Marketer explores the mind of a customer

As a marketing generalist, Robin "Rob" Spina considers himself a bit of an explorer -- but what he is exploring is not some foreign terrain, but the mind of a customer.

"I like getting into the mind of the person who would be buying the product," said Spina, who was laid off in December. It could mean, as it has in the past, understanding what prompts someone to buy a Lenox collectible of a dolphin, or what would encourage a nurse to join a professional organization, or what might lead someone to choose on HMO over another.

Rob Spina

"I need to know what the emotional triggers are for them to make the decision I need them to make," Spina said.

In the case of his last job as a director of marketing and development for the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, the nurses were motivated by a desire for professional growth. "They had a passion for what they did," he said. "That was exciting to be around and I never got tired of it." 

Spina, of Laurel Springs, first began as a writer, at age 11. "I used to put out a family newspaper for my uncles and aunts. I'd put out this newspaper on my typewriter. That's when I realized that I like to write -- what comes out of my head, into my arm and onto the paper."

As an adult, he managed to write his way into his first job as a marketing coordinator for a publishing company -- and writing, particularly direct mail, remains a strong suit. He has also handled brochures, sales bulletins, annual reports and chief executive speeches.

"I would consider myself a marketing generalist," he said, describing experience in event planning, membership building and product development. "But I also am a specialist in writing and direct mail," he said. "In today's economic landscape, it pays to own few titles, but wear many hats."

As Spina's career advanced, he became more interested in catering to the mindset of a potential customer. Almost every business, he said, has assets that it can use to grow more revenue and that's where his expertise comes in handy.

For example, when he worked for Advanta Leasing and Business credit cards, he generated $24 million in revenue by developing and promoting new products to be sold to the company's credit card customers.

If he lands a job, he plans to find out what the company would like to accomplish quickly -- "the low-hanging fruit" that people always think about, but never get around to accomplishing. He'd accomplish that quickly, and in so doing, learn more about the company and its products while quickly producing immediate results. That would give him what he would need to explore other revenue strategies for the company.

This isn't the first time Spina was laid off -- the last time was 20 years ago, when Spina had a 3-year-old daughter. "It was a tough grind, but survivable," he wrote in an email. In those days, a parttime job delivering flowers helped him make ends meet. This time it seems worse. "Unemployment redone is a different type of pain... a pain that is both familiar and odd, of not belonging, and what to do next."

Update: Spina started a new job four days before Christmas, 2011.

  • Robin "Rob" Charles Spina
  • Hometown: Laurel Springs, NJ
  • Profession: Marketing generalist, direct mail writer.
  • Experience: Strategic marketing, ROI analysis, website programming, internal and external communications, customer relationship management, sponsorships, e-marketing.
  • Education: Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey, associate's degree in management. Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism. Various professional certifications.
  • E-mail address:
  • Rob Spina's resume
  • Rob Spina's Linkedin profile


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Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or