Women-owned business marketing guideBy Solange Messier
Women continue making significant strides in the business world, with 49% of all new businesses founded by female entrepreneurs in 2021. Several factors, such as dissatisfaction with corporate America, the desire to be their own bosses, and pursuing passions have led women-owned and founded businesses to aspire in fostering economic growth and creating successful entrepreneurial ventures.
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In today’s market, female entrepreneurs must be savvy marketers to compete, acquire customers, and survive in their respective fields. It's essential for them to understand current digital trends, so they can make the most of their marketing efforts and thrive despite challenging economic conditions. With this knowledge, women entrepreneurs can stay ahead of the competition while providing the best value possible to their customers.
To make the most of digital marketing for your woman-owned business, it's crucial to identify the proper channels and strategies. This guide provides an overview of digital marketing tactics and best practices, so female entrepreneurs can maximize their online presence.
Table of Contents
- How to get certified as a woman-owned business
- Should you market your business is woman-owned?
- Benefits of marketing your women-owned business
- Branding your women-owned business
- Marketing your women-owned business
- Understanding your digital reputation
- How networking impacts marketing
- Additional women-owned business resources
How to get certified as a woman-owned business
Certification as a woman-owned business is vital if you want to access specific grants and contracts. Below are some of the certificates you can get, as well as how to obtain them:
- Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC): The WBENC is the leading certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States. It offers certification to those demonstrating a minimum of 51% ownership and control by a woman or women.
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program: This program helps women entrepreneurs in the U.S. access federal contracts, allowing them to compete for contracts in specific industries. Like the WBENC, you'll need proof of 51% ownership to be eligible — a woman or women must run the company.
- Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB): The EDWOSB program is similar to the WOSB program, but it provides access to additional contracts. To qualify, entrepreneurs must show that their net worth does not exceed $750,000 and must have documented personal yearly earnings of no more than $350,000 for the prior three years.
- Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada): Focused on women-owned businesses in Canada and North America, WBE Canada endeavors to open doors for female entrepreneurs, suppliers, and innovators, and connect them to corporate and government buyers.
- Female Owned (Australia): Female Owned is fully owned and operated by women. Founded in Melbourne, Australia, this social enterprise aims to provide a platform for inclusivity and celebration, stating: “With 30% of businesses globally owned by Women, it's our goal to support an increase in females of all ages starting and building their businesses.”
- WEConnect International (United Kingdom): The U.K. is WEConnect’s largest European market, providing resources, mentoring, and certification to U.K. businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by women. This is an international organization representing women-owned businesses across the globe.
Women-owned businesses can reach the next level of success with certifications that provide acknowledgment and access to invaluable resources. These certifications are a great way to distinguish your business and attract customers.
Should you market your business as woman-owned?
Promoting your business as woman-owned is an individual decision and should be based on the type of clients you’re targeting. Some potential customers may favor it, while others may not care at all. That’s why you should ask yourself some critical questions before making a decision:
- What are the benefits of marketing my business as woman-owned?
- What type of clients am I targeting?
- Will this help me stand out among competitors?
- Are there any potential negative implications to consider?
Once you've answered those questions, you can decide whether to market your business as woman-owned. If you choose to market your business as female-led, here are some tips to help you stand out:
- Participate in events and organizations: Join organizations, events, and conferences geared toward female entrepreneurs. Networking is an invaluable way to raise your profile and build relationships that could benefit you in the long run.
- Market your business online: Use social media platforms, blogs, and other digital marketing tools to let potential customers know a woman owns your business. With this strategy, you can connect to a broad range of prospects and strategically target them for maximum impact.
- Ensure your messaging is focused: Research your target market and tailor it to them. Ensure the content you create is relevant and helpful to your ideal customers.
By leveraging the right strategies, female entrepreneurs can increase awareness of their businesses and achieve success. With the right approach, your business can thrive and be profitable even in the most challenging economic conditions.
Benefits of marketing your women-owned business
Marketing your business as a woman-owned one can provide numerous benefits:
- Increased visibility in the marketplace: It can give you an edge over competitors and help your business stand out since not everyone can be approved as a certified women-owned company.
- Attracting customers who value diversity: Businesses committed to celebrating diversity have a competitive edge. Showcase your company as woman-owned and tap into the potential of connecting with customers who favor this stance on inclusivity — it could be an invaluable asset for building solid relationships.
- Gaining access to exclusive resources: Many programs and resources are available but require proof of certification. As a woman-owned business, leveraging available resources can provide invaluable support in scaling your enterprise and driving growth.
- Improving company morale: Marketing your business as woman-owned can lead to a more cohesive and motivated staff, as employees will be proud of their company's accomplishments. This may result in more employee engagement, which benefits any business.
Launching a female-led organization is an impactful way to capture patrons who prioritize diversity and representation, as well as solidify your status in the industry. Leveraging the right strategies can give you a competitive edge for success.
Branding your women-owned business
Branding is more than just a logo and slogan. It's the art of creating an emotional connection with customers that will keep them returning for years. Through thoughtful visual elements, messaging, and clever campaigns, businesses can craft their own unique identity to stand out from competitors while expressing their core values at the same time. Here are some tips to help you successfully brand your business.
1. Identify brand values and messaging
Your brand values should tell a story about the heart of your business, from its mission and purpose to the ideals you strongly believe in. Value messages will be unique expressions of what makes your company stand out when engaging with customers or partners. Identify what differentiates you from other businesses and create messaging communicating those qualities. That messaging can appear in virtually all of your different marketing channels, ranging from the content on your website to your social media posts.
2. Find your audience
To capture your audience's attention, understand who they are and what drives them. Use demographic data to gain insight into their interests, values, lifestyle choices, age, income level, gender, and geographic location. Armed with this information, you can develop content catered toward customers that speak directly to their needs.
3. Build trust and authority
Your business must develop a strong reputation in its industry if you want to be successful. Building customer trust and authority takes dedication but is well worth the effort. Responding quickly to inquiries, publishing content frequently, and creating quality products or services at competitive prices are all integral steps to establishing loyal customers who will stay with your company long-term. Also, hiring the right digital agencies with comprehensive marketplace software can streamline this process by integrating products and a wide variety of services with your site to make your business more visible.
4. Use key design elements
Your brand identity is a powerful statement you can represent with creative design elements such as logos, fonts, and color palettes. Carefully curate these visual components to have a unified expression of your company's message that will resonate strongly with the right audience.
A female-led business must remain ever-vigilant of today’s design trends to stay ahead of the competition and make an impact. Seeking innovative solutions is vital for your enterprise to progress, and there are many ways to generate recognition, build trust, and establish a strong presence in the marketplace.
Marketing your women-owned business
Marketing requires a strategic approach to ensure your business reaches the right audience and drives maximum engagement. Many options exist for acquiring new customers, from finding the best partner to provide you with the best white-label marketing services to creating traditional advertising. Here are some marketing tips to help you promote your business:
Create your strategies and plans
Before launching campaigns or initiatives, it’s crucial to craft a plan outlining the key objectives and strategies for your digital marketing campaigns. Then create SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) with measurable outcomes. This will help provide direction when you’re executing marketing plans and will help you track progress.
Leverage local marketing
Look into local marketing strategies such as:
- Create local listings: Ensure your business is visible on popular platforms such as Google My Business and Yelp.
- Add keywords to your Google Business Profile: This will help customers find your business more easily when searching for relevant terms online.
- Employ local listing management: Monitor and update your business information across multiple listings.
- Get listed in online business directories: This expands your business’s visibility to potential customers who may not have heard of you before.
- Optimize your website for local SEO: Researching popular keywords people use in your industry and local area can help you optimize your website for SEO.
- Find local business listing websites and services: To get your business listed in local search results, creating profiles on various directory websites like Yellow Pages and Superpages is a great way to start.
These efforts can increase visibility in local search engine rankings and draw more attention to your business.
Include search engine marketing
Search engine marketing effectively drives targeted traffic and increases conversions by optimizing your website for specific keywords. SEO and SEM are two strategies you can use to target customers searching on the web.
SEO helps organically increase your website traffic by creating content based on popular search terms, while SEM involves using pay-per-click campaigns to promote products or services online. Employing both approaches can help you maximize your reach for potential customers. Also, local SEO can help potential customers find your business faster, increasing visibility and engagement. You can also use things like business identity attributes in Google Merchant Center — particularly the “women-led” attribute icon — to further showcase your organization as a woman-owned business in local search. What’s more, you can align local SEO tactics with reputation management to help you improve online visibility and build trust with your local community.
Effective content marketing
Creating content that resonates with your target audience is key to a successful marketing strategy. You can develop compelling stories and visuals that capture the attention of potential customers and speak directly to their needs. On top of that, you can also utilize blogs, podcasts, videos, infographics, and more to share valuable insights with an engaged audience.
Social media marketing
Leverage the power of social media marketing to engage with customers, build relationships, and grow your business. You can do this by:
- Promoting your business on Instagram: Posting organic content, photos, and videos related to your business on Instagram is a great way to generate interest in your products or services. However, to ensure maximum engagement, it’s an excellent idea to understand best practices for small businesses on Instagram before diving in.
- Share organic content on Facebook: Post articles, videos, photos, or other relevant content that resonates with your target audience. This can help you get more visibility and create a sense of community.
- Engage with customers on Twitter organically: Harness the power of Twitter to connect with potential clients and share helpful content. You can reach a larger audience, drive engagement around your offerings, and build relationships to generate lasting success for your business.
- Creating organic content for LinkedIn: Post helpful content such as "how-to" guides, industry news, and more to build relationships with potential customers. Then engage by responding to comments, and answering questions, while building relationships.
These strategies will help you foster long-term loyalty and increase your chances of success in the local market. Additionally, social media can play a role in reputation management by helping you actively monitor customer feedback and address any concerns quickly and effectively.
Email marketing is a valuable tool for reaching and engaging with potential clients. Start by creating compelling email campaigns that offer valuable content, discounts, or other incentives, and use segmentation to target the right audience for your message. Additionally, measure each campaign's effectiveness to ensure you reach the desired outcome.
You will also need to find an email hosting company to help you manage your campaigns and use practical advertising tools to track the success of each campaign.
Understanding your digital reputation
In today's digital arena, it’s crucial to maintain a positive online presence to attract potential customers. Several strategies to manage your digital image include:
- Replying to customer feedback.
- Staying truthful and authentic in your interactions.
- Being proactive about potential issues.
Additionally, you can track your reputation by leveraging software tools for tracking sentiment analysis and much more. Creating a digital reputation strategy to share content, respond to customers, and build relationships can help you maintain a solid online presence.
Monitoring your online reputation to remain competitive in the market and protect your business from negative feedback or news is absolutely essential. By understanding your digital presence and taking the necessary steps to build a positive reputation, you can foster customer loyalty and increase your chances of success.
How networking impacts marketing
Networking is more than just a great way to stay connected. It's an incredible resource for businesses looking to get ahead. Women-led companies can access fresh opportunities and valuable insight into their target market by cultivating relationships with other industry professionals and potential customers.
Not only this, but networking also allows women entrepreneurs to unlock resources they may need to be made aware of, maximizing their chances of meeting objectives and achieving long-term goals.
Conferences and events
Networking with the right people are essential for success in any business venture. You never know who might become your next customer, mentor, or a great source of industry knowledge. Participating in conferences and events can be a superb way to spark conversations, build relationships, and learn more about the industry.
Industry and trade associations
Trade and industry associations offer a powerful source of knowledge to women business owners. Connecting women entrepreneurs with experienced advisors, these groups provide sound advice that can often make or break an early venture's success. Furthermore, membership comes with exclusive discounts on services such as conferences and other tools that could help any young organization get ahead in its field.
Online networking groups
These groups have surged in popularity and have given entrepreneurs countless opportunities to form critical relationships that benefit their ventures. Through channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, people from all walks of life exchange knowledge and resources, elevating businesses across industries by increasing customer outreach and fostering meaningful connections.
Businesses now realize that diverse voices offer boundless potential. By connecting with marginalized groups like other female-led and minority organizations, you can access fresh perspectives to help grow your business, plus create an atmosphere of loyalty towards your brand. It's a win-win situation for any organization looking to make its venture successful.
Whether you're running a startup or a well-established business, non-profit events offer an exclusive opportunity to make valuable connections. These gatherings give back to society and create useful contacts, which could be invaluable for any organization looking to expand its reach. Plus, since most of these events already have the support of well-known business leaders, they often bring together influential figures and potential partners.
Chamber of commerce events
Attending chamber of commerce events is one of the oldest and most effective methods for connecting with industry players. A business can connect with key partners interested in investing or working together on a project by attending trade shows. These types of conventions provide the perfect opportunity to gain insight into the latest trends in your field.
When you’re running a successful business, having solid relationships is paramount. So take advantage of the networking opportunities and connect with industry pros and potential customers. This can open up exclusive chances for your venture's success. Finally, investing time in building meaningful relationships now can give you that extra edge in achieving your goals in the future.
Additional women-owned business resources
Women-owned business resources are great for female entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate. Here are additional ones you can use:
- Next Wave Impact: Provides resources to find investors.
- Sarah Lawrence College - Business: Includes resources for students in consulting, startups, finance, human resources, and more.
- New Tech Northwest: Resources for women and girls in tech.
- Business Con: Shares comprehensive resources on how to start a business to grow your client base.
These are just a few resources available to women-owned businesses. Spend time looking into the programs and services that could take your business to new heights. Dedication, hard work, and unwavering commitment can transform your venture from an ambitious concept to reality.