The Insider Series: Q&A with Mike Lieberman, Square 2 Marketing

By | November 28, 2012
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This post is part of the Insider Series, which is designed to feature professionals in our industry, offer business insight and discover new paths in the agency world.

Mike LiebermanMike Lieberman (@Mike2Marketing) is the co-founder and president of Square 2 Marketing, a Philadelphia-based inbound marketing agency. He has more than 20 years of experience leading marketing organizations in a variety of industries.  

Mike and his co-founder Eric Keiles coined the concept Reality Marketing™ to describe how businesses utilize cost-effective marketing tactics to achieve dramatic business growth. He is the author of the popular Remarkablog, and a frequent guest blogger and speaker.

Q&A with Mike Lieberman

MAI: What are the origins of Square 2 Marketing?

Mike: Square 2 Marketing started in 2003 with the mission to help businesses think differently about how they are marketing their companies. We considered ourselves the anti-ad agency because we knew that traditional marketing methods like TV, print, radio, cold calling and trade shows were too expensive, didn’t deliver ROI and were interruptive tactics.

Back then, the term inbound marketing didn’t exist but we’ve been practicing it, in our own way, for almost 10 years.

MAI: Can you explain your Reality Marketing methodology, and how it impacts your agency’s services?

Mike: We believe strongly in what we call “strategy before tactics.” What that means is if you jump into website design, landing page development, copywriting or any specific tactic without a complete understanding of who the personas are, what challenges they have, how you solve those challenges and how you do it differently, you’re wasting your money.

Reality Marketing helps us create a very strategic approach to our client’s engagements that ensures we know exactly who the people are that we want to talk to with our marketing, where they hang out, what blogs they read, what emails they subscribe to, what associations they are members of and more.

Reality Marketing also helps us focus the messaging correctly. We know that our clients don’t care about us; they only want to know how we are going to help them. That approach is the same for all of our clients. Their prospects only care about how they are going to benefit. They don’t care how many people work for the firm, how long it has been in business or the size of  the building—but typically that’s what people talk about in their marketing because that’s what they know and that’s what’s easy.

So, as far as services go, we blend Reality Marketing and Inbound Marketing services together to make sure that our clients’ inbound marketing programs are built on foundations of strong marketing strategy that will move prospects to want to do business with them.

MAI: How does your agency approach business development and sales? What tips do you have for other agencies?

Mike: We practice what we preach at Square 2 Marketing. That means we only do inbound marketing. The result is all the inbound leads we can handle — half from the Internet and the other half from speaking and referral networks. This gives us the opportunity to sort through leads and drive our business forward.

We have a very defined process that includes a preliminary Discovery Call, a more detailed Diagnostic Meeting, and a Design Meeting where our recommendations, pricing and agreements are provided to prospects. Our goal at the Design Meeting is very clear. They have to leave that meeting saying, “We have to hire this company.” Everything we do during the marketing and sales process is designed to create that comment.

My advice for other agencies is to create a process and stick with it. Even if you adjust it regularly, you have to always be selling, you have to always be marketing and most importantly you must have something interesting to say.

MAI: What do you think the future holds for marketing agencies?

Mike: I think the future of marketing is inbound marketing. But that doesn’t mean you can slap an inbound marketing label on your website design or  development company and take advantage of the wave towards inbound marketing. It means you have to be an inbound marketing practitioner. You have to embrace the new methods and actually figure out how to configure a program that generates leads for clients.

Inbound marketing makes us all much more accountable for the performance of our recommendations. In the old days, you could deliver a website or an ad campaign, and the client would be happy. Today, you have to generate leads. If you don’t, you’re out. Today, you have to know exactly how to generate those leads, and it’s just not about software. It’s about cracking the code so that they get more leads than they know what to do with.

MAI: What’s your long-term vision for Square 2 Marketing?

Mike: We are growing very quickly, but we are planning on accelerating that growth in 2013. Specifically, we are looking for other agencies that want to join us in our mission to be the largest and most successful inbound marketing agency in North America. We believe that we have the business development, client services and inbound marketing expertise to “crack the code,” create innovative new products and be positioned to sell inbound marketing services to clients of all sizes—small, medium and large.

We aren’t looking for a lot of agencies, just a select few who share our vision, want to be part of something bigger and want to help grow a company into an industry leader. Our website has some additional information about this opportunity.

Mike Lieberman is the founder of Square 2 Marketing. He can be reached by email at mike@square2marketing.com, Twitter at @Mike2Marketing or at 215-491-0100. He is available to anyone who wants to chat about the industry, its direction, inbound marketing, specific marketing tactics, pricing, new business development or a topic of your choosing.