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Inspiring Conversations with Leslie Sharp of Leslie L. Jones Marketing

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Sharp.

Hi Leslie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
When I was in high school, I saw an MTV documentary about Sean Combs and how he built Bad Boy Records. It highlighted how marketing was the engine behind the brand. At that moment, I knew I wanted to study marketing. It’s said that most college students change majors at least once, but I never waivered from marketing. After earning my degree, I was fortunate enough to land a significant role at an aviation consulting firm where I traveled and learned practical business management skills.

From there, I transferred my business acumen into the nonprofit sector, working for large-scale nonprofits like the American Heart Association. It was around that time I began my first two entrepreneurial endeavors as a resume writer and a wedding planner. Resumes are personal marketing campaigns, and I enjoyed using my business skills to help individuals find employment. I also see weddings as branding mediums as the really memorable weddings reflect the values and personality of a couple. As I made more contacts in the nonprofit industry, I was invited to conduct workshops and marketing seminars. I saw many leaders struggling with reaching audiences as the prevalence of social media began to take off.

So, I shifted from resumes and events and went all-in on building my marketing agency. While working full-time, I spent evenings and weekends refining my service offerings, building my clientele, investing in coaching, and developing my business structure. In 2020 my agency had grown to where I surpassed my full-time employment income by double. November 2021 will make one year of complete, full-time self-employment as the President & Principal Strategist of the Leslie L. Jones Marketing Agency.

I’m also excited to dive deeper into my next endeavor, called Black Bride Box. When I was planning my wedding in 2020, I was dismayed at the lack of representation and diversity reflected in spaces for brides. So, after sharing my frustration with a good friend who experienced the same feelings of invisibility planning her wedding nearly 14 years earlier, we set out to create a new experience for Black women getting married.

Black Bride Box is gearing up to bring joy and expert wedding planning assistance to Black women in their engagement season as a support community and subscription box. This business is a call back to wedding planning days, so I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road has certainly not been smooth. Some of the early struggles were not understanding how to price my services for the value I was offering. I was charging way too little for the amount of work I was doing. I was scared clients wouldn’t book if my price was too high or if I didn’t jump through hoops to meet their demands. I was burning myself out quickly and didn’t have much to show for it. By getting tapped into resources for entrepreneurs I learned how to communicate my value and price accordingly.

I created more boundaries around expectations and how I would deliver services. I became comfortable with not booking every potential client and learned to receive feedback from my customers. Another struggle was finding and hiring the right people to help with the growing workload. After a couple of disappointing hiring experiences, it was easy to feel discouraged.

But I’ve learned to stay the course in business. We now have a complete team that helps with account management, creative content, and even organizing my super full schedule.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Leslie L. Jones Marketing?
Our agency specializes in full-scale integrated marketing. What that means is we ensure there is consistency in every avenue in which potential customers would interact with a business. For example, we may write the script used when answering the phones to ensure that matches the brand voice presented in social media campaigns. We’ll do employee training to help reinforce how to be representatives of the brand they work for.

All of these pieces, and more, work together to help customers make purchase decisions and keep them coming back. Our integrated approach sets us apart from other marketing agencies who may only focus on social media, or search engine campaigns. Our integrated approach has delivered great success for our clients and has helped our agency grow tremendously. I’m really proud that we’ve stayed true to our company values.

We don’t promote get-rich-quick tactics and overnight success options. We teach our clients that good marketing requires a solid foundation of business principles that yield great results over time. We’re pleased to be delivering those results to a great group of clients.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
I’m really blessed to have had a great childhood. I started a number of pretend businesses with my friends from babysitting to restaurants to radio stations. Having the freedom and encouragement to imagine and see myself as a business owner even as a child, definitely helped shape who I am today.

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