During the two-day program, Downey and Dixon were able to discuss the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities with some of the country’s biggest corporations.
The Summit began on March 22nd with a Procurement Opportunity Connection meet and greet in the morning. This session allowed WBENC-Certified WBEs to discuss their companies, products and/or services with participating National Corporate and Government Members. The first day of the Summit also included future-forward sessions in which attendees were able to learn and ask questions of innovators from corporations around the WBENC network.
Day two of the Summit included WBENC’s Match Maker meetings. In these meetings, WBENC-Certified WBEs had pre-scheduled appointments with national corporate and government members and their prime suppliers and/or key business partners to explore first, second, and third tier sourcing opportunities. Not only were these tiers discussed at great length, but also through them, participants were able to learn how to be considered for these opportunities.
“I think the Summit was a really organized and very well thought out event where small businesses have the opportunity to get in front of some of America’s top corporations. Overall, it was a great experience for us,” stated CATMEDIA CEO, Catherine Downey about the Summit. The program also included evening festivities where attendees were able get to know one another and mingle in a more casual setting.
“We were able to get in front of some of America’s top corporations and not just in a business setting, but also in a social setting. The cocktail parties and additional events held during our trip allowed us to really socialize and get to know people,” said Downey.
When the events concluded, Downey and Dixon headed back to Atlanta with a wealth of new ideas for the CATMEDIA team.
Founder and CEO Catherine Downey built her company around five core values: creativity, quality of products and services, exceptional customer service, innovation, and integrity. CATMEDIA has consistently applied these core values to meet the ever-changing needs of government and commercial clients in today’s fast-paced world. CATMEDIA has twice been named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. For more information visit their website at www.catmedia.com
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.