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Business Observer Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020 2 months ago

Fort Myers marketing executive misses face-to-face time

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Chris Spiro of Spiro & Associates sees the work-from-home model finding its place in the marketing industry.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Executive: Chris Spiro, Chief Creative Officer

Firm: Spiro & Associates. Firm handles marketing, advertising, branding and public relations.

Employees: 14

Working situation: The entire agency went WFH on March 13. Planned to open back up June 8.

Biggest WFH challenge: The best way to describe my challenge is to title it, “Old dogs learning new tricks.” As much as my firm is highly technologically sophisticated, I was not mentally prepared for what WFH entailed. We had the technology in place. We had the systems in place. It took me about two weeks to find my groove and develop my personal systems. I still went to the office every two to three days in order to check mail, grab client materials (which I would then scan in) and check on the overall physical office.

Most important business lesson you've learned in the shutdown: People need people and while my clients, subcontractor base and staff adapted extremely well to communicating digitally, nothing can replace the warmth of a smile or an embrace. As much as we directed many of our clients to a more digital presence, a true media mix is still the most important thing in presenting your brand, your creative and your calls to action. 

How far out into the future are you looking for the business? We have three paths running: day-to-day getting the shop back open and returning to some sense of normalcy; what it may look like if prognosticators are correct, and we have a second wave of the virus; and what [the agency] looks like a year from now. Another lesson learned from coronavirus: Screw your long-range plans. There is no planning for a global pandemic!

What marketing trend will last beyond the COVID-19 pandemic? I truly see the WFH model finding its place in our industry. Over the years, there have been fewer and fewer of the large mega-agencies with multistory offices in metropolitan locations. Now there is a movement to smaller shops, with elite senior management who pair WFH teams together versus having staff to get the best strategy and creative. But I also believe this to be cyclical. There is nothing as exciting as sitting in on a creative, brand or strategy meeting face-to-face and building off of each other’s concepts. That gets lost on a Zoom, Skype, Go-To-Meetings, Microsoft Teams, What’s App, Slack or FaceTime call.

What’s the biggest marketing fad right now you’d like to see go away? Everything in our industry can be bought on the internet for less. I really want to run an ad that disclaims “We Fix $99 Logos Properly and Legally.” So many companies looking to do things on a budget do not realize what they are exposing their brand to in these instances. Including the DIY television commercials and on-line social media infomercials. Hire local. Hire professional. Save yourself the frustration, legal wrangling and possible brand overhaul as a result.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale during these tumultuous times? I moved from a large home to a high-rise overlooking a marina and have taken to running more. In addition, I do wellness checks on my family members. I am blessed with a 102-year-old grandmother who is going to outlive us all and a 78-year-old mother who is just as cantankerous, and I reach out to them often. Finally, my true lifeline is my children. They keep me going and thinking. Both are professionals, and both have turned to Dad for counsel during these uncertain times. This has led to amazing conversations about the state of our nation as well as its future. I am also blessed to have children who are polar opposites of each other, so I am really kept on my toes.

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks have you’ve focused on: I finally watched “Game of Thrones.” I binge-watched it over two weeks, and it sucked me in. Currently, I am binge-watching "Longmire" on Netflix. I have been downloading a ton more podcasts for my runs and walks and enjoy listening to true crime books. I read so much during the day at my job that at night, I just want to veg and be entertained.

What are you most looking forward to post-lockdown/pandemic? No. 1, hands down is going to see my daughter in Denver and my son in Orlando. After that, simple gatherings with friends and family that don’t focus on pandemics, rioting and looting.

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