Michael Greenberg talks about reaching clients in a way that generates trust, how to unplug, and defines success as having freedom over time with John Francis on the Work Passion Fit Podcast.
John Francis 0:15
Welcome to work passion fit. I’m John Francis, your host. Each week I speak with innovators and leaders to understand what they’re truly passionate about. I get beyond the what and discover the who and the why behind their stories. As regular listeners know, I, myself, am an owner and operator of a recruitment retention firm called Theo neera. But regardless of what I’m doing. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories behind the people in the companies. Work Passion Fit is all about discovering those stories. Today, we’re off to beautiful Colorado. We’re talking with Michael Greenberg, CEO of Call For Content. How are you, Mike?
Michael Greenberg 0:55
I’m doing great john, how about yourself?
John Francis 0:57
I got no complaints, and I greatly appreciate you joining me and the listeners. I’m always intrigued when I’ve got guys like yourself coming on board because whenever I’m talking to a thinker, an individual involved with the business to business, and author, he wrote a book on marketing. Anytime I’ve got an individual like yourself, it’s always intriguing to understand how you got to the point where you are. And there always seems to be some type of pivotal point. So first and foremost, I want to ask you, how did you get to this point as CEO of Call For Content and also being an author of the Authority Marketing Playbook?
Michael Greenberg 1:36
Yeah, so I’ll start with the easy one, the author of the Authority Marketing Playbook by starting Call For Content and needing to show off what we did, and also how we did it. So we put together that as our first like,” Hey, this is one of the strategies we sell. If you want to do it. Here’s the whole book, do it yourself or come to us and we will do this exact thing for you”. But I ended up as CEO of Call For Content when I saw in my work as a b2b growth strategist, with SAS, and with digital agencies, that they were experiencing the same problem and b2b, which was a lack of trust with clients, and a lack of ability to reach clients in a way that generated trust. And as a consultant myself, I knew that to be a major issue in b2b sales. And so I started Call For Content to solve that problem for myself and tangentially for my clients as well. And eventually, solving that problem turned into the main business, and we had to put consulting on the side while we focused on building out the agency.
John Francis 2:58
Yeah, I want to ask you this. When you’re saying a lack of trust, I want to explore that a little bit because I know from my perspective and dealing with my clients. Especially when I’m first introducing myself and getting to know them. My longest-term clients are the ones that I meet face to face at a conference here, there even sometimes in a social setting. It’s harder to try from my perspective to get business and to sort of tell people what I do when I’m emailing or whatnot. Have you found from your business, some of the challenges with the clients? Is it that lack of face to face relationship that is creating that lack of trust, or what have you found is that lack of trust between business partners?
Michael Greenberg 3:48
Yeah, so I think face to face does build a stronger relationship. But that is not to say you cannot build a relationship without it. I work with partners that I’ve seen three times in the five, six years, we’ve worked together. And we’ve met a few times in person, and it’s a whole lot of phone calls. And at least when it comes to digital, that’s where I’ve grown up. Especially in marketing, and in remote teams and operations. So I start with the assumption I’m never going to meet somebody face to face. And move from there, to how to market to them. And so, phone calls are still going to be our next best option. Video calls are still great for building relationships. But we really like to use the content. And so if I want somebody to trust that I’m an authority in how to position people as authorities using content, and how to get them leads you after achieving that positioning. I’m going to do those two things. I’m going to do that myself. And I’m going to write about it. Yeah. And so we created the Authority Marketing Playbook to show that off. Because if I might only speak with you once a month and on the phone, and otherwise, we’re just exchanging emails or chat messages. You need to have a lot of trust in me. And one of the other things we do to help build that trust is we start our engagements with the idea that, Okay, let’s do a small fixed strategy engagement together. That’s very much a consulting engagement before you trust us to be your agent to be your marketing team. And so you can see how we think, we can see how you think, we can work together under fixed terms. And as a result, we can build a little bit of trust with a small project before we move on to anything big together.
John Francis 6:08
Yeah, interesting. And I’ve really appreciated you saying that because I also find, from my perspective, a lot of clients I get are from referrals people have used me or I’ve placed somebody in a company, and they say,” Hey, listen, go work with John.” And when you think of it, you’re looking for a mechanic, you’re looking for the fridge repair guy, it comes from the referral. So there’s that trust that somebody else has also worked with them, and they’re legit. I want to ask you this, though. When you’re saying Call For Content, as soon as I hear the word content, it just sort of says,” okay, what kind of content?” Because you can have crap out there, right? It’s just annoying, and then you can have focused, really solid content. How do you know which one’s which and it is there? Are there certain industries and certain services that work better one way or than the other?
Michael Greenberg 7:05
Yeah, I think you really have to match your content to your audience. So the people that we work with, and the way we reach most of our client base. We’ve reached them generally through direct outreach, through more sales-driven tactics. And we do some of it with ads. And so we know when we’re going into speaking with somebody, how they’ve reached us, and the kind of messaging that we want to be putting out to them. And when we’re starting with a sale, when we’re knocking on that virtual door, so to speak. We’re going in with the idea that we want to provide value first. We want them ideally, to be able to make some money from us before we started engagement with them. And we do that to build trust. And so the content we use for that is these big playbooks, right. And then on the other side, as a consultant, the content that I’ve really enjoyed putting out and that we still use with our consulting clients, are our podcasts. And we start with a podcast, not because we care if anybody really listens to that podcast, but because the podcast is the best way to get our client to sit down and talk for 30 minutes or so. It’s generally going to be about 30 minutes, though. And we’re going to put them in front of somebody who’s a good prospect for them. And that’s going to create content. And maybe it’s a partner for them. We like to mix it up, so we get different kinds of content. Then we’ve got this big block of audio content, and we can chop that up into articles or tweets or ebooks, whatever fits their audience’s needs. If their audience does listen to podcasts. So we’ll promote the podcast. But really, we use the podcast as a vehicle. And so that’s why it’s Call For Content because it all starts with audio. And we move out from there to create the other kinds of content that are really going to be used. But we find that when we start with audio, we get the best price per content depth, as I like to think of it.
John Francis 9:28
Do you find your clients? Like I love doing my show? Right? And the people and the discussions that I have been for me. It’s my sort of getting away from my work, right? It’s my enjoyment, but do you find that when you talk to your clients and you’ve got them doing the podcast or on a podcast. You find that they open up and they’re less salesy, and just talking about themselves and sort of their true inner thoughts and feelings to come out? Is that one of the truth? And does that help in terms of the trust aspect with the content?
Michael Greenberg 10:11
Definitely, we try to train our clients to have authentic conversations. And part of that training might be training them on how to shape the conversation. So they get a little prospecting done as well. But that is a secondary portion. And we have, if they want to use a show just for prospecting, we have a whole stable of hosts with experience and b2b sales who can do that. So we try to develop those conversations because that’s where we find the six paragraphs that make an amazing piece, down the line. Is in that back and forth when they don’t realize they’re saying something really valuable.
John Francis 10:54
Yeah, once again, I always think it comes down to just that personal relationship. You meet somebody at a club or at a wedding or whatnot. Your having a conversation, and it just opens up in the authenticity of the individual comes out. And those are sometimes the best meetings, the best relationships, and the long term friendships that you pick up without trying. You just are who you are. And I also find it with my podcast. Some of the nuggets I get from some of the people, they get some pretty deep comments, right? “I’ve lost a loved one. I’m suffering from mental illness, this and this”. It’s pretty amazing what you can what people will tell you once they open up with you, right?
Michael Greenberg 11:39
Yeah, it’s really great for developing case studies when clients can’t go under. The contract can’t go under and actually create a case study with you. One of the big things we do. Especially again, going back to the consultants and this crosses over to digital agencies and a few other categories, is we like to have on a few of their clients just to talk about the success they’ve had in this thing that they do for them. Because naturally when they’re not thinking that” oh, this is going to be used for marketing.” They give real, honest answers. Where Yeah, you know, the strategy he came up with set the pace for the year. They’re never going to put that in a case study for you.
John Francis 12:24
Yeah, absolutely. No, it’s an interesting one of the conversations. Hey listen, beginning of the show I said, you’re in Colorado. I know that you’re out in St. Louis for some time and whatnot. In terms of your penetration, the clients do you work just strictly in the States? Work throughout Canada, internationally. And if somebody is interested in contacting you, just seeing if you know, a Call For Content is right for them. What’s the best way for people to reach out to you, Mike?
Michael Greenberg 12:55
Yeah, so the best way to reach me is either by shooting me an email, email@example.com. Or, if you want to skip over the email and actually just book a call with me, I hold office hours every week to speak with people. And then we occasionally use them if there’s a good question to create our next piece of content. You can just book right on our site callforcontent.com. And office hours are only with me, they’re not for sales. If you want to book a sales call, we’ve got a separate button for that. So they’re really just for us to talk content to talk, whatever. Bread making is actually one of the ways I got one of my favorite clients. That’s what we chatted about first, and then it turned into, what do you do? And so if you want to talk about bread making or cooking or the geopolitical climate in the world.
John Francis 13:55
Hey, listen, is that safe in the states these days?
Michael Greenberg 14:00
I’m not sure. I’m an entrepreneur. So what are they going to do? I’m supposed to be the backbone of the economy.
John Francis 14:08
Yeah. And I’ll definitely absolutely 100% have your website contact details on the show when it goes live. And I’ll tell you right now, I may reach out to you as well because of marketing and business,b2b and on that whole content marketing side. I find from my personal perspective, I’m so immersed in my business on my day to the dayside. Try to think and look at things differently is just incredibly confusing and you hear the same stuff all you need to do X, you need to redo your website, you need to get on Facebook, and I don’t know what is right, what’s up, what’s down. So I’ll reach out to you myself and see if you can share some of your wisdom out my way, Michael.
Michael Greenberg 14:58
Yeah, definitely. Research first is the mantra. At the end of the day, it’s good to know the people you sell to, know who’s worth selling to, develop a plan to create content for that market. Keep it hyper niche, keep it focused. And if you’re in b2b, you’re not looking to have 1000 clients. If you get 10 quality clients, that does solid business in b2b most of the time.
John Francis 15:30
Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. Hey, listen, I want to ask you this. And especially with an individual like yourself, a consultant, because you’re running your own business. But you’re so immersed in your client’s business and their development. And I find that sometimes you’ve almost got two businesses or three or four businesses to worry about. So I want to ask you this in terms of relaxing, rejuvenating, recharging. Do you just turn everything off? Or do you turn stuff off? I mean, personally, myself, if I don’t, I’m gonna just go nuts. But what do you do to just sort of forget about everything and enjoy life around you, and in recharge the batteries?
Michael Greenberg 16:15
Baking is definitely my biggest one. Baking and cooking. As I mentioned before, baking bread is huge for me. It’s a really great way to learn patience. If you want to make good bread, it’s going to take you two or three days. And that’s just the baseline. You can’t get bread faster.
John Francis 16:34
Michael Greenberg 16:37
Outside of that, I love to read. Reading really recharges me, with ideas especially, because if you read a piece on the history of machine learning and AI. That might just be a passion for me, but it directly applies to my work at the end of the day. And so I really love to learn it, but I try to focus my learning in ways that will benefit my career. I’m not sure if that count is unplugging.
John Francis 17:16
Listen, I love to read to. I like to get out and exercise and whatnot. But my wife can devour a book in 24 hours. When she’s reading, the world can be blowing up, but she’s focused. That’s not me. I may take two-three weeks to read a book, but I’m fully immersed, and I like to think about it, and it helps me drift off. Just out of interest, what are you reading right now, Michael?
Michael Greenberg 17:40
So right now, I just started reading Captivate. It’s a by Vanessa van Edwards. I try to batch my reading into subjects. So I read What Everybody’s Saying, by some FBI body language guy. And now I’m reading this one. And before that, I read The Charisma myth by Olivier Fox Cobain. So I’ve been reading this series of books around personal interaction, and the body language behind trust and relationship building, as I start to move more into these in person’s face to face interactions, that I’ve kind of ignored over my journey so far.
John Francis 18:31
Yeah, I don’t know if you’re married or not, or you’re dating, but I remember going to the clubs, and you look at the body language of the woman you’re interested in, you know pretty quick if she could allow you to buy a beer for her, right.
Michael Greenberg 18:49
Yeah. That’s body language, I’ve got but knowing the body language on whether or not they’re going to buy from me. That’s what I’ve got to learn to understand. And in complex deals, people really underestimate the number of potential decision-makers in a larger deal. So learning how to read a room is a big part of that.
John Francis 19:13
Absolutely. Hey, listen, I’m interested in your take on this question. Define success for me, because I can go in a lot of different ways for yourself, but how would you define success?
Michael Greenberg 19:30
Success is, at least for me, freedom over my time, and a sufficient quantity of money to pursue whatever I would desire. So that comes down, at least for me, would be having the ability to make enough to do what I’d like to do. So I can consult more and make a lot more cash and use that cash to do things, like start an agency. I was not a marketer before I started a marketing agency. So that being the case, I spent a little money learning along the way. And so that’s a success for me that I’m able just to make enough to be able to accept some initial losses. When I’m starting that up. And as I look forward to new businesses, having the capital to be able to start them, is what I wanted, and having the time to be able to without somebody demanding a portion of my time. So I try to push off. One of the reasons I call myself the Shoot Chief Strategist many times at Call For Content is because I am not really an active CEO in the day-to-day. I get on key calls with key clients. I helped develop the overall programs we use for operations and for marketing and building the business. But I’m not in the day to day, because that would be too much of a time suck. I probably wouldn’t want to own the agency if I did.
John Francis 21:10
Yeah, listen I want to ask you this question. And it’s not a tough one to sort of an interesting on your take.
John Francis 21:18
Do you think
John Francis 21:21
owners of companies, CEOs, whatever you want to call it entrepreneurs, we need to sort of look at problems in it at just work differently? I mean, it because I’m thinking when you’re saying that. I’m thinking about some of my previous guests and some of their failures in their business early on where they thought, okay, I’ve got to work, you know, 16 hours a day, I got to do this, I got to do everything and not until the day release, and sort of let go, that they start enjoying success. And you can almost see that moment where they realize that hey, listen, I don’t have to fit the norm. Do you think successful entrepreneurs and individuals, that box to trend and says listen, it really has that realization that I do not need to fit the typical CEO mold?
Michael Greenberg 22:14
Yeah, I think the guys I know who are happiest tend to do that. Then again, you know, I know guys who want to make that billion-dollar exit in startup land, and that’s what they think about and making 200,000 this year that doesn’t do it for me. Even if he’s never spent 200,000, he’s made he’s never had a chance to travel the world because they’re laser-focused on that business goal. And I love business. It is hands down my favorite hobby. And it’s a way to make money, but it’s not my entire life.
John Francis 23:01
You know I like what you just said their hobby to its, you didn’t mention the word work right, and I firmly believe you got to have fun, got to enjoy what you’re doing. And if what you’re doing is what you classify as a hobby. Great, you know and listen, there was an earlier show, oh, maybe about two years back that I had a successful startup guy from San Francisco, made a lot of money. But you know, what was important for him is the fact that he lost his wife and how important his personal life was, while I was making that billion or whatever. So it was that realization, hey, money’s nice, but you know, those personal relationships that self-awareness is also very important in one’s growing and getting old. Right?
Michael Greenberg 23:50
Yeah, I think it’s the single most important thing is self-awareness. And like educating yourself around the various thoughts around it. If you’re a CEO and you read, and you’re not reading any philosophy. I’m not sure if you’re being a good CEO.
John Francis 24:13
Yeah. Well, I should be a great CEO because I studied philosophy. So there you go. I love what you just said. And listen, I didn’t prompt you at all. Did I, Michael?
Michael Greenberg 24:24
No. You only told me to make sure to plug philosophy.
John Francis 24:31
And listen, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I want to ask you one thing and listen, we’ll definitely stay in touch, and I will definitely reach out to you and see if you can help me in my crazy world of recruitment and podcasts and whatnot. To make some extra money or whatever the case is, but you’re in Colorado, I’m in southern Ontario. Are the listeners scattered throughout North America and the world? What’s the one takeaway that you want to leave the listeners with passion fed up yourself. If they were to meet you on the street or whatever the case is. What do you want them to know? Who and what Michael Greenberg’s all about?
Michael Greenberg 25:10
My single favorite thing to do is go to happy hour and bullshit about business strategy.
John Francis 25:20
I’ll have you buy me a couple beers and during happy hour.
Michael Greenberg 25:23
I know some great spots. That’s I’m the guy who gets to choose where we go to happy hour with my group of entrepreneurs who goes to happy hour because I go work. Oh, fancy, happy hours are a great place to work. That’s the real takeaway. They have good Wi-Fi. The food deals are always better at nice restaurants. And it’s super quiet because those places are dead until like 5:30.
John Francis 25:49
Michael Greenberg 25:51
Yeah, go work at a fancy restaurant.
John Francis 25:53
I’ll tell you what I’m I’m coming down to Colorado, and I’ll make sure that you take me out. I’ll buy the first round.
Michael Greenberg 26:02
I’ll buy the soup dumplings you buy the first round. It’ll be a great old time.
John Francis 26:09
And listen. Thanks kindly once again, Michael, for taking some time out of your day and joining us.
Michael Greenberg 26:14
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.
John Francis 26:17
Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining Michael Greenberg and me today. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please give it a five-star rating and share it with your friends. You’ve got a story to tell and have a passion just like Michael. I’d love to have you as a guest as well. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at 1-519-579-6671. Thank you for sharing your time with me today until we speak again. Do take care.