Why avoiding big contracts is letting Hawke Media soar

by Patrick Hechinger
October 12, 2015
Erik Huberman's confidence in his company is staggering.
His digital marketing agency, Hawke Media, is packing their portfolio with a somewhat counter-intuitive strategy — no long term contracts. The Santa Monica-based company relies on setting (and meeting) realistic expectations to keep their clients coming back every month.
Huberman's strategy is likely a product of his early professional years, in which he learned you need to adapt quickly to succeed.
When he graduated from The University of Arizona in 2008, Huberman's career in the real estate market looked promising. But three days into his first job, the U.S. experienced one of the worst financial crises of all time. 
“When I graduated college, I became a real estate broker with the goal of becoming my own developer and investor. But no one knew what the banking industry collapsing meant. No one knew that meant assets were freezing for over a year. Six months in I had made $350 with $35 million in listing — but no one was making a single offer.” 
Huberman instead began a music e-commerce site. Although it was profitable, the site didn't have the growth a young Huberman hoped for, so he left the company after two years and entered the e-commerce fashion industry.
His next company, Swag of The Month, was an early adopter of the subscription sale model and generated over a million dollars in profit within the first four months. He sold the company 14 months later and started his own consulting firm. 
While consulting, he noticed a serious lack of digital advertiser solutions for young companies, so he created his own:
“It was never like I sat down and made a business plan for [Hawke Media], it was really much more organic. I was working with all these brands and I saw a consistent problem which was every single company I worked with had a lack of bandwidth and expertise to execute digital. I got sick of the whole ecosystem so I said screw this I’m going to hire a few people and make a SWAT team for my clients.” 
He constructed an a la carte, month-to-month digital advertising company with seven people, each one with a different specialization (i.e. email marketing, Facebook marketing, search marketing).
Two years later, the company has grown to 35 people and still avoids any long term contracts. As Huberman sees it, if Hawke Media sets realistic expectations and a company isn’t satisfied month-over-month, they’re free to go. 
The Santa Monica-based company had operated entirely on inbound referrals until their first ad campaign launched a few months ago. But with a wide network and a low-risk contractual agreement, Huberman says growing the agency’s portfolio hasn’t been difficult —  the hardest part is hiring enough people to keep up.

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