing so, I couldn’t help but notice that majority of the businesses I’d plan to visit would be closed and out of business. I passed by 100s of closed businesses and vacant commercial properties per day. I know I didn’t want to stay with the company I was at so I began to brainstorm I had experience in marketing during my time at BSU, and I know a lot of the businesses around required saving grace. So, it made sense to do something about it. I left the company and began to dive into learning all about digital marketing and a few months later I had my first client
Q: Tell us about your digital marketing agency, Nine27.co?
DeRonte Craig: Nine27.co Is a Digital Marketing Agency that helps with small to mid-size businesses find their digital voice, increase revenue, and scale! We do this by providing a plethora of services such as; Social Media Marketing and Advertising (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube), Website Development and Design, Pay-Per-Click (PPC | Google, Bing), Email Marketing, SMS Marketing, Content Creation, and Graphic Design. We are the agency clients come to to get results and get to the next level.
Q: We noticed that you attended Bowie State University. What did you receive your degree in and how have you been applying it to your company?
DeRonte Craig: At Bowie State University, I got my bachelor’s in Business Administration focusing on Entrepreneurship. Before I got to Bowie I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. During my time there I got a lot of experience in entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, etc. While at BSU I started a company called The Gentlemen’s Toolbox, where I sold men’s professional accessories. With this project, I learned how to sell, negotiate contracts, build websites, graphic design, market social media marketing, and influencer marketing and hire. I spent my entire college career in student government, specifically in the Royal Court; where I later became Mister Bowie State University. During this time I learned how to be a part of a team, lead a team, and marketing strategies and campaigns; for me to even be elected, I had to run a 3-4 week campaign. There are other experiences that I had at BSU that helped prep me for where I am today like being a part of the summer launch program building a startup, being president of the Entrepreneurship Academy, being a part of the Bowie BIC, and the list goes on. The experience I had at Bowie State University will never be forgotten.
Q: How would you describe your typical day on the job?
DeRonte Craig: A day in the life of a digital marketer changes just like seasons and trends, but there is order. Typically my day is broken up into 3 categories. Outreach and Sales (discovering new business, sending outreach, and taking calls), Fulfilment and Operation (completing projects for clients, optimizing campaigns, websites, content, etc.), Admin and Research (diligence, emailing, and learning or teaching new skills). Outreach and sales are done, during the morning because it’s typically the toughest task during the day, Fulfilment and Operation are completed in the afternoon. 4 pm and after is where admin and research are done. After that, based on the day of the week/month I usually have calls with mentors from 5:30 to 7 pm. I have a few people who mentor/advise me in business, so that time with them is very important! My Business Hours typically start from 8 am and end at about 7 to 8 pm.
Q: We know it’s always a creative process in business, so what’s your process like as a creator?
DeRonte Craig: I’m a visionary, so when it comes to creating I usually see/envision the full process or outcome of a campaign before getting started. I typically think of the audience or end user, how would they receive it, when will they take action, how long will it take to convert, and what they engage with most. After I have all this written or thought out I work from the end goal backward. I break this down into months, weeks, days, posts, videos, etc. I think of every possible outcome or need at each step of the way and incorporate it. For example, tools, photos, videos, scripts, deadlines, etc. I do this with every project, campaign, and product so my team and I can see the full vision and finish line before we even get there.
Q: Being that you are a small business entrepreneur, what encouraged you to write E-Book to help other entrepreneurs?
DeRonte Craig: I have a mentor by the name of Charles Dorsey who is a pretty successful entrepreneur. He’s written several eBooks in the past and was releasing a new eBook for his birthday. During a conversation, he challenged me to write an eBook in 10 days, from start to finish. I’m a pretty competitive guy, so I accepted. 10 days later; “3 Ways For Your Small Business To Generate Consistent Revenue: How To Make Your Popup, Pop-out!” was complete.
Q: What are some challenges you encountered since being a business owner and how have you overcome them?
DeRonte Craig: The Biggest challenge for me starting was getting clients, a lot of businesses closed so the marketing opportunity shrank. Business owners weren’t sure what would happen next or when the next lockdown would be so it was pretty hard to contact owners and convert them to clients. Plus, there were about of people creating bad experiences for business owners because the people they would hire before me wouldn’t know what to do so they would waste a lot of money and create unhappy customers. How I got over that hump was by sticking with it and making more offers. In sales, we have something called the Law of Averages. This essentially means the more you do something, the close you are to getting to your goal. So, if you know that you get a sale every 20 customers you talk to and you are on number 15 you know the sale your looking for is right around the corner. Sometimes a sale comes during the first customer you speak with or the 20th, but just know that it will come. I won’t say we have everything down to a sweet science because we are always looking for new clients, but we are in much better shape now when we started. If you’re reading this maybe you are our next client.
Q: What had been your biggest accomplishment since being in business?
DeRonte Craig: I think our biggest accomplishment today so far is the results we can get for our clients. One client project I’m happy to share was a cause for good. I partnered with a company called Smartpreneur an entrepreneur Development Agency for minorities and underrepresented communities. Smartpreneur planned to run a Pitch Competition called HBCU Startup Open, but they didn’t have a network in the HBCU world. My team and I came on board and in just under a month we were able to help them reach a goal. We had 46 Startups be accepted to compete, from 26 HBCUs. We had 2 finalists from 2 different tracks that were about to get an immense about of resources and rewards for winning the competition. Making an Impact is a huge accomplishment!
Q: Think of a time you had to decide if you wanted to continue working a 9-5 or working as a full-time CEO. What was the process like for you?
DeRonte Craig: That process for me was pretty simple. Mostly because I didn’t enjoy the company I was at before. There came an opportunity for me to leave so I took it. The company was relocating to Kentucky and I didn’t see Kentucky in my future so I left. now I was proposed with working for another company or working for myself, and I chose myself. The reason I did was that I wanted to truly believe that I gave something my all, 110%. Les Brown has a Quote:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”
This quote is something that I live by and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try! If things didn’t work out, I would figure it out. In life, we have a 100% success rate, any problem or issue that has arisen somehow, some way we’ve been able to figure it out.
Q: With hopes of expansion, where do you see yourself taking your brand next?
DeRonte Craig: I have a lot of plans for Nine27.co over the next few years. but just to give some foresight of what’s happening over the next few months. I plan to launch a Facebooks Ads Course coming Mid September, we also will be hosting a personal mastermind in January, and lastly going out sales and operations team. We’re planning for an influx of clients soon so building the right team now is important.
3 Ways for Your Small Business to Generate Consistent Revenue: How to Make Your Pop-up, Pop-out identifies and elaborates on three key ways a business owner can generate consistent revenue. Readers will go through a journey of learning how they can implement these three components and how DeRonte Craig identified these methods as an efficient way to make consistent revenue. This is a fairly short-length eBook, purposely designed to eliminate fluff, add value, and provide actionable items to help business owners get to their goals quickly and efficiently. If you’re a business owner looking for a way to scale your small business, Business to Consumer (B2C), or product-based business, this book is for you. In this book, you will read about 3 simple steps to business success that any small business can use to scale a company. The right strategy will give your small business a competitive advantage!
Get a copy of the Ebook by visiting Nine27.co now!
Abu Sillah is Business Owner from Prince George's County, MD. He serves as the CEO of The DMV Daily and Marketing Manager of The Wig Cafe. Outside of business and media, Abu is a middle school teacher and Promotions Assistant for RadioOne DC. He has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and an M.A. from Bowie State University. Abu is very passionate about 3 things: media, working with kids and uplifting others,