by Catherine Brinkman
In the age of the Internet LaMarr R. Jones is a hard man to research. For someone that works in the entertainment industry and promotes others, he does little to promote himself. LaMarr isn’t hiding. He isn’t fake. He knows what he is doing. Meaning he is a referral man.
A referral man is someone that is so good at their game, they don’t have to solicit for new business. LaMarr’s clients run in a circle of serial entrepreneurs. When a friend of so and so asks, “How did you pull that venture off?” Lamarr’s name comes up. For sales people that means when that friend calls asking for a meeting, it is a pre-qualified lead.
Moxye had an opportunity to sit down with LaMarr R. Jones, the Founder & CEO of ELJAY Pictures to learn more about how he became a referral man. He shared some insight on how he weathered various economic storms to keep standing to earn his strong client base.
Looking back how did the lessons you learned as a young person help get you where you are today?
I was the oldest of three growing up in Dayton, Ohio. I had two younger sisters. The role of playing big brother stuck. It propelled me and influenced how I viewed being an entrepreneur. I was responsible for others. When you are in a quote unquote salary position you worry about yourself. When you are an entrepreneur you are responsible for yourself but also responsible for others. At 25 I was responsible for my team, clients, investors and I wasn’t uncomfortable in this position being the oldest of 3.
Why did you select Morehouse?
I visited with some Alumni. It fit. I knew it almost instantly. Morehouse prides itself on black male leadership. It turned out to be everything and more. Leadership, brotherhood and the perfect platform for the next stage of my life. Some of my most important relationships are through Morehouse.
You got recruited by CitiBank after graduating from Morehouse and ended up in London and Silicon Valley for a few years. Looking back on those experiences how did they prepare you for your later ventures?
Menlo Park (Silicon Valley) was interesting. I was there 2000-2001 just at the tail end of the dot com boom. In a lot of respects, I got there too late. In some ways, it was the right time. It sparked the entrepreneurial side. Coming from Wall Street, there is a path. It is very siloed, and it would take 15 years to gain the confidence and understanding to do more. The culture in the valley is that you don’t have to wait 15-20 years to run a business.
You left Silicon Valley and came back in New York City in late 2001. Upon your return you co-founded GFC Entertainment Group. What sparked the shift from Private Equity to entertainment?
Literally when I talk about luck. I came back to New York, interviewed with a private equity firm and for the first time in my adult life I had more free time. I was able to explore New York’s night life. That is wasn’t a healthy option for young urban professionals. There are high-end New York City events or events for the ad agency executive that just graduated from college. I started to produce my own events.
You didn’t like what events were out there, so you started your own events. Nice. How did you get people to attend?
I explored market opportunities for events, one event at a time. I saw it as a media business, first and foremost. I never looked at it as an event business. This was early 2000s. I had a website and I collected data. Name. Email. Zip code. Favorite Drink. From that data I found that most guys at my events liked Hennessey. I took the numbers to Hennessey and said ‘We need to do a partnership. Here is my data.’
Then you changed mediums, from live entertainment to filmed entertainment. Why?
A lot of that had to do with seeing the media opportunity. An event is a singular thing. It is finite, 4-6 hours. There is no revenue opportunity outside of that. Make a film or TV show…..You are still watching Friends and The Cosby Show. It is a different business model.
You’ve created one success after another. With some of your other companies you learned to hand the reigns over to others. This allows you to create a new company. You’ve been at the helm of ELJAY Pictures for a while. Why?
I didn’t realize until now that ELJAY is 12 years old. ELJAY may end up like a few of the others with someone else running them. I consult with other serial entrepreneurs and this side of my business has taken off in recent years.
Tell me about the consulting side.
How do you filter through an opportunity? How do you follow on from one success to the next? What projects do you pick? Lawyers, advertising executives and doctors can create a revenue stream but what is the follow up on that success? What do you do with all the money? You need a co-hustle. I work with people that have already achieved success. My clients are people that still have their day jobs, but need a little help managing co-hustles. Like a music producer that wants to invest in tech but is in a studio half way the world away from Silicon Valley.
You need money to make money. And you need money…. are you still prospecting for clients?
No. Everything is a referral.
80% of your business should come from referrals! Sales 101. Let’s switch it up. It isn’t arrogant. It’s fact. When you reach a certain skill level people know you. There are times it is flattering when people ask to meet with you. You are selective with whom you meet with. Why?
I want the right person calling me. It needs to be someone who has already had success and wants to follow their first success. I could talk to hundreds of people about their opportunities, but I want my clients, satisfied with their results, to send me referrals.
You can learn more about ELJAY Pictures at www.eljaypictures.com.
About the writer: Catherine Brinkman has a sales career spanning 2 decades. She has won numerous awards including Rookie of the Year and Silver Sales Associate for Dale Carnegie, a global training company. In early 2016, Catherine started her own consulting business, partnering with sales and marketing teams to increase revenue. She works with everyone from Silicon Valley giants to small startups. She has a fun, comic approach to her consulting, having studied satirical writing at The Second City. She can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @catbrinkman
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