How to Grow Your Woman-Owned Business
Getting certified as a woman-owned small business can open up a world of new profitable opportunities. But having your certification doesn’t necessarily mean million-dollar deals will fall into your lap!
You still need to create and execute a strategy that will help put you in front of the right prospects and move you toward closing the deal. Here’s how to leverage your certification to strategically create the opportunities you’re looking for.
Set S.M.A.R.T.(er) goals
When it comes to marketing your business more successfully, you should concentrate on two specific areas:
- Reaching the goals that you set.
- Sharing solutions with people who need them.
If you’re not sure of your business goals beyond simply “staying in business”, it’s important to begin with the end in mind.
Being specific with your goal setting means you’re more likely to see results. Use the acronym S.M.A.R.T., commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s “management by objectives” concept, to check your goals for viability.
Specific – Your goal should have a date attached to it as well as a specific timeframe (e.g., 10 percent growth in three months or contacting 15 prospects with new marketing material this quarter).
Measurable – You need to be able to measure your progress over time. Think specific and not ambiguous (e.g., progress within a set number of weeks, months or a certain number of actions).
Achievable – Setting impossible goals will only set you up for disappointment. Be sure your goal is reasonable based on the current state of your business.
Relevant – Your goal should help you move your business toward your vision of success. Determine what your vision of success looks like and then ask yourself and your team: Does this goal brings us closer to or take us further away from that vision?
Tangible – Your goal should have a specific benefit to your company. Before committing to any goal, make sure it presents a payoff. Depending on the nature of your business, the payoff may be different from one of your peers. For example, your goal may move you toward earning more income or may help reduce operating expenses.
By setting S.M.A.R.T. goals you can start to create a strategy that will help you move closer to landing more deals.
Share your solutions with people who are already looking for them
By sharing your solutions with the right people, you will consistently create awareness of the products and services you offer. Who are the right people?
Even though you may be new to woman-owned business certification, you most likely already have a foundation of clients to mine for information. Take inventory of your best clients and identify what they have in common. These commonalities can form the framework of a strong ideal client profile that you can build an effective marketing plan around.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What triggered my best clients to come looking for my products or services?
- Which marketing strategies have generated the best results with prospects that turned into ideal clients?
- Which products or services do my current clients buy consistently? Which of these is most profitable?
- What type of language do my clients use to describe my products and/or services and their benefits?
Answering these questions can be the start of a marketing plan that can help position you as the optimal solution for the right clients. You can create marketing materials and strategies that speak directly to the problems that your current clients were experiencing before they found your company.
Streamline your product or service offerings so that you are concentrating on the ones that are most profitable for your business. Then tailor your marketing materials toward the most popular (and profitable) options using the exact language that your existing clients use.
Finally, integrate these targeted marketing materials into a consistent plan of action that outlines weekly and monthly steps that you can commit to taking to get in front of the right audience.
Reach out to the right people
Armed with your refreshed marketing materials, reach out directly to contacts at a few companies with which you’d like to do more business.
Use digital resources, such as LinkedIn, to find contact information for your target companies’ Supplier Diversity Manager. You can also use a service, like Hoovers, to locate the appropriate contact. This is especially helpful if your target list has more than a few companies.
By researching Supplier Diversity Managers, you can save time, effort and improve the chances of finding companies and diversity professionals that have a relationship with people who already know, like and trust you. These contacts can then act as a secondary advocate as you look for new opportunities to sell to corporate.
One way to reach out to Diversity Managers is with a brief, friendly email. Mention the work you are doing for your mutual contact and provide an outline of specific problems you solve. Look for opportunities to do business together in the future or connect with them at industry events. Keep them informed as your business grows and expands or when you decide to pursue a particular request for proposal (RFP).
Put your best foot forward
Keep in mind that generating new business requires building and nurturing relationships. That’s why it’s so important that you take steps to establish those relationships as soon as possible. The fact is, even the most qualified lead may take up to eight “touches” before they’re actually ready to convert, so staying in touch is essential.
Of course, there will be instances in which your follow-through doesn’t go quite as you’d intended. The good news is even when you think you’ve dropped the ball on these leads, with the right approach, the opportunity can still be salvaged. Just focus on the fact that there was genuine interest in your product or service that likely still exists and you still have the ideal solution. Reach out and re-connect – you’ve got nothing to lose!
A future bright with possibility
As a woman-owned business, you certainly have plenty of obstacles to overcome. You also have something amazing to offer the world. By following a specific marketing plan, reaching out to the right contacts and building strong relationships, you can consistently create new and profitable opportunities for your woman-owned small business.