Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business.
Lexi Montgomery, I am a Neuromarketer and the Owner of The Darling Company.
Neuromarketing is based on neuroscience, behavioral economics, & applied market research. In other words, we’re a marketing agency that specializes in consumer seduction.
We offer web design & SEO services that bridge the communication gap between business owners and their customers through influencing the subconscious patterns and behaviors of consumers.
Our revenue fluctuates monthly, and we’re growing at a rate of 30% increase each year. Currently, we’re at around $10,000/month.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
In 2013, I earned a degree in International Business with a focus in Economics. I grew up in the musical theater and got bit by the acting bug shortly after graduating from college.
My husband and I moved to LA where I was an actress for several years, and kind of fell into digital marketing. My husband has a degree in computer science and worked as a programmer for the largest aerospace company in the world.
He got into digital marketing & e-commerce around 2014, and I fell in love with designing and optimizing his websites as a hobby. Instead of rehearsing my lines, I would research subliminal triggers and just found the digital world far more interesting and dynamic.
I felt like the creative side of every project was in my hands, and wanted to learn how to work with the subconscious of consumers to optimize our ability to influence their buying habits.
The large brands I was doing commercials for had figured out how to tap into a consumer’s subconscious mind with subliminal triggers, and I wanted to do this for my husband’s websites. I sort of created a new field where we deliver traditional marketing services & constantly apply and tweak websites to optimize conversion. Typically market research and digital services are sold separately, or cost much more than standard SEO.
Our prices are competitive with standard SEO & web design services, but the back-end research is also included.
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
In the beginning, I only sold web design. It was tough because I wasn’t the typical “techie” archetype. People weren’t really open to buying my service because I looked like an actress and not like Mark Zuckerberg.
Early clients canceled halfway through site development, and I had zero retention.
I ended up taking a contract sales job in plastic surgery, where I learned to connect the subconscious beliefs in consumers with the triggers placed online.
I knew nothing about surgery, so I “sold” patients by asking questions that told me the real reason they wanted surgery.
Their subconscious mind was telling a different story than what we were selling. I encouraged my colleagues to change their angle, and sell the fantasy self-image these customers wanted, rather than the doctor’s credentials, or procedural specifics.
This helped me to increase the conversion rate of the center by 15% and sold nearly $1 Million in surgery over the phone in 72 days.
I found that patients had a specific problem, and needed a specific solution – typically it was that they wanted to feel better about themselves.
They believed that surgery was going to provide an overnight fix, and I helped them believe in that vision & imagine the ideal future as a result. So I ended my contract and opened DARLING.
It wasn’t an easy road after I burned my ships and went into business for myself full time. At an event with one of my first clients, I was told I should be an escort instead of working in tech.
This comment cut deep, but I realized that the person was subliminally communicating something with me.
I was a non-traditional techie – and would have to sell a non-traditional angle to grow my business.
After that, we rebranded and began selling “consumer seduction” or neuromarketing. Our specialty became subliminal in communication with consumers. And we’ve been growing ever since.
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
I think the idea of “launching” is a bit misleading. The first two years involved a lot of trial and error.I took a significant pay cut to learn my niche, pitch, and market.
I had no investment capital to market my business, and therefore, had to do a lot of groundwork. Press mentions & interviews, co-working space events, networking, etc.
It took a while for the business angle to catch on and our client list didn’t just go from 0-10 clients in a month. We’ve grown gradually, and yes the growth is exponential, but it’s not like we “launched” a rocket ship.
The early growth of our business looks more like a stock chart. We’ve experienced highs and lows, but luckily only higher highs.
I was refused and turned down so many times that I grew numb to the idea that rejection is a bad thing. Eventually, we had cases studies from our first couple clients and could show those as well as attract referrals.
Patience is really important in the beginning because your efforts will pay off, but it’s not an overnight thing.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
Our model is unique in that our packages are 1-year retainer agreements, cancellable any time. We have had repeat web design clients, for example, where they have multiple businesses that need websites.
However, our marketing model is more about retention and referrals. We only accept about 5% of the businesses that reach out to us (because we want to make sure that they have massive success & generate referrals).
It’s not for every business, so our sales process is much more about building a good foundation for a long-term relationship with clients.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
Lots of changes and rapid growth. We were originally a web design (only) agency, but we’ve acquired several retainer marketing clients.
Our prices aren’t cheap, so this took a while to accomplish without case studies.
Neuromarketing & SEO have become the primary service that we provide, and we’re getting press requests & speaking engagements. We expect the business to triple by the end of this year.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
It’s uplifting in many ways. Merging feminity in STEM has become a passion for me – one I thought I’d never have.
I think women have a unique perspective to offer when it comes to science and technology, especially since women influence or dominate purchasing and gross domestic consumption across all industries.
As a woman, I enjoy nurturing clients and getting them to believe in business growth again. Our clients are usually older and unfamiliar with modern technology – so sales, as well as retention and reassurance, are skills I’ve had to cultivate.
Nothing is more uplifting than creating your own schedule, content, and getting to do something you love each day. I get more enjoyment out of seeing other business owners grow and reach new heights than I do the financial rewards.
It’s important to become really passionate about the work, and not necessarily the financial benefits.
What tools or services did you use?
- Final Cut Pro
What are your key challenges today? How are you planning to tackle those?
Our biggest challenge is helping the right businesses understand what we do. Neuromarketing is complex and specific.
As I mentioned, we turn down about 95% of the businesses that inquire with us. In order for neuromarketing to work, the business needs investment capital, a product/service that’s already selling, and a clear target market.
Our service is about scaling sales and conversion, which is more advanced marketing than running ads, for example. We don’t bring untested products to market, and the business must have clear, tangible, and quantifiable goals.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
- Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss
- Marketing to the Affluent – Dan Kennedy
- Why She Buys – Bridget Brennan
- Brand Seduction – Daryl Weber
Many times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
That’s often true, but not in a limiting sense. I don’t think anything is inherently “for” anyone.
For example, men are much more likely to do dirty jobs. This doesn’t mean women are incapable of doing those jobs, but men prefer them.
They’re predisposed to working those kinds of jobs. There are more women teaching in primary school than men, doesn’t mean men can’t or shouldn’t do those jobs – but as a neuro marketer, I look to science and human nature for answers to complicated questions like these.
I think people, both men, and women, should be able to do what they enjoy. It will never be easy, but if you follow your passion it will be rewarding. Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the work, and you’ll achieve the outcome you seek.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi! This is Misha?
I interview women founders in building profitable businesses??
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell-all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.
How Lexi Started The Darling Company And Is Making $120K A Year
Lexi Montgomery, I am a Neuromarketer and the Owner of The Darling Company.