How to Make the Most of the Business Roller Coaster

Business is a roller coaster.  It will be up and down with twists and turns all along the way. But it’s your choice to close your eyes and scream or jump in the front seat and enjoy the ride. The ticket’s been punched, you’ve waited in line, now it’s time to make the most of the business roller coaster!

Climb & Ascend

Just as the roller coaster needs to climb that first hill to convert potential energy into kinetic energy, we need to ascend our way to the top of our business. No business was ever created by snapping one’s fingers. Every business started with an idea or concept that escalated into something bigger. We need the steady scaling of determination in order to appreciate the view from the top. The reward will be so much sweeter if you actually earned it.

The climb is where we’re building our strategies, ordering products, making business plans, hiring employees, and anticipating it all coming together.

Highs

The high points of business are fun while they last but it’s up to us to conserve some of that exuberance for the next hill. It’s easy to get consumed with the high points, which is oftentimes what leads to the low points. When business is booming,  we tend to be less vigilant and stop marketing as much, minimize our research efforts, and assume that customers don’t need to hear from us as often. But this is actually the time that we need to assess what got us to this high point so we can stay there.

The high is when we reflect on what got us to the top. Time for some analytics and assessments. What’s been working and why?

Twists and Turns

Just as roller coasters wouldn’t be thrilling without twists, a business wouldn’t continue to thrive without turns. Nothing ever stays the same. Ever. The world is full of overachievers and developers who are constantly forcing us to take those turns.  It’s time to be susceptible to the changes that lie ahead because they’re coming whether we like it or not.  Remember that day you realized that your phone replaced your laptop, which replaced your desktop, which replaced your filing cabinet?

Twists and turns are when we offer some new products or services and switch up our marketing strategies. We must stay relevant to be successful. Ride the trendy train.

Stagnant

There will always be stagnant times in your business; where it’s not growing, but it’s not declining either.  Have you ever been on a roller coaster that has so many twists and turns that you can’t tell when you’re upside down or right-side up anymore? Eventually, you can’t even feel the anticipation of the next hill. We need that horizontal stretch to catch our breath.

The stagnant section is where we catch up on all the small things. Update your contact list, mail the invoices, stock up on supplies, and take a nap, but just a short one!

Downs and Lows

Nothing teaches us more than the low points. When we feel our business slowing down or reaching an all-time low, we know it’s time to grow. The ride down can be fast and scary. It sometimes feels like we might just crash, but we don’t. Eventually, we level off and hang out at the bottom for a while, or immediately start to ascend. You can choose to close your eyes and scream; throw your hands in the air and let whatever happens, happen; or jump in the front seat of that train and be the first to head back up!

Being all the way down teaches us to do better. Perhaps we let our guard down. Maybe we weren’t trendy enough. This is where we learn. This is where we grow. There’s nowhere to go but up!

Whether you choose to board the slightly bumpy or the fully twisted and upside down business roller coaster, you can’t get off in the middle. You must stay seated (and level-headed) for the entire ride.

5 Reasons to Sell to Small Businesses

1-Easy to build trust.

It’s easy to build trust with small business owners because most of the owners are present in the day-to-day activity that surrounds their business. In fact, there isn’t much that takes place in a small business that the shop owner doesn’t have a hand in. So once they establish a trusting relationship with someone else who is an asset to the well-being of the business, they tend to keep that person in their close circle.

Try building a friendly relationship with the store owners in your home town. Make an effort to know their customers so they trust you to help make their businesses grow.

2-No hoops to jump through.

Because you are most likely working directly with the owner, there won’t be any hoops to jump through to find someone authorized to make a decision. Small business owners tend to keep decisions to a yes or a no. There won’t be any phone transfers, upper-management, or lag time to deal with.

Once you have developed a trusting relationship with a small business owner, they’ll feel comfortable to entertain your promotional product ideas and the buck stops there. They either like it or they don’t!

3-If they’re happy, they will tell someone.

If small business owners are happy with their products and service, they WILL tell someone. And if someone should ask where they got something, they WILL tell someone. Where big brand companies stick to commercials and print ads, small businesses do most of their marketing through word of mouth and social media these days. Selling trendy promotional products to one store might result in supplying an entire Main Street with promotional products.

It’s not uncommon for entire communities to rally all of their small businesses together for Shop Small Saturdays and Sip and Strolls so go ahead and encourage your customers to share your contact info for city-wide events.

4-Be along for the ride.

Don’t you want to be along for the ride when that small store becomes one of many? Every large company and corporation started as a small business! They might be ordering minimum quantities right now but that just means there’s nowhere to go but up! And if your marketing tools (promo products) have been helping their business grow from the beginning, they’ll continue to need you and your products as they grow.

If your customers are growing, you’re growing!

5-They’re small but mighty.

Small businesses might be small when they stand alone, but they’re certainly mighty when they stand together. For every US corporation, there are 1162 small businesses! Towns all across America are looking to revamp their downtowns with quaint boutiques, restaurants, and stores. While all of the department stores have made the move online, the Ma & Pa shops are keeping their doors open and their shelves full of trendy, earth-friendly, and reclaimed items.

Small businesses are as trendy as the products inside them and they provide vital revenue for our home towns. Let’s make sure we support them by shopping small and offering marketing solutions (promotional products) that fit their budgets.

Vernon Hires Kelli Denes as Director of Business Development

The Vernon Company is pleased to announce the hiring of Kelli Denes as Director of Business Development.

In this role, Kelli will be actively directing Vernon’s national recruiting efforts in addition to working with the Company’s top salespeople to strategically grow the business with major accounts and helping the Company increase its overall revenues, profits and efficiencies.

Kelli has held various sales roles both within and outside of the promotional products industry. For the last 16 years, she focused on Large Account Sales leader for industry supplier, Raining Rose. Additionally, Kelli is very involved in the industry, recently representing UMAPP in Washington, DC for the Legislation Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Kelli also serves on the workgroup for PPAI’s Women’s Leadership Conference.

Dave Regan, Vernon Vice President of Sales and Marketing, commented, “After getting to know Kelli as our supplier sales rep, we feel very lucky to add her to our sales leadership team. We know that her industry knowledge, enthusiasm, work ethic and approach to customer service will be tremendous assets to Vernon, our salespeople and our client relationships.”

As a wife and mom of three, in her “free time” Kelli also runs a successful lifestyle blog in which she shares some of her reflections, insights and lessons learned about work and family. Check it out at www.thebalancedworkmom.com or follow @BalancedWorkMom on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“I’m excited for this next chapter in my career,” shares Kelli. “The Vernon Company stands out for their values that are aligned with my own.  I love that they are an Iowa-based, family-owned company and a leader in our industry. I already feel at home here.”

Five Pillars for PPW Week

Promotional Products Work! Week is an industry-wide event dedicated to celebrating the power of promotional products and the value they create. This annual event serves as a cornerstone for recognizing the importance of working with promotional professionals while creating awareness for promotional products as a powerful and effective advertising and marketing medium. -PPAI

We help our customers celebrate Teacher Appreciation WeekNurses Week, and so many more! Now it’s OUR WEEK! Let’s use it to our advantage and reach the top of the promotional products industry by climbing these 5 pillars for PPW Week!

Day One PPAI recommends: host an open house, meet-and-greet or company tour.

Send an email or social media blast to your customers reminding them that it’s PPW week and how beneficial promo products are to the success of their business. Let your customers see the personal and approachable side of you! If you don’t have the space for an open house, consider posting a friendly video on social media or set up a meet and greet at a local coffee shop. This would be the perfect opportunity to have your customers update their contact information and assess their current needs.

Day Two PPAI recommends: advocate for the industry by speaking to colleges, clubs or business groups about promotional products industry careers or the power of promotional products.

Brag about how fun and rewarding it is to sell promotional products. Millennials love the idea of working from home, being their own boss, and making their own schedules. A career in promotional products just might be perfect for them! Throw out phrases like “eco-friendly”, “be the first to see the latest gadgets”, and “free samples” and you’ll be sure to pull someone in!

Definitely, touch on what a career in promotional products represents; we’re helping companies get their brand on, providing advertising, assisting them in building customer relationships, and saving the earth by replacing disposable products with reusable ones. Not to mention the fact that promotional products have been around for a long time and are definitely here to stay. There is job security in this career. With fewer and fewer print ads, companies NEED their promo products to work for them!

Use this week as a platform to educate people on the importance of green and environmentally friendly promotional products. Educate schools and universities on the benefits of providing their students with reusable, personalized water bottles and work with local stores to offer reusable shopping bags.

Day Three PPAI recommends: designate a day of service to support a local charity or cause.

Donate extra samples or misprinted items to your local thrift store, elementary school, or shelter. Advertise that you will donate a portion of every sale to a charity, foundation, or local cause for a specified amount of time. Organize a walk or fundraiser and invite your customers to wear their favorite promo shirt or even better yet, provide some…or provide the reusable, branded water bottles! Be sure to photograph and share your good efforts! You can never get enough positive PR!

Day Four PPAI recommends: share the industry’s impact on the economy with legislators, politicians, and government officials—this day coincides with PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The promotional products industry relies on global supply chains. Although most promotional products are manufactured overseas, once in the U.S., these products are decorated by U.S. workers. They are sold by U.S. workers. They are used to promote U.S. goods and services.

Global value chains operate more broadly than supply chains. Global value chains encompass the full range of activities that firms and workers are involved in to bring a product or service from its conception to its end use and beyond. The shift among many globally competitive companies to focus on core competencies and outsource other activities has led to the creation of global value chains that cross professional and national boundaries.

The promotional products industry contributes significant economic benefit throughout the U.S. economy. In doing so, this industry also contributes to a vibrant and diverse eco-system of international coalitions that serve the United States well.

Write your member of Congress to educate them about the benefits of global value chains.-PPAI
Learn more here: https://www.ppai.org/advocacy/legislative-action-watch/

Day Five PPAI recommends: partner with industry suppliers and regional associations and host a customer appreciation day.

Customers love to feel appreciated.  Whether it’s an email, a Facebook post, or a small gift. A little token of appreciation can go a long way. Let your customers know how much you appreciate their business. After all, your business can’t be successful without the success of their business!

A Picture is Worth…A Thousand Sales?

A picture is worth a thousand words; but could it also be worth a thousand likes? What about a thousand sales? Not long ago first impressions were made by a friendly phone call or a personal visit complete with a smile and a handshake. But today, first impressions are often left to a social media connection or even worse…no social media connection at all.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43 percent of employers use social media to check on current employees. And for those of you who are NOT on social media at all, you’re NOT doing yourselves any favors. Studies show that if a person can’t be googled or social media stalked in cyberspace, then they cease to even exist to Millennials.  This is fine if you work in a behind the scenes position that you’re planning to retire from but if you’re career searching or in sales, and you want people to find you approachable, confident, and friendly, then you definitely need to be “social” and you can start with your social media profile picture.

Your profile picture is key to your personal brand and online networking. It has an impact on your job opportunities and ultimately, your career. It should represent you as you would represent yourself in a first interview or business meeting, your first opportunity to make your first impression.

Show YOUR face. Don’t show a cartoon or your favorite dog breed. If you wouldn’t send Betty Boop to your job interview on your behalf, then she shouldn’t represent you in your profile picture. YOU represent YOU. And make eye contact with the camera like you would make eye contact with a client. People want to see if you’re confident and professional, so post YOUR face.

Frame yourself. Make your face front and center. Not too far away, not half of your face, not from ten feet away, and definitely not awkwardly close. You’re not going to be trusted to make well-centered decisions on behalf of your customers if you can’t even center yourself!

Smile. At least a little. If you would smile at an interview, then you should smile in your photo. Looking stern and unapproachable won’t land you any followers, friends, or sales.

Dress the part. If you’re a salesperson, dress like one. Although done correctly, very little of your attire would even make the cut, it’s still important. Unless you’re auditioning for Baywatch, spaghetti straps are a NO! The same goes for too many accessories and too much makeup. If you wouldn’t put a hibiscus flower in your hair for an interview, then it shouldn’t be in your profile photo. And leave the hats to the cowboys and bakers.

Background. Because you ARE being judged by your picture, you probably shouldn’t have a local sports bar in the background. Not that there’s anything wrong with frequenting a sports bar, but do you really want a neon beer sign to represent what you’re about? Choose a simple background that doesn’t steal attention from YOU.

Get your brand on, subtly. Especially if you’re in sales. Wear brand colors or a shirt or tie bar sporting your company logo. Let potential clients know that you stand behind the company you represent. Do not wear clothing with any other writing, logos, or busy patterns. Leave those selfies for weekend posts, not profile pictures.

Consistency. Use the same profile picture for all of your professional social media accounts. This makes you much easier to find, especially if you have a common name. Leave the photo with the grandkids and labradoodle for your personal pages.

Quality. Don’t use a grainy, low-resolution photo. If you won’t take the time to post a quality photo of yourself, then how can customers or employers trust that you will take the time to do quality work for them?

If you want people to take you seriously, then you need to take yourself seriously. Paying a bit of attention to your personal brand (YOU) is worth the time and effort.

Vernon Hires Miller and Patton as Regional Managers
Jack Miller

The Vernon Company is pleased to announce that it recently hired Jack Miller as its Western Region Sales Manager and Pat Patton as its Eastern Region Sales Manager.

While integrated into the sales management team, both Miller and Patton work with Vernon’s top account executives and help lead the company’s recruitment and corporate acquisition efforts.

Miller takes on the role previously held by Stephanie Vernon-Critchfield, as she has transitioned into the position of National Sales Manager. Prior to joining Vernon, Miller served in sales and recruiting roles outside of the promo industry. Miller resides in Colorado.

Patton assumes the role formerly held by Dale Worden for 18 years. Worden officially retired from Vernon in the fall. Patton has years of sales experience in higher education and other industries. He and his wife have two young children and live in Pennsylvania.

Pat Patton

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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