Sometimes the best things in life come from trials and tribulations. For Dominica Lumazar, her company Sweet D Marketing was born out of the frustrations she experienced from working with a marketing firm that took advantage of her first company.
Established in 2010, Lumazar created Sweet D Marketing in the Silicon Valley where she was able to find a wealth of startups and existing companies in need of her growing expertise.
Now, nine years into her career as a marketing expert, Lumazar is a highly sought-after consultant who has helped her clients collectively gross over a billion dollars in revenue.
It has been a long road to the top for Lumazar, but her experiences have given her unique insights into what businesses, big and small, must do to reach success.
Who is Dominica Lumazar?
I’m a business and marketing consultant who is passionate about helping business owners reach their highest potential by empowering them with tools and proven strategies to help them grow.
For over a decade, I’ve consulted and worked with entrepreneurs and business owners to achieve their marketing and business goals. I’m known for helping companies break through their growth plateaus. I’m also a dedicated wife and mom.
Living in the Silicon Valley, I’ve worked on projects with some of the largest names in tech, such as Apple and Google, but have also consulted in a wide variety of industries, including online retail, food service, the semiconductor industry, the music industry, pet care, health and wellness, and the fitness industry. I’ve helped authors, musicians, and coaches…the list goes on.
What was your background in marketing prior to getting the company off the ground?
Before finding my passion for business and marketing, I studied music. I have always had an ear for music but never truly understood how analytical it was until I found jazz. I went through rigorous music training, which helped me develop a more analytical mindset, not just in regard to music, but in life. This analytical perspective has been extremely helpful in providing my clients with the results they desire. While studying music, I started a company called Love Bird Chocolates with my sister in 2007 and quickly became the number one vegan and raw chocolate company on the west coast. Our unique chocolates have been featured in magazines, such as Edible and Find Bliss, and sold at specialty boutiques all across the United States.
Our handmade truffles were sold at Whole Foods Market and A-list celebrities became frequent customers. Through a lot of hard work, I learned all about the retail space as well as the specialty food market. When we first started Love Bird Chocolates, I hired a company to build a new website with all of my personal savings. It was heartbreaking when I learned that I had been taken advantage of by a marketing firm who never delivered the website that was promised. They took the money and ran. I suppose this was the moment the seed was planted to create what I’ve built today.
With zero marketing budget left, I had to figure out how to do the marketing on my own. That motivated me to take online courses for website design and social media marketing.
While building the chocolate company, I also formed the band Forever Yours with musician and entrepreneur Rory Carruthers. We had to figure out the most effective way to get the best return on our investment. That meant keeping the brand development and online marketing efforts in house. Rory had a background in marketing, so he shared his knowledge and put me on the path to discovering my love for marketing. I became completely engrossed and studied everything I could find on digital marketing. In a short period of time, I became a sought-after marketing expert. The success with Love Bird Chocolates led to other specialty food companies reaching out for help with their own branding and marketing efforts. That experience gave me the confidence to start my own marketing company, which turned into Sweet D Marketing.
Just like other start-up companies, Sweet D Marketing has experienced its ups and downs over the course of the last decade. Sweet D Marketing was initially set up as a one-woman operation, but it quickly developed into something much larger. Lumazar stresses that many of her clients have the same previous experience she had of working with marketing firms that failed to live up to their promises.
How has the company grown and what were some of the challenges along the way?
I knew that if I was going to scale my business, I needed to start networking with like-minded individuals. And where better to find entrepreneurs and business owners who need marketing assistance than in Silicon Valley? In 2013, my husband and I decided to make the move to San Jose, California.
I quickly caught the attention of the startup community, and people were seeing the results that I was yielding for my clients. Within three weeks of moving to San Jose, my business became a six-figure, one-woman operation. It was only a matter of a few days before I hired my team, who are still with me to this day, so that I could continue to grow my business.
Not to say that success has always come easy. I’ve faced, and continue to face, my fair share of challenges. As you can imagine, being in such a lucrative area, there are plenty of so-called “marketers” out there taking advantage of clients. I know firsthand how challenging it is to be on a limited budget as a new business owner and how terrible it feels to be taken advantage of by someone you are trusting with your business. It’s unfortunate that my job is often looked at as one similar to a stereotypical used car salesman. It’s no surprise the majority of my clients come from working with prior marketing individuals who over-promised and never delivered. It can be challenging to rebuild trust between the client and the idea of a marketing team who truly has their best interest at heart. On a more technical level, a significant challenge has always been a shift or change in algorithms in search engines and social media platforms. There have been many times where I thought I had a campaign dialed in, where it was providing excellent results, when suddenly, the algorithm would shift, and I would have to go back to the drawing board.
That being said, I’m continually staying on top of the latest technology and trends to get my clients the best possible consistent results.
What type of companies are more enjoyable to work with, established brands or startups, and why?
I enjoy working with both, but for different reasons. For startups, it can be such an exciting time for all who are involved and being in that environment can be invigorating.
For already established companies, it’s gratifying to watch business owners and CEOs learn something new. It’s almost like watching a kid in a candy store for the first time. Whether that’s showing them how to navigate their Google Analytics or how to respond to messages on social media, there’s always a spark in their eye when they recognize the positive impact this new understanding can have on their business.
Sweet D Marketing has worked on a large number of projects and campaigns for clients. Designing the perfect campaign isn’t an easy task, but through her side by side work with clients, she is able to craft individualized marketing strategies to meet their unique needs. Lumazar’s campaigns have consistently exceeded her clients’ expectations.
As a marketing specialist, how do you go about crafting the right campaign for a client?
When designing the perfect campaign, the first thing I focus on is the who. Who are we going to be talking or selling to? This is also referred to as the target audience. Once I’m clear on who we want to get the message in front of, I review the brand and brand messaging. I gather relevant information to determine if the imagery, language, or copy will be effective in obtaining the result we’re after.
Next, I decide what type of advertising campaign it will be. Are we wanting clicks, engagement, or impressions? How will we measure results or determine what equals a conversion? This is ultimately how the success of a campaign is evaluated. From there, I start testing. There are no failed campaigns as long as we continue to learn from them. Time after time, we reach and often exceed my clients’ ROI expectations by following this process.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite clients or projects you’ve worked on?
When the opportunity presents itself, I like working with clients who are in a market that I’m not familiar with. I enjoy being able to enter into a whole new niche and learn the best possible way to reach that company’s target audience. It makes me have to think outside the box and keeps me learning. For my clients, it provides a fresh approach that another marketing firm may have overlooked. As for a company that’s been a favorite of mine, this brings to mind my client Snug Pet Resort. They are the premier pet resort in San Diego, California that provides dog training, boarding, daycare, spa services, and veterinary care. At the time I was hired, other than having my own pets, I was not familiar with the pet industry at all. Snug Pet Resort trusted me to get them the results they needed. This is a company that has been around a long time, and they handed me the reigns to take care of all of their online marketing needs. It’s been so much fun managing their campaigns. I mean, who wouldn’t love a job that requires you to look through kitten and puppy videos? They have been one of my favorite clients to date!
Lumazar has worked with a variety of companies since opening Sweet D Marketing in 2010. There have been times her work has been made far more difficult by certain businesses and their lack of marketing clarity. But through her understanding and evaluation, Lumazar has been able to refocus and clarify the brands.
What are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when marketing their services?
First, the marketing message is not clear. Second, their brand isn’t consistent. If a business owner cannot explain their business to me in one sentence or less, then the brand message is not clear enough. Brand inconsistency is a company killer. It’s imperative to select your mission, your colors, your voice, and stick to it! It’s concerning to me when someone shares their business plan, and after talking for half an hour, I’m still wondering what they are offering, and what their potential buyer is going to receive. If a company doesn’t solve a problem, enhance their customer’s lifestyle, allow someone to have more time, or save money, then they should rethink their business model. Another mistake is not staying customer-focused.
Many times, companies will get wrapped up in the bottom line and start cutting corners, especially with marketing. That’s a big mistake. It’s important to not only keep your marketing going but to design a marketing campaign in such a way that makes the target audience want to invest in the brand in some way, whether that’s with their emotions, time, or money. The goal is to connect with the potential customer, let them know what they are going to be receiving or what problem the company or brand is solving. Potential customers want to know what they are getting in five seconds or less. This just scratches the surface of how I evaluate my clients’ brands.
Why is hiring a marketing strategy company so important?
Being a business owner can be overwhelming, and oftentimes, we don’t know when to ask for help. When we take the time to put a marketing strategy and reporting systems in place, we are able to fully step into our company and lead confidently. Hiring a marketing consultant to help you navigate through this ever-changing digital world can be the secret strategy to making your business successful.
Sometimes we are too close to the business. It’s good to call in someone like myself who can have an outside perspective and provide a clear and actionable plan to put in place to keep your business customer-focused and consistent. When you have someone that you can be honest and vulnerable with to discuss your fears and concerns about your business, you can start to identify patterns and address some of the things that may have fallen by the wayside.
Simple things, like understanding how to read a profit and loss report, will allow a business owner to start to see where the focus may need to shift. Or taking the time to review your Google Analytics so that you know if your website actually converts and provides the results you’re wanting. You may find that a product you never thought twice about is actually your best seller. The amount of knowledge we can gain and learn from having these systems put in place with proper tracking can be a game changer.
Sweet D Marketing focuses our efforts on digital marketing, knowing we can help our clients reach a broader audience that way. Whether you have a brick and mortar business or an online-based business, it’s essential to have a solid online presence.
Lumazar has taken her knowledge and experience and written her first book, Empowered: The Business Owner’s Guide to Leadership and Success. The book addresses various issues for business owners no matter if they are a first time entrepreneur or a veteran. Lumazar’s expertise will give any level of business owner insight they need to succeed in the business world.
If you could give advice to a startup looking to connect with new clients and customers, what would it be?
Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Read the room and know who you’re talking to. Also, being in the start-up phase can be a bit isolating, so I encourage you to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs, to go to conferences, join your local chamber of commerce, and reach out to similar or complementary companies for cross-promotion opportunities.
Connecting with social media groups is a fantastic way to network as well. Think twice about what you post online, because even if you take the time to go back and delete something, once it’s posted, it’s always out there.
Before posting, think about how something might affect you or your business many years down the line.
Remember that there are a lot of other startups out there wishing they were in your position. Work hard and stay humble. If you were blessed with funding, don’t go spending it on ping pong tables; instead, invest in qualified individuals who share your same goals.
What is the number one thing that sets you apart from the other digital marketing agencies?
I started my first business at a young age, so I’ve had plenty of time to make my own mistakes. I use my own experiences from proven business models, successful campaigns, and take what I’ve learned to help my clients save time and money. I only take on clients whose projects I believe in and who I know I can deliver results to.
I also tailor everything to each business or individual. I genuinely want to see my clients succeed, and I advocate for their success every step of the way. I want to make certain that whomever I bring on as a client will receive the best possible results from working with Sweet D Marketing.
That means that my clients don’t have to call a 1-800 number to get in touch with someone to answer their questions. It doesn’t matter that I’m the CEO, they can contact me directly.
What is next for Sweet D Marketing?
I’ve been focused on writing a book that reveals the different strategies that I share with my clients on a daily basis. My clients have experienced such massive transformations and improvements with their businesses that I felt compelled to share my insights with others who can benefit from a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of what makes a business successful.
Empowered: The Business Owner’s Guide to Leadership and Success speaks to the novice entrepreneur as well as the seasoned business owner.
It addresses big-picture components of a business, such as brand messaging and company culture and also delves into understanding business fundamentals in a way that allows the reader to feel empowered to make the best, most informed choices as a business owner.
Empowered encourages business owners to fully step into their leadership role and own it.
Lumazar has been working hard for other companies for years. Her insights have led to immense growth for clients, and Sweet D Marketing shows no signs of slowing down. Lumazar is now sharing her wisdom with business owners all over the globe. It is that wisdom that has made Lumazar and Sweet D Marketing a go-to firm for companies to reach new and existing clients.
Lumazar may not currently be making music or playing in a band, but she is delivering the sweet sounds of success to those she works with. Dominica has generously offered to give our readers a digital copy of her book Empowered: The Business Owner’s Guide to Leadership and Success. To receive your free digital copy, go to https://TheEmpoweredBook.com/totalprestige
For more information about Dominica and Sweet D Marketing visit www.sweetdmarketing.com
By Drew Farmer.
Images courtesy from Nick Wolf Photography and Dezirae Webster