Linda Fanaras, CEO/Strategist, is an award-winning executive marketer with exceptional leadership and communication skills, relationship-building expertise, and a proven track record in executing strategic marketing campaigns that improve marketing ROI and CLV. Focused on motivational and positive inclusive leadership skills, she drives marketing teams to achieve exceptional results.
Linda is highly experienced in brand analysis and structure, positioning and messaging that engages, the development of integrated digital marketing campaigns, and the formulation of creative concepts for B2B manufacturing and software technology. Using a proprietary process, she has developed a system for transforming market research into powerfully branded, strategic marketing campaigns, with messaging that connects, engages and motivates.
Her proficiency in the process has exceeded goals for well-known brands through the unique skill of enhancing brand perception and accelerating brand awareness.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Linda Fanaras: My name is Linda A. Fanaras, I’m the CEO/Strategist of Millennium Agency is a nationally recognized award-winning branding and strategic marketing firm in Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire. With a 25-year track record in creating inspiring brands, impactful messaging, and strong marketing execution, We take the guesswork out of increasing brand awareness, lead generation, and marketing results.
As far as my skills, I am experienced in brand analysis and structure, positioning and messaging that motivates, and the development of integrated digital marketing campaigns. Formerly at RealWorld Corporation (currently Microsoft®), I have managed multi-million-dollar budgets and complex digital marketing plans, and enjoy managing and executing successful, concept-driven digital marketing campaigns that drive results.
I am dedicated in latest advancements in marketing, holding a Board position on the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (AAAA) New England Governor’s Council, and membership in the AAAA Diamond Forum, which serves as a national collaboration team to develop best practices for agencies. Also certified with the WBENC and as a WOSB, She was honored with Top-Women Led Businesses, SBA Women Owned Business of the Year, Outstanding Women in Business Award, and NH’s Top 200 Most Influential Business Leaders.
2021 and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned?
Linda Fanaras: The pandemic has shifted the point of view we have of work-life that has gone through intense and modern changes within these past few years. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to transition to a virtual workspace that could be successful in a strictly enforced quarantine and we have continued to grow from this.
We had to practice our flexibility when it comes to what we were able to do online and what we needed to adjust to better adapt to our new situation. At first, the shift to a work-from-home lifestyle brought peace to many of our staff, however for some the transition was difficult and these difficulties teach us what is working and what is not. We found communication and meeting platforms that work for us, and we each decide what is the best way to stay organized with our internal tasks and client needs.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2023? What advice would you share?
Linda Fanaras: The pandemic generated supply chain issues, telemedicine activities, more technology and ecommerce, remote workplace, changes in our daily life, and now there is a new initiative with a better work life balance, which didn’t exist as much before. It seems like more people are becoming introverts turning to gaming, zoom meetings, and indoor activities, which is a bit unfortunate.
With 2022 behind us, the focus should be on maintaining consistency throughout 2023. There are many changes in interest rates, housing sales, stock market, and the overall global economy. Businesses should keep their head down and not get too wrapped into the “street talk.” Staying focused on your goals, whether they are business, operational, financial, or marketing, can help you overcome the big barriers and challenges in any economy change.
From a marketing perspective, regardless of a recession or not, businesses need to keep their marketing going. Many falls into the trap of cutting marketing expenses but that only results in short term net profits; however, in the long run it causes them to lose market awareness and share, decreasing demand for their products and services. This is one area of business that is often overlooked.
So, if businesses are thinking about cutting their marketing, make sure you stay focused on keeping initiatives that keep your name out there, even if they end up being low-cost advertising and digital marketing efforts.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Linda Fanaras: For Millennium Agency, we moved to a remote model, which allowed us to focus on a larger workforce pulling talent from all over the country. This has been one of the silver linings because of the pandemic. In addition, we have to pivot quickly like many other businesses to install trust and reliability in our clients, showing that we are flexible and adaptable to change, and their business will be continuously safe and successful.
Adaptability is an ongoing characteristic we uphold because change never stops, and with our virtual landscape, it makes adjusting to change even simpler.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2023?
Linda Fanaras: For us it was good time to move from an office to remote, since our lease was up in six months, so it was perfect timing. In all honest, the entire team managed it quite well.
Some individuals had big adjustments moving to a remote based environment while others loved it. It would have been good to have more team building strategies in place during a time like this and ways to keep the employees engaged and feeling good.
Everyone was scared, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. In fact, it didn’t even matter what part of the world one lives, we all shared similar experiences.
And regardless of the news, one must make their own decisions, based on their own compass in life. If we all have goals and objectives in life, whether personal or professional, when a pandemic occurs – all bets are off. This means regrouping and strategizing and staying in the “now.”
In short, staying in the “now” could have benefited individuals but thinking ahead is what brought strength to businesses.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2023?
Linda Fanaras: I believe Zoom medical consultations will continue to occur, as well as business meetings. More companies are moving to the hybrid structure which allows more employee direct interaction, with at home flexible options. It’s challenging to run a business 100% remote. Employees are double dipping finding additional work during the workday, and it’s becoming more difficult to keep staff engaged for long term growth.
Working from home allows a level of flexibility not typically found in the past; it improves employee attitude and wellbeing, while also providing a level of flexibility that is valued. However, due to this remote work environment, some employees who value the interaction are finding themselves lonely and sometimes depressed.
Businesses will have to find a model that works for them; one that aligns with their overall goals and strategies for company growth. Emerging markets continue to gain traction, like freelance and other models but if the company is unsure of productivity, it will eventually lead to a downturn in business.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Linda Fanaras: At least 8 but more likely 10. There is no denying that this is not the healthiest strategy for daily living, but this type of business requires ongoing interaction with clients (now on the zoom calls), some networking which can be done externally, employee meetings and just plan work. It’s a difficult balance but I work on it every day.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Linda Fanaras: There are so many ways to communicate effectively with the team at Millennium Agency. Often through direct communication or a one-to-one exchange in communication, it can help get the staff engaged in the process. Storytelling has always been effective since it’s a great motivator and helps drive employee support for specific initiatives.
Our team uses multiple platforms to stay organized with our group communication, as well as keeping track of what we need from each other. While communicating online can be difficult, we ensure everyone has an open and easy line of contact with staff and clients, so no question goes unanswered, and everyone feels supported.
Finally, a fun way my team and I like to stay connected and encourage communication are through our monthly ‘work shut down’ calls, where we play fun virtual games together to learn more about each other and boost our relationships. Communication is a key factor in trust between staff and customer relationships and we like to pride ourselves in these relationships.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Linda Fanaras: Forbes considers us to be in a “Great Resignation” which stemmed from the pandemic and the major changes our economy has endured the past few years. Some ways that many are creating opportunities for growth include a restructuring of their marketing strategy to adapt to the virtual shift, as well as focusing on gaining more customers and finding the best ways to boost internal morale on the virtual landscape.
Fortunately, Millennium Agency is helping many companies with restructuring their marketing strategies and we continue to strive for more customers and connections to ensure our clients receive our best!
In 2023, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Linda Fanaras: As the CEO of an online marketing firm, I find it very important to keep up with all trends relating to the digital business landscape. Although the concept of cryptocurrency is under constant construction, I find it important to invest either time or money into research around this to ensure we are catch their successes at the right time.
This market is growing, whether we like it or not. Large corporations are embracing the technology and it is anticipated that it will hit $5b by 2030. Many businesses still consider cryptocurrencies to be very risky but as the government begins to embrace the currency as they generate regulations in the US and abroad. Once there is broad acceptance of this currency, as well as NFTs, or other growing sectors, the shift will begin to happen in concert.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Linda Fanaras: Unfortunately, leaders that would allow their employees to feel unheard, undervalued, or misunderstood would not be concerning themselves with how their employees think of them.
At Millennium Agency we value our multiple open lines of communication with each other and our clients to ensure these feelings of being unheard and undervalued are avoided completely. It is essential that my staff is comfortable enough with me and their peers to explain concerns or problems, and that we all work together to solve them.
The pandemic was stressful for employees, employers, and everyone in between. This has been a time where most people went inward, thinking about their life, problems and how to build a more sustainable life-work balance. If this could not be achieved within the organization, then employees would leave. It has been stressful and it’s important to keep the communication going to ensure transparency and proper leadership.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Linda Fanaras: Understanding my employees, including things like what motivates them, and how to best collaborate with them to achieve overall goals. Everyone has an opinion or thought so it can be difficult to motivate and drive success with different personality types.
Although this is a challenge at times, I still strive to ensure my employees have the opportunity to share their thoughts openly and that there is constant feedback from both ends. We have monthly virtual meetings for team bonding, and in person outings to strengthen these connections we have formed as a team to help me achieve these goals.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Linda Fanaras: Concepts of success to me include overall growth, an increase in quality staff, and finding systems and processes that simplify the remote environment. Connecting teams in ways that are unique and fulfilling all at the same time.
Communication is something we heavily value and feedback from staff and clients can help us achieve some of these goals. A company’s team is a huge indicator of their success, and a happy team will lead to happy customers, overall encouraging growth!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Linda Fanaras for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Linda Fanaras or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.