We will periodically feature a new B2B marketer answering questions about their job, their best tips, their B2B skill set, and showcase their marketing and career advice.
This month we are excited to feature Seth Lieberman. Seth is the CEO of SnapApp, a company that helps marketers create engaging, interactive content. As an agency, we are fans of SnapApp because we create a lot of content for tech and FI clients that are looking for something better than the traditional, boring whitepaper.
He’s a high-energy guy (needed to manage a company and a family with 4 kids) that has a knack for simplifying the complex and for solving problems after a vigorous run.
Seth has evolved many of his philosophies over his 18 years of leading companies and shares many of his insights with us.
- How would you explain to your kids what your company does?
At SnapApp, we create software for marketers (people who try to sell things), to make cool, interesting, effective and interactive things on their websites. Then I’d show them an example of a quiz or survey we’ve created.
That's the way I position it, and then typically, my kids will say, "I have no idea what you just said," and I say, "How about ice cream?" and they say, "Great."
- How would you explain to your grandmother what you do for work?
I explain that I'm the CEO or the leader of the company, which doesn't mean I'm the most important person there. We have a short conversation on what a leader is and what it means to be a leader, and I explain that it doesn't mean I do whatever I want, as I have to lead the company, and that sometimes means making hard decisions. Ultimately, I help pick the direction for the kinds of things the company should be working on and help with the problems they're trying to solve.
- How has your job changed over the last five years?
We started SnapApp about six years ago, and it has changed dramatically since then. Back then, I would roll up my sleeves and be in the trenches all day every day to get things done. Nowadays, I’m focusing on growing a great management team so that I can be more of a leader or visionary for the company, while still keeping close to the ground and diving in where I can add value.
- How will your job evolve in the next three years?
I think it'll be more of the same – continued innovation and growth. We’re at about 70-ish people now and expect to double in size at least once.
I think that my job will be to continue to figure out how to lead and empower so that when things break (as happens when you grow quickly), the damage is minimal. We want to be ahead of that breakage that we know is coming, whether it's because of the scale of people or size of customers.
- Which element of your marketing tech stack would you recommend to others? Why?
We think about tech stacks in phases. I would recommend that the Phase 1 of your tech stack should never involve a solution like SnapApp. In that phase, you want to establish your foundation. Get a CMS that you can use and is powerful enough to get the job done. Get marketing automation. Get a CRM. Get the basics down and get them integrated and working well together. In my opinion, you don’t need anything else before you're doing those things.
Once the core legs of the stool are together, you can focus on Phase 2 and start adding components that help you achieve what you’re trying to do in your market. This is where you look at things such as interactive content, predictive analytics or advocacy. You may also look at some BI tools or personalization.
I encourage marketers to grow their tech stack at a pace that allows them to fund each component fully. Don’t try and experiment with 5-10 things every quarter. Instead, pick 1, 2 or 3 things and fully fund the budget, the effort and the communication it will take to launch and carry through until the time where you expect to see results. Don't try anything that you can't run the full gamut on because you’ll never truly know if it works for you or not. Once you establish what works, then double down and grow your budget for that component before you test the next thing.
What’s the best piece of content that you or your team produced recently? What makes it so good?
Our team recently won two Content Marketing Awards for our content. One was for a Content Land riff on Candy Land. We also recently created an interactive tour of our product on our platform – a SnapApp of SnapApp, something we like to call internally “Insnaption.”
I am a big fan of dead simple campaigns or pieces of content. I’ve found that some of the most powerful things I’ve seen from our customers are just dead simple. They look great, but most importantly there’s a clear value for the user and the marketer. You can apply a fresh spin -- maybe it's got a Game of Thrones angle if that's your thing or you can tie it to something else, but in my experience, it’s the crisp, clean, polished give-and-take that always works.
What’s your best tip for establishing a productive relationship with your sales team?
When I was running the sales team, and we were looking to hire a new sales leader, I took the sales team aside, and I said, "Look, we have a problem. We're losing accounts. You're closing bad accounts."
To which their response was, "Well, we're closing what we can.”
I explained, "Here's what you have to understand. We as a company win together and lose together. You didn't win a deal. We won a deal as a company through product, marketing and customer success. You didn't lose a deal. We lost a deal together, because of that same kind of mentality. If you close clients that are a bad fit for us, then you're screwing your coworkers because they have no way to hit their numbers since you're closing deals that are dead on arrival."
Their response was, "We never thought of it that way. We just assumed every win is the same."
This kicked off the ideal customer profile, introspection, and an analysis process, which we continue to do. We’ve gone deeper now than we did ever before, and we’ve shifted who we sell to and how we sell.
I believe that alignment must come from the top, and the message should be “I don't want you to just sell more. I want you to close the right customers, so we can make them successful which makes us successful.” When sales understood that making customers successful required understanding what a good fit looks like and coaching these customers before they buy, while asking the right questions to figure out if they have a problem we can solve. They changed their style, and the results were fantastic.
If you manage a team of marketers, please share a tip that has served you well in getting the most out of your team?
It’s similar to how I manage the sales team, which requires making it clear that we win and lose as a team. If Marketing does their job, Sales earns the right to deeply engage with a prospect. We have that hand-in-hand mentality here where Sales respects the effort and work that Marketing is doing, and that goes a long way.
Previously, Marketing used to have a ‘more is better’ approach when it came to content and leads. But that’s just not true. More is not better. BETTER is Better. So we had to change our traditional model of sending over high-volume and low quantity leads to sales.Marketing said, “We're going to decrease the number of leads we send to you by 90%, and we're only going to send you what we now call super MQLs – defined as the demo ready, raise your hand, want to know more, take a meeting, budget-ready people. We're going to do all the work on the marketing side to figure out who those are and when they're ready.” Sales loved the idea, and we’ve been doing this for a little while now, and the results have been impressive, so far.
- What daily or weekly habit is the most important thing you do to help you be productive and successful at work?
I exercise typically five days a week. A lot of times I’ll load a problem into my head before a long run, so it'll be there. The problems range from what should I do about this partnership or person or division or product etc. and the distraction of the physical exercise allows my brain to process it. I don't know how to describe it other than this: I get focused on the running, and therefore my brain has this cycle. Instead of being so hyper-focused on trying to find the answer, it is just relaxed, and it often comes back with a solution.
- What did you study in college? How has it helped you in your career?
I took economics and a couple of computer science classes. This has helped me with clarity on how to approach problems and how to think about things and structure them. However, I find that the liberal arts background is also extraordinarily helpful in bringing the creativity to thinking about how to solve problems.
What’s the best interview question to evaluate a B2B marketer?
There are two important questions that I typically like to ask a B2B Marketer:
a) What do you think your job is? What's your role? What does success look like?
When I’m listening to those stories, what I want to understand is what do people think their role is, and how that will fit into the culture and community we have here. It tells you how they think and what they’re focused on, which gives you a lot of direct and indirect information. Perhaps it's a good thing if they think very differently than the way we think today because that's what we're looking for.
b) My favorite question which ties into how I view my job and involves helping people grow and continue expanding their horizons is, "David, I know what you can do for us, as a B2B marketer - We need more leads, and we need better leads. I know what job we're going to hire you to do for us. My question is, what's the job you're hiring this company to do for you? 2 or 3 years from now when we're having a celebratory beer, what is the job that you hired this company to deliver for you?”
Over the years, I've gained the belief that anyone who works here should work their ass off for this company, and this company should work its ass off for them. I ask them this question so that I can make sure that as of day one we are a 100% aligned with what they're going to be doing for us and what we are going to be trying to do for them. It doesn't mean that this won’t change over time, but we have got to come out of the gate perfectly parallel.
What advice would you give to your 25-year-old self?
If you’re going to be entrepreneur, you have to learn to manage your emotions. The highs are very high, and the lows are very low. The key to being a good entrepreneur is learning how to regulate your emotions because otherwise, you'll just collapse into the fire.
What’s the biggest intangible that you look for in a job candidate?
I don’t necessarily have a checklist, but I look for energy. I'm a high energy guy. I'm in it to win it, and I'm a team player. I struggle with people that are really low energy. It doesn't mean that someone has to be vocal or shouting all the time, as we have a lot of amazing people that are relatively quiet but are high energy in their own way.
I can't stand mediocrity. High energy may be an indicator that you're going to do whatever it takes to try and not be mediocre because, at the end of the day, all you can do is put more energy into something.
What underrated skills should every marketer have to succeed today and in the next three years?
The ability to put themselves in their buyer's shoes and understand their perspective. You need to be able to comprehend your buyer’s pain and problem, how they're trying to solve it, how they think, their language, and their thought pattern.
At SnapApp, this is something we teach our sales department, and we’ve built an entire curriculum around this. We now have a two-year BDR/SDR program, which has six different disciplines and month-by-month activities and training, where knowledge increases for you to go from zero to account executive here at this company in just under two years. The core of that curriculum is understanding Marketing and their pains and challenges because that's who your buyer is here at this company.
What are some of the challenges that you see marketers having over the next couple of years?
Revenue marketing is increasingly becoming a thing. With all the bodies and budget come expectations to deliver revenue.
People are buying a lot of technology, and they're not using it. This is why I recommend picking your poisons and running those pilots, however long they are, a year, two years, a month. Run those to the ground and prove to yourself what works.I think many marketers who are still stuck in the Facebook-like mentality, which is engagement and vanity metrics, are going to be in for a rude surprise very soon. They will be much more scrutiny by the C-levels on ROI and revenue generated, and the expectations will only increase.
How do you keep your B2B skillset up-to-date?I network with a lot of other B2B and technology leaders, and I have standing lunches with a few people. I find these sessions turn into conversations about solving each other’s problems or finding out how someone approached a situation. It’s really cathartic!
- Which conference is a can’t-miss for you? Why?
I'm a huge fan of CEB and their conference. They're a customer of ours, and we're also a client of theirs. I like that their thinking about the challenges for sales and marketing is well thought out and articulated, so I always read up on them.
I also compare notes with CEOs, and do a lot of peer-to-peer check-in’s to ask them "Are you guys having this problem?" or, "How did you solve this?" or, "Are your customers saying this?" I like data, and I prefer having enough data to synthesize my own opinion, so I try and ask the right questions.
- Which blogs or newsletters are a must-read for you? Why?
I like the Axios newsletter. I also like Jason Calacanis who talks about funding and tech.
How do you stay up-to-date on your industry? What do you recommend for others?
Talk to your customers and develop an understanding of the big problem they’re grappling with. I like to ask them what their million-dollar problem is. Another way is to try and put myself in my buyer's seat and shoes: “What are the problems you have and why are you trying to solve those?” That's the canary in the coal mine for the world that shifts. You ask that to enough people, and you hear enough things for you to synthesize.
- If you weren't a B2B marketer, what would you choose as a career?
This is a hard question that I’ve never seriously considered. I think I have a skill for building and growing things or going from zero to one. At the end of the day, as any human being, you have to ask yourself, what should that passion and energy be used for? I suspect that where I invest my energy will change over the years.
This answer was too meandering. Let’s just say that I would have been a marine biologist and a scuba master.