What I Learned at #SMWONE: Part One

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.

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

#SMWONE, or Social Media Week One, is a worldwide virtual conference for leaders in digital marketing. This conference is normally held in New York or Los Angeles in person, but due to COVID -19, leadership adapted and decided to hold the conference remotely. As defined by the founders, the mission of #SMWONE is:

“… to bring the world of media, marketing, and technology together during a time of unprecedented crisis. The goal will be to chart a new course for the future of our industry, provide relevant and critically important insight as to what is happening right now, what our role needs to be, and how we can help those in our industry who   have been most impacted by what is happening.”

#SMWONE is 4 weeks long, stretching through May and featuring 300 highly qualified speakers. Every day there is a wide range of topics and speakers to choose from and you can register to join their broadcast. They also provide a conversation tool, so you can chat with other participants in real-time, which makes for amazing networking opportunities, and a Q & A at the end of each session. Additionally, you can join a Slack channel to meet professionals and pitch ideas.

Although there is a variety of speakers, there are noticeable trends among most topics that are shared. Many speakers advocate for the same ideas – so it’s safe to say that it’s smart to listen to these successful professionals. Three suggestions that seemed to be the most common among the sessions I attended are to know your ‘why’, be human-centric, and brand distinction is more important than ever.

Know Your ‘Why’

You may have heard that if you know your ‘why’, then your ‘what’ falls into place a lot easier. This theory is backed up by those who have firsthand experience. For example, Orchid Bertelsen, the Head of Digital Innovation at Nestle USA, always asks “why?” before moving on with an idea. Do the consumers even want it? What problem is this trying to solve? If you can’t answer those questions, you may just be wasting your time. She then advises to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome and really focus on separating the hype…It might just be a short-lived trend!

Another great example of this is illustrated by Chloe Cheyenne, the Founder & CEO of COMMUNITYx. COMMUNITYx is aimed at “using social media for social change” and connects activists to causes they are passionate about and with other people who share those passions. Chloe emphasizes that her company wouldn’t be possible unless she led with intention and meaning. How else would she be able to engage “the world’s largest online coalition of changemakers”?.

Focus on Being Human-Centric

This topic is common throughout the #SMWONE sessions. Marcus Foley, the Co-Founder of Tommy, addresses this head-on as he explains that attention is the most important thing for digital marketers to focus on for the next generation. One crucial distinction between successful brands and those who have more room for improvement is whether they are product-centric vs. human-centric. This is achieved by focusing more on the customer, and learning more about them, to create an ad that speaks to them.

A different angle on becoming human-centric is best explained by founders of Physician Promise, CMO Chris Marino & CEO Shady Henien, who have a mission to humanize healthcare. Their model has been successful because it is centered around their patient’s needs and concerns. They’ve built a trusted, reputable, anonymous platform that’s extremely responsive and eager to learn about what their patients are going through in order to streamline their care.

Distinction is More Important Than Ever

Every entrepreneur, marketer, and business owner wants their brand to stand out. They need to separate their brand. How is this achieved? Nate Skinner, Co-Managing Director and Director of Strategy at Stink Studios, sheds light on how he’s helped scotch whiskey brands accomplish this. Nate is dedicated to attaining organic growth with the brands that he works with, and he does this by focusing on the past, present, and future of the brand. He understands the brand in real life. Nate had a better understanding of how to advertise the whiskey brands and what type of content would be most appropriate after going deep. He visited Scotland, spoke with bartenders, distributors, and most importantly, customers.  This is how he was able to break through and drive 1.9% response rate to 7%.

Marcus Foley, previously mentioned, touched on this as well. He stands by “if you can swap it, drop it”. If you look at Instagram posts for similar products, such as cameras or alcohol, you’ll see a lot of the same content and nothing truly stands out. Marcus’ goal is to make people connect with the world, and if your content isn’t memorable, it isn’t worth it. Marcus used the example of Nike’s ad, as a benchmark of what we should aspire to. This ad puts into perspective how much time we spend on our phones and encourages us to go run and connect with the world again.

#SMWONE Conclusion

There is an incredible amount of value in this conference, and there are surely multiple topics per day that would pique anyone’s interest. It’s also neat to see these leaders in digital marketing in their element and be able to connect with them like never before. Between being attached to technology all day long, and a worldwide pandemic, the trending topics are more important than ever; know your ‘why’ before you move on, focus on the human’s needs viewing your ad and not just the product, and make sure you stand out by way of your content.