If I could start a movement, I would reform the education system in America. Student loan debt recently crossed $1.5 trillion. Furthermore, over 10% of student loans are in delinquency compared to 1% of mortgages and 4% of auto-loans. I think that many colleges have become greedy, and young people aren’t being properly educated. In order to get my bachelor’s degree, I was forced to pay for credits taken at a free foreign university in Germany, and community college. I also had to take “university studies” and philosophy courses that had nothing to do with my major. After graduating, I still had a ton of questions about credit, home-buying, marriage, raising children, food preparation, and many necessary things for survival. I was basically trapped in the mindset that I’d have to take loans, and depend on someone telling me what to do to get ahead in life. But I knew that would never allow me to live the way I wanted to live. I think many young people feel this way, and our current public education system is very criminal. It should be completely reformed.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lexi Montgomery, the owner of The Darling Company in Miami Beach. She represents physicians, lawyers, and consumer brands in the digital marketing space. She and her partner built their agency with ZERO ads, marketing, etc — only knowledge of consumer seduction, copywriting, & digital marketing strategies used their own blogs. As a minority woman in STEM, she offers unique insights and intuitive marketing strategies for small businesses looking to expand.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I actually kind of fell into it. I was an actress in LA, and my husband owned an e-commerce store at the time. He had a background in computer science and wanted to transition to something more passive. He began his affiliate marketing career with several affiliate blogs, and taught me the ropes as the blogs began seeing more visitors. I began designing some of his blogs, and despised the long hours & horrible pay in acting. Rather than studying lines, I’d come home from set and spend all day researching copywriting, seo, and consumer seduction strategies. Eventually, I opened Darling Web Design, and after a few web design clients, began selling retainer marketing services as well.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
The most interesting story happened shortly after I opened Darling. I attended an event with one of my very first clients where there were a bunch of rich people & investors touring a real estate development in Miami. It was an upscale event, and I was dressed like a complete nerd: backpack, overalls, huge glasses. The client was introducing me to people, and one woman decided to compliment me. She said that I should “become an escort” implying that I would make more money escorting, than I could make in tech.
Up until that point it was very hard for me to get clients — I think because no one took me seriously. After that I rebranded our company and added a feeling of exclusivity, with a seductive appeal. Rather than reject how people viewed me, I embraced it and raised our prices.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest (and worst) marketing mistake I’ve ever made was taking on a friend as a client for a 70% discount. I knew we wouldn’t make any money on her tight budget, but wanted to help her. While working with her, she was very entitled, and tried to micromanage our team. We worked with her for about a month, and ended up firing her. It was definitely not funny at the time because she was one of our first clients, and could’ve left a bad review. Luckily, we just agreed that it wasn’t a good fit, and went our separate ways. It’s funny because when I think back, I only took her on because I was living in my own fear. I was afraid to reach out to strangers, and unapologetically charge what our services are worth. Now, I realize how much our services actually help people. I learned from this to NEVER mix business and pleasure because there are just too many emotions involved when it comes to friends and family.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The Darling Company is a web design & marketing agency that offers basic digital marketing services like many of our competitors. We don’t run ads, or specialize in social media — but we stand out because of our unique focus on consumer seduction.
We’re often referred to as a brand marketing agency because everything we create from content, to aesthetics, to outreach, to our linking strategy — is built from a psychological angle, and influences consumer biases.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, we’re working on an interview series called “Diving Deep with Doctors.” Each week, we publish a new interview with a physician working in the medical field, allowing viewers to dive deeper into the psyche of modern physicians.
As physicians have the highest suicide rates of any profession — higher than military and police — we’re using the series to bridge the communication gap between physicians and their patients. We want to help patients see the world from their physician’s eyes. Hopefully our efforts will create a greater sense of transparency in the medical field, and humanize medical doctor’s personal brands. You can learn about the series and watch past interviews here.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
Yes. After my father died — during my first year in business — I stopped caring about a lot. It was a reality check that reminded me just how short and precious life is.
3 months before he died, I turned 25 and he called on my birthday to tell me how proud he was. We were very close, and I thought he was going to be there for my future children. He’d finally be able to travel the world with my family, I could buy him the things he could never afford for himself, he finally quit smoking & drinking alcohol so he was getting healthier, and then boom — my dad was dead.
Stage III liver cancer took him out before Darling was a year old. I realized that if I didn’t start prioritizing my day to day life — I would die with many regrets, missed experiences, and an enormous list of unfinished business just like my father.
After my father’s death, I started prioritizing my family, saying “no” to things I didn’t want to do, only taking important calls, and scheduling my days to get the most out of my efforts. I started doing yoga, eating better, sleeping more, traveling, voicing my gratitude to others, and being intentional about what I was going to achieve each day.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Avoid burning out by creating a schedule and sticking to it. Only work at your peak (usually morning), and make time for reading, relaxing, strategizing, meditating, exercising, and resting. It’s better to spend 5 solid hours working each day, than 10 hours running in circles. Only do things that inspire you.
How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
For our agency, marketing is the process of gathering data about our clients and their target audience, and then using that data to sell products & services better. It’s the business of getting specific with buyers, and optimizing each interaction to turn the most profit & mutual benefit possible.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, my husband. We have been together since I was 15, and our friendship has never faded. I was nudged into the entertainment industry from about age 2, and thought that my only value was my physical appearance and ability to entertain. That caused me to have poor self-esteem throughout high school and eventually pursue a career in acting because I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything else.
Once I had first-hand experience in Hollywood, I realized it wasn’t for me. The low pay, sketchy regulations, and lack of fairness & transparency in the industry gave me a bad taste in my mouth. However, I didn’t want to fail because my husband paid for me to move to LA. He saw that I was unhappy, and hadn’t made much money acting despite being on sets regularly, and he helped me transition into digital marketing.
He’s taught me a lot about life and I love him very deeply.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
A tool that I’ve found incredibly helpful is Linkedin. Linkedin is very unique because senior professionals and business owners gather there to seek community, B2B services, etc. When my father died, I made a post that got over 3M views and tons of inquiries for our agency.
Linkedin is unique because it allows you to merge your business with your personality in a unique way. It allows you to tell stories, share political and social opinions, and find clients whose ideologies align with your own. You can see references, articles, who they associate with, and avoid gatekeepers while trying to contact the business owner.
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?
1 — Leverage Controversy — weave your brand message into posts & articles on popular media. Hot issues may not be directly relevant but they catch user’s attention and then you can take that opportunity to redirect the user to your brand message. Marketing is all about strategically influencing the consumer’s attention. When my father died earlier this year, I shared a post on Linkedin that got over 3M views.
2 — Make Friends with Bloggers in Your Industry — Getting press & authoritative links to your site helps with SEO. If the links are free, and genuine it helps even more.
3 — Let Your Personality Shine — I was told I should be an escort rather than work in tech, and when we rebranded to look sexy & somewhat like an escort service, we got buyers’ attention.
4 — Interview Your Prospects & Clients — in a casual non-sales call, we lowered defense barriers and had real conversations with potential customers. We used this strategy to get people talking in our niche, by interviewing physicians, we were getting referrals and past the gatekeepers
5 — Send a gift every now and then — people like to know you care about more than just the depths of their pockets. Sometimes you have to give before you receive. Sending a gift every now and then builds trust and tells the client that you don’t NEED their money/business.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could start a movement, I would reform the education system in America. Student loan debt recently crossed $1.5 trillion. Furthermore, over 10% of student loans are in delinquency compared to 1% of mortgages and 4% of auto-loans. I think that many colleges have become greedy, and young people aren’t being properly educated. In order to get my bachelor’s degree, I was forced to pay for credits taken at a free foreign university in Germany, and community college. I also had to take “university studies” and philosophy courses that had nothing to do with my major.
After graduating, I still had a ton of questions about credit, home-buying, marriage, raising children, food preparation, and many necessary things for survival. I was basically trapped in the mindset that I’d have to take loans, and depend on someone telling me what to do to get ahead in life. But I knew that would never allow me to live the way I wanted to live. I think many young people feel this way, and our current public education system is very criminal. It should be completely reformed.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is a little poem my dad used to say –
You’re the boss, I’m the hawk,
I crack the whip, you make the trip,
I pull the strings, you do the things.
He was a creole guy that grew up in a poor black household with many siblings, had a humble life, and worked at a local grocery store for like 40 years. It’s a bit nuanced, but his poem is very deep.
It essentially means — no matter who seems to be in charge in a situation, or who you feel intimidated by — you are your own governor.
The first line is saying that your boss still does not have the freedom of a hawk in the sky, he/she still has to answer to someone higher up. The second is referring to the only true slavery being mental slavery. And the last is saying that the puppet becomes the master when he realizes he is only being manipulated by a few strings.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Linked In — https://linkedin.com/in/lexmontgomery/
Twitter — https://twitter.com/miamidarling
Website — http://darlingwebdesign.com
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Originally published at medium.com