HillaryBerman, Popcorn & Ice Cream, Marketing, The Story Exchange Your name: Hillary Berman
Business name: Popcorn & Ice Cream, a small business marketing and consulting service
Type of Business: Marketing & PR
Business location: Bethesda, Maryland, United States

Website www.popcorn-icecream.com
Twitter @popcornicecream
Facebook www.facebook.com/PICMarketing
Pinterest pinterest.com/popcornicecream

Reason for starting
A search for “small business success” delivers pages of articles, citing thousands of statistics, and offering hundreds of theories. The bottom line? To succeed in small business, a good idea and an entrepreneurial spirit are just the beginning. Many resources exist that enable small business owners tomarket and brand their businesses-great graphic designers, web developers, photographers, PR professionals, and more. But, far fewer strategists exist to help entrepreneurs bring together a marketing program that truly impacts growth for their businesses. Most of the options available either don’t think with a bootstrapping mentality or are simply financial inaccessible (and larger in scope than necessary) for small businesses. That’s what inspired Popcorn & Ice Cream, a desire to make marketing strategy and program execution available to inspirational small businesses-at a price they can afford.

How do you define success?
When clients embrace a customer-centric approach to their businesses. Regardless of the element of marketing strategy – promotional effort, pricing, packaging, product/service mix, customer experience – with customers in focus, the outcome is always happier customers. Happier customers result in stronger brands and revenue growth for businesses as a result of deeper loyalty, as well as increased word of mouth (WOM) and referrals.

Biggest Success
Just as we hope our clients will consider their customers as a central focus in their market strategies, we structure our service offerings, service delivery, pricing, and client communications around our customers’ and would-be customers’ needs. As a result, we’ve been honored with positive feedback and client engagement from those with which we work. Our greatest success? Every referral we receive. Referrals are the greatest compliment we can receive and the absolute strongest indicator of our success. We’re proud of the fact that 100% of our growth has come as a result of word of mouth and referrals.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Managing growth. In professional services, time is both the most valuable and scarcest resource. The only way to sustain growth and achieve our goals comes by way of hiring new resources. This however presents other challenges as we refuse to compromise the premise on which this business was established – providing quality, qualified marketing support to small businesses at a price they can afford. We refuse to increase prices to hire ahead of new business or compromise quality with lesser resources. To address this challenge, we manage growth through addition of part-time consultants and freelancers who work as members of our extended team. We hire those who share our passion for small business, as well as commitment to excellence and creativity. We work with the best minds for small business regardless of where they’re located in the US.

Who is your most important role model?
While it may sound trite, I feel honored to have my dad to look up to and to influence my life. He is someone who values integrity, honesty, and hard work above all else. He does what he says he will whether it is for his clients, his family, his friends, or anyone he meets. In the public eye, I admire Katie Couric for championing causes she values, always managing a smile, and serving as a role model for her girls – and all girls – as she embraces new challenges. And, she’s a working mom.