Lead by example: The culture and the foundation of your business start with you. Be consistent with your work and your employees will see that. I’m pretty much available to the company 24/7 my staff knows if they ever need anything that I’m here to help with any issues that they may encounter. As a leader, you should lead during this time with exemplary actions. You should lead by example and not illustrate how turbulent times may be affecting you on a personal level.
As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Snow.
Daniel Snow is CEO and Founder of The Snow Agency, a performance and social media marketing agency that is disrupting the eCommerce landscape for DTC brands. Daniel is a proven expert having launched and scaled numerous viral eCommerce brands himself over the course of 3.5 years, generating close to 50M dollars in revenue, without ever receiving funding or a loan. This entrepreneurial foundation is what inspired Daniel to launch The Snow Agency. Having an inherent understanding of what clients want, because he was once in the same position, is the unique perspective that gives The Snow Agency its competitive edge. After spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money on marketing Daniel has experienced the ins and outs of operating a successful eCommerce business and is now focused on bringing this knowledge to his clients. In his role, Daniel sets the strategic priorities for The Snow Agency. Leading his team in constant innovation across content, on-site optimization, search engine marketing, and all integral components of growing a brand.
Daniel is also the Founder of RAPTV, a passion project for him, which is the largest hip hop community in the world. RAPTV has reached viral status with over 8M followers across owned channels and generating 150M impressions a week on social media alone. RAPTV builds awareness and cultivates massive followings for large and small hip hop artists alike.
Prior to launching The Snow Agency and RAPTV, Daniel had immense success with two social media-based companies he founded while still in college, Caffeine Digital and Snow Media. Caffeine Digital, a self serve ad platform tool geared towards influencers on Instagram and Twitter to monetize their followings, generated nearly 7M dollars in revenue and registered over 3,000 affiliates in its first year of business. Daniel founded Caffeine Digital in August 2014 during the summer of his junior year of college, while studying for the Dental Admissions Test. Snow Media, the holding company for Daniel’s numerous social accounts, with a combined following of over 20 million+ followers across Twitter and Instagram. Daniel is a Forbes Contributor and Council Member. He’s been a featured guest on numerous podcasts including The Formula, The Employer Blueprint, He received his BS in Biology from Ramapo College and lives in Edgewater, NJ with his french bulldog Hooli.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I got started in the digital/online marketing space in a very interesting way. I was in college studying Biology to be a dentist and I had a friend who had started to monetize a twitter account. He was telling me how I could be making really good money. So, I started helping him with the twitter account in the hopes of making 45 dollars a day. After we started monetizing on the twitter account I left but I had learned to grow a social media following. In the next 12 months, I grew 8 million followers on twitter after I was able to grow this really substantial following, I focused on monetizing the account so I created my own content, apps, and google ads. I started creating apps and getting my following to make my apps go viral on twitter and on the app store. I had a few apps on the app store in the top 50 and then I got into affiliate marketing. I found out how powerful leveraging in a social media following can be. I then created a self serve advertising platform for influencers in which we did everything from building pages to content creation etc and made it super easy for influencers to monetize their audience. This proved to be a pretty big platform for influencers to use. It also gave me a lot of the insight and relationships needed for leveraging all this information and how we can grow all of our eCommerce brands. For four years we grew our own eCommerce brands. We were doing a ton of influencer marketing, celebrity marketing, and eventually, we got into paid ads and that took our company to the next level. We mastered this in four years after spending 20 million dollars in advertising we sold our eCommerce brands and after really understanding what everything needed to grow an eCommerce brand we started doing it for our clients and that is how The Snow Agency was born.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
A mistake I made early on was trying to do EVERYTHING internally versus relying on expert contractors or agencies. The one mistake that was most pronounced was doing fulfillment ourselves. We moved warehouses 4 times within 12 months. At one point during Black Friday, our warehouse had so much inventory in it that we literally had boxes piled all the way to the ceiling throughout the entire office. Keep in mind that these ceilings were about 15 feet high, so clearly this was not the smartest thing in the world to do from a safety standpoint! Moreover, even after stacking boxes to the ceiling, we still didn’t have room so we had a dozen pallets of inventory in the hallway for about a week. To make more room in the “warehouse floor” after the packers were done filling up a bag with orders, they would put it in my office which was neighboring the warehouse. Eventually, we got so many bags of orders in my office that you literally couldn’t see the floor!
From this experience, I learned how important it is to trust experts, in this case, a professional fulfillment center. Besides the cost savings and space to grow, the amount of stress and anxiety we would have saved would have been worth it alone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My brother who has been my partner and has been helpful along the way. I’m really appreciative of everything he has done for me. He helped a lot with operations and growing the organization and managing all of the employees. He got into when I started the platform and I showed him how to work with influencers, how to buy traffic, how to understand marketing and he grew to have a passion for it. It is nice knowing that I’m in this type of business with my brother and that we can rely on each other for advice and guidance.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
My vision and purpose right now are to help small and medium-sized business owners grow their businesses and be successful, with the products and brands that they are really passionate about. We want to be able to help them achieve the level of success that we have been able to obtain for our own brands. This is what drives me and my team. It’s very fulfilling to be able to see these brands grow and be able to employ all sorts of people and see how their products have a positive impact on their customers.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
I lead my team during uncertain times by example and confidence. Although there are uncertain times by simply being confident in your work and going above and beyond to produce the best type of work that you can possibly do is the best way to go about things. You should not let uncertain times affect your work instead, you should let it drive and push you to keep moving forward.
On our first black Friday, we were so understaffed and we did not realize how busy the week would be for us. We were 20,000 orders of phone cases behind on Black Friday weekend. We had to completely shut off marketing because we could not keep up with demand. I was in the warehouse helping out my team with orders and that’s when I realized that was the result of us not relying on experts, it was a massive learning experience rather than trying to grow our efforts as much as possible. We had to focus on fulfilling them which is not ideal obviously. I started reaching out to experts on how we could make this process better for my team as I did not want them to go through another chaotic experience working with me.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Giving up is a very harsh word for me to be thinking about. I don’t like to put myself in that mindset so, whenever I feel that things are not going the way I want them to, I like to think of it as an opportunity for growth and learning. My motivation ultimately comes from progression, seeing my teammates and my business grow is what keeps me going. Seeing that the work we have done has been able to help our clients business grow and expand is why I do what I do and is what helps me get through challenging times.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
The most critical role in a leader in my opinion is to be able to pivot quickly and efficiently when needed. When there are uncertain times, that’s when you as a leader should be asking yourself what can I do to make my business as efficient as possible to get through these times, and are there any other opportunities that we can pivot to be able to capitalize on them. You want to keep an open mind about all of the opportunities that are out there. You don’t want to miss anything especially if you are going through a hard time.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
The best morale to have; and I will go back to my other answer, is to be confident in yourself and in the work that you do. If you lead with skepticism and uncertainty it does no good for you or your business. Leading with confidence and positivity is crucial for any business success.
To inspire your team you need to give recognition when they are doing a great job. People like to be recognized and appreciated so as a leader being able to recognize this is very important. It also sets the tone to other people in the company so they know if they do a great job they can also get promoted. You are setting a clear path for people to follow if they want to get promoted and move up with the company.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Be completely transparent and honest, in my opinion whenever you try and sugar coat a situation it always makes it worse. If you were just upfront and honest with people they are more understanding of situations especially if you open up to them they see a side of you that is more empathetic and human.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
You have to have the ability to take calculated risks on your plans and understand that there are other factors that may change. Being open-minded and flexible when these changes occur is very important, understanding that there are things along the way that you might have to pivot and change for the end result.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times? Elaborate more
Be consistent day in and day out, especially through turbulent times, that’s where consistency and perseverance really shine through because those are some of the hardest times you have to go through. We can accomplish anything that we set our heart and mind to. We just need to focus on what matters and push forward through any hard times that we may come across.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
- Allowing other businesses to dictate your decisions- Some businesses would say “I was scared to grow my business through the pandemic;” and they were in the e-commerce industry, and there were many opportunities to pivot off. But they were making decisions based on what they would hear of other types of industries or businesses.
- Not taking full advantage of opportunities- With this pandemic, many industries were hurt, but also many were positively impacted more than ever. The brands that are able to capitalize, get aggressive with inventory, and prepare for growth, are the ones that are succeeding and the ones that are not, are losing on this opportunistic time.
- Trying to do everything on their own: Many businesses try and do everything on their own not realizing that this is hurting their brand. You want to be able to rely on experts and ask for guidance along the way. For example, if you don’t know SEO, instead of learning how to do this yourself, go and hire an expert. The same goes for advertising. You want to have people that know what they are doing in order for your business to grow.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Always keep an open mind for new opportunities that are relatable to your business and take advantage of those opportunities that come your way. You want to Identify what are the most profitable areas of your business and how you can expand those areas, how you can grow your business in the areas where you are doing the best in. Lastly
grow an amazing team that collaborates ideas with you and the company explores ways on how you guys can constantly become better.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Lead by example: The culture and the foundation of your business start with you. Be consistent with your work and your employees will see that. I’m pretty much available to the company 24/7 my staff knows if they ever need anything that I’m here to help with any issues that they may encounter. As a leader, you should lead during this time with exemplary actions. You should lead by example and not illustrate how turbulent times may be affecting you on a personal level.
- Seek out opportunities: Don’t let hard times get the best of you, and seek out new doors when others have closed. Stay open-minded with new opportunities that come your way to grow and expand your business more.
- Be dynamic: When there is uncertainty in your life you need to be able to welcome change. For example, we have expanded our creative department extensively, a lot of art clients were struggling with finding creative staff so we figured out a way to help them by opening a new department that focuses on just that.
- Be appreciative of your team: Recognizing your staff publicly so they know that they are valued and appreciated. That all of the work they are doing is not taken for granted and they are a very important asset to your company. Have a company-wide meeting and have staff give a shout out to each other on who has been helping them in every way possible or who has gone above and beyond.
- Be transparent: While turbulent times can clearly affect every industry for better or worse, you need to be able to give employees notice and be transparent with your plans so that everyone is aligned on your vision.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”- Aristotle
Consistency which we repeatedly do is how you find long term success. You can’t just wake up one day and say today I want to work, while the rest of the other days you have not put in any work. You will not get anywhere with that mindset. It’s when you put the workday in and day out that will increase your chances of success and bring you luck. I remind myself of this every day because the success that I have achieved is not sheer luck, it’s through the hard work that I have done every day that makes all of the difference.
How can our readers further follow your work?
The Snow Agency: https://www.thesnowagency.com/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!