Southport CFO, Tom Johnson, named to Industry Era’s Top 10 CFO’s of 2020
Southport CFO, Tom Johnson, named to Industry Era's Top 10 CFO's of 2020
Article Written by Industry Era
Event Marketing Agency Pivots During COVID
While the DNA of a CFO is in the world of finance and accounting, the modern CFO is a cross-functional leader involved with everything from strategy to customer acquisition. In such a scenario Tom Johnson, Partner/COO/CFO of Southport Marketing has shed some light on how to become a pioneering leader by adopting transformational technologies & taking the organizations to new heights.
“Southport Marketing is looking at the increased safety and security measures that will be required within our event industry.”
1.Your key qualities that has transformed you into one of the most sought-after CFOs:
• Always play the long game – being short sighted leaves no room to be flexible or adapt.
• Be five miles down the road and look at the bigger picture. Consider and plan for various scenarios, in time of both success and setbacks.
• Calm, cool, and collected wins the race. Cooler heads always prevail.
• Be a diplomat and problem solver.
• Be a resource on many facets-don’t just know the finance side, know all aspects of your business.
2. How are you responding to the present COVID-19 pandemic?
I call COVID the “Super Bowl” of business survival, especially in the event business. I had to get my bearings in the beginning. At first, I thought that this wouldn’t last long, then after three months I realized that was not the case. I had to make quick decisions in the beginning, such as cutting overhead and scaling back as much as possible, but at the same time keeping our core staff intact to be able to ramp back up. It has been a tight rope walk of staying the course, finding other means of funding without driving us in to massive debt. Again, it is the 360-degree, long term view of your company. I have used all areas of my expertise to respond to the pandemic situation and make sure we make it to the other side. I am 100% certain that we will be a better company coming out of this situation.
3. How are you delivering thoughtful, meaningful and memorable consumer experiences for Brands, Advertising Agencies and Marketers alike?
Like most in the event industry, we have had to quickly adapt to the current environment by looking at alternate avenues of engagement. One area we have focused on during this time when events are at a standstill, is great fulfillment ideas. Keeping in touch with brands’ customers is crucial right now. This could mean sending out a safety kit to customers, providing a gift that rewards or shows you are thanking them for their brand loyalty, or supporting their community efforts. Likewise, we are developing new channels through ecommerce and virtual apps for our clients. On the consumer side, it has forced us to think outside of the box and become more creative.
4. How is Southport Marketing raising industry standards?
I like to think we set the standard when it comes to “delivering for our clients”. Our focus is to provide a turn-key experience to our clients with strengths in creative and design services, production and fabrication, logistics and execution, staffing, digital and new media offerings, fulfillment, and warehousing operations. Over the years, we have built our portfolio of services and offerings so that clients don’t have to seek out multiple avenues to successfully execute their programs. As such, we have brought services such as staffing, fulfillment and warehouse operations in-house to directly manage those offerings for our clients.
5. Your advice to the future CFOs in the making
First, being a CFO is a very tough job, not for the faint of heart. It is the “hot seat” of the business discipline in any industry. You must love what you do and have passion for it. Being a CFO is a discipline, a mindset, not just a job! Obviously, many years of experience in all facets of your industry is the first requisite. You must be thrown in the fire many times and know how to think on your feet. Likewise, you have to have thick skin and can’t get offended easily because you are usually the one that has to say “no”. You need a gut instinct to be in the industry today. You must be a leader, a consultant, a teacher, a friend and mentor to those in your company. Provide vision, advice and show them the road ahead.
6. Any upcoming projects/plan.
From a logistical standpoint, we are looking at the increased safety and security measures that will be required within our event industry. Every day we adapt to our clients’ needs and this is no different. Prepare. Plan. Adjust. Adjustments will be needed for event safety protocols and adaptations to consumer engagements so that experiences can still be created. Southport will also fabricate display properties that allow for safer consumer engagement including activation displays that regulate the number of consumers in the space at one time. We are also adding protective equipment and signage to communicate safety measures.