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Ep. 129 – Ramon Ray’s best advice for entrepreneurial business success: “I’m all about relationship building.”

Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray’s Show Notes

Ramon Ray is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker who loves burnt pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

He is the founder of Smart Hustle Media and has started four companies (two of which he has sold). Ramon has authored four books. His latest book is “The Celebrity CEO: How Entrepreneurs Can Thrive by Building a Community and a Strong Personal Brand.”

Ramon has been invited as an expert witness to the United States Congress. He has also been invited by the Office of the President of the United States to speak at the White House on personal branding. Additionally, he has produced many events including the “Smart Hustle Small Business Conference,” “Small Business Summit,” “Small Business Technology Tour,” “Small Biz Big Things” and more.

Ramon’s expertise is in technology, marketing, sales, business startups, and growth. His favorite topic is personal branding.

He interviewed President Barack Obama during the President’s first live Google Hangout and was part of the US Delegation to India, led by Ivanka Trump, for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Most passionate about

  • I love what I do. I educate business owners on how to start and grow their businesses. I’m neither a consultant nor a coach. We have events, we have online content, we have blog posts and a podcast.
  • I also work with leading brands, both small and large, to help represent them and add credibility and authenticity to their messages. We might help those brands create content. I can also speak at their events, host their live videos, etc.
  • I have a community of business owners. I work with brands and help them better reach their target audiences. And I love it every single day.
  • My secret wish? Some of your audience may know Steve Harvey. He’s kind of like Oprah Winfrey, except he’s a guy … so, my goal is to have my own TV show. Even though TV is kind of dying, I still want to have my own TV show. This is my only goal.

Ramon’s career

  • From a young age, I was fascinated by technology. When I became an adult, it stayed with me and I discovered the Internet. So, I’m a geek…
  • Then I discovered that you could put content online. I’ve been blogging since 1991.

Ramon’s customers

  • On the one hand is the community that I serve. We don’t make as much money from them; it’s not a big revenue driver. I like to call this community “Smart Hustlers.” They look like me. There are companies that are not trying to be billion-dollar venture-backed companies. We specialize in those that want to be profitable but live a great life.
  • On the other hand is, of course, the brands. Every global brand, or even a smaller brand, that is spending money to market to small businesses is our potential client.

Ramon’s best advice for approaching customers

  • What are you doing to get attention? What are you doing to get leads? What are you doing to convert these leads into customers?
  • This is half of the equation: attention to attract the leads and convert them into customers.
  • The second half is: How are you different? How are you special?
  • A third thing is the long-term game. I’m all about relationship-building.
  • Of course, we all need to eat. So, first, do whatever you need to do to get food and provide for your family. But if you have some revenue getting in, go for the long-term game. Build relationships.

Biggest failure with a customer

  • Everybody has failures. Some are more catastrophic than others. This is a more recent failure. I think that I haven’t been focusing on leadership in my business as much as I’ve been focusing on what I call “Speed & Feed”: Twitter, Facebook, retargeting, AI, bots, and the like, which are important. However, now I’m more focused on things that no one else can do. The failure is that I wish I had done this before.
  • The second is very tactical. I do events. I tried to expand an event that I’m doing to California. And … it didn’t work! I lost $15,000, only a handful of people came (not the 100+ I thought), the sponsors were a little annoyed, and the brands were upset. I was frustrated. It was a failure. And a lesson.
  • I want to share another failure from last night and something I just thought about. Maybe those who aren’t failing are too comfortable; maybe they aren’t willing to take reasonable risks for the sake of their businesses.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach

  • My first success was winning the Google and YouTube contest. I was chosen to interview President Obama during the first years of his presidency. Google picked only five people out of 300,000 who entered the contest. I won because of the question I chose, which was about Obama’s plans for small businesses in the US.
  • I was interviewed three or four times before they picked me as one of the five. I believe that, in addition to the question, what helped me win was the art of communication, of fun. It’s the voice. It comes down to that blend of “How do you make people feel?” You can telegraph excitement, happiness, passion, confidence.
  • One of the biggest successes for me was when a lady called and said, “Ramon, I know you eat burnt pancakes and bacon every Saturday morning. We watch your videos and we want you to come and host this big event with this billion-dollar brand.” That’s a success – how I’ve earned tens of, or even a hundred, dollars through content!

Recommendation of a tool for customer focus, marketing, or sales:

  • I think there are two parts to the question. One is the tool, but more important than the tool is how you’re using it.
  • I found that the biggest goal for my business has been following up: follow up, follow up, and follow up! So that’s the purpose behind most of the tools I use.
  • I use Magisto for video creation. I did it just yesterday. I pulled together some images from an event and Magisto automatically added sound and transitions to the video. Then I used Audacity to record my voice as a voice-over. I next used Adobe to bring in the video from Magisto and blend it with the voice over to create a second video.
  • I talked about the importance of following up. There are several tools for follow-up. I use Asana. It has a free version, but I’m a firm believer in paying for things if they are worth it. Many other tools compete with Asana. I love using Asana blended with other productivity tools. I’m a Master of my email tool and with a calendar.
  • Regarding customers, I’m a firm believer in email marketing and marketing automation. I use Infusionsoft (now called Keap) for my fan building, my community nurturing. If-Than-That: If they don’t do something, Then Do That.
  • Other marketing automation tools are Salesforce, HubSpot, ZOHO, and Mailchimp. I use the ZOHO tool for my deals.

Ramon’s key success factor

  • For me, it’s the ability to build genuine relationships with people and to let people KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST me. That’s the absolute key to my success: Relationship, Relationship, Relationship.

Ramon’s mountain

Because we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain, I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?

  • I want to climb a mountain, but I haven’t climb a real mountain. However, I have climbed a Rock Wall, and that was a pretty cool experience. I know that mountain climbing can be tough.
  • Rock climbing is an interesting experience, like some aspects of mountain climbing:
    • One – You have to start!
    • Two – There is danger!
    • Three – Sometimes, you get the support of others, and sometimes you have to go alone.
    • Four – It is scary!
    • Five – Don’t look down so much. Look up and Keep going

Ramon Ray - Rock Climbing


Ramon Ray’s Book

The best way to contact Ramon

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post”“When I had to quit AT&T and go out on my own, that was one heck of a mountain to climb!”
  3. Former interview: Deborah Mills-Scofield: “One of the three tenets I live by is: ‘Rush to discover, don’t rush to solve!’”


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