Ever wondered how passion can turn into a successful business venture? Today’s guest, Stephanie Lichtenstein, founder of Micro Media Marketing, lets you in on her fourteen-year journey filled with growth, opportunities, challenges, and triumphs.
With the same exuberance that made her take her first steps into the digital marketing scene over a decade ago, Stephanie recounts her inspiring entrepreneurial journey. From launching her agency in the heart of New York to sharing office space with the renowned Gary Vaynerchuk at VaynerMedia, she reveals how she built a resilient team that shares her love for social media. As someone who has worked with giants like HarperCollins, Hubbell, and Colliers International, Stephanie’s insights into focusing on diverse industries, particularly fashion, beauty, and home décor e-commerce brands, are invaluable.
Stephanie delivers a candid narration of her experiences, including staying positive during recessions and understanding the importance of networking both online and offline. Her advice about saving for a rainy day and offering flexible options for clients is practical and a must-listen for any fresh business owner. Stephanie also sheds light on how she expanded her business through strategic partnerships and collaborations. So, gear up as Stephanie Lichtenstein takes you on a tour of her entrepreneurial world that’s as thrilling as it is informative.
About Stephanie Lichtenstein and Micro Media Marketing
Stephanie Lichtenstein is the President and Founder of Micro Media Marketing. Stephanie’s passion for social media is contagious, it has led her to work with SMB to Fortune 500 companies such as HarperCollins, Hubbell, and Colliers International. 14 years ago she launched Micro Media with a dream in New York City working out of borrowed office space from Gary Vaynerchuck’s Vaynermedia offices, she is now headquartered in Miami with team members throughout the US including in Chicago. Since then, Stephanie never looked back on her dream to share her passion for social media with online businesses and brands. Her biggest achievement is growing brands along with her team of women and stay-at-home moms specializing in the home decor space and spaces that speak to a woman audience.
Be sure to also check out these amazing resources Stephanie recommends:
- Transform Your Marketing by Rick Ramos (claim your FREE ebook copy – limited time offer!)
- Science Of Well-Being course by Yale University that talks about happiness (enroll for FREE!)
- Die With Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life by Bill Perkins
Watch the episode!
Read The Full Transcript From This Episode (click to expand and read the full interview)
- Sonja Crystal Williams: 0:11
Hi everyone, welcome to today’s episode of 10 Minute Marketing. I’m your host, Sonja Crystal Williams. Joining me today I have a friend, special guest I’d say, Colliers partner, so many different things. Thank you so much for being here. I’m with Stephanie Lichtenstein. She’s the president and founder of Micro Media Marketing and she has a passion for social media that is absolutely contagious. She’s worked with all types of small business and Fortune 500 companies, including Harper Collins, Hubble and Collier’s International. She started her company about 14 years ago and is now headquartered in Miami and has a team based across the entire world. Thank you so much for being here, Stephanie.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 0:54
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been following along and I’m loving all this knowledge that you’re sharing on your podcast, so I’m so happy to be here.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 1:02
Yes, well, you are quite knowledgeable too. That’s why I wanted to invite you to jump in and just share a little bit about your journey. So let’s start with that. You started your company 14 years ago. It’s a social media agency. Tell us a little bit more about what you all do at Micro Media and how you got started.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 1:21
Absolutely. So my background was actually in online marketing. So I was working with an agency down in Miami and they were doing everything from building websites to email marketing, SEO, PPC, and this was in the very early stages of social media. So I was lucky enough to. It was like a family run business, so I talked to the owners and I said why don’t we offer social media to our clients? Maybe it’s something that can benefit them? And they let me open their social media department. And I was in my early 20s at the time, so I’m going to date myself a little bit. But I had the opportunity with one of my best friends to move to New York and I took it and I got bit by that entrepreneurial bug and I decided when I wanted to go on my own. I decided to focus on social media, which was what I was the most passionate about, and I was very lucky to meet people like Gary Vaynerchuk, who is now a force to be reckoned with. He actually allowed me to work out of borrowed space in his first VaynerMedia offices in New York. And yeah, I started everything on my own, but I got to learn so much by being in that office and working for him. So that’s kind of how we got started in New York in 2009.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 2:42
Yeah, Wow, yeah, I definitely would imagine if I were working in Gary V’s office.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 2:47
I kind of have my ear out for those oh yeah, he just launched I think it was a first crush it and he was on his book tour, but I got to see campaigns like NHL, Sarah Patch Kids and I got to learn that. Very, very awesome that he gave me that opportunity. Very cool.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 3:07
So today you’re working with a range of businesses. What would you say, like in terms of areas, do you have any specific verticals, industries or areas you focus on when it comes to social media?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 3:18
Yeah, so in working, with that agency, I got very familiar with e-commerce, so that’s been one of our biggest focuses. But a lot of the brands that we’ve worked with have been in the home decor space, so we’ve been in categories such as bedding, lighting, furniture. We have done a lot of different categories. We’ve even done B2B, but I would say that’s really been our specialty and our focus. Our team is made up mainly of women and that’s usually the audience that we’re speaking to, so we understand that audience very well.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 3:51
Wow, that is so cool. So let’s talk a little bit about because you have grown a team. It started out as just you, but as you’ve grown your team as a business owner, what were some of the first steps that you took to start expanding the service beyond? It’s me doing the work to bringing other people on board to share in that?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 4:11
Absolutely. So I did realize fairly early on you know you can’t. You can’t do everything on your own. You can’t grow a business that way. So it was interesting how I started finding some of the people that I hired for one of my clients. This is way before influencers were a thing, so there was something that was more so popular. That was mommy bloggers. So we started building, for one of our clients, really strong relationships with mommy bloggers that were writing great content and they were exposed to social media a bit. And there was one partner that I really liked and I started talking to her and saying, hey, you know, would you be open to learning a little more about social media, maybe working with me on other projects? And she was one of my first hires and now she’s she’s blown up, she’s a big influencer and, you know, does a lot of collaborations on her own. But she worked with us for a few years and then I started connecting with like minded people like her. I even have hired some of my friends, but a lot of what I have focused on is just trying to work with like minded people that already have an interest. So I don’t mind even teaching someone some of the tools beyond that in social media. But if I see that they’re somewhat in the space or they have a passion for home decor and they’re good writers or they’re already creating videos and their content creators, I chose opportunities and then talk to them and see if there’s a way to work together on other projects so that’s successful actually.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 5:42
Very cool. I mean, it takes a lot to grow a business. So you really bring up a lot of good points about what you know, kind of what it takes to get there. So, speaking of growth, so you have to, of course, bring on a team when you’re growing a business and yours is pretty well established. You’ve had it for a while now Along the way as you’ve been growing the business. How have you grown the business in terms of different channels that you’ve said, hey, we should be doing email campaigns or cold outreach or networking. You know there’s so many different channels that businesses can tap into. Oh, throughout the past 14 years, what have been some of the most valuable channels for you?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 6:20
Yeah. So, as you know, because you’re a business owner as well, it’s a lot of ups and downs, but the most important thing are those real life partnerships. So a lot of our business does come from referrals. But one of the biggest, I would say risk, but one of the biggest investments I made was actually going to this conference. That was IRCE Internet Retailer in Chicago, and I exhibited and I remember at that time I had to invest maybe about $15,000, which to me that was that’s a chunk of change. So I was like, okay, I didn’t really have a sales team. I had a team that was a lot of stay at home moms working from home running pages. So I said, okay, who can help me at this conference? So my husband, my best friend and I did have one sales rep for Miami go with me, and that’s when I decided I wanted to take my company to the next level. And it took a while because a lot of the businesses that I met were building out or changing up their sites and then going to focus on what they wanted to do a social after. But that did actually pay off and then I was able to hire people with more experience and continue to grow. But over the years a lot of the events I have gone to consistently, like looking at an audience that I really want, I’ve built relationships and that has been super helpful to me. Like, for example, I have done a lot of business with you and so you mentioned that we’re colleagues, so we one of the clients that I got at that very event you- were already working with that client. So we met in that way and then I saw some of the amazing skills that you had in advertising that on our end, you know, I didn’t really have the resources in house with my team at the level that you were at for advertising. So even to this day, when I have any client that has, you know, more extensive advertising needs, we always partner with each other and that’s been very mutually beneficial. And in Miami I opened, I was going to open an office and I thought, oh, do I really need one? Because a lot of people, you know, don’t do as much face-to-face meetings. But I did share an office with a web design company and also a woman owned company, super creative. They’re called Ink Berries. They’re awesome. I was like why I was going to open an office, I think in her same building, and she said why don’t we just share an office? And you know you can come in when you have meetings. So I would go in a couple of times a week and it was great to get creative ideas from her. But again, we would work on projects together so she would launch websites. Once the websites were live, then I would launch social media. So it’s really great to build relationships and see how you can complement each other and maybe offer different services that can benefit each other.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 9:11
Yeah, and I love that you bring that up, and this is a really important point for those of you that are listening that the relationships that you build don’t always have to be directly with someone who’s going to become a client. Aligning yourself what Stephanie’s saying with other business owners and teams that complement your services, that can create a referral relationship that gives the opportunity to collab and exchange ideas, is huge, I think, for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and likewise, we’ve been able to partner with each other and I’ve been able to turn to you particularly around your expertise with influencer campaigns, because that is you know, not my cup of tea, and it’s right as a business owner to recognize that right.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 9:55
Yeah, and then how can you translate that online? So that same conference, everyone I met, I added them on LinkedIn, I followed up with them and guess what? I got some really big referrals. I got to work with Hubble, which is a billion dollar company. I got introduced to someone that I met at that conference, who they were mess. They were posting a message saying oh you know, I really am looking for someone that has expertise in social media, and I got tagged on LinkedIn, went in, responded, set up a call and you know, because it was through a mutual connection, I was able to get them as a consult, a large consulting client. So definitely use also what you do in person, translate that online and try to stay connected with that person. And you said emails as well. So I am currently my husband is actually running an email marketing campaign for me, targeting e-commerce brands, which just launched yesterday, and we’re already getting a good response. But yeah, there’s a lot of great tools that you can utilize, but I would say what I’ve done that has helped me is to try to focus in on a niche, because there’s so many people nowadays that are doing social media. So what’s different about us? And you know what are we specializing? That sets us apart, and that’s why the events we go to are more focused on that niche as well.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 11:14
That’s important, not just broad, but really focusing on retail and e-commerce, where you know you have a strength and a track record which is tremendous. I also want to talk about because you brought him up a couple of times. I want to talk about your husband because he’s a marketing genius. So tell me more about that, because I know he’s got some projects. He’s been working on yeah absolutely.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 11:39
I’m so glad that we paired up because he’s also in the marketing space, but he’s on the content marketing side. So he wrote his first book, which was a content marketing book, and he just recently launched a new book called Transform Your Marketing, and it also is a new site and he’s offering all these amazing services. He’s been in a space for a very long time and he just finished as a CMO of a health tech company which they started at zero it was him and the two founders working out of a home to raising over 60 million, and he took everything that he learned and really put those tactics in his new book. So it’s very exciting. I get to see the other sides of marketing. So, like I said, he’s running my email campaign. Now. That’s not my forte, so I really focus on the social side. He’s amazing with content marketing and email and a lot of other online tactics and he has those in his book as well. So I’m very excited for him that he just published and got that out there.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 12:39
Yes, thank you for sharing that. So transform your marketing everyone, and we’ll be sure to put a link to transform your marketing in the show notes so everyone knows where to purchase it.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 12:49
Yeah, actually I was going to share at the end, but I’ll just go ahead and share it. He just released a free ebook version. So if you go to transformyourmarketing. com and you see a free ebook, you can download that and that has a lot of amazing tools and that’ll give you I believe it’s 33 marketing tactics that you can apply to your business.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 13:09
Huge. I love that and I think again, as we’re talking about this journey that you’ve been on, that it’s evolved and it sounds like you’re still. Do you still get out to conferences and follow that same process? Has that become a staple in what you do?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 13:22
Yeah, you know, obviously with the pandemic that kind of slowed down a little bit. But this last year I was able to attend a couple of big conferences that were related to clients, so they actually invited me to speak and that’s something else that has helped me. A lot is trying to go out there, share my knowledge and then talk to people at the end answer their questions. But yeah, there’s one that I’ve been going to now in Chicago that was called Neocon and it’s huge for the commercial interior designer space, so I did go to that. And in Miami I have a client that is on more of the B2B side that works with a lot of startups, so they do a lot of events for founders and entrepreneurs. So I have been starting to go back to the real in-life person events and it’s been really great to reconnect with people.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 14:10
Yeah, and I love that because I’m a huge believer in anything that you do. First of all, online should be in some way like you don’t abandon when it comes to online market, you don’t abandon the offline stuff. And then, when it comes to things that you’re doing offline or in the real world, you can always as you said earlier bring that back to online, because that gives you a great opportunity to nurture relationships, which is huge, especially with networks like LinkedIn and Instagram, and sometimes it might be figuring out, as you do connect with people where do they like to hang out, and then hanging out where they are and making sure you’re engaging with their content, at the very least, to stay top of mind.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 14:48
Yeah, I think emails and social media are the best way to stay connected online and stay in front of someone. I celebrated our 14 year anniversary and I made sure I sent out an email and then a client that I had connected with earlier introduced me to someone else. So it’s just a good way to stay visible in front of people. And then, of course, if you have tools, like even Rick with his book he has a long version of his book that has a branding section and then the 33 marketing tactics but then he’s like why don’t I offer to everyone a free version where they can get more information and learn more? But then you visit his website and then you get to know him a little bit more. So there’s a lot of things that you can do online that can translate into more of a long term connection.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 15:37
Very huge. So, ok, also in this 14 year journey, what are some of the big lessons that you feel like you’ve learned along the way? It could be good, bad, ugly right, because you know that’s kind of the juice we also like to hear with business owners. Everything isn’t always perfect along the way, so any big lessons learned for you.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 15:56
There’s a couple. So, like I said, there’s a lot of ups and downs when it comes to being an entrepreneur. So two that come to mind. Right off the bat, we were kind of talking about how there’s a recession or there. You know, there’s times where things go up and down, kind of. Even when I was starting my company, we were kind of getting over being in a recession. Yeah, so, first of all and I love that company, that first company that I worked with they were family owned business, Andy Rodriguez. He’s awesome. He’s doing a lot of local networking and started a company called South Florida Business, I believe is what it’s called. But he’s always very positive and he was like, you know, companies will always need marketing and we can help them and we can come up with packages for them and you know, we just got to get them out there. So he was when it was when the recession was going on. I think it was like in 2008 when I was working with them. He was always he always had a very positive outlook and just thought how can we shift what we’re offering and maybe we offer packages that are at a different starting point, but these businesses need our help. But when it comes to sustaining long term, you need to be ready for a rainy day, because I pay my team, whether I get paid or not, and if I’m in a recession and things aren’t going as well, then I can figure out. You know how I’m going to position myself. But because you’re going to have ups and downs, if you want to be in there for 14 years or for the long haul, there’s going to be times you’re doing really well and there’s going to be times where things are a little harder. So you need to save up for a rainy day and be ready for that. And you also need to maybe offer other options. So if someone comes back to you and says I would really love to do this, but because of X, y and Z I can’t, then I can. Usually I can try to make it work and say if that’s what we’re working with, then this is what I can offer. Now I can’t offer as much, maybe as much of the work, but maybe I can do a training for their in-house team or, you know, offer different options to people. So that’s very important. On the other side another thing I thought of which was harder for me to do when I was younger and it was harder for me to do when I just needed the business because I was starting out and I didn’t have any is knowing when to say no and to walk away from something, so that I have done that with even larger clients. Why? Because if my I remember a team of mine, a team member in particular of mine, was I brought to tears from something. It was like a very stressful project and I could see that, you know, on the client’s end they just didn’t have everything in order. So it was always like very stressful and it was always a scramble for my team. We always try to prepare. You know, we plan a content calendar a month out. We get approval for what’s coming up like a week ahead. But when, on the other end, they were not like ready to be organized in that way and it was just very chaotic when I saw what it was causing to one of my team members and even to myself, if I you know, if I couldn’t sleep at night, I have been stressed to the point of my eye twitching. Yeah, if it affects your health, I decided a while back to walk away from things like that If it doesn’t benefit myself and my team in the long term, even if it offers me a lot of money, it’s not going to work because then I’m not going to have team members that stay with me for years at a time, and it’s just not worth it. So I have learned to say no to certain things, especially if it affects your emotional or mental health. Yeah, and I know it’s hard, but it’s. I think it’s worth it in the long run.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 19:38
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of lessons there protecting yourself, protecting your team and, like you said, the value you know, the value that your team brings and that’s also important to protect. And I can totally relate. I’ve had the eye twitching as well. Yeah, I was like this is not normal and I researched. I’m like why is my eye twitching? And it was stress, it was nothing more than just stress. So it happens, and as business owners, we really have to figure out those moments where it’s appropriate to say no, even when it looks like it’s a good opportunity. What does that mean really? So that’s huge too. All right, so we’re going to end in our lightning round with just a few fun questions. Yeah, so lightning round is just I’m just going to fire off a couple of questions for answers and just so our audience can learn a little bit more about you, right? Because the fun side of being an entrepreneur is, to some degree, you are making your own schedule, you’re making some of your own rules. So, for you, what are some of the things like? Just name one or two things that have really you’ve enjoyed as an entrepreneur, some of the big benefits that you’ve gotten out of it?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 20:45
Absolutely so. Right now I am in Montreal, so, even though I am headquartered in Miami, I decided why endure the hot summer and the hurricane season when I can be in a completely different place, and we have been loving it, so that, as long as I have good Wi-Fi, that to me, is that freedom of having your own business is being able to be in any location. As long as you have good Wi-Fi, I love that.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 21:11
Yes, I same. You have enjoyed that as well. Yeah, okay, another question would be what do you feel like is the most fulfilling about what you do?
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 21:23
So when actually I know I keep talking about Rick’s book, but I’ve been in marketing for so long and I actually had to rethink how I was talking about my business or why was I even doing what I was doing. I think the most fulfilling thing is being able to work with my team and them having the flexibility to do what they want, because I love being able to be wherever I want and a lot of my team members are stay-at-home moms, so like they can make their own schedule and they can go pick up their kids or they can go to the park. They can have that freedom and flexibility to do what they want, and there’s something really empowering about that that I can have that for myself, but I can also have that for some of my friends and for my team and that makes me super happy. And then for my clients like I’m really proud that I’ve been able to grow their brands and use social media as a tool to help them. So when I really thought about what was important to me and what mattered, those were the two things that were top of mind Very cool, all right.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 22:24
Final question Any great? And we brought up we talked about transform your marketing. So again, everyone be sure to look out for that link in the notes as a great resource. But beyond that, any books, courses, webinars, seminars, anything like that that you’ve been to that’s been really valuable for your personal growth.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 22:44
Wow, that is a tough one for me. Obviously I spent a lot of my time this year editing and reading Rick’s book. There’s a book that I have in my cart in my cart that I haven’t gotten yet. Man, I don’t know if I can pull it up right now, but it’s basically the point of the book and I’ll put it in the show notes. But the point of the book is when you are successful and you get to a certain point after that, like you’ve got to focus on your life. So as an entrepreneur, your business is like the number one thing that you’re, you’re always thinking about. But like, what is your life beyond that and how much money is enough money? Like, because I think about happiness and even I did take a the Yale course, I think it was.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 23:38
I think it’s uh through Coursera like one of the oh, I know what you’re talking about.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 23:42
I know exactly what you’re talking about, yeah, yeah, we’ll put it in the notes. But at the end of the day, we talked about like putting mental health first and things like that. I also think about how money and like chasing after money and being on that wheel, and you know, do I want to help my parents because they were immigrants and they sent me to a private school and they sacrificed so much for me. Like there’s a certain level and then after that I don’t think it’s important. So I’m sorry I don’t know the names, but I will throw them in the notes. There is a book that’s really good, um for that. And then, um, there is a Yale course that I took and it’s more happiness related than it is business related, but I think it’s very useful so that’s a good one, that’s a really good one.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 24:32
I know exactly, and now I’m inspired. I want to take the course. I’ve seen it and I have not signed up for it yet.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 24:39
I’m also. Well, this is different. I’m studying another language. So, since I’m in Montréal right now, I’m studying French. So I’ve I’ve been spending a lot of my free time taking courses at La Liance, and my teacher is from India, but she got to the point where she now dreams in French and uses French as her first language. So one of my goals is to learn French. My grandfather was French, my parents speak French, so I’ve been spending a lot of my time, my free time, um taking courses online.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 25:09
So very cool. Thank you so much for sharing your stories yeah, I appreciate you being here. All right, final thing, um let us know where we can find out more about you and yeah, marketing absolutely so.
Stephanie Lichtenstein: 25:21
You can go to micromedia marketing. com if you have any questions. You can even email me, steph@ micromedia marketing. com, and then on social across the channels it is just the business name, Micro Media Marketing, and then myself if you want to follow me. Um, it’s more of a personal side but it mixes some business. My name is microsteph. You can even add me on LinkedIn. I’ll include that in the notes. I would be happy to connect with you. If you have any questions about social media, I’m always happy to take a look and give you some feedback and some thoughts.
Sonja Crystal Williams: 25:58
Thank you so much, Stephanie. All right, thanks everyone for listening. Until next time.
- Sonja Crystal Williams: 0:11