Learning To Take Action Before Perfection
In today’s business podcast, we hear from Lenny Richardson. He’s in the marketing landscape and he’s a real estate agent, and decided to start a marketing company in the middle of 2020. Let’s jump right in!
Here are some things we cover in today’s Podcast:
- Do millennials think email marketing is dead?
- How to you build confidence as an entrepreneur
- How to differentiate your business from the competition
- Tips to get past the gatekeeper of cold calling
Thanks for listening to the OP Podcast.
Make sure you check out Lenny’s contact information below
Lenny Richardson is the Co-Founder of Affinity Agency, a Digital Marketing and Advertising Agency as well as a licensed Real Estate Agent in Northern VA. Over the past 5+ years, Lenny has been in the digital marketing world. Lenny’s overall goal is to promote self-education and encourage others to constantly improve themselves.
Bonus Business Training Videos
Check out the bonus videos and training from this episode.
Bonus: 3 Simple Steps To Market Your Business
In this bonus, Lyle Leads and Lenny Richardson discuss the 3 simple steps to market your business this year!
Read This Podcast Episode’s Transcript Below
Optimize Profitability Podcast Transcript: Episode 6
Overcoming Personal Credit Issues With Business
Lyle: Hey, this is Lyle with Optimize Profitability podcast, I’m here with Lenny Richardson. He is a millennial entrepreneur.
He’s in the marketing landscape and he’s a real estate agent, and decided to start a marketing company in the middle of 2020. Figure that out. So we’re going to have fun hearing his story today.
Lenny, I’m going to turn it over to you. How did you get started on entrepreneurship and what did you have to overcome to bring you where you are today?
Lenny: All right, thank you so much, first of all, thanks Lyle for having me on. As far as getting into entrepreneurship, I sort of got in in mid-college. I first started with a website designed for college students and high school students called College Conqueror.
And the basic premise behind it was….. well I wasn’t taking classes, and I kind of realized that college sucks when it comes to teaching about finances, budgeting, taxes, all of this very important stuff that we never learned about. Unless maybe if you’re a finance major or something, I don’t know. But I made the website for those college students, which is where I first started with marketing.
When speaking of mindset and beginning as an entrepreneur, two things come to mind. The first main thing that I think a lot of people don’t necessarily consider is it can be stressful. When you are trying to push something out, you expect the support of friends, and family, and your social circle, and they might not see the product, or the service the same way you do.
And the second thing is just wondering, can you do it? There’s so many people that have something similar to a similar product, similar service. Can I actually make a sale? Can I actually sell my product or make any money at all? Will this work? So I think those are kind of the main two things, the two barriers to hurdles, at least for me, that I initially had to overcome.
Lyle: But as I hear you talking about understanding how to represent your value to the world, you believe in yourself. So how did you achieve this belief in yourself? That feeling like I can sell something, and I have something valuable to offer.
Lenny: A part of it is a comparison, and that’s weird. It’s a weird double edged sword, because you compare yourself maybe too much to, I don’t say the wrong people, but I feel like a lot of us compare ourselves to people who are way further ahead.
And we’re seeing, like, for example, in real estate, I would compare myself to agents that have been doing it for 20 or 30 years, or very popular real estate agents. But it’s like, I can’t do this. These guys are killing it. And we think alike that they have 30 years of experience. You might be brand new. And in a weird way, I think the solution is to kind of compare yourself to the general person and realize that,
For example, real estate again. You might not know as much as someone like Ryan Saurian, or the people that have been in the industry for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, but you do have values, and you do have something to offer. You don’t need to come out of the gate, at least in my opinion, being a superstar. You can just do well and provide value to whoever your targets are, and slowly work your way up. That’ll help you build confidence.
You know, as you make that first sale, as you sell that first product, you kind of realize I can do it. And at least for me, you kind of realize if they did it, you can too. If I don’t. That was too confusing or that kind of makes sense.
Lyle: I heard it put this way, you can’t compare your ABC to somebody else’s X, Y, Z.
It’s all about the journey. Everybody’s in a different spot on the journey. And so you had to overcome a belief in yourself. Did you read books? Did you listen to podcasts? How did you do that? If you compare yourself to someone, you’re seeing this big shot and that’s where you’re headed towards. But what did you do internally?
Lenny: Books help a lot. When I first started out, I read a lot of books, and that kind of helped with the confidence because as you start to read more, you get more information on the books you read.
I would say one of the first books that was super influential was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I thought that was a really big one for me. It kind of taught me that habits really impact your game life.
And then I would say another good book is, how to win friends and influence people. That’s a pretty good book as far as just building that confidence. Realizing that the people who’re doing good, started with low confidence.
Again, where they started off,and it’s good to hear their story and realize that when they first started, they weren’t great. They didn’t just start off making tons of sales, or being a rockstar real estate agent, or marketer, or entrepreneur, or whatever they’re doing.
They started at square one like the rest of us. And then you kind of get back to realizing the human flaws. I have flaws, but just like them, they built themselves up. I can do the same thing as well. So you just keep pushing yourself, read books, or information on your body and everything.
Lyle: What is it that went through your mind? What helped at the point of getting past that for the sale?
Lenny: That is a very good question, you know, to be honest. I would say to me, it’s going somewhere, you have to just kind of do it. You have to realize that if you want it, you have to get it done, and you’re going to have fear.
This was big for me in real estate, and when I had an ecommerce store. I think more so in real estate markets face to face than ecommerce stores online, so it’s not as much, but you try to set that meeting, that consultation, that listing agreement, and you don’t want to say something dumb. So at least for me, this is the case where you kind of self sabotage.
And I did very dumb stuff to mess up the meeting before the meeting even started. I kind of self disqualified myself. There was no real solution. It is just kind of if you want to get it done, just get it done. You’ll probably be afraid you might be rejected. It will be very uncomfortable, but you’ve got to do it.
That’s kind of what it came down to for me. There’s nothing wrong with that because so many people think they have to have it all figured out and know what to do. And you just do something bigger as you go.
There was a point where I tried to get into something and make it perfect, and you sort of realized, one, you can’t make it perfect, it’s impossible, and it’s part of the process you have to kind of build up as you go on. I’m sure even the entrepreneurs that have been doing it for someone like Mark Cuban, for example, a billionaire, I’m sure if he were to invest in a company, he’s helping somebody.
He might suggest something. It might not work. And he might say, you know what, it didn’t work. Let’s fix it. Let’s change it up. We’ll take the loss on that one. I think that’s part of business.
And another thing I think people should realize is that internally, I think we look at something and we’re very critical about it, and other people, I don’t think they care nearly as much for example, videos. When I first started, it had been about two or so years since I’ve tried to speak on camera, getting better on videos just because I think that’s where the Internet businesses are heading. Speaking on camera like we’re doing now, I hated being a video. It was nerve racking. I would do a video and delete it 50 times.
Eventually, you kind of mess up, you put it out and you realize nothing happened. Probably no one really watched it or very few people watched the big issue.. It’s all the fears you kind of have internally. They’re unrealistic, they’re sort of an exaggerated reality, whatever you think will happen as far as, like the negative part, it probably won’t happen. So again, probably pretty well watching this. Just do it. Just put it out there, get it done, have the imperfect version and then tweak it as people react to it or as you sort of see flaws change over time.
The voting process, especially like with video, because you see yourself, and you never hear your voice outside of your head, and all of a sudden you’re seeing yourself and everything, you’re judging everything. But people don’t judge you as much as you think. They don’t care about you. So, yes, put value out there if you put value on the world. The videos are value-based. People can hear the value beyond your words.
Lyle: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, that’s huge. Before we started this, you said there’s a lot of steps you want to do as an entrepreneur. A lot of failure that you learn from. Talk about a couple of failures that you kind of had to deal with and how you grew.
Lenny: Well, I guess sort of starting with the college conqueror, the education website. I would say one failure is specifically with what I tried to market it.
I got basically no positive feedback from college students and looking back on it, I think what the issue was, is that I was trying to directly market to college students in a way that doesn’t say education based because the website is education based, but you kind of realize you might have to use humor or sports or something that a college student can relate to, and draw them in, and that over time, as they are kind of in then we’ll it be a tribe or part in the brand long enough, then you might say this is also educational.
Try this out and be more receptive, and they’re open to it. I didn’t do that initially. I just kind of said here’s some educational stuff. And it’s like trying to force someone who reads books to read. They won’t do it. The best way is probably to show them something that they like reading. And then over time they’ll kind of realize, OK, I got to read if I want this prize or this reward, that was a big one.
With the ecommerce stores a little bit different. It was more technical failures, I’ll call them as far as putting out like Facebook ads, bad copy, no copy or I just say no copy the sense that it’s just one sentence that’s not very catchy, not very eye grabbing photos, that website, that SEO.
It’s more technical things that’s online and then failures in real estate, bad marketing in the sense that I think applies to a lot of businesses. I think a good business needs to differentiate itself enough from its competition that when I first had my first real estate deal that was non-existent, I was just another agent and there’s millions of agents.
Those are kind of the main mistakes I would say I made. And so when you did your college page where you thought you were talking about them rather than with them, they say that. In hindsight, yeah, it was sort of like, I understand, because when I first made it, I wasn’t taking classes and I was just reading about because I didn’t have a lot of money. So I read a lot of finance books and learned a bunch of things that I knew college students did not know.
At least the majority of them would not know. And I would say, hey, guys, if you’re doing an internship, consider an externship or try to budget this way and no one cares. So, yeah, it was me talking at them instead of trying to get them to see the value in what I was suggesting. I put it that way.
Lyle: But let’s let’s unpack this just a little bit for somebody listening to an entrepreneur and they’re having trouble communicating to their audience. How do you help somebody understand that?
Lenny: Try to meet them on the same page. Meet them at their level. I mean, as far as being an entrepreneur and doing this, the main job, at least in my opinion, as an entrepreneur, is to solve problems, every good business of solving problems in some way, shape or form.
So you want to figure out what their problem is and you don’t want to guess what the problem is. You want to actually know what the problem is, which is another mistake I made. I didn’t do that. I assumed and once you kind of have an idea or what, you know what their problem is, you can sort of reverse engineer whatever you have to do to solve that problem. Bringing it back to real estate, because I’ve been doing that the longest of all the other things I’ve done.
When people go to buy a house, for example, and they’ve never bought a house, there’s a lot of terminology. The whole process itself is so confusing. If you’re a first time home buyer, your needs are very different than someone who has purchased a house and maybe they’re in their 40s or 50s and they’re thinking of downsizing or just selling or say, for example, an investor, everyone’s needs are different.
And if you try to just kind of market to them or suggest your services to them the same way, it’s not really going to work because what an investor needs is very different than what a first time home buyer needs, what a first time home buyer needs, different than what a third time home buyer needs and what a third buyer home buyer, what a third time home buyer needs is different than someone who is a seasoned home buyer who just trying to downsize because their kids are all good and they’re empty nesters, so.
Yeah, so long story short, figure out what they want and then give them what they want. It is that simple, but it takes some processing to make that asking questions, finding out where they’re hanging out and what they’re doing, using their lingo, that kind of thing.
Lyle: So what’s it that you’re doing right now in your life that you’re winning?
Lenny: It’s helping you really increase your business. So for me, I would say it’s being proactive and this is still somewhat new-ish for me.
But, yeah, kind of I think internally we kind of know what we should be doing. And there’s a little bit of a barrier to doing it. And I think it’s a little bit easier to kind of say we can kind of just wait for someone to do the thing for us or, for example, if you have a business. It’s easy to expect if you have a phone that people call, it’s easy to want the phone to just ring.
What I’ve been doing lately is trying to be more proactive, how can I go out there and find business, find people that are interested, and that might be something as simple as just going in forums, talking to people. But I would say something new for me, being proactive about life in general, but business, too, and I think being proactive rather than reactive in general is a good strategy.
Lyle: And what’s something you’re doing in your business that somebody can take that little tidbit of something you’re doing?
Lenny: One thing we’ve been doing a lot is called email, and I hate it. I don’t like it, but it’s, I think it’s a little bit more proactive. We also do marketing and building the brand and things like that.
The more active method so far, at least, that we’ve been doing is just going online, going on Instagram, Facebook, finding people who own a business that might be interested in our services and just reaching out, tailor the email, of course, to the person or the business, the business, the owner, but emailing and getting lots of rejections and getting lots of people who just don’t answer.They get angry because they hate being called or emailed.
Lyle: So if somebody doesn’t know what cold emailing is tell them what that looks like, what it actually is and what that process is,
Lenny: You have a little three part series. So what we’re doing now and we’re likely going to switch things off kind of based on what happens, but essentially is just there not a lead.
You find Company B or A or whatever online, maybe you’re Googling or maybe one of their ads come up and you kind of reach out and see if I can convince them to hire me. And you reach out through email. What we like to do is find the owner.
Just because I’ve worked in businesses that reach out to us, I’ve been the person on the phone who marketers call or sales people call and from personal experience, I know it does not get to the owner usually. There’s lots of reasons why I think the person answering phones sometimes just is not motivated to take down the salesperson information and pass it on to the owner because the owner might just not care. There are a lot of reasons why they won’t show the owner the information.
But we like to go specifically to the owner, find the email, find their Facebook, find their Instagram. LinkedIn is a good place to use as a sort of a template. I can’t remember word for word, but essentially we try to identify specific problems that they have on their website or on their social media, maybe the marketing on Facebook, you can tell if people run ads. If they’re not running ads, we might reach out and say, hey, person, you’re not doing this or let me try.
Have you ever tried doing this? We try to give them value first and suggest things that might not be working. And nine times out of ten, you just don’t get an answer.
But. Sometimes we get an answer and then we kind of lead them down, a process where. What usually happens is they say, maybe you or tell me more or something like that, we sort of do an audit, give them information, give them more value, follow up a lot. That’s a big one, because they might just see the email and forget about it. Lots of things can happen. We have a right now it’s about a five step process where we follow basically five times.
And on that fifth time, if they’re not if they just don’t respond, if they say they’re not and if they’re not, actually we take them off the list.
If they don’t respond at all. And that might just be because they’re busy or the emails are not catchy enough, we sort of put them on a campaign where we don’t actively match them personally, but we give them valuable emails, of course, of the call to action email and. That’s essentially it, if eventually they come out, reach out and say we’re interested, then we sort of start the next process. If they don’t respond, it doesn’t matter because it’s all essentially automated.
So it’s not too much time on our part. And if they unsubscribe, that’s fine, because there’s no point in reaching out to people who aren’t interested and we don’t take it personally.
Lyle: So as a millennial, you’re saying email marketing is not dead?
Lenny: I don’t think it’s dead. I think even marketing, I think if you can make it catchy and with the subject line, they’ll open it. I think the issue now is so many people are just emailing it. It’s hard to stand out, I’ll put it that way. It’s not dead, but it’s difficult. In my opinion, at least.
Lyle: We’re going to continue this conversation, we won’t get into deep dive of marketing, we’re going to talk about the three-step formula it takes to get clients.
If you go to dfwtop.com/optimizeprofitability, which services will be on the screen somewhere, we’ll let you know. But look for Lenny Richardson. Lenny, how can they get in touch with you, what your website looks like?
Lenny: My website is it’s affinityagency.co, if you want to get in contact with me in the team, if anyone’s interested in reaching out to me personally, Instagram’s probably the best way I check it.
I’m going to spell it to you because no one can ever spell it. It’s Leviticus Rich and if anyone needs me or follow me or talk to me, I’m there.
Lyle: So join us on the conversation at OptimizeProfitability.com. We can talk about the three steps it formula it takes to get clients. And I tell you my number one trick, I’ll say trick tip or email marketing that will blow your mind how simple it is and you won’t believe you never did. So join us there.