She Taught an “Old Dog New Tricks”

Laura DeRamus
Laura DeRamus
Passionate Art Dealer | Framer | Small Business Advocate

In 2015, after being in business for 30 years, I discovered something very surprising: an “old dog can learn new tricks.” When the crash of ’08 came, we held on to our business with loyal customers who loved our art and all the products we had as an exclusive dealer, but I started struggling and wondering if it was time to close up shop and move south for the winter. Buyers were changing, and I did not know how to reach them. I was doing all the “right” things: Website, Facebook posts, and even Twitter—but nothing seemed to bring in people like they use to in prior years.

Then a woman came into our Dealer Training and turned everything upside down. Maria Bereket started off by comparing social media marketing to a Star Wars Movie with us being Luke Skywalker, and the “digital world,” she told us “would be like learning how to use a light saber.” We all rolled our eyes and gave her a hard time, confident in our years of experience.

She was direct and to the point: “Leave what you know behind and embrace technology, or die.” I did not believe it at first, but she was so very right. The truth is I listened to some of what she said and just tried to hang on to what I knew to be true about my business and customers, but Maria kept telling me “Be where your customers are. Not where you are!”

After months of webinar training on topics like “Using Canva,” “The Perfect Post,” and “Hosting Events with Social Media”—my head was spinning. But you know what? Everything she said was true, and she held our hands and got us through the difficult journey of walking into the present. I ended up 2016 growing sales with a whole range of products coming off my walls—and most importantly with new customers (brand new ones!) I was thrilled to see that we were selling products directly from the social posts we created together. At this writing—Janaury 2017— my sales for the month are double from where they were in 2016. It truly is a mindset that has to happen today. I am beginning to see that I can keep my loyal customers from the past and grow my business by reaching out to new people who had never heard of me, our art, or even our town!

If there is a drawback, it is that we are just really beginning this journey of understanding social media marketing. I am getting our local business association involved in some of her training and working on changing my website, using that content calendar, and becoming a “Thought Leader,” which Maria assures me will grow my business with “inbound” leads. I am not rolling my eyes anymore, just embracing her training with an excitement for the year ahead!

February 1, 2017, Laura was Maria’s client