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EP. 015 – Erik Huberman, Forbes 30under30, Inc. Magazine’s Top 25 Marketing Influencers and a 2016 Telly Award talks about building a $30 Million company in three and a half years


Erik Huberman Show Notes

Erik Huberman is Founder & CEO of Hawke Media, a full-service Outsourced CMO based in Santa Monica, CA that has been valued at $30 million. As a serial entrepreneur and brand marketing expert, Erik is a sought-after thought leader. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Forbes 30under30, Inc. Magazine’s Top 25 Marketing Influencers, and a 2016 Telly Award.

Most passionate about today

  • I’m running Hawke Media; it is like an outsourced CMO and marketing team for companies. We are about 95 people in Santa Monica and it’s about growing companies so I was fortune enough to build a business around doing that. I have a business where I grow by growing others so it’s been very fun.
  • We are continuing to grow and build. We already have become a mid-size agency; we are three and a half years old, so it’s growing very fast and we want to build this new guard of how we can help companies. I started that because I felt that the marketing agencies model is broken, and that there should be an easier way for growing your business that wasn’t hiring a full team or having a hired lead agency and thanks we didn’t know what they are doing and that’s how we started, we started with 7 people, three and a half years ago. It’s going to be three and a half years old in a week and we are 95 plus people.

Your company

  • First, there are no long term contracts, everything is month to month because if we aren’t doing good work, you can fire us. I always felt that way, on the brand’s side. I’ve had three of my own e-commerce brands, and I never understood why people would try to lock people into such long contracts. I mean, I understood why, excuse me; it just didn’t make sense for the customers, and it was one and only industry that wasn’t focus around the benefit of the customers, so I didn’t like it.
  • Number two, having enough services and different options in terms of different expertise that you don’t have to drown around to different agencies.
  • And then one of the biggest differentiation is having high level experts working on every account so we’re able to continue to drive and pivot healthy companies, not just the first time we talk with them, but on an ongoing bases.

Who your customers are?

  • Our customers are about 70% ecommerce, 20% software companies. It’s people to grow their revenue on using different marketing. We work with about 160 different brands.
  • Our customers are anyone that needs our help. That’s the beauty of what we do, small companies need this because they can’t afford hiring an in-house team, and large companies need this because they need extra bandwidth when products come up. We are able to work with any size company. We work with startups working from their garages to Alibaba, Red-Bull, and Verizon. Because they all need help from people like us, with very specific expertise of email marketing, Facebook, search, SEO, or web design.
  • Our customers are companies that come to us. They are the one that pick us and came through word of mouth. Our customers located all over the world, we work with twelve countries now.

Erik’s best advice about approaching your customer

  • Make sure you understanding why they need you. What is the purpose behind them wanting to work with you, buy your product, or purchase your service, you need to understand the reasoning behind that, the logic behind that and the emotional behind that.
  • I usually say it’s good to be your own customer, that’s where we’ve been successful, I had three brands, I hired agencies, I hated most of them so I knew what I was looking for and what I didn’t like, so I was able to create that and was able to understand there are a lot of people like me, so it was easy to build that out, that was a huge advantage.
  • Founders of most agencies I know don’t come from running their own brands, so there is always that missing empathy of understanding what the needs of their customers truly are.

Biggest failure with customers

  • I had a client that was messing with us, messing with the payments, playing games, went through problems with their business, and then, after two years of working with them, my team made a small mistake that was easy to rectify, but the client chose not to rectify it and live with the consequences which they claimed led to a loss of a decent amount of money. They decided we owed them that money and didn’t pay for four months of work. I couldn’t put my ego aside and it led to major damage. It was an important lesson of never let my ego manage the situation.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach

  • It’s about treating everyone with respect and putting your ego aside. People put everything they have into their business, their life, dreams, their passions; it’s easy to forget you work with somebody else dream.
  • A specific example is one of our clients complained about my team, and it turn out that he didn’t take care of his site, so my team stop the campaign because his site wasn’t converting and he didn’t want us to take care of his site. When I realized he was tight with money we fixed his site for him and instead of losing a client that almost decided to not work with us is actually doing much more work with us.

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

  • For us, HubSpot is the best tool, because it has a combination of automation and marketing, as well as the CRM side that is simple enough.

A person like a mentor or a service provider that impact Erik’s “customer focus” success

  • I would say probably the best is Influence & Co. for building a personal brand

The one thing Erik is most fired up about today

  • We’ve started to build a company that can grow without my direct input. Three and a half years, I’m still our top business development and in charge of growing the business personally, actively. There is a point where the business can’t rely solely on you. We are starting to get there pretty quickly and that’s become pretty exciting.

What is your one key success factor?

  • Getting it done. That’s has been the biggest separator between what I’ve seen as successful and unsuccessful. People that just actually execute, that get the stuff done, most people I know don’t actually get things done, they don’t execute. They just come out with an idea, they talk about the idea, talk about this business, but they don’t get it done, they don’t execute and it’s just never happens.

The one last piece of guidance and how to connect with you

  • Last piece of guidance; if you are going to be an entrepreneur, it’s a roller-coaster, so not letting the motions get into it, if you get too high with the highs and too low with the lows, you are going to drive yourself crazy and it’s not sustainable. You can’t get too excited with the wins and not too sad with the lost, you have to look at it objectively and dive in when you have a win you have to say OK, now that we have this win, either it’s a reward or you have a big clients or whatever how do I build up on this and when it’s a loss you have to figure out how to fix it.
  • In terms of connect with me every social media platform it’s slash / or at @erikhuberman I’m happy to chat.

Resources Mentioned:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Daniel Gefen, host of “Can I Pick Your Brain” podcast


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