Originally published on DandB.com
Getting certified as a diverse small business can be a great first step and can open up a world of new opportunities. But having your certification doesn’t necessarily mean million dollar deals are just going to fall into your lap!
You still need to create and execute a strategy that will help put you in front of ideal prospects and move you toward closing the deal.
Here’s how to make sure you use your certification to help create the opportunities you’re looking for through a well-crafted strategy.
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, and
- Sharing solutions with people who need them.
If you’re not sure of your business goals besides “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 the results you’re looking for. Use the acronym S.M.A.R.T., a criteria 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 and a specific measurement (e.g., 10% growth in 3 months, or contacting 15 contacts with new marketing material this quarter).
- Measurable – You need to be able to measure your progress over time. Think specific and not ambiguous. (i.e., 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. Don’t decide to expand to national dominance, for example, if you just opened your second location.
- 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 get 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, you should be sure it has a payoff. Depending on the nature of your business, the payoff may be different. For example, your goal may move you toward earning more income or may help reduce operating expenses.
With S.M.A.R.T. goals you can start to create a strategy that can help you get closer to landing more deals.
Share Solutions With the Right People
By sharing your solutions with the right people you can consistently create awareness for the products and services you sell. Who are the right people?
Even though you may be new to diverse business certification, you most likely already have a foundation of clients to mine for information. Your current clients already like and need what you have to offer, so what do they have in common? Take inventory of your best clients and identify what they have in common. These commonalities can form the basis of a strong marketing plan.
Think about these questions:
- What triggered my current 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. Be sure to try using the exact language that they use to describe your products and services.
Streamline your product or service offerings so that you are concentrating on the ones that are most profitable to your business. Then cater your marketing materials toward the most popular (and profitable) options.
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 LinkedIn and the internet to find contact information for your target companies’ Supplier Diversity Manager. You can also use a service like Hoover’s to help you find the right contact; especially, if your target list has more than a few companies.
By using LinkedIn to research Supplier Diversity Managers, you can save time, effort and be more likely to find companies and diversity professionals that have a relationship with people who already know, like and trust you. These contacts can act as a secondary advocate as you look for new opportunities.
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).
Question to ask yourself: What S.M.A.R.T. goals can you set for reaching out directly to contacts?
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Generating new business is about building relationships. You can help lay the groundwork for more positive relationships by having your D&B D-U-N-S® Number and monitoring your business credit file, especially your D&B® Supplier Evaluation Risk Rating (SER).
These numbers can speak volumes about your business without you saying a word. By monitoring your business credit file and taking steps to help impact it, your business credit file may more accurately reflect your company’s credibility when the opportunities to do business with large corporations and government entities come your way.
Following a specific marketing plan, reaching out to contacts and building a strong business credit file can help you create new opportunities for your diverse business. What opportunities are you going to create today?