Janine Popick’s family has no idea what she does. They think she’s “into computers.” In fact, she runs VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service email marketing, social media, surveys and direct mail marketing. She also writes for Inc.’s Girl Power: Female CEOs and has been featured in USA Today, Entrepreneur Magazine, ClickZ, B2B Magazine, Selling Power Magazine, San Francisco Business Times and Inside Direct Mail. She’s got a shelf full of awards, including three Stevies for Best Entrepreneur three years running.
To say she’s “into computers” doesn’t do her justice.
The success of VerticalResponse, in Popick’s mind, starts with her staff. “They care about our customers, they advocate internally for new and better services, and they genuinely like our customers and their peers. This translates into happy customers who tell their friends about us,” explains Popick.
And the adage about it being cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one isn’t lost on Popick and her staff: in fact, it’s something that affects decision-making every day. They work hard to keep their customers top of mind.
Growing Into New Areas
Popick says that as a small business, VerticalResponse has grown off of its profits for the past six years. She anticipates that the company will grow 20 percent organically over the next year, and over five years, looks at moving into other areas that help small businesses communicate with existing customers as well as get new business.
“This might involve acquisitions of companies that service SMBs in the marketing automation space and social media space as well as the CRM space. This would allow for much higher growth than we’ve been enjoying organically.”
Trusting Her Instincts
Like many of us, Popick has been reluctant to go with her gut, despite her husband advising her to trust her instincts. “Over the course of 10 years there have been many times when I’ve said, ‘I told you so’ to myself!!”
To other entrepreneurs, Popick stresses the importance of tracking and monitoring public opinion online:
“Watch and react to what people are saying about your business, either positively or negatively. So many businesses are scared to do it; they’re scared of the ‘bad.’ There is so much that can be done for your business by jumping into conversations and shaping them.”
Janine was recognized as a Small Business Influencer Champion for 2011. Read more of our Small Business Influencer Champion interviews.