Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
We recently interviewed Mike Lieberman for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Mike and here’s what we discussed about –
1. Starting out in marketing – what worked and what didn’t
2. Technology’s impact on marketing – how things have changed in the last 20 years
3. Helping clients in their sales and marketing efforts through the Revenue Growth Methodology model
4. Using B2C strategies to more effectively target your B2B prospects
5. Increasing pipeline generation, revenue, and customer engagement as sales enablers
6. How to overcome common challenges small business owners face
About our host:
Johan Lievens is the podcasting host at Outgrow.co. He is a Fulbright scholar and a Harvard law grad, with a strong interest in teaching, training, and coaching that emphasizes active learning, empowerment, and group dynamics. He is the winner of VU Amsterdam’s Teacher Talent Award 2020.
About our guest:
Mike Lieberman is the co-founder, CEO, and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2, Inc., a professional services company providing marketing and sales strategy, tactical execution, analytics, and technology guidance for a diverse group of clients. Including software, consumer services, technology, travel, and information services, Lieberman has over 30 years of expertise managing marketing teams in a range of businesses.
EPISODE 096: Reimagining the Marketing and Sales Interaction to Maximize Growth
Johan Lievens: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Johan Lievins. And for this month we’re going to interview Mike Lieberman. Thanks for joining us, Mike.
Mike Lieberman: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Don’t have time to read? No problem, just watch the Podcast!
Or you can just listen to it on Spotify!
The Rapid Fire Round!
Johan Lievens: So Mike, we’re gonna start with a rapid-fire round just to break the ice. In this round, you get three passes. In case you don’t want to answer the question, you can just say pass, but it’s a rapid-fire so try to keep your answers to one word or one sentence only.
Mike Lieberman: Okay.
Johan Lievens: At what age do you want to retire?
Mike Lieberman: Three years from now.
Johan Lievens: How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Mike Lieberman: About half an hour.
Johan Lievens: If you could relive one specific moment of your life, which moment would you pick?
Mike Lieberman: Wow, that’s a good one. Relive a moment of my life, My wedding.
Johan Lievens: What is one thing you regret spending money on?
Mike Lieberman: I regret spending money on things I have to return.
Johan Lievens: If you could be transformed into one animal, which animal would you choose?
Mike Lieberman: An owl
Johan Lievens: Fill in the blank. An upcoming marketing or sales trend is ____________.
Mike Lieberman: Leaning on first-party data.
Johan Lievens: Who is your favorite Disney character?
Mike Lieberman: Well, Disney has many characters now. But if you’re going kind of historically, I’m gonna go with Pluto.
Johan Lievens: The city in which the best kiss of your life happened?
Mike Lieberman: Oh my God. I have to go with Philadelphia to keep my wife happy.
Johan Lievens: What are you most looking forward to?
Mike Lieberman: I am most looking forward to continuing to watch my kids grow up.
Johan Lievens: Pick one. Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk?
Mike Lieberman: Mark Zuckerberg.
Johan Lievens: Which element of your current life would your 12-year-old self think of as cool?
Mike Lieberman: I own my own business.
Johan Lievens: The biggest mistake of your career?
Mike Lieberman: Not starting my business sooner.
Johan Lievens: How do you relax?
Mike Lieberman: I watch a lot of TV.
Johan Lievens: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Mike Lieberman: Not too many. Maybe one.
Johan Lievens: And then the last one, what never fails to make you laugh?
Mike Lieberman: Hanging out with my friends.
Johan Lievens: Okay. You survived and no passes were used.
Mike Lieberman: No passes. You can’t pass on questions like that. They’re all good.
Johan Lievens: Yeah, they’re all good.
The Big Questions!
Johan Lievens: You quite elegantly came up with an owl. That’s your animal?
Mike Lieberman: The owl has been my animal for a long time. I’m fascinated with birds, but I especially like owls because I feel like my personality directly relates to owls. I ask a lot of questions. I am very curious about things before I make up my mind and make a decision. So the owl has always been an animal that I’m particularly connected to.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. That’s nice. Do you think it’s present in your work? Coz we’ll be talking a bit about your work.
Mike Lieberman: Well, yeah. I think it’s present in that I like to collect a lot of information before I make a decision. And even in working with clients, I like to have a lot of data in front of me to give them a well-informed decision. So I do think it’s related to what I do and what we do at Square 2 for sure.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Like an owl has an excellent overview, a nice collection of information before it takes.
Mike Lieberman: Well, owls are wise, right? Owls, you know, they’re very aware of their surroundings, right? They’re fierce yet, you know majestic in their persona. So I don’t know. I’ve always kind of like connected with that animal.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Okay. Wonderful. And you said the trend you see is leaning on first-party data. Correct?
Mike Lieberman: Yes.
Johan Lievens: Can you say a bit more?
Mike Lieberman: Yeah, I sure can. I’ve noticed over the past couple of years, a lot of companies that we come in contact with are enamored by the idea of being able to buy a list and start marketing with someone else’s list. And I’ve seen a lot of them run into a lot of trouble with that approach. We’ve done a lot of testing with that approach, and it hasn’t produced positive results. And there’ve been a lot of conversations and a lot of information written over the past year or so that is talking about this, the increased regulations, increased privacy, increased constraints that technology is putting on people who are purchasing data and leaning on that for their marketing. I am extremely encouraged that we may be going back to a time when the inbound approach was a lot more prevalent, where you have to earn attention, you have to earn your audience, you have to get people to opt-in to hear your story, and then you get the privilege of trying to convince them to come and do business with you. So, you know, when, HubSpot launched inbound back in 2008, I was a very big fan of the inbound approach, and I was very bullish on the idea that this could potentially change the way marketers market and it would become the de facto approach. Unfortunately, when the recession ended and people got into inbound, they realized that it was hard work. They realized that it takes a long time. They realized that you have to keep feeding the content machine and constantly optimize the performance of all these things that you put into play. I think a lot of people got impatient. And like I said, when the recession ended and budgets opened up, people dumped money into paid advertising, into paid social, into buying lists, and all these shortcuts that I think it’s kind of coming full circle now that perhaps those shortcuts were not the best way to go. Had they continued to build out their inbound muscle, they would’ve been far-far ahead of the game today. And I’m encouraged that we might be getting back to more of an inbound approach to things.
Johan Lievens: And you’re mentioning that it’s the legal interference with privacy laws and so on?
Mike Lieberman: I think that’s making it more complicated for sure. You know, I’m finding more people falling into spam traps. I’m finding more people getting in trouble with their technology providers. You know, I had somebody have their entire Google Suite shut off because they were sending emails to people that hadn’t requested them. So I just think it’s gonna get more and more complicated. It’s gonna get more and more challenging to try to take that approach. And, you know, I would like to see people stop looking for shortcuts and lean into doing it the right way. Yeah.
Johan Lievens: Okay. Do you have examples of companies that are doing it the right way already that you think are inspiring?
Mike Lieberman: Well I’d like to think the clients we work with are doing it the right way. But there are plenty of companies doing it the right way. Companies that are creating communities, you know, HubSpot is always like the poster child for doing it the right way. They are leaning into this idea of their community and encouraging people in their community to sign in and sign on and accept their content, right? Like there, you know HubSpot drives a ton of leads from their academy certification and training programs. So that’s a direct example of how someone is, putting training materials out there and helping their community get smarter around a whole host of topics. And in exchange for that, they have people’s contact information and they can now reach out to them and see if they’re interested in buying products and services. So I think there are not enough companies doing it like that, but I think you’ll see more and more people really leaning into that side of things.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. You used the word privilege a bit earlier. It creates a lot more respect in the relationship almost.
Mike Lieberman: It should. I mean, I spent most of my vacation unsubscribing from emails just because I hadn’t done it in a long time. I was looking at my inbox, it was cluttered with all kinds of stuff from companies that I didn’t ever do business with or hadn’t done business with in a long time. So I just, you know, as like a New Year’s resolution started unsubscribing to things to see how I could like whittle my inbox down. And if people start doing that, it’s gonna be harder and harder to get in touch with people. You have to earn my attention by providing me with something of value. And when I’m looking at the email and I’m like, do I want to hear from this company? Yes, I do. I respect what they have to say. There’s value in those emails. I’m not unsubscribing, but the people that just keep emailing me and emailing me, and I never open them up or I don’t find any value in what they’re showing me, I’ve been unsubscribing. So, yeah.
Johan Lievens: Okay. We’re already deep in the conversation now, but maybe can you take me back to how you started the field of marketing and sales, how you entered it, what’s your background and where you come from?
Mike Lieberman: Sure. So you wanna go way, way back, right? So yeah, I was a business major in college, nothing special. I had the fortune of going to a university that had a co-op program, which I don’t know if you know what that is, but we worked six months and went to school for six months and instead of being four years, it was five years. So I had three really solid jobs while I was in college. And pretty soon realized that I was a creative person. At one point I thought I wanted to be an architect that didn’t materialize, but I felt like marketing gave me a creative outlet in terms of the message and the story, and even some of the visual representations associated with marketing, branding, you know, logos, websites, those kinds of things. And I had one job, I worked in a sales organization kind of helping the sales team, and I was very excited about what was going on in sales. They were you know, like the fun people in the company and they were having good successes. And I saw it in a way that the company was very respectful of the sales team, and in some cases, maybe even cowed to them because they were making it rain to some extent. I was fascinated by that. My second job was in, like the MIS department of a bank. And I was like, this is horrible. I can’t wait to get out of here. I know this is not what I wanna do. So, you know, those co-op programs are helpful to find out what you don’t wanna do just as much as you do wanna do. And my last job, I worked for a regional, I guess I would call it like a regional chamber of commerce, but I was doing their email marketing, I was doing their newsletters, I was helping them with their events. And that was kind of where I realized like, yeah, this is pretty cruel. I can help sales, I can help the company grow by helping tell its story. And from there it was really like, I’m a lifelong marketer. My first job outta college was as a marketing director for Donna Bradstreet, which is a big information services company. And then I went to work for, you know, a travel management company also in marketing. And I’ve been in marketing my whole life. And I would say luckily my marketing jobs have always been very sales connected. So I never really found myself in like, corporate marketing at headquarters where I was disconnected from what was going on in the field. A lot of my marketing jobs were always designed to support sales, which I always liked. The salespeople always liked me because I would ask them, well, what do I need to do to help you sell more? And no marketers ever ask them if I would go on sales calls with them. And no marketers ever came on any calls with them. So I’ve always had a close connection with the sales team. And I think that formed my thinking around what marketing is supposed to do and how it fits into the overall, you know, the ecosystem in the company. And then, you know, 20 years ago I was in a corporate job. One of my lifelong friends said to me he had an ad specialties business. I don’t know if you know what that is or not, but they basically, have hats and t-shirts and stress balls and things with your logo on them. He said to me like my clients keep asking me for help with their marketing, and I know that’s what you do. Would you be interested in helping them a little bit with their business? And I said something like, well, look, I have a good job. I’m not interested in a side job here, but if you have clients who are asking you for help, maybe there’s an opportunity for us to start a business together. And that was the impetus for Square 2. We got together, we had some very specific things we wanted to do in the marketing space. We were huge fans of, and still are huge fans of Seth Godin. So we were like if we’re gonna create a company, it has to be remarkable. There has to be a free prize inside. We have to be purple cows. So when we started, we were always looking for things that would make us different from the other agencies that were out there. And even in the very beginning, we were anti-advertising. That was kind of our position. Like, we worked mostly with small and medium-sized businesses, so they couldn’t afford to advertise anyway. But we went in there and said, look, advertising’s not right for you. You’re a small company. You need to be more gorilla needs to be more one-to-one. You need to be more inbound. Even though at the time, inbound wasn’t even a thing. We were running inbound campaigns five years before HubSpot even put a name on it. And the rest is history. These companies flocked to us because they didn’t know what to do. We helped them. We did it all for them in the beginning. We even at one point delivered baskets to guests at a trade show because that’s what the client asked us to do. And over the years, we kind of refined our approach and refined what the agency did, refined our story. And, you know, here we are today.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. You already said in the rapid-fire, the thing you regret is not starting earlier.
Mike Lieberman: I do. Yeah.
Johan Lievens: If you had, coz it’s this year’s the 20th anniversary of Square2, right?
Mike Lieberman: That’s correct.
Johan Lievens: So if you had to advise the two of you starting 20 years ago, what one piece of advice would you love to send them teleportation-wise, back to the past?
Mike Lieberman: Well, we’ve always kind of had this concept of trying to stay ahead of the competition. And I think what I would’ve, what I would say to myself 20 years ago is don’t ignore that. And I think in a few situations over the past 20 years, we got a little complacent. We thought we were, you know, in a good spot only to find out that we really should have been doing other things to propel the business forward and keep us ahead of the competition. So that’s what I think I would say to myself then is always been working to make the business better. I did have a mentor at one point who taught me to create a business that could put me out of business. So I’ve used that phrase several times, but I don’t think I used it enough over the past 20 years.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. So you can still use it more in the future as well in the next 20 years.
Mike Lieberman: Well, we’re trying to get back around to that, but catching up is a lot harder than getting that ahead. So that’s what’s going on.
Johan Lievens: And if I turn the question, is there anything, well, there, there must be a lot. But if you have to pick one thing in 2003 that you were completely not aware would happen in the next 20 years, what’s the most surprising, astonishing thing that happened if you would look with the glasses of 20 years ago?
Mike Lieberman: You want me to look back 20 years and think about what, ask me the question again. I’m sorry. That was a little confusing.
Johan Lievens: No worries at all. If you take me into the shoes of you of 20 years ago, the Mike Lieberman of 2003, he’s looking into the future, he sees the horizon but doesn’t know what is coming. What has happened in those 20 years that was most surprising, most unexpected, most inspiring for that Mike Lieberman of 2003?
Mike Lieberman: I think the impact of technology on our space is something that I didn’t realize until HubSpot introduced it in 2008, 2009. I think being more aware of that and the impact it would have on what we do and how people think about marketing and sales would’ve been good to know earlier. Not that I think I would’ve created the HubSpot, you know, a HubSpot company earlier than they did. I like being in the agency space. You know, I’m not really interested in being in the software space, although I think it’s a better business to be in than the agency space. But I like working very directly with companies and clients and obviously software, you’re a little more removed from the day-to-day with them. But I think understanding the impact technology was gonna have would’ve helped us position the agency maybe a little differently sooner.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Okay. If we dive into the specific things that you offer, for instance, have a revenue growth methodology model. Yeah. Can you describe the model that you and your partner have developed and how it has helped your clients in their sales and marketing efforts?
Mike Lieberman: Yeah. So interestingly enough most businesses are run on systems and processes, right? How you hire people, how you onboard new employees, how you pay your bills, how you evaluate the financial performance of the company, and how you purchase a machine, right? Like many, many companies have these processes that they’ve established that they lean on, to keep the company running. And interestingly enough, when it comes to revenue, there is no system. There is no process. And companies around the world wonder, why is it so hard for us to hit our revenue goals. And I look at it and say, well, because you don’t have a system, there’s no process and methodology around how you go about doing that every single month. So I think Square2’s mission is to introduce a system to our clients, teach them the system, and in some cases help them execute the system in rose cases, help them execute the system. They don’t have the people, they don’t have the expertise, and they don’t have the bandwidth to do it on their own. So we step in and help them do it. As opposed to other agencies who I feel are kind of, you know, what do you need help with? You need a new website. We’ll build you a website. Okay, great. Now what? Well, we wanna send some emails out. Okay, we’ll send you an email. We’ll send some emails out for you. We need more presents on social. Okay, we’ll do some social posts for you. I prefer to take more of a holistic approach to it with them and find out what they’re trying to do from a business perspective. We wanna go from 10 to 15 million in revenue. Okay? Let’s, let’s break that down. In a great degree of detail.
Mike Lieberman: How many new clients a month? Is that, you know, what’s your attrition rate? You know, how much is each, are each of these new clients worth? What am I starting with? Like, how many people are coming to your website now, and how many leads are you currently getting now? And how many of those leads are sales opportunities? And how many of those sales opportunities are getting closed? And at what percentage? So we apply a lot of data and we build models for them. And then we understand the delta, right? So they’re currently here, thousand people to their website, two new clients a month. They want 20 new clients a month. Okay, I know I need 10 per a hundred times more people on the website. I need a much higher conversion rate. I need many more leads. I need to nurture those leads. I need to help their salespeople with the sales process and improve their close rate. And when you stack all those things up, you get a compounding factor that gets them to their 20 new clients a month. And with that kind of quantitative approach to it, we can then fill in the blanks. You need more people on your website. Great. We need to do more organic. We need to do more organic social, we need to do more influencers, we need to do more email, and we need to do more backlinks. We, you know, whatever we need to do to get that visitor number up. We know exactly what the delta is and, and what we need to do. We need more leads. Great. We need to create more content. We need to post that content. We need to nurture those people after they convert. You know, we, you’re gonna need technology. We need to apply, you know, a layer of technology to all this because it’s so much going on at the same time. One of two people can’t possibly keep it all going. So how does technology play into it? So we take a very holistic approach to it. And we have a strategy before tactics methodology as well, which succinctly means when I look at companies and their struggles, very rarely do I find that they have a good story or a compelling message. So we wanna build that in for them too. Who are you trying to get in touch with and what do you need to say to them that gets ’em emotionally engaged with your business? So what is your big story? Most B2B companies, which were B2B agencies, most B2B companies feel like the big story and the message is a B2C thing, right? I don’t need a good message. Nike needs a good message. I don’t need a good story. Pepsi needs a good story. Well, no, you’re trying to engage people just like they’re trying to engage people, and the people are coming to your website and those people need to hear something interesting about your business. The first 10 seconds they land on your website, and right now you’re telling them what you do and no one cares. So you have to create this story that gets them interested and excited. You have to feed them with content that gets them engaged. And then when they’re ready to talk to you, they’ll say, I’d like to speak to a sales rep because everything I’ve heard is so amazing and you seem to scratch my itch. And how do I work with you? That whole thinking is challenging for a lot of B2B business CEOs, and business owners, and we make that a specialty of ours.
Johan Lievens: I hear you say that a good B2B business also approaches things as a B2C does with, more engagement, with more seduction almost of all potential clients.
Mike Lieberman: I think the way people buy things, even in the B2B space has changed so dramatically that the answer to your question is yes, 100%. If you look back 10 years, the way B2B worked was they hired a ton of salespeople. Those salespeople made a ton of calls, and eventually, they uncovered an opportunity and they pursued it. Well, today, who are you calling? Where are you calling offices? People aren’t even in offices anymore. They’re working from their homes. They’re working from there, they’re working from Starbucks with, on their cell phones. So you can’t visit them, you can’t call them. Like, the world has changed from an out general outreach perspective. And it has become a little more like the B2C model where you have to be engaging your audience in a way in which they want to come back and engage with you. Right now in B2B, it’s well, let me visit their website and let me see what’s going on, and let me get some information from them in exchange for my email address. With B2B, it shows up at the store and picks the product off the shelf. So there’s a similar motion there, even though it’s a different outcome.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Okay. That’s clear. We’re talking a bit about sales enablement. That’s kind of what you do and what you help companies with. To what extent do you agree with this statement? As sales facilitators, we are responsible for increasing pipeline generation revenue and customer engagement.
Mike Lieberman: I agree a hundred percent with that. I think there’s a little more to that story than you’ve packaged up. And I believe that the little more is those salespeople have to be talking to the right people and getting them in front of the right people is marketing’s job. So I view it as marketing handles the first 75% of the buyer journey when people don’t want to talk to a salesperson because let’s be honest, you don’t wanna talk to salespeople. I don’t want to talk to salespeople until I am ready to talk to a salesperson, right? And the world has kind of enabled us to work like that, right? Like, I wanna buy something, I’m online, I’m researching it, I’m looking at the web, I’m looking at reviews. I’m talking to my friends, “Hey, did you buy this? Have you had an experience with this?” I’m here. You go on Amazon, and the first thing you do is look at all the reviews. If there are not a hundred 5-star reviews, you’re onto the next product. So, you know, the way we buy things is completely different. And in B2B it’s the same way when I’ve exhausted all my resources and I’m still interested, and now I need to speak to someone because I have very specific questions I need answers to that I can’t find on the website, I engage a salesperson. So I think that marketing has to do a good job leading up to that point where the buyer journey flips over to the sales team and then they have to deliver a similar experience to that prospect the same way. Like they can’t sell them something, they can’t try to convince them, they can’t try to force them to do something. They have to continue the educational process. What are you looking for? What’s going on in your business? How can I help you? What information can I provide you that’s gonna get you educated about this particular decision you’re about to make? And what is it gonna mean to your business to make a good safe purchase decision here? And, you know, let me be the trusted advisor. Let me be your sherpa, let me be your guide to coming out this on the other end with a good decision based on everything going on in your company.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. We are touching upon a couple of challenges that the businesses that you work with face. If I’d ask you in a more general way, what are the most common challenges that businesses face in terms of marketing and sales and how do you help them overcome them?
Mike Lieberman: Right there? There are probably two. Well, look, there’s a lot, right? But if I have to start at the top, I would say one of the major challenges is just changing. Like, we’ve never done it like this. I’ve never had a marketing company helping me do this. That’s scary, right? Budgeting is another challenge. I see a lot of people who, you know, want to go from zero leads to a hundred leads a month, and they’re willing to invest $2,000 a month. And I say to them, not happening. You have, you know, caviar dreams and a tuna fish budget and, you know, you have to make a choice. You can either reset your expectations to go from zero to five to start zero to seven to start, not zero to a hundred, or you have to invest more in it so we can do more to get you from zero to a hundred. It’s directly proportional to how much you’re willing to invest and work on something and what you expect to get out of it. I think those are two pretty big challenges. And the third one is, is patience and commitment to marketing. Today, people still view it as I’m gonna do this for a couple of months and see what happens. Not gonna work. I say to them, look, would you treat your finance like this? Like, I’m gonna manage the finances of the company for a couple of months and then take a three-month break because I don’t wanna do it anymore. Like, you would never do that. Yeah, you gotta market every day, every hour of every day that your company’s alive. You have to be marketing it. And it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. So just coz we start something today, don’t expect it to produce, you know, landslide results in 30 days. It might take you a year to get the kind of results you’re expecting. And I, in all honesty, I’m not exactly sure how long it’s gonna take. And I tell them the story. If I was their doctor and they came to me and they said, “Mike, I’m not feeling well”. And I said, okay. And I would diagnose them effectively, and I would say, “Okay, I know what’s wrong with you, and here’s your treatment plan”. And they would say to me, “well, Mike, when am I gonna feel better?” Honestly, I would’ve to say to them, I don’t know. I mean, everybody responds to this treatment plan differently. I’m comfortable that this is the right plan. You might feel better tomorrow in a month or three months. I don’t know. But we will have to monitor that and make adjustments to your treatment plan accordingly. As I start to dial it in, based on your specific DNA and your specific behaviors and your, you know, how you respond to the medication. Every person will be like, okay, that makes sense. But when it comes to marketing, they don’t look at it the same way, right? They’re like, what do you mean you don’t know? How come it’s not gonna happen tomorrow? Like, and unfortunately there are a lot of people in my industry who are making big promises and not delivering on those promises and kind of poisoning the well a bit for people who are trying to be honest with people and give them the truth about what they’re undertaking, which makes it a little more difficult.
Johan Lievens: If I stick a bit to your metaphor of medicine, do you often run into clients who you think, yeah, this might be one way to terminal disease? Like we can try treatment, but no guarantees.
Mike Lieberman: It’s a great question and I don’t know that I would say terminal, but you know what, I do run into a lot. I run into what I look at as potentially bad patients. So I’m gonna say to you, take your medicine exercise every day, stop eating fatty foods, and you’re gonna come back to me in a month and be like, doc, I don’t feel any better. And I’m gonna say, well, have you done the things I’ve asked you to do? And you say no. And I say, well, that’s why you don’t feel better. Right? So, you know, clients who are not gonna take our advice, clients that are not gonna, you know, invest properly, clients that are not gonna be responsive. I do see those kinds of scenarios more frequently than I would like. And I’d like to think the agency as a whole is getting better at identifying these earlier and saying, Hey, you know what? I don’t think you’re gonna be a good client for us. Let me recommend some other agencies that I think might be better suited for you and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. But so I also hear some confidence in what you say. If a business is willing to commit, in most cases, maybe all cases, you can help them reach the goal.
Mike Lieberman: I have 100% confidence that if people follow our plan and follow our advice and let us do what we have been doing for 20 years, I will be able to improve their business.
Johan Lievens: That’s beautiful. That’s a nice confident message. Yeah. What advice you’d have for small business owners who want to take their company to the next level? Is there anything that pops up?
Mike Lieberman: Well, I think small business owners have a unique set of challenges because they are doing it all themselves, you know, and what I would tell them is, you have to do marketing and also carve out a certain amount of time every week to work on it. Maybe two hours a week, three hours a week. It’s not a lot. If you schedule it as a reoccurring block of time that you commit to not stepping on, then you will start to accomplish things. It will be slow because you’re only putting a little bit of time into it and you’re doing it yourself. But, you know, just think about it. You know, I made some improvements to my website this week. I sent out an email next week to prospects. I sent an email out to customers in the third week. I upgraded all my social platforms in the fourth week.
Mike Lieberman: Like, if every month you’re making four, you know, nice upgrades or four activities around marketing every single week, you are gonna see movement in the right direction. Be patient, don’t give up, you know, look, I have a million of these metaphors, but it’s like dieting, right? If you go on a crash diet and then go off it, you’re gonna gain your weight back probably more than you have before. But when you change your lifestyle and you eat healthy all the time and exercise, you will lose weight and you will keep it off. And it’s kind of like that you have to make a commitment to this part of your business and work on it every single week and you will make progress.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. So you keep going back to diets and sports. I’ve seen on your LinkedIn, and on your professional page, you have a passion for physically challenging activities yourself. That’s right?
Mike Lieberman: I like to challenge myself. I don’t do it as much as I used to, but yeah, I do like to do challenging kinds of activities, for sure.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Like what?
Mike Lieberman: Well, I did a muni triathlon one time. I think it was a mile, half a mile swim, a 20-mile bike ride, and a five-mile run. That was exciting. I did a very long bike ride from like Pittsburgh to DC. So I just like doing those kinds of things. I’m an avid kayaker and a late lag. We play a lot of pickleball, so I’m trying to get better at that.
Johan Lievens: What is pickleball?
Mike Lieberman: Pickleball, you should Google it. It’s the fastest-growing sport in America. It’s kind of, if ping pong and tennis had a baby, yeah, it would be pickleball. So it’s played on a smaller tennis court with a whiffle ball, like a plastic ball, and a small, kind of bigger than ping pong, but smaller than tennis panel.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Okay. I’m still in the previous hype, I’m still starting to play padel.
Mike Lieberman: Yes, yes. It’s kind of similar to that. Yes.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. So you are a sportsman of some sort?
Mike Lieberman: Well, I like physical activity and I get bored easily. So just going on the treadmill every day and doing a five-mile treadmill run is not for me. I like the treadmill, like the peloton, and going outside. I like playing pickleball. Like I try to have as much diverse physical activity as possible because I tend to get bored easily.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. How do these physical activities relate to your work in marketing and business strategy?
Mike Lieberman: Well, as I said, I feel like there’s a lot there with, you know, dieting and just physical health in general, right? Like, unfortunately too many people look at marketing as this thing I’m going to do this year instead of this behavior the company has to have every day. So that’s why I try to relate it to that, like the weight loss industry is a mega-billion dollar industry for one reason and one reason only people pay to Diego off of it, gain the weight back again, and then go back to paying for their shortcut. And it never works. And the industry is banking on that because of human nature. We can’t stick to anything. We can’t change our habits. So we do these diets, we lose weight. We’re happy, but then we go off the diet coz we’re happy we gain the way back on, and we’re back on another diet. I think if people would just eat healthily and exercise every single day or, you know, a lot of times during the week, we would all be healthier. Like, watch what you put in your mouth and get, and make sure you’re getting some decent exercise all the time. You’re gonna lose weight, you’re gonna be healthy. You won’t need a special diet that you’re paying for. So, you know, a lot of that feels very similar to what goes on in marketing. I need to hire someone, it’s an emergency. We must generate more leads. Like, and then that doesn’t work out and they fire them, or they, and then they stop and nothing happens for six months and they wonder why their business isn’t growing or where they buy a piece of technology. Well, someone told me this technology is gonna help me generate more leads. Well, no, the technology is a hammer. If you don’t know how to use the hammer, you can’t build a house. So, you still need someone to help you use the technology to help you generate leads and grow your business. One thing that you buy is generally not going to satisfy this for you from a long-term strategic perspective. And I just wish more people looked at marketing like they look at finance like they look at operations like they look at HR and, and procurement, all these other areas. The companies have, you know, professional teams associated with them and systems and processes and established organizations. And marketing always feels like who wants to do marketing? Okay, you know, John, you’re not doing much else. You’re the new marketing guy at the company. Like, good luck, right? Like, that happens way too frequently, especially in small businesses. Like we do a lot of public speaking and when we, the group get together, we ask them how many people have a marketing person. Hardly anyone raises their hands. We say, how many people have half a marketing person? Everyone raises their hands because they took the office admin and said, Hey, you’re also now the marketing person. Like, go get me more leads. Like, it’s not gonna work. So it’s challenging to break that paradigm for sure. Yeah.
Johan Lievens: But so in that comparison for you, it also means the service you provide to a good client is a service that helps them to fly solo so that they don’t come back for please give me another trick and another trick. You help them fly.
Mike Lieberman: That is correct. We like to say, we teach ’em to fish. We like to say that eventually, they will fly from the nest and, and do it on their own. Some clients are successful in taking it in-house and doing it on their own. Other clients sometimes come back to us and say, Hey, you know what? You did get us set up and we made some progress, but when we tried to do it ourselves, we were not as successful and we would just like you to help us with this. So, I’m okay with that. But I do like that we’re not just getting them addicted to crack, but trying to teach them something and trying to get them in a situation where they can run their own sustainable lead, lead generation effort on their own.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Your mantra, according to your LinkedIn is to be bold and mighty forces will follow. How do you apply that in your professional and personal endeavors?
Mike Lieberman: Yeah, so, you know one of the core values of Square2 is no fluff, which is like, be direct and tell people what you think. All the times that I have been bold in situations where maybe it would’ve seemed more obvious to be more passive, I’ve been rewarded. So with clients I’m like, look, this is not the right thing to do. It’s your business, do what you want, but my strong recommendation is don’t do this. Right? So that would be an example of how I might be bold with them. And, you know, when they take our advice, they are generally rewarded and so are we. Right? So I think in a lot of situations I have been rewarded many more times than burned by being bold and my mighty force following. I think people appreciate you when you’re bold and you’re telling them what you think. I am probably not everybody’s cup of tea in terms of the people I run into. Some people probably find me arrogant or aloof, you know, if they don’t know me well, I think the people that have gotten to know me realize I am not those things. But on the surface, it might look like I could be like that. But I tend to try to follow that as best I possibly can. Yeah.
Johan Lievens: We’re at our last question and that’s a bit of a personal question. What would you be doing in your life, if not this?
Mike Lieberman: It’s a really good question and I have changed that answer several times over the past couple of years. But I think if I was doing something different, I would be a chef at a nice gastro pub.
Johan Lievens: Yes.
Mike Lieberman: Yes. I don’t wanna do fine dining, but I do wanna make fun food that people love, comfort food that people are really happy to eat and happy to talk about. And I think that would be very satisfying to me to be giving people that cool culinary experience.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. A facilitator of connection?
Mike Lieberman: I guess so. Sure.
Johan Lievens: Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Mike.
Johan Lievens: Thanks, everyone for joining us for this month’s episodes of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Mike Lieberman. Check out square2marketing.com for more details about their work. And we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month. Thank you, Mike.
Mike Lieberman: Thanks for having me. This was great. Appreciate.