As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Brucker.
Nick is the Founder & CEO of Sparq Designs, an award-winning, full service digital marketing firm located in Pittsburgh, PA. Sparq has been named one of Pittsburgh’s Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work . Additionally, Nick has co-founded over companies across multiple industries including; apparel, restaurant & hospitality, technology and fitness.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started my marketing career at Philips where I was a temporary employee in the Marketing & Comm. dept. My goal was to create as much value as I possibly could. I asked my supervisor to purchase a Creative Cloud subscription for me so I could help save on design costs with the advertising agencies they were using at the time. I was able to do so but at the same time my job as a temporary employee was eliminated. This opportunity allowed me the freedom to start something on my own with what I had learned. I ultimately was able to take on Philips as my first client out of my home office and this led to the birth of Sparq. After seeing the success of Sparq take off, I became really passionate about entrepreneurship. I began an additional project called The Golf Glove that has blossomed into another successful business.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Simon Sinek, “Start with Why.” It is a short clip but it talks about how the best companies and brands in the world speak to the people who believe what they believe. This is how great brands are created and how customers fall in love with them.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The purpose of starting our business was to give the people we worked with the most amount of value and attention that we could. We understood that our passion mimicked the passion that other business owners had to achieve their goals and we wanted to align our passions together to create the best possible marketing for the people that we work with.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Be genuine and don’t burn bridges. Your reputation is a currency and it can be very difficult to gain the trust of others back if they are jaded. Intention is important and it guides a lot of what I do on a day to day basis. Do things for the right reasons!
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The largest challenge has been the communication and time spent with family and friends. One of the things that has been more common is to FaceTime and Zoom with family more now. This has not replaced the face to face interaction but it has remained a nice alternative. I find myself connecting with friends and family more and longer this way.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The biggest work related challenge is the inability to spend time with the clients and colleagues. The ways of communication have drastically changed. Collaboration is what people crave in the world that we work within and this has been the biggest challenge for myself. One of the things that we’ve done to address those challenges is by spending more time virtually meeting and interacting with one another. This is not the most ideal situation, but it is what we have to do right now.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I believe that the only thing we can do is show our support through action. One of my most important priorities during this time was to make sure that we took care of our team first. I did not want to have to furlough anyone or make cuts to the team. This was something that was on people’s minds and we made sure that we did not have to make those moves. In a time like this people want to feel supported and I feel that we did a good job at an organizational level to show that to our team.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I feel that having the ability to pivot and see how consumers are acting will prove to show opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses. The landscape will most certainly change for a while. With that being said there will be companies and things that are derived out of this time period out of necessity.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I feel that personal interaction will forever be altered. People will be much more reserved when it comes to interacting with others. Knowing this, we have the ability to plan for it and act accordingly. Most certainly the entertainment, restaurant and hospitality spaces will be changed. We need to find ways to make people feel comfortable, specifically within those industries. Peace-of-mind will be a priority for those industries and marketers should have that as a top priority for the near future.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
We will not necessarily have to rebuild in the post-covid economy. We need to be agile and have the ability to relate to individuals and consumers. I think that being adaptable and agile is going to be the keys to returning to normality from a business perspective.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do? Pay attention to people and how they are responding to the situation. People are the lifeline to business. Without them businesses cannot succeed. Understand what they are looking for and what they will respond to and act accordingly.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Be nice to people. Treating people with respect and being genuine is something that can open many doors. It is a simple “life lesson” but it is one that is very important for your relationships both in business and personally.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Follow @sparq_designs and @nick_brucker on Instagram and visit our website at www.sparqdesigns.com