As a part of our series about “Marketing Strategies From The Top” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy Greenberg. Jeremy founded 97 Switch in 2013. He decided to start 97 Switch because he enjoyed solving digital marketing problems for people. Since the founding of the company, he continues to run it based on his desire to help people solve a wide range of digital marketing opportunities.
Jeremy believes a great way to tell your story is to create powerful digital marketing experiences. Powerful digital marketing experiences often have sleek and simple designs, and share the critical messages of an organization.
While designing a website, Jeremy focuses on looking for opportunities to share stories that all users can relate to and connect with.
Jeremy strives to simplify and further engage the user experience on each individual project that he works on. He considers how people might react to the message and instills that into the design.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I love building things. Since I was very young, I would spend all day playing with legos and kenex to see what could be done. The power of having control over a project was always exciting to me. It was a way to make an impact on something.
I was also lucky enough to grow up watching my Grandpa and Dad build a business. They always loved it and that was inspiring and gave me so much insight into how to build something. Through them, I learned when building a business, it’s important to build things people want and need.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Earlier in my career, I thought followers or likes added value. Like many others, I realized if I followed a bunch of people on Twitter, they might follow back. I started doing this manually for days until Twitter capped me for the day. Then the next day I would unfolllow everyone who didn’t follow back. I manually went through over a thousand people per day. My hand literally started to hurt by the end of the morning of clicking so many times. This forced me to find a tool that can automate this process. I thought this was a big win, my hand was not going to hurt anymore and I could save a lot of time.
I got pretty good at this process so my company page was going up by hundreds of followers a day.
Eventually Twitter cracked down on my process and said they were going to shut down the account if this kept up, so I stopped because I didn’t want to lose the twitter account.
After reflecting on this experience, and over 14 thousand new Twitter followers later, very little came from all of this. I only had a couple meaningful meetings and little good business ended up happening.
This process helped me understand that reaching thousands of random people for the sake of vanity metrics is very pointless.
I hope I do a much better job now of thinking about the entire behavior of someone online, and how to best engage with people.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
There probably has been several tipping points. During the hall of fame speech for former NBA basketball player Steve Nash, he talked about career plateau’s and using plateau’s as springboards to jump to a new level. I’ve seen that work many times.
When considering the similarities of my career plateau’s, it was driven by fear. To me, fear is interesting because when I have it, I try to find ways to use it to my advantage. I try to use fear as a way to see what’s ahead. By visualizing what’s ahead, I’ve been able to build things that help protect future outcomes. Then when enough prep work is done, I’ve learned it’s important to jump and hope I make it to the next plateau. Often I’ve missed, and sometimes it hurts, but I have a lot of stamina so I keep jumping. As long as I am in the game long enough, I have found eventually things hit when I think about why I missed and then when I keep shooting.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company separates ourselves because we are focused on making people happy. It’s very foundational to everything we do. We understand making people happy is not easy and so we try to stay curious on how to keep making things better.
It helps that we are a relatively small agency so there is a lot of individual attention and listening for the businesses we work with.
Years ago, we were helping a start-up launch their website. They had a big campaign starting on a Monday morning at 6am. The project had a short timeline to get done, and for some different reasons, the site was not ready until the night before. I ended up staying up to 3:30am on that Sunday night working directly with the CEO to launch the site in time for the 6am campaign. The campaign ended up going great (far exceeding their financial goal), and that experience for me and the CEO of the start-up was a wonderful bonding moment. We showed each other that we would do whatever it took to deliver a great experience.
Even though that ended up being a positive experience, I’ve gotten better at setting expectation and boundaries with the people we work with, so I am also protecting my team from working in extreme ways so everyone ends up being happy.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have fun with all of your projects, which makes them all exciting.
There is one company called MassVR which is having a lot growth, which is fun to be part of. They provide a unique free roam VR experience. They are helping people imagine a world in a different reality. VR and AR have a lot of interesting ways that are opening up many minds, and that is spilling over in a positive way into many parts of life.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Surround yourself with great people and treat them really well.
If you’re around great people, you’ll learn from them on how to make your work and life better.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Grandpa. He set a lot of foundation for me.
My Grandpa is almost 90 years old, and he still goes to the office every day (7 days a week). He loves it, it’s like his home. He treats the people he works with like family, and because of that many people have worked with him for 30–40 years.
I started going to meetings with him when I was 4 years old. I would sit and listen to what was going on. I saw how proud and excited he was that I was interested in what was going on.
Watching him love what he does is an energizing idea for me.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much?
I love how Apple does things. I have my entire life. Everything they have done is about making things beautiful, simple, and prioritizing the most important things.
When I was 4 years old, we had an Apple computer and it said “Hello”. It was so excited and inviting. Because of how inviting the Apple computer was, I wanted to be apart of it.
We’ve seen this idea of priortizing simplicity throughout all of their designs through the iPod, iPhone, iPad, computers, and now in their retail stores. It’s really cool.
I love how a marketing/branding campaign can be more than just a single promotion, but speak to the entire company and how you can understand and be part of it. I think the best campaigns are bringing a lot of transparency and simplicity to what a company is doing.
If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.
The blueprint starts with understanding how people want or will want to interact with a business during the sales/operations process. From there, questioning if the sales/operation process really meets that standard and finding solutions to keep elevating to that standard.
After that, it’s the job of the marketing campaign to show what’s going on.
We did this with a hotel in downtown Chicago called theWit. They provide a fantastic city experience for their guests through the hotel and location.
We wanted to show this great experience as much as possible. We decided to prioritize images the way the hotel was built. With the website, the user only sees part of the hotel story like they would entering the hotel. Starting out we show big images and videos of the outside of the hotel (like you would see when outside the hotel). From there, we show the next experience with a very vertical image of the lobby. We follow that with other experiences throughout the hotel with lots of visual images of the rooms, dining options, event spaces, and other parts of the hotel. We do a lot to make sure people visualize only part of the story at once. We took out a lot of text, and that helped show people what was going on at the hotel like they would experience if they were on property.
Since we launched the redesigned site, it’s been easier for the hotel to close business because people feel like they have a better idea of what they will get.
Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?
I think the future of marketing is about simplicity and bringing transparency. To do this, people will have to produce great and easy to understand content in a variety of platforms.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Listen as much as possible
- Never stop building things
- Learn how to be very curious
- Be as honest as possible
- Treat everyone well
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?
- Google Analytics: It’s super easy to get (it’s free to use) and can unlock a lot of information for any business.
- SEM Rush: It’s a paid tool, but I like it because it shows a lot of important marketing aspects for any website.
- Keywords Everywhere: It’s a paid Chrome & Firefox add on, and it’s great to quickly show how competitive things are, as well as it gives ideas of what people are searching. You can also use Google Keyword Planner, but Keywords Everywhere is faster to use.
- MailChimp: Under about 2000 contacts, it’s a free email marketing software.
- HubSpot: It’s a paid tool. HubSpot can give email insights, run email marketing campaings, get a lot of interesting data about a variety of web traffic, and build up services as your busienss grows.
- Canva: The tool helps designing different things quickly.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I read a lot through Apple News and and follow a variety of posts with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.
I also like to study businesses that I like by subsribing to their newsletters and seeing what they are working on.
For podcasts, I like to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk but also think it’s interesting to start randomly hearing someone new.
Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?
I am inspired by what Steve Jobs created in his lifetime. There are many personal aspects that are questionable, but he taught people a lot on how to push forward. He never stopped creating things that literally changed the world.
I like how he was never satisfied with his work. He was relentless on making things better and building new things that people would want.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be interesting if everyone spent time evaluating themselves every three months. This way you could think about what is going well and consider how you can make parts of your life better.
I know in the short run there isn’t that much people can do, but it seems like in the long run (at least 5+ years), people can design life in a way that can be pretty interesting.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.