By: Cassandra Bailey, CEO of Slice Communications and Laura Berry, Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative
As a female CEO, one of my favorite events of the year is always the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Summit & Salute. The Summit & Salute is one of WBENC’s annual events that highlights the accomplishments of America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises and top Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). The networking and knowledge that I gain every year from this conference is invaluable.
In New Orleans this year, the pace was fast and furious. That said, this event is smaller than the WBENC National Conference which makes it easier to make real connections with the other attendees. The roundtable sessions give speed-networking a whole new definition. Imagine meeting 8-10 people at a time and getting know enough about them to want to find time to reconnect at the Summit and beyond. It’s thrilling.
This year, the Forum, which is exclusively for WBEs, added its own meet-and-greet / speed networking. This is particularly exciting for me because I fully believe in the power of WBE-to-WBE business and all it has to offer. That’s part of the reason that Slice Communications and Cogberry Creative chose the WBENC Summit and Salute to launch our new study aimed at helping other WBEs better market themselves. Solving The WBE Digital Disconnect: Connect To Corporate Buyers With Confidence made its debut at the WBENC Summit and Salute in New Orleans.
Since 2007, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate five times faster than the national average. Yet, women entrepreneurs are still much more likely to be sole proprietors with limited staff and even more limited resources than their male counterparts. In addition to challenges accessing capital and networks for growth, women entrepreneurs often do not adequately leverage social and digital marketing best practices that have been shown to open doors to corporate buyers and other customers. This disconnect between how corporations buy and how women-owned businesses sell is becoming more pronounced as millennial buyers gain influence.
According to Google’s report The Changing Face of B2B Marketing:
- More than 40% of B2B buyers are now millennials.
- 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.
- B2B buyers have already completed 12 research steps, including having searched for comparison products, watched videos, and read reviews before contemplating contacting businesses directly.
“How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling,” published in Harvard Business Review showed:
- 53% of B2B buyers say social media plays a role in making a final selection.
- 82% of B2B buyers said winning vendor’s social media content had an impact on the buying decision.
Working with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, three women-owned firms, certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), combed through almost 900 women-owned businesses’ websites and social media accounts to present a research-backed toolkit for the community of growth-oriented entrepreneurs.
The team intentionally sought research to understand the complicated reasons why WBEs were missing out on market share despite a climate of access in the supplier inclusion industry. A “digital disconnect” was uncovered between what WBEs are presenting in the digital space and how corporate buyers typically initiate and conduct supplier research.
An analysis of almost 900 women business enterprises (WBEs) across 43 states in addition to DC and Puerto Rico enabled the team to develop a weighted average system and resulting classification rubric. Businesses can take the test to see where they are on the scale from 0 to 4, with four being completely branded on each social platform. Each business reviewed for the study was ranked according to the rubric.
The researchers examined the websites and social media pages of the WBEs, including their corporate LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The study found:
- 45% of WBEs have a below average website which may not be found through keyword search or the content may make it difficult to understand all the company’s products/services.
- 62% of the surveyed firms scored 0 or 1 out of 4 on their Twitter channel, meaning that most WBEs either had zero presence or owned a Twitter channel with minimal information that was not updated.
- 40% of the WBEs surveyed engaged on LinkedIn with a score of 1 to 2 out of 4 on their profiles, meaning they owned a LinkedIn page with minimal information that is not updated or a page with minimal information that is current but posts infrequently.
It has never been more important to elevate and empower women’s business development. More than 270 of the 500 members of the S&P 500 publicly advertise supplier diversity and inclusion programs. However, WBEs are not meeting those buyers’ marketing expectations. By sharing resources like this toolkit, WBEs can evaluate their marketing and scale their digital marketing and social media best practices to meet buyer expectations.
The 2017 WBENC Summit and Salute gave us the perfect opportunity to connect with other WBEs in an effort to help them grow. I’m really looking forward to continuing this work at the WBENC National Conference in June.
About the Authors
Cassandra Bailey is the president and CEO of Slice Communications, an agency that makes people pay attention to their clients using public relations, social media, and email marketing.
Laura Berry is the Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative, content strategy firm assessing market impact, building brand equity, and engaging targeted audiences through powerful messaging.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has a mission to fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses. As WBENC celebrates its 20th anniversary it is clear that they continue to live out this mission decades later. WBENC kicked off its 20th-anniversary celebration with their Summit and Salute hosted this year in New Orleans.
The WBENC Summit & Salute has always been one of my favorite supplier diversity events and this year was no disappointment. I have been a repeat attendee for the past three years. The first two years, I attended as a supplier diversity professional from one of WBENC’s Top Corporations. However, this was my first year attending as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) representative. Prior to the conference, I was looking forward to seeing how my experiences would be the same and different from previous years.
One of the main reasons that I love the Summit & Salute is because it provides numerous opportunities to make connections with both corporations and WBEs. WBENC provides numerous workshops and speakers to speak about topics that are helpful and relevant to WBEs and the corporations. Attendees have the opportunity to hear executives from the Top Corporations discuss the changing trends in their industry and prepare WBEs for the changing climate. In addition, WBENC provided mini panel discussions with numerous WBEs to discuss varying topics that are affecting women business owners.
As a WBE attendee, there were programs that I was able to participate in that I hadn’t attended in the past. The WBE forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about the current and future state of WBENC and hear from numerous WBE speakers. One of the highlights during the forum was a panel of WBEs that discussed how they have created their own supplier diversity programs. As a former supplier diversity professional I was very impressed to hear from WBEs that are really walking the talk. Another new experience was attending the Procurement Meet & Greet as a WBE. Even from a different vantage point, the Procurement Meet & Greet still provided great connections with both corporations and WBEs.
As I begin my journey to start my own business and become a WBE I have to reflect on the past few years of my career. I have been able to experience both sides of the table as a corporate and WBE representative but the one constant in all of the change has been WBENC. I am truly blessed to be a member of my local WBENC family but also the national WBENC clan. The Summit & Salute the past couple years has given me the opportunity to connect with old and new colleagues and to catapult my career to the next level. I encourage both WBEs and corporations alike to attend the WBENC Summit & Salute because from personal experience it has continuously been a turning point in my life.
Independent Contractor – Supplier Diversity and WBE Support
Mobile: (336) 908-0645
Woody Allen’s quote that ‘half of the battle is just showing up’ is applicable to women-owned businesses. It is a battle to create a successful business. While half of that success comes from skills, professionalism, and hard work, the other half comes from just showing up. You can’t be in the right place at the right time if you don’t show up. WBENC’s regional and national meetings, summits, forums and conferences provide opportunities to show up. For example, on an escalator at a Summit and Salute conference, I had an exchange with a gentleman who at the time, I didn’t realize was a corporate supplier diversity manager. While we chatted about the weather, long lines, and things that were not necessarily business related, I of course, took the opportunity to talk about my business. I followed up when I got back to the office and kept in touch. After about a year, he awarded me a small project. His corporation experienced my work and I was eventually awarded a $1.3 million dollar purchase order. This is but one example demonstrating the importance of ‘just showing up’. See you at the next conference.
Dydra H. Virgil, Principal
V&L Research and Consulting, Inc.
MENTORING, ACCOUNTABILITY & MASTERMIND GROUPS
Women business owners are typically working long hours, juggling family and work and isolated from other professional women. We all know that men form alliances and partnerships on golf courses while professional women leaders isolate themselves. That was me for most of my real estate career. I looked forward to conferences so I could learn and network but also to have quality social time with likeminded women. One conference we were awoken in the middle of the night due to a fire alarm. Two women with similar businesses in other parts of the country and I walked the streets of Tulsa until they let us back in our hotel room. It was during this unplanned meeting that we formed our weekly mastermind group. I can tell you now that I especially look forward to our weekly calls lasting an hour or so. On these calls, we discuss challenges we face, marketing strategies, employee best practices and so much more. We also created a google drive where we share our best materials and practices. We spent an intense weekend together working nonstop on perfecting our recruiting and onboarding documents.
My business structure and practices have greatly improved. But what I also value is the comradery we share with each other. I am a worker and employer. The ladies in my neighborhood for the most part are housewives and we have little in common. I like talking shop. With my mastermind group, I have this dynamic and look forward to every Friday morning we have blocked out to have our call.
I was fortunate to attend the last Tuck Executive Leadership training at Dartmouth fall 2016. The week was jam packed with information. I was so inspired by all of those incredibly successful ladies in the same room with me. But it didn’t stop there. A group of us are holding each other accountable and having webinar conferences to implement Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. Prior to attending the Tuck program, I had listened to this book on audio but didn’t make the time to implement. Since the Tuck training, I have since sat down with my team and we created our Core Values. It was enlightening and team building. We are off and running and completing the steps set forth in this book. Until now, I was doing back flips to try instill the culture I wanted my company to have. Now the team is establishing our culture. This same awe inspiring group are planning a quarterly get together in different parts of the country to continue on our path to help each other with our challenges of managing and building our businesses.
We are supporting and inspiring each other. I am no longer alone in my challenging journey as a business owner. Our mastermind groups have filled the void and loneliness I experienced for too long. My business is running smoother and more efficiently and effectively. My personal joy is back.
Nancy Braun is the creative force behind Charlotte’s Showcase Realty (WBENC certified). Showcase Realty specializes in luxury real estate, buying & selling homes, short sales, foreclosures and Property Management. With her team of top real estate professionals focusing on technology and delivering a new kind of real-estate experience, Braun has positioned Showcase as the leading edge of the real estate industry, earning national and local recognition. Showcase Realty is committed to enriching the Charlotte community through selling homes, fostering neighborhood stabilization and promoting homeownership. Braun serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlotte and is consistently one of the organization’s Top 10 Donors.
Engagement, Motivation and Support are the Keys to a Successful Program
By: Candace Headley, Wellness Development Manager
Worksite wellness programs have been around for more than 40 years. Traditional medical-cost-based Return on Investment (ROI) approaches have arguably been the most important aspect and driver of these programs. However, having had a pulse on employee benefits programs for many years, we at Midsouth Benefits caution that this focus is outdated and flawed. Organizations of all sizes will need to embrace alternative perspectives to stay competitive. We recommend a shift from ROI to VOI, or VALUE on Investment.
Corporate wellness is no longer a perk … it’s an expectation. With the changing face of the workforce, including the influx of millennials, comprehensive wellness programs that include offerings such as flex time and telecommuting are becoming driving factors when deciding where to work.
Wellness is about behavior and lifestyle change, and change takes time and commitment. Wellness programs should provide employees with a sense of purpose and encourage positive morale, not just band-aid care, physical support and weight management programs.
MIDSOUTH BENEFITS’ TOP FIVE TIPS TO A WINNING WELLNESS PROGRAM
- EMPOWER PARTICIPATION! Support and empower your employees to participate in your wellness program by providing them with the opportunities to do so. After all, much of our time is spent working whether it’s in the office or not.
- PREVENTABLE CARE ISN’T PREVENTABLE! Seventy-five percent of chronic illnesses and diseases are preventable. An employee wellness program should address care that preempts sickness. Routine check-ups as well as consistent, ongoing health education and awareness information can help sustain healthy lifestyles.
- BE CREATIVE AND AGILE! Workplace wellness programs should not be boring! There is no “cookie-cutter” wellness program. Be creative and build a wellness program that is open to change and embraces growth. Employees need to be challenged and encouraged in different ways.
- MARKET YOUR PROGRAM!: As healthcare costs continue to rise, it is important to find ways to help your employees improve their bottom line by becoming engaged in your wellness program. Incentivize your employees to participate to win prizes, reduce premiums, etc.
- HEALTHY EMPLOYEES IS THE END-GOAL! Building and sustaining a wellness program takes time. Be sure to set clear and realistic goals. The idea behind wellness in the workplace seems straightforward: healthier employees. Without the participation of both employer and employee it will be hard to build a successful program.
Midsouth Benefits is an independent employee benefits agency and WBENC certified since 2011. Karen Larkin, CEO, and her team of dedicated, experienced professionals work primarily in the mid-size to large employee benefit marketplace (50 or more employees) brokering and consulting on a wide array of services including but not limited to benefits review, strategic planning, communication development, compliance, technology support and wellness program development.
Many Marketing Directors and CMOs are barreling through a busy time of year: planning season. The end of a calendar year often means the close of a fiscal year, which means marketers are budgeting and planning for the future. Sometimes, in the midst of allocating budget for public relations, advertising and sales support, a crucial piece is overlooked…
Corporate branding should be an integral part of any marketing mix on a consistent basis. Brands often begin a corporate branding program with a solid logo and rigorously enforced brand guidelines, but the management of this process can lapse over time and impact the brand without proper attention and strict reinforcement. It takes a lot of discipline to sustain a brand program when the business is in flux.
For the most successful and iconic brands, branding is not a once-per-decade project. It is an ongoing effort that ensures the look and message is always consistent, relevant, and equity-producing. Corporate branding goes well beyond an occasional logo and website refresh. Successful corporate branding programs incorporate design, imagery and voice.
Design should focus on a relevant and modern look and feel. Dated design gives the impression that a brand is not current. Design includes logo treatment, colors and graphic elements on all identity materials: letterhead, sales collateral, website, signage, advertising, etc.
Imagery is also an important element of corporate branding and a crucial counterpart to design. Imagery should mirror the brand’s desired feel and be inclusive of all customer groups. Imagery has the ability to project a brand’s heritage, quality, effectiveness, or value. Examples of imagery are photos, illustrations, etc.
Voice is one of the most easily lost elements of corporate branding, especially in today’s world of social media, reactive promotions, and real-time interaction. Brand personality should be conveyed through a consistent voice across all channels, even in something as quick as a tweet. Is the brand’s voice humorous? Brainy? Cynical? Uplifting? Whatever it may be, a strategic corporate branding plan will define it and provide guidelines for consistently using that voice, everywhere.
Kriston Sellier is President and Creative Director of id8, a full-service boutique advertising agency located in Marietta Square. To have a conversation with a branding expert regarding your specific needs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 770-428-8668 or check out our website: www.id8agency.com
There you are with a decent glass of wine in your hand.
Across the table sits a decent looking stranger. You’ve paid a decent amount of money to meet people like him or her, so let’s get started.
Stranger: I’m the youngest partner in my firm. My BMI is nineteen. I have a degree from the LSE and I’m sending my niece to college because my brother is a bum. I just finished rehabbing a bungalow in East Atlanta and I’m on the board of Oxfam America.
You: I’m sorry. I’m getting a frantic text from my parakeet sitter.
If you met a self-absorbed, egotistical, narcissistic jerk like that at a speed-dating session, you’d probably leave. But, as marketers, we’re often guilty of being just as jerky. We have seconds to make an impression on our target audience with our ad, email or whatever, so we just dump facts and features
about our brand all over them. We gush about how great our offering is. And we’re surprised when they leave.
Here’s a different way to approach the creation of marketing messages, using a technique called Message Architecture. You build messages from the bottom up, using a three-tiered template like this one:
It’s not all about you, you know.
The foundation of Message Architecture is We’re Great. This is where we put all the stuff we love to talk about. Ours is the best, the biggest, the oldest, the newest. A lot of marketers seem to believe, “If we can just tell potential customers everything about how great our offering is, they’ll love what we’re selling just as much as we do.”
Yeah. It does look pretty silly when you write it down like that, doesn’t it?
The middle level, We Can Do Great Things For You, is where we turn our great facts and features into benefits for our potential customers. But we need to know that the benefits we’re creating are relevant ones. This is where even the most rudimentary audience insight research can be helpful.
Take a Marketing Lesson from a 13th-Century Friar
Way back around 1240 AD, Giles of Assisi wrote “…blessed is he who seeks to understand before being understood.”
So, how well do we really understand the people we want to sell to? Sure, we understand them demographically. But when a person is shopping (I use that term in the broadest sense), whether it’s for legal representation, business services, bird food, sheet metal screws or lunch, he or she is being driven by needs that are much deeper than the mere need for an attorney or a sandwich.
We call these hidden drivers Emotivations™, the emotions that motivate actions1. And if you understand the Emotivations driving your potential customers, your task of standing out from your competitors and closing a sale is going to be a lot easier.
It’s important to understand that, while Message Architecture is built from the bottom up, your audience perceives it from the top down. Lead with a demonstration of how well you “get” what your audience is really shopping for and they’ll stick around long enough to get to know you.
Bill Mount is Insights and Strategy Director for The Crafton Group, Inc., a marketing and creative collective composed of senior practitioners in every aspect of contemporary marketing and communications, including research, strategy, design, advertising and media.
1 Emotivation is term coined and trademarked by The Crafton Group. But the idea of people being driven by hidden, emotional needs is not a theory. It’s an accepted concept that drives the decision-making behind every successful marketing program. We’d love to tell you more about it.
Have you ever wondered why we make certain decisions or react a certain way when making business decisions? Maybe it is because of the lessons we have learned growing up that have been instilled in us to react in a unique way when working with others. “Leadership Lessons from the HART” describe keys, insights and lessons that I learned from my mom, Julia M. Hartfield that shaped many of my leaderships skills today. I believe we can all learn from our experiences, both good and bad, that can help us in life today. For example, you will find in the book a story of how I was able to go to college, graduate and get hired by one of the top fortune 500 companies in the US.
So why would this be any different from others who went to college? Well, I am glad you asked. My mother and I were told that my reading comprehension skills were not up to par and would prevent me from keeping up with the pace of college. More importantly it would be a financial loss for my mom. Though I was disappointed in their assessment we moved forward anyway because my mother had a plan. She taught me to focus on my strengths verses my weaknesses to steer me toward a degree plan that I could excel in.
With her encouragement and support I graduated on time with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Throughout my career as a sales leader, I would spend time with team members helping them identify their strengths and weaknesses, but to place more emphasis on their strengths. This led to placing them in positions they were more comfortable in and that would lead to their success.
We all take leadership training classes or attend seminars to enhance our skills which is great. This book will provide some tips that you already know but may have forgotten over the years that will help you, your family, and your business associates succeed in life and in business.
PLEASE JOIN ME IN CELEBRATING THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT AT THE BOOK LAUNCH ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2016 FROM 5PM – 9PM.
LOCATION: 200 COBB PKWY. N, SUITE 130, MARIETTA, GA 30062.
RSVP TO email@example.com or call 678-538-8384
SpeedPro Imaging Marietta, President
770.693.1767 c. 678.538.8384
200 Cobb Pkwy. N., Suite 130, Marietta, GA 30062
Congratulations! Jennifer Maier, WDS
2016 GWBC® WBENC Business Star of the Year!
“For me, this quote says it all. I have been fortunate to have access to smart and dedicated women, all of whom have been generous with their time and knowledge. This has made me a better student and mentor.”
Jennifer Maier, CEO and President of WDS Inc., was named as a 2016 Women Business Enterprise Star by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Maier qualified for this recognition through her business certification with the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC), and was selected due to WDS’ superior leadership as a warehousing and distribution company with 22 localized service hubs to serve customers in the food processing, medical, and technology industries throughout the United States and Canada.
“As the leader in certifications for women business owners in Georgia and the Carolinas, we are so proud of Jennifer Maier and WDS for achieving this great honor,” said Roz Lewis, president and CEO of GWBC. “WDS is most deserving and their success clearly underscores how women businesses drive innovation and fuel economic growth.”
Maier was recognized for her business accomplishments, her inspiration to other women and her leadership and vision as CEO of WDS. She received her honors during WBEBC’s 2016 Summit & Salute conference held in Phoenix, AZ. Sponsored by Accenture, EY and Ampcus, the three-day event provides vital access to the thought leaders, business intelligence, and senior-level networking opportunities creating the foundation for sustainable growth.
“I am proud to receive this recognition and appreciate the opportunity to serve as an advocate for other women in business,” said Maier. “WBENC and GWBC have been great assets as we grow, and have helped fuel accomplishments I only dreamed of when starting WDS.”
Sustainable Legacies Program Helps Develop Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership Capacity through Volunteerism
CHARLOTTE, NC (February 2016) – Innolect, a woman-owned executive and organization development company, honors Sonoco with its first Sustainable Legacies Award for their philanthropic, volunteer and social responsibility contributions in education, health and wellness, arts and culture and the environment. The award includes a donation to a nonprofit of choice by the winner, of which Sonoco selected the United Way.“We couldn’t have chosen a better company to be the inaugural recipient of our Sustainable Legacies Award,” said Kittie Watson, president and founder of Innolect. “This award not only underscores Sonoco’s world-class giving initiatives, but their keen focus on funneling their support to very local communities across the U.S., not just the big causes.”