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Meet Marc Liu of Elmntl in Plano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marc Liu.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Marc. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have a weird, winding story about how I got to Dallas. I was born in Inner Mongolia and immigrated as a kid to Australia, where I lived until I was 17, at which point I decided to move to France for college. It wasn’t a completely random move: I went to a French school growing up and already spoke French, although my family has no connections to France whatsoever.

I lived in a few different places in France, first in Marseille (an amazing city and still my favorite European city to this day) than in Paris. I studied all manner of things, starting with law, then political science and finally settling on international affairs, which is what led me to grad school at Columbia University and, of course, New York. Somewhere in the middle there, I worked in investment consulting for a year in Beijing.

New York is what ultimately brought me to Dallas because that’s where I met my wife and my business partners, with whom I would start our marketing and communications agency, Elmntl. My wife is a developmental and cognitive neuroscientist who studies children with autism, and her work took us around the country, from UNC in Chapel Hill to UTD in Richardson. That’s why we moved to Plano because it’s a short drive from UTD but also because it’s one of the best places to live in the US. The flexibility of owning my own agency allowed me to not only move with my wife’s career, but I also saw an opportunity to open an office in the DFW area and capitalize on the business opportunities and the talent here.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been challenging from a number of perspectives, not least of which is the balancing of two very different and demanding careers. From the beginning, I always wanted to support my wife’s career as much as possible and given that my work is more mobile (she has to be attached to a university), it made sense to move to wherever her work took us. However, even though much of my work can be done remotely, my clients are located all over the country and my agency’s main office is in New York, which has meant a lot of time on the road and away from home. I love to travel, but being at home has become increasingly important as I get older. One benefit of being in Dallas is that we are centrally located in North America and it’s a major flight hub, so I’m never more than 3 hours away from any major city.

The other major struggle has to do with the economy and the kind of clients we work with. Our industries of focus are travel, hospitality and lifestyle. We started our agency in 2009, right on the heels of the financial crisis, and so we launched our business in a time when clients had very few resources and consumers weren’t spending as much. And, as you can imagine, our business has been tremendously affected by the impact of COVID-19 as our clients (restaurants, bars, hotels, tourism boards) are among the worst hit.

Overall, however, I feel extremely fortunate. To have been able to launch and continue to run my business for over ten years, especially as an immigrant, is a testament to the opportunities that exist in this country. And I certainly do not take for granted the fact that both my wife and I can simultaneously pursue our dreams is an amazing gift that not everyone gets.

Elmntl – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Elmntl is a communications and marketing agency that specializes in creating powerful stories for brands, delivering those stories to the right people and driving results for our clients. We work with brands across multiple industries, including tourism, travel, hotels, hospitality and spirits. Our clients include global brands such as the UFC, Stoli, Anheuser-Busch and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as local businesses such as Lombardi Family Concepts here in Dallas. You might also read about our sister brand, Gourmet Marketing, which specifically focuses on hospitality brands.

We have developed a particular expertise in combining inspired creative capabilities with cutting-edge digital marketing and in-depth industry expertise to create integrated campaigns that connect with audiences wherever they are, whether it is through social media, digital advertising, influencers or live events. We have helped clients like Pizza Hut and Budweiser tell nationwide audiences about their new beer delivery options, and we have helped local restaurants like KAI in Legacy West drive more dining traffic and private parties.

Another area where we excel is our ability to connect our clients with other brands and partners, to create even more powerful stories and greater results. Creating campaigns in partnership with other powerful brands enables our clients to leverage the partner’s brand authority and extended audience and can often achieve results that would normally require a much higher budget.

We are especially proud to be able to bring our skills and experience to support important causes. Through our work with organizations such as FaithAction (https://www.gothaibefree.com/), ELEI (https://elephanteducationinitiative.org/) and GoGreen BK (https://gogreenbk.org/) as well as client campaigns such as Go Thai, Be Free (https://www.gothaibefree.com/), we have been able to support progress with conservation and environmental protection, diversity and inclusion, immigrants and LGBTQ+ communities.

We have also dedicated time and resources to support our clients’ industries in light of COVID-19. One such initiative is Buy Now, Stay Later (https://buynowstaylater.com), a website that we launched where travelers can purchase hotel “bonds” in $100 increments that are then worth $150 after a sixty-day waiting time. Buy Now, Stay Later enables hotels to generate some cash flow and also offer value to travelers who can’t go anywhere at this time.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is hot summers in Australia at the beach, bodysurfing in the cold water of the Pacific.

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