I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen DeVore Richter, Author, Speaker, and Co-Founder of Rock My Image, which is a leading brand development agency for celebrity personalities and high-profile entrepreneurs. Jen is a recognized authority on personal branding. She is a media expert frequently interviewed for her insights on business growth for small to medium-sized businesses. Former marketing executive for NASA at Kennedy Space Center, Jen has a BA in Public Relations and an MA in Management. She’s been a successful entrepreneur for 13 years. She is the author of Amplify Your Business: The Rockstar Professional’s Guide to Marketing Success.
Kivo: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your "backstory"?
Our folks tell us, “Go to college so you can get a good job. Buy a sports car and a house in Florida with a pool. Don’t stop climbing that corporate ladder until you reach the top.” Sure, they mean well when they tell us these things, but once I earned a master’s degree, landed a six-figure job, and bought a house in Florida with a pool out back and a red sports car parked in front by the time I was 26, I realized something was missing.
So I quit my corporate career and started my own business as a consultant. It takes a lot of guts to start a business because for most people that make the leap and leave the security of a corporate job, the results are dismal.
I had some success at first and was able to get back to a six-figure income as a consultant, but then I had a major health crisis and the bottom dropped out. Because I was trading time for money as a marketing strategist and had to heal from multiple surgeries over three years, I had to start from scratch and rebuild a company that could run without me in the day today.
Now I get paid for books and product sales, keynote speaking, my eLearning platform for small business owners, events, a mastermind, as well as consulting and agency clients. It was a rough few years, but now I’m on the other side of it and wouldn’t change a thing.
Kivo: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When we were in startup mode, my business partner and I were meeting with the head of a law firm to pitch them into becoming a new client of the agency. We were making our case and pitching our hearts out when she stopped us and said, “I don’t really know if I want my image rocked. I’m not really the leather jacket type.”
We nearly burst out laughing that she thought that just because our brand has a rock n’ roll edge to it that hers would too. We assured her that rocking her image would not include a motorcycle jacket and that our goal was to make her stand out from her competition in a way that made sense for her brand, not ours.
Kivo: So what exactly does your company do?
Rock My Image works with small to medium-sized business owners who want to outmarket and outsell their competition.
Kivo: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
One of our clients, who has been with us for a few years now, likes to “throw us into the fire” about once a year or so to keep us on our toes. At a meeting I had with him about a year and a half ago, I walked into the room to find a sales director from a local television station there. This person was not supposed to be in this meeting. It was our annual meeting which is usually private.
So, the client (who is a physician that owns a regional surgery center) put me and the tv sales director up against each other in a debate-style inquiry to prove the effectiveness of our strategies. Like I said, most agencies want to create commercials and ads that are creative and feel good but produce little to no results. Needless to say, the tv station couldn’t prove the results of their million dollar campaign, but I could back up our strategy with hard cold numbers and results.
Kivo: 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?
The number one person who helped me get to where I am today is my husband, Will. Without him, none of it would be possible. He carried the financial load when I had to rebuild my career and company from scratch and nursed me through my health crisis at the same time. His support at home has been invaluable.
Kivo: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I always say that when you step into the spotlight as an expert in your industry, you can harness that light and redirect it to the missions, causes, and people that you care about. For me, I’ve been hosting a podcast called Purpose-Filled Business™ that inspires others to serve a higher purpose in business and life. The concept has been turned into a magazine, and now a board of directors has been assembled to turn it into an event that can be self-hosted in local churches, associations, and organizations across the country.
Kivo: What are your "5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO" and why.
When you’re up against a battle, keep pushing because blessings are on the other side of battles. If you have battles you’re fighting right now, know that it will all be worth it and will work out exactly as it is meant to. Before I co-founded Rock My Image, I was satisfied with my six-figure income as a consultant. Thankfully, when the bottom dropped out due to the health scare, I was forced to rebuild the company in a much smarter way. If I would have quit, none of what we’ve built would exist now.
You can’t do it alone. Find business partners that are the exact opposite of you and strong in their own zones of genius. For me, that meant that I needed a partner that was engineering and tech-minded as well as a creative partner. I’m the business-oriented strategist on our crew. Together we make up a really solid tripod of leadership.
One of my mentors Dan Kennedy says, “If you’re aren’t deliberately, systematically, methodically, or rapidly and dramatically establishing yourself as a celebrity, you’re asleep at the wheel.” This is the truth. Doors open when you’re seen as a celebrity in your industry.
Make marketing the number one most important function in your business. Without it you have nothing. Product development doesn’t pay the bills, so focus on marketing first and foremost.
Business should be entertaining. Consumers are bored and inundated with marketing messages. If your brand, business, experience, and message are not entertaining, you’re dead in the water. Be outrageous.
Kivo: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Kivo: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this…
Barbara Corcoran is my she-ro. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the Entrepreneur magazine GrowthCon a few years ago and she really impacted my business and life. I did not get the chance to meet her, but would love to thank her for sharing her story and vulnerability. The fact that she started her empire with less than $1,000 is an inspiration. She is the main reason I am now a keynote speaker for women’s business groups.
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