Networking? Don’t Fail In The Follow-Up.


When you make a contact or meet someone at a networking event, do you follow up? Following up can be weird, but simply stashing these contacts away for fear of awkwardness doesn’t do anything for your business either. There’s an art to doing the follow-up well, and it’s a useful skill, no matter what business you have.

Before you follow up, get to know your contact. One way you can do this is to do a bit of investigation on social media. Look at their Facebook page–do they use humor to engage? Do they take things seriously? How they interact with their followers will give you an idea of how they may interact with you, and this can make any follow-up conversations less awkward.

It is also important not to wait too long to follow up. Whether you call or email, you should not delay in following up, or else you risk your contact losing interest and the connection is gone. When you do actually make contact, make sure you maximize the time you have to make an impression, continue a connection and lay the foundation for a business relationship in the future. In your follow-up, be sure that you accomplish the following:

  • Ask to schedule a time to meet again in person
  • Refer to specific things you discussed in your initial meeting
  • Offer your services — but don’t ask for anything in return yet

If you rely on leads for a significant amount of your business or need to follow up with contacts on a regular basis, you may find it useful to have a follow-up system in place. This can make it easier to take that step and make contact, even when it’s uncomfortable and potentially awkward. A follow-up system can take the pain out of the worst part of making new contacts and networking — the follow-up.

By Meagan Kerlin for Vertu Marketing LLC

Let Your Competition Drive You Toward Success


Competition is an inevitable part of owning your own business, but the best entrepreneurs use this to drive this them toward success. For some, a competing business can be an obstacle, something to be feared, but in reality, competition is healthy—as long as you know how to use it to your advantage. Don’t fear it; let it push you to thrive.

Instead of being fearful of how competing could negatively affect your business, challenge yourself to raise the standard even higher. This forces you to be smarter with your resources, wiser with your marketing strategy and better with your customers. In fact, most business don’t close because of competition….they end up succumbing because they don’t have the will or the ability to fight, innovate and adapt.

To keep up with your competition, you will have to think outside of the box. Maintaining the status quo can be a trap, and competition is a great reason to get out of your comfort zone and work to establish your business as the leader in your particular industry or field. This can be challenging for any entrepreneur, but it can also be a great exercise in self-awareness. You will compete better and more effectively when you are fully aware of your strengths as a business….and your weaknesses. In fact, competing with another business may push you to compete with yourself—to be better and smarter than you were.

In addition to driving you to self-improvement in your business and as an entrepreneur, competition can propel you to find new ways to meet customer needs and find your specific niche in your field. Competition is not something to be feared, but instead, view it as an opportunity to stretch yourself and improve your business. Don’t be afraid of it, either with another business or yourself, but use it as a way to propel yourself toward future success.

By Meagan Kerlin for Vertu Marketing LLC

Including Pinterest In Your Online Marketing Plan


By now, you should know that social media should be a large part of your marketing strategy. While platforms such as Facebook and Twitter get a significant amount of attention for the benefits they offer businesses, it is important not to overlook Pinterest. This particular social media platform is much more than just recipes and decorating ideas — it can help your business reach a entirely new market. When formulating your plan, don’t leave Pinterest off the list.

Pinterest started as a way to search, share and save ideas, including everything from recipes to ways to decorate your Christmas tree. Savvy business owners saw the opportunity to connect with a creative, social media savvy group of potential customers, finding that it is actually a great way to gain exposure and promote specific products and services. With approximately 150 million people on Pinterest, chances are, there are at least a handful of Pinterest users who could benefit from what your business has to offer. If your business isn’t on this social media platform yet, it’s an opportunity lost….but you can still catch up.

The search feature plays a huge role in the function of this site. While users can follow specific people or request to see specific types of things in their feed, it is largely driven by specific keyword searches. For example, a user might look for “pins” specifically related to anything in which they are interested at that moment — everything from dinner ideas to closet organization. Pinterest also has the ability to influence what people are buying, as well as boost traffic to your website.

Pinterest is easy to use and worth your time. You can start by signing up for an account for your business, even if you are already using it for personal purposes. You can boost pins much like you can boost posts on Facebook, and promoted pins are an excellent way to gain exposure, especially when you are still trying to gain new followers. Just like with other social media sites, you should be engaging with people — so respond to comments and connect with potential followers whenever the opportunity arises. Don’t wait to get on board with this helpful social media tool. It’s free to start, easy to use and offers you a great opportunity to connect with a new group of potential customers.

By Meagan Kerlin for Vertu Marketing LLC

Details: Small Things, Significant Impact


You’ve heard the phrase, “The devil is the in details,” and really, this old adage is true. The smallest details of your business could have a domino-like effect on several aspects of your operations, making it extremely important not to overlook even the most seemingly benign matters. With an eye on the details, you can both avoid problems and find solutions to issues even before you really need them — saving you time, money and a significant amount of stress.

Business ownership can be an all-encompassing matter. You may feel that you already eat, sleep and live around your business, yet still somehow overlook some things. It may seem impossible to be a visionary for your business idea and married to the details at the same time, all while making sales, dealing with employees and handling day-t0-day challenges. Instead of adding more stress to your life and more to your already too-long to-do list, establish a habit of regularly checking up on the details related to the following:

  • Up-to-date website: Whether your pricing has changed or you need to add new products to your site, do not delay in keeping the details of your site as up-to-date as possible. This keeps your customers informed and lowers the likelihood of a problem due to miscommunication.
  • Paperwork and other boring stuff: Look, rifling through a stack of papers is no fun, but paperwork is a necessary part of doing business. Schedule time every week to make sure bills are paid, papers are signed and all other stuff, such as tax documents, are managed and dealt with appropriately.
  • Social media and digital trends: Social media trends change approximately every 14 seconds. It feels impossible to keep up, and you may not even have the time to think about what’s new and how it could benefit your business…..but try anyway. Peek at your Facebook page, update profiles as necessary and find out how you can do better to implement these tools in your marketing plan.

It’s easy to overlook these menial tasks and small issues. In light of the major things you encounter every day, they probably don’t even seem like a big deal, but they are. If necessary, delegate some of these tasks or hire appropriate help, but no matter what, don’t let neglect of the small details have a big negative impact on your small business.

By Meagan Kerlin for Vertu Marketing LLC

Does Your Pricing Reflect Your True Value?


When you own a small business, the prices you charge for your products and services should reflect your true value –the value of your time, your effort and your stuff. However, as the person in charge, you may also find that you are asked on a regular basis to discount your pricing. Family members, friends and even random business contacts may request a lower price simply because they know you or they are strapped for cash, and while it is acceptable to help people out occasionally, you must also keep yourself paid and your business afloat. How can you decide what your services are worth? What should you do when asked to give a discount?

As a business owner, you cannot make apologies or excuses for prices that match your true worth. While people are always looking for a good deal, simply psychology suggests that people actually associate higher prices with higher quality and value. You should not out price yourself for your target market, but aim to charge a rate that ensures you make money while still remaining accessible to potential clients. You don’t have to justify your rates, and in many cases, you should not necessarily feel compelled to discount your rates simply because you are asked to do so.

When deciding what to charge for your services and whether or not to offer special pricing upon special request, here are a few things to remember:

  • You can’t recover spent time; it is the most precious of all of your commodities. Spend it wisely.
  • Money you don’t make now, you will have to make later. If you accept less money for a significant amount work now, you may have to work more hours at a future time to make up for that loss.
  • Your prices must reflect the value of what you have to offer, whether that is a physical product or your unique skill set.

Pricing is a tricky thing to address as an entrepreneur. Don’t sell yourself short or allow others to cause you to work hard for nothing, but make sure what you are charging is fair and appropriate for the high-quality and valuable services you offer. This not only will attract clients who are looking for value and return on their investment, but also the kind of customers who come back over and over again.

By Meagan Kerlin for Vertu Marketing LLC