Marketing to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community requires a plan. Positioning yourself as the go-to person for the community in regards to business transactions requires a strategy and a plan as well. You have to be logical in your approach. You can’t just put a rainbow sticker in your storefront and hope LGBT clients will walk through your doors. You have to put yourself out there and get involved in your local community (or national if that’s your market). I can respect a well placed rainbow sticker or an HRC (the blue and yellow equal sign) sticker on a front door, business card, website, commercial, etc. but you need to do more than just that.
To create your plan ask yourself the following 5 questions.
For more in-depth information on this question read Part 2 of 6: Defining Your Target Market.
How will I position myself differently than the competition? Marketing to the LGBT community can be a crowded space. You’ll always see plenty of financial planners, lawyers, accountants and realtors looking to work with the community. So figure out what makes you different. Find out by asking those you already work with. What is your hook that gets people to know, like and trust you?
For more in-depth information on this question read Part 3 of 6: Thinking Outside the Box: How to Define Your Competitive Advantage
How will I begin my LGBT outreach efforts? This is where you will need to do some research to determine the best place to start. Is there a local LGBT Chamber of Commerce in your area? Do you have a pride center nearby? Is there a professional networking group geared towards the LGBT community?
For more in-depth information on this question read Part 4 of 6: Where do I begin my LGBT outreach efforts?
What steps will I take to start building relationships? Think about what strategies you will use to make yourself known in the community. Will you place an ad in the local LGBT media? Will you attend a big gala in your area? Will you volunteer for a local LGBT non-profit organization? To build quality relationships and get a solid reputation within the community you need to be active.
With step 4, be specific. Put it down on paper.
- By February 15th – I will have talked with my current LGBT clients to see why they continue to do business with me.
- By February 28th – I will have joined the local LGBT Chamber of Commerce or pride center/community center in my area.
- By March 31st – I will have LGBT specific marketing material created to use in my outreach efforts.
For more in-depth information on this question read Part 5 of 6: Relationship Building Requires a Strategy (Part 5 of 6)
How will I measure my progress? Measuring your goals is critical. The best way to measure is by making your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.) Check out my friends at the INUS Group for more information on SMART goals.
For more in-depth information on this question read Part 6 of 6: Be SMART: 5 steps to measuring your progress (Part 6 of 6)
Sometimes the plan is messy and you have to make changes. It also requires a bit of flexibility. If you start something and find it’s not working, switch gears and go down a new path. There’s no saying you can’t veer off the path once you get started. That’s how you’ll find the secret sauce that works for you and your business.
Having a solid plan can be applied in almost any situation. For example, in a previous life I worked in retail. I managed an outdoor apparel department (think skiing, cycling, hiking, hunting, etc.) for a sporting goods company. One of the things I liked the most was rearranging the visual displays for maximum effectiveness. One day I had a vision for how I wanted a certain display wall to look. I dove in, tore the existing display apart and made a catastrophic looking mess. Good news is it was all back together and looked awesome within 2 hours. I had a very specific plan in mind, I knew exactly what I had to do, how long it would take me to do it, and what the end result would look like. However, my working style can occasionally resemble that of a Tasmanian devil. So to the outside eye it seemed crazy what I was up to. My point is – it doesn’t really matter how crazy your plan may seem to others at the onset. With a solid plan and a vision of what your end result will be, you can accomplish anything.
So go for the gold. Get out there and be a Tasmanian devil. Execute your plan and become the business professional every LGBT person would be lucky to do business with.
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