SMPS Seattle Blog

 Subscribe via RSS 

What I Learned at the SMPS National Conference

by Erin Hatch, Marketing Manager, Weber Thompson

A few weeks ago, I had the great honor and privilege of attending the SMPS Build Business Conference in Los Angeles, CA, thanks to the assistance of the 2015 SMPS Seattle Fellows Scholarship. The experience was inspirational, motivational, and very refreshing.

Like all conferences, it kicked off with an opening address and keynote speaker. SMPS President Barbara Shuck's words of wisdom resonated strongly: she cautioned attendees to break down what they would learn throughout the conference into three takeaways. If you've ever been to a conference you know that there can be so many nuggets of golden information that you leave feeling overwhelmed and weighted down with possibilities and to-dos. I took Barbara's advice and made note of my first goal right away: Be Realistic.

Throughout the conference I kept that goal floating in the back of my mind and as a result, themes and takeaways naturally began to emerge. Many of the speakers had great advice that was directly applicable to my work. Other sessions offered broader, less tangible advice or inspirational stories (some of which made me watery-eyed...and it wasn't just me, I checked) but all of it was incredibly valuable. Organizing it in my brain was crucial.

After three days of sessions, two nights of black-tie socializing, a big stack of new business cards and a day at Universal Studios with SMPS Seattle President Amy Matsumoto, I made my list of takeaways.

Be Selfless.

One of my favorite stories from the conference was one shared by Geoff Welch. The owner of a printing company in Anchorage, AK, Geoff started giving away thank you cards to his community to encourage a culture of gratitude. It caught on and what started as a nugget of an idea has become a heartwarming revolution. As a happy consequence, it has also been great for business. It was a great reminder that ROI shouldn't always be measured in dollars and cents. Watch Geoff share his story in his 2014 TEDx talk.

Be Authentic.

On Friday I attended a Client Positioning Panel and gathered lots of great info about client preferences and decision-making. For me, the biggest takeaway was that it's all about how you make your clients feel. If it's an option, a client will pick you because they like you, not because you're qualified. People do business with people, not companies. We all think our firms are unique and different, but for our clients we're all the same until they have a relationship with us. Be authentic and human. In doing so, you'll stand out from your competition. 

Have Fun.

I'm not a person who watches a lot of TV or movies, so going to Universal Studios wouldn't have been top of my to-do list if Amy Matsumoto hadn't suggested it. One of my favorite things about the day I spent riding rollercoasters with her was watching an actor in a Megatron costume pose with shy teenages and delighted six-year olds. He was making hilarious comments in a think robotic Transformer voice to the point where even the security guys were cracking up on the sidelines. After Amy and I had our photo taken with the towering leader of the Decepticons I thought to myself, "Wow, this guy really loves his job!"

It sounds corny but this guy stood out to me because he was clearly having fun. Because of that, he was memorable. Isn't that our goal when we're trying to win new work, wow our existing clients, or impress our leadership teams? The workplace doesn't have to be serious 100% of the time - a little fun and humor can go a long way.

I'm grateful to the SMPS Seattle Fellows and Board of Directors for making it possible for me to attend the conference. And for those of you who'd like to attend but can't quite swing it, I encourage you to apply next year. If you get a chance to go, I guarantee you won't regret it.

So now it's your turn. Did you attend Build Business? What did you learn? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Return to list


  1. Susan Kemp

    Oct. 1, 2015

    Nice recap. That's such good advice about the three takeaways.


Leave a Comment