This Wednesday, May 24, Michael Barber will be presenting at the Triangle Marketing Club’s monthly event. He will be discussing the concept of friction in marketing and how to combat it within your organization. Take a look at our Meetup page for more information and RSVP with your full name soon, because this is an event you won’t want to miss!
TMC interviews our presenters every month so that our audience can learn about the presentation before arrival and have some background information. I was lucky enough to interview Michael Barber on a personal level, discussing various aspects of his life and work, which you can now read about here.
If you don’t mind sharing, could you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Michael Barber and I’m the founder of barber&hewitt, a consulting agency based in los angeles that helps companies reduce friction. We essentially help companies create better experiences both inside and outside of their organization.
Do you have any cool hobbies that you love doing outside of work?
My dogs are my hobby, along with family and friends (in some sort of order). If I do have a spare moment I would say running. Beyond that I love to travel, which is great because I do travel quite a bit for work and clients and conferences. Of all the places I’ve traveled to, Italy is my favorite country, particularly the Vienna and Florence regions- those were really the highlights for me.
What led to your desire to have a career in marketing?
I kind of stumbled into it. My parents owned a company for many years, and when I was eleven my dad wanted me to work for his engineering firm, but I told him I didn’t really have any interest in that. He asked if I wanted to help out with the new marketing department that was just created, led by Cathy Tyson, and so I agreed. She taught me Adobe Photoshop 1 and I was just hooked from there. I worked at my student newspaper in college, selling ads to local and national accounts. When I was a sophomore, the head of our media department put a team together that included editors, writers and other staff, and asked us to put together what would be the first website for our college newspaper. In its infancy we created what was the very first content management system, so our writers on the staff could go in and edit stories on the go. We were named the number one digital student newspaper in the country by the Princeton Review. About 3 years later that platform we had created at the University of Arizona for our newspaper was bought by College Publisher, which is now the largest distribution network for college students. When I finished school I landed a job with a company called Mighty Interactive, led by Jay Baer, one of the most followed digital marketing experts in the world, and Jay now runs a company called Convince and Convert and still remains a very good friend and mentor. I really got very lucky to end up at two or three agencies with great mentors who I learned the very best from.
What do you enjoy most about working in this field?
I learn something new every day, and I think that if you’re not doing that you may as well just call it a life. This period of marketing I’ve been a part of has been through so many shifts in consumer content, and every day can be very different. That’s why I love doing what I do, because if there’s something I don’t understand I can learn it and apply it and see how it works for clients in a fairly real time way. It allows for constant evolution and constant learning, and there’s never a dull moment.
In your opinion, what does it take to become a successful marketer?
One thing you have to realize is that you’re not going to make a million dollars right off the bat unless you’re incredibly lucky, so staying humble and recognizing when to learn is very important, especially in a time of so much media fragmentation. Where people consume stories, where they look to develop certain relationships with brands and how they establish those relationships and cultivate those is very different from what it used to be, so keep learning You have to be okay with the idea of being wrong. Additionally, I think a keen understanding of basic math and statistics is also very important nowadays, as we live in a data-driven society, especially when it comes to marketing; you should be able to measure the impact of whatever you’re paying for or the channel you’re engaged in and understand what the impact of it has on your organization. One must also have a massive appreciation and understanding for brand. We’re not doing a great job at teaching brand, and I think more than ever in an age where consumers have a lack of trust amongst the companies that they have to spend money with and where companies need to be so connected to consumers so they can create personalized experiences for them, we have to have a fundamental understanding of where does our brand fit amongst our competitors and what type of brand we are, and we don’t do a great job of sharing and talking about the stories and impacts of our brand on people. At least, most companies don’t, although there are the big ones that do. It’s intangible, but extremely important.
Can you tell me about your company, barber&hewitt? How did it begin?
The idea for the company came from a few different sources. It was people asking me when I was going to go do this myself, as well as a structured layoff from the last company I was at, so it was just the right time. I’d just turned thirty and pretty much all my mentors said that if you’re going to start something, thirty is a really good age to do it, because you’re not fifty and tired and you’re not twenty and stupid. So it was just good timing, and people helped push me over the finish line to be successful.
What is one major key takeaway that you hope the TMC audience leaves with after hearing your presentation?
We need to care about the time involved with the experiences we create for consumers. The core takeaway is that time is the most valuable human asset, and if you believe in that premise, we as organizations need to do the best job to provide the most amazing experience for customers with the most limited impact on their day. They shouldn’t have to navigate our website to find things they may be lost in, and they shouldn’t have to have bad customer experiences, and they shouldn’t have to work to get a receipt or a statement we should be providing. We want them to have the easiest path when working with us. If we really do care about our customers time, we need to be giving them experiences that reward them with time back in their lives so they don’t have to worry about us taking that away from them.
Michael Barber is brilliant, knowledgeable and extremely experienced in the field of marketing. If you’d like to contact him directly, take a look at his website and LinkedIn account. We are very lucky to have him present for us this week, and we hope to see you all on Wednesday at 6pm!