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What I learned at #SMWONE: Part Two

Editor’s Note: At The Small Business Marketing Studio, we are military family-owned and operated with a driving mission to provide military spouses and veterans with sustainable career progression in the field of marketing.

As a part of our strategic partnership with Social Media Week’s new virtual conference #SMWONE – we were able to host more than 80 military spouse and veteran professionals with FREE passes to the conference. Our hope is that they will grow their network and gain valuable knowledge to build their practice through this time.

The following is an article written by our Sales & Office Assistant, Anne Falk – an Air Force veteran – after attending the #SMWONE Conference.

You can find Part I of this article here.

For our military families reading this today: We see you, and we support you.

In case you missed Part One, #SMWONE, or Social Media Week One, is a global virtual conference for digital marketers. This conference features hundreds of speakers who are leaders in their field and who provide a ton of valuable insight into the world of digital marketing. #SMWONE is spread throughout the month of May, with different speakers and topics presented each day.

As any business professional will tell you, networking is key, and #SMWONE provides ample opportunity for you to connect with fellow professionals, and even the highly qualified speakers.  You can ask questions in real-time and even pitch your product or ideas via Slack. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of.

Every speaker brings something different to the table and offers a different perspective on common topics. One current affair that we cannot ignore is the impact of COVID-19. Bryan Wiener, CEO of Profitero, presented “Leading and Managing Through an Economic Crisis” and his advice and experience easily resonate with me. Three key ideas that Bryan wanted to instill are to be decisive, simplify everything, and communicate early and often.

Be Decisive

Decisiveness is a must-have, non-negotiable, trait among leaders. If you cannot make a decision in a timely manner, too many things will be left uncertain and your followers will start to lose faith in you. Yes, it can be risky, but it provides a clear direction, and that’s what is important.

Bryan discussed temporary vs. structural decisions. Are we in the middle of a temporary crisis or structural crisis? Does it affect your business in the short term, and you are projected to recover, or is it structural and therefore will permanently change your business? You must ask these questions to make the right decision. For example, if you decide to cut the marketing budget too far thinking this is a permanent change, you might lose out on more revenue than necessary.

Simplify Everything

You must eliminate all non-essentials. Evaluate your priorities, your team, and yourself. As Bryan says, “everything should be fewer, bigger, better.” Fewer employees should be in meetings, meetings should be cut down, and make fewer priorities. Simplify everything to the core.

Communicate Early & Often

Talk with your employees directly, and always lead with empathy. Not to overuse the phrase “these are uncertain times”, but it’s true. Employees fear their jobs are at risk and they simply want to know what’s going on. Leadership must be aligned or have shared consciousness. Everyone should be on the same page about what and when is being communicated.

Some leaders may struggle to be transparent about what they don’t know, but it’s necessary and admirable to share exactly what you do and don’t know. As long as you’re doing this early and often, you’ll keep the trust and faith of your employees that you’re making all decisions in their best interest. Bryan says it best, “people will rally if they understand the facts.”

#SMWONE Conclusion

Bryan is a humble leader, willing to do what needs to be done. If that means starting at rock bottom, overqualified and underemployed, just to someday reach his dream job, he’ll do it. #SMWONE is filled with these inspirational stories and speakers. Now more than ever, we need inspiration and guidance to navigate through these unprecedented times. Along with being decisive, simplifying everything, and communicating early and often, leading with empathy is crucial and truly is what is setting brands apart. We all root for the brand that considers its employees first and foremost. With that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from this speaker,

“Lean forward into chaos.”