Anna Vanlandingham is the President of Pinterest Pro Solutions. Anna helps business owners easily understand the value of utilizing Pinterest and how to monetize their page.
An International award winning high school teacher, Anna had the delightful ability to help people learn complicated subjects in an easy and fun way. She taught Economics at Lake Mary High School and has been named the Junior Achievement International Teacher of the Year, the NASDAQ Southeast Region Economics Educator of the Year, the Florida Economic Educator of the Year, the National Federation of Independent Business Owners (NFIB) Teacher of the Year for teaching the Free Enterprise System, named to the Federal Reserve Education Advisory Board, The NFIB Education Advisory Board, and many other awards and honors.
Anna was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Women in eCommerce, serves on the IGSC Social Media Advisory Board, and serves on the Caribbean Carib Academy for Social Media Advisory Board.
In this interview, Anna shares what keeps her pushing forward through the setbacks. Also, discover what made her run a Pinterest marketing business (why not Facebook or Twitter?), get good at it and then teach businesses how to grow through it. Enjoy!
Her advice for entrepreneurs starting a business in Florida:
Don’t expect instant results. It takes at least 5 years for an overnight success. And, listen to your inner voice.
What motivated you to start Pinterest Pro Solutions? How did the idea come about?
I was retiring from teaching economics and wanted to begin a second career. A friend introduced me to Pinterest when you still needed an invitation to have an account. After I joined, I got all these invites, repins, etc. and thought, “This would be a great marketing tool.” Shortly after that, businesses began to use Pinterest for marketing.
I loved the way the social networking site was structured and I felt that if I could get in on the ground floor, instead of working in a saturated market, such as Facebook or Twitter, I could continue to be an educator and leverage my years of marketing experience at the same time. Also, as an economics teacher, I love to watch things grow.
What do you attribute your success to? Is there a trait you have or a person who helped you along the way?
My patience, determination and honesty. When I first began my company people didn't even know what Pinterest was. I had to explain the platform first and foremost. Then of course, they thought it was for women only. I think my background of growing up in the Mississippi Delta without a lot of money taught me to be determined against all odds.
I made many mistakes and some of them were due to my honesty. Why honesty? Because I thought that all people believed in being honest and helping each other for mutual benefit. Not the case at all.
My husband is my biggest supporter. Whenever I had setbacks, he continued to support me and believe in me.
What's unique about your business? Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the rest?
I'm Pinterest only. Most social media marketing agencies/services in the industry try to be one-stop-shop for all of them. This allows me to study the trends of Pinterest alone and stay up to date with all its changes, learn the nuances, and really focus on training. Also, well, I'm a veteran and an International Award-Winning Economics teacher.
In my company, and teaching which my true passion in life, I apply my economics background of forward thinking.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or customer? If so, how did you handle the situation?
I think any business owner would be lying if they said no. I was very gracious, told them I understood how they felt and pointed out solid data that shows what I did. I pointed out that my job was to drive traffic to the website – not sell. We had different viewpoints and weren't a good fit.
Did you have a hard time starting your business? How did you handle time and resource constraints?
Yes, I was in a whole new niche, had to brand myself, was very naïve, and got taken to the cleaners several times. I had to teach myself those were tuition payments and let Karma take care of those people. I worked many days, weeks, months eating my meals at the computer.
Every time I hit a roadblock I assessed the situation, evaluated what I could learn, and remained determined. I kept telling myself I made it out from the cotton fields of Mississippi to be an Internationally recognized teacher who traveled to 32 different countries and opened NASDAQ. I can do this!
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
Many times it was the naysayers; the people who thought I would never be able to make a business out of this; the determination to prove them wrong. Also my husband was so supportive and believed I would be successful even when I didn't believe in myself.
In your experience, what's the best way to find your ideal customer? Are there any mistakes that our readers can learn from?
You need to determine the traits of your ideal client first. Think about what they like to do, where they shop, what clothes they wear, at 10:00 am what would they be doing? What do they do for entertainment?
Before you do any type of marketing, do your research and determine what your demographics are, who your ideal client is, and your specific goals. Don’t waste money on programs that say they have the answer. Dig for the answer yourself. Find a coach – but find a good coach. Ask for their credentials. That was my biggest mistake which set me back a year at least.
Is there a type of marketing that has worked amazingly for Pinterest Pro Solutions? If so, how did you stumble upon it?
LinkedIn and speaking. LinkedIn is where business owners are. I found that when I speak to a group they're blown away with what I tell them Pinterest can do for a business. They have no idea. Because it's an eye-opening experience, I usually get clients from the speaking engagement.
As a business owner, what's your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?
That I will regret not spending more time with family and friends. I have put myself on a schedule and set aside time to spend with them.
What are the three best pieces of advice that you would give to anyone starting a business in Florida? What do they need to know from the very beginning?
- Don’t expect instant results – it takes at least 5 years for an overnight success.
- Listen to your inner voice.
- There are a lot of fake it 'till you make it-type folks out there. Beware.