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Invitation to Exultation

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Zach Hoffman doesn’t pull his punches. “If your website sucks, I’ll be the first one to tell you that,” he quipped during a recent interview with SFBW with Chairman Gary Press and Managing Director Clayton Idle. At any given moment, Hoffman may or may not be caffeinated from his firm’s in-house elixir—”Swamp Brew” cold brew coffee—but he needn’t be. For the founder, CEO and president of Exults, a 15-year-old digital marketing agency with an emphasis on branding, custom campaign development and KPI reporting, the times are caffeinated enough. You have to get moving. Just the name of Hoffman’s company is an emphatic invitation to join the rush. Highlights from a candid conversation follow.

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  • On advising clients on the “new normal” of COVID-19 preparations: “From mid-March into April, our team was busting our humps coaching and consulting with our clients as to how to service their clients and how to make their clients feel comfortable to come into their businesses or allow them into their homes. We service a number of clients in areas from legal professionals to in-home service companies where people might be changing someone’s air conditioning or measuring blinds. We worked to make sure our clients could communicate to their end clients that they were prepared for COVID-19, from CDC standards to mask adherence to banner ads to social media, to just being conscientious about any consumer’s concerns.”

  • On the big switch to virtual: “We’ve had clients switch to virtual consultations. Apple Facetime enables people to work at a more effective pace. I’ve seen a rapid and strong adoption of Zoom, across the board, in all ages and demographics. It’s been the runaway leader in virtual meetings. Lawyers can use it for consultations, home service companies can use it for consultations, plus there are simple ways to roll out your products via e-commerce. Once again, communication is key and it’s about leveraging all technology possible to make sure that your business is flexible and can accommodate people who don’t want to meet in person.”

  • On looking for the upside during a downturn: “There have been a lot of economic studies published through the years that note that huge companies are built during downturns. Those companies that stay present, that keep their brand top of mind and emphasize that they’re still functioning and strong leaders can thrive. I’m a business owner for 15 years and I’m not saying I was waiting for something to crack, but mentors of mine who went through the Great Recession said it’s the worst they’d ever seen and nothing like that could ever happen … well, it’s here. It’s that 10- to 12-year cycle. And there are a lot of businesses still spending money.”

  • On success stories: “The Wall Street Journal published an article about the ways in which companies have pivoted through the pandemic. One guy they referenced had nine physical locations in Pennsylvania and the first thing he did when he got his PPP money was to build up the morale around his team, had them use their phones to get their products out on Facebook, on their website—and this actually generated their first online sale. And it all happened as a result of the pandemic. I believe one of the tech CEOs at Microsoft said that in three months—starting at the end of March—they saw digital adoption that they thought would take three years. The reason Jeff Bezos said he got into e-commerce when he did is because you literally couldn’t miss, and e-commerce is still growing at a double-digit clip, or faster.”

  • On why digital isn’t an investment in your business—it is your business: “If you’re looking at digital in terms of how much it’s going to cost me, then you’re looking at digital in the wrong light. Any step forward is the right step. Scale into this new digital realm. Get started. Start spending that first dollar. Boost your own ad on social media, sign up for a Google ads account. I always like to say, your strongest salesperson beyond yourself is your website. Your website is the cornerstone of your business and everything else is the universe around it.”

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.