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.
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.
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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.”
Welcome to Episode Two of the LION’s Den: Conversations around a 21st Century approach to management and talent. In the second episode, we discuss the training of millennial employees: and why that’s an essential part of working with millennial employees.
Listen to GWBC WBE, Jordan Lofton, Golden Source Consultants, explain the answer to this very popular question.
Welcome to Episode One of the LION’s Den: Conversations around a 21st Century approach to management and talent. In the first episode, we ask the important question: Is there a millennial crisis in the workforce? And if so, what is it, and what do we do about it?
By Erica Bracey, Business Consultant, Small Business Development Center at Georgia State University
Business owners wear lots of hats and typically find themselves spending more time working IN the business than they do working ON the business. Small business owners are often incredibly proud to report, “I am a responsible business owner and file my taxes on time every year!” However, when asked about book keeping practices and the corresponding financial statements, more often than not, that cheerful smile quickly dissolves into the proverbial ‘deer in headlights’ blank stare.
The IRS has done a great job communicating the need to report revenue and “file taxes” on an annual basis. Unfortunately, the same messaging does not exist to motivate entrepreneurs to manage business records regularly and accurately. What some small business owners fail to realize is that engaging a tax accountant to prepare an annual tax return is NOT a viable substitute for bookkeeping and maintaining good records. While business revenue and expenses are reported on the tax return, it only provides an annual snapshot of the business performance. Using reliable bookkeeping and corresponding financial reports throughout the year provides a business owner with the information and data needed to track performance, identify trends and ultimately manage the business. Taxes aren’t more important than bookkeeping or vice-versa. The bottom line is that you need BOTH!
Five solid reasons business owners need bookkeeping during the year.
1) Monthly statements provide timely business information
2) Profits need to be managed MONTHLY not annually
3) Monitoring Cash Flow is critical to business success
4) Benchmarking – in both business and life the saying is true, “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
5) Being “Bankable” – Current financial statements are the first items requested with the loan application and set the tone for the entire loan process.
This Month in the WBENC President’s Report
In this issue, Pamela Prince-Eason, WBENC President and CEO, not only welcomes new leaders to the WBENC Board, but also announces the launch of the WBENC blog.
Turning Your Socializing into Profitable Relationships
Click here to read more!