With over 17 years of experience in marketing communications, Staci Cretu helps brands find the story and media that best fits their unique identity and objectives. She brings light to the importance of connecting every single marketing, branding, or advertising piece to ensure there is a cohesive integrated marketing communications plan in place. Staci is CEO/Founder at Uncommon Marketing Works, with responsibility for developing compelling marketing programs that generate results for her clients. Staci started her business as a solopreneur in 2016 until 2019. When COVID hit, she was determined to not let this damage her business. In less than 9 months, she grew her business (herself) by 100% revenue increase and added 9 full-time employees all while funding the business with zero debt.
Prior to starting Uncommon, Staci was responsible for strategic marketing initiatives for the U.S. Army, non-profit organizations, manufacturing, remodeling, and building materials companies. Staci has led successful strategic marketing programs (local, regional and national) with dynamic teams in a variety of industries and organizations during her career. Working in a variety of industries has provided Staci with a unique marketing perspective and background.
Staci’s greatest strengths are her creativity, drive, and leadership, and thrives on challenges. Committed to continuous improvement and education, Staci has achieved numerous marketing certifications. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and marketing from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Science degree in integrated marketing communications from Eastern Michigan University.
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Table of Contents
Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Staci Cretu: I worked full-time during my undergrad for various real-estate companies managing administrative tasks as well as marketing and advertising for agents however, it wasn’t until after graduation where I fell in love with everything marketing. I started my career working for an advertising agency where I learned the most. I had decided that I wanted to gain experience working in corporate marketing so I moved on to work for household names such as Bath Fitter (Marketing Manager) and the U.S. Army (Chief, Advertising and Public Affairs).
Before starting my agency I worked for an industrial automation company, Westfalia Technologies, where I successfully reorchestrated their marketing efforts and help them grow leads YoY until I was laid off in 2016. This was horrible for me and I’d always wanted to provide help to other SMBs who needed a marketing strategy and tactical execution so I began building my brand.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Staci Cretu: I’m working on continuing to grow my business and build a successful team that is dedicated to helping clients grow. I grew 100% from 2020 to 2021 and my focus is to grow at least 50% in 2022.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Staci Cretu: Punctuality is a strength. Being punctual shows that you are committed to something. For example, if I wasn’t punctual last year and just said screw it and collected the PPP loan then collected unemployment I would be employing 9 people full-time or helping my clients.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Staci Cretu: Good timing is huge when it comes to the execution of marketing tactics and growing businesses. You have to continuously keep up with industry trends and ensure you are proactive in doing so.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Staci Cretu: Yes, I do believe the timing is everything and man does my husband harp on me about this. Although I do believe some things come down to luck, I’m not generally a “lucky” person, I have to create my luck. Creating my luck means timing to me. Figuring out the best approach through trial and error. Failing and unfortunately failing often only make me a stronger person and leader. I’ll go back again to 2020 to 2021 to me I felt like a failure when I had to lay people off because of COVID but I was going to let that stop me. Instead, I built avenues of outreach to help others in business during that time. This allowed me to learn and help others and ultimately help me build my business. So luck you ask? No, persistence and hard work to make “timing everything”.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Staci Cretu: This is hard, does the pedal to the metal mentality ever go away? I’m always pushing to be better and not give up. I believe if you are not growing where you are you are stagnant and if you are stagnant you need to move on. Luckily, in the business I’m in you’re never stagnant or you doing your employees and your clients a disservice. I have always moved in my career when I saw I was becoming stagnant and there was not much more I could do for the company I was working for, that is something important as an employee you need to know and as an employer need to be proud when an employee decides someone else can help better than them.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Staci Cretu: Losing sight of anything means you are not committed any longer and that’s ok. It means it’s not meant to be or you are meant to be somewhere else in your life and career. You have to have that self-reflection and brutal honesty with yourself in order to take that break and decide where you can be the most productive and happy.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Staci Cretu: This might sound horrible, however, getting laid off was a horrible blow to my self-esteem but I took this time to step back (well for maybe a day) and decide what I wanted to focus on within 2 business days of being laid off had a registered business. With my severance package and some savings, I was able to get started growing my consultancy little by little and within 1 year I was making more personally than I was when I was laid off. I took this opportunity to build something I wanted to build.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Staci Cretu: I still ask this question. You should always ask this question as it serves as guidance for new ideas or new ways of doing things. This keeps you on your toes. Although I’ve been in business for 5 years, I’m really just now in the infancy of my business with employees, so at every chance I get I ask this question of myself.
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Staci Cretu: The biggest ones I’ve learned are:
Lesson 1. Fall and get back up immediately.
Lesson 2. Don’t let things that happen that are out of your control, control you.
Lesson 3. Use “timing” to your advantage to help others. I was giving away services.
Lesson 4. Investing in your company will only help in the long run.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Staci Cretu: My fictional world would be one that value placed on people plays a higher price tag than the value on a product. I sell services that people deliver and sometimes that ROI is not easily shown. People are the most valuable asset and not a commodity. Products are a commodity. It’s people that change things, it’s people that build the product and it’s people that are the least valued.
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Staci Cretu: Shopping. 🙂 No, I’d like to spend more time at the lake in the sun with my family and friends.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Staci Cretu 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 Staci Cretu or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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