Upcoming guests on the podcast include;Jennifer Brown of Jennifer Brown Consulting
Laura Davis of Yahoo! News
Tony Ferraiolo, transgender youth advocate
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below
In this episode I answer three questions from podcast listeners!
- “I come from a limited marketing background via a 5 yr stint as a radio account executive. I’ve been out of the marketing loop for about 5 years now and so much has changed. I’d like to learn more about marketing my Security Consulting/ Sales to my community. Do you have any tips that will get me going in the right direction. My advertising budget is approx $100 per mo.” – LGBT Business Owner, Las Vegas, NV
- “My fiancee and I are going to be doing marketing for his business in the near future. I’m not sure where to begin.” – Andrea via Twitter
- “Is there such a thing as LGBT Business Set Aside?” – Pamela via E-mail
Links mentioned in the show:
- What the heck is a Chamber of Commerce?
- Maximizing Your LGBT Outreach with a Solid Plan
- National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below.
Episode #3 – LGBT Marketing Basics
You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, Episode Three.
Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.
Hello and welcome to the third episode of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn T. Grace. I am thrilled to be sitting here and doing the third episode of this podcast. I first want to say thank you so much for listening to this show, I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly grateful I am for your support. I feel like I have hit a really good point of momentum and I certainly owe it to all of you who are listening to this podcast or those of you who are reading my blog. As you know the podcast goes out bi-weekly and this is my third episode of it. And what I have been trying to do is basing the podcast content around conversations and topics that have come up over the last couple of weeks. So this episode I originally had planned to talk about effective advertising toward the LGBT community; kind of just throwing you in the deep end, letting you get a feel for all of the things that make advertising effective when you’re marketing to the LGBT community. However, I am going to push that topic aside for probably a couple of episodes, in lieu of talking about marketing basics. So over the last couple of weeks I have gotten a handful of questions from people that follow me on Twitter, or are active on my Facebook page, or are sending me emails. So I wanted to take this opportunity to answer a couple of those questions.
But before we begin I want to talk about what you can expect from me in the next episode of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. As I told you about briefly in the first episode, my intention is to not always be the one that is here talking to you and telling you, educating you on all the great things that you could be doing. But I am bringing in experts in their respective fields to help me educate you on all the things that you need to know in terms of LGBT business and marketing. So on February 6th I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I will have Jennifer Brown, who is the CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting as my very first guest on this show. We will be sitting down and talking with her and asking her questions like, ‘What is it like to be an LGBT entrepreneur,’ ‘What types of challenges have you faced being an LGBT person in business,’ as well as what has worked for her in terms of marketing her business to the LGBT community and also ways that she’s been able to leverage her status as an LGBT person. So her interview is bound to be absolutely fantastic. My intended format going forward will be to have the first episode of the month be a guest on the show, with Jennifer Brown kicking us off in February. And then that second episode of the month will be me here giving you tips and tricks and advice on specific topics that you have reached out to me and said that you’re interested in hearing about. So we have Jennifer Brown in February, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that we will have Laura Davis who is a political editor for Yahoo News, and she will be joining us in the March episode, followed by Tony Ferraiolo who is a transgender youth advocate and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tony for several years now and he’s absolutely amazing and I really can’t wait to share his story with you; and that will be in the April episode. So as you see I’ve already kind of got a good line-up of people and I’m certainly reaching out to you to ask you if there’s anybody that you would like to hear from, are there business people in your community or corporate people in your community who you think would really provide some value to not only yourself but to other listeners of this show. I would absolutely more than happy to reach out to whoever it may be.
What to expect in the upcoming episodes..
So those are just a couple of things that you can expect in the upcoming episodes. Another quick thing that I would like to mention to you, is I was fortunate enough to have one of the managing editors of Dot429.com reach out to me. They have a magazine that is called 429 Magazine, and it’s essentially a magazine that’s geared toward LGBT professionals. If you haven’t been to the website yet I highly recommend checking it out. The best way I could describe it would be to say it’s kind of the LGBT version of LinkedIn. And I’ve just recently created an account, so I have hardly any connections and I’d be absolutely thrilled to connect with you on there if you actually are already there; and if not feel free to hop over and sign up for an account, it’s absolutely free. And what I wanted to tell you about this is that I had the managing editor reach out to me asked me if would be interested in writing a column for the magazine. So I am absolutely thrilled that my blog is getting as much traffic, and as much attention, that it is and I feel absolutely fortunate that this person reached out to me and asked for me to write a bi-weekly column for them. So I don’t know when I will begin this column, however I would love for you to know that all the content that I provide to them will be different than content that you will find on my blog. You will certainly see recurring themes and topics but all of the content for them will be absolutely original to their magazine, so essentially it’s another way for you to get additional information on how to best market to or do business with the LGBT community.
So one last thing before I hop over to answering the questions for this week’s podcast, I am absolutely thrilled as well to announce that I have my very first sponsor of the podcast. And if you listened to episode two of the podcast, you likely heard a commercial for the Human Performance Academy, kind of just thrown in there, and this week I am trying to make it a little more seamless. So I would absolutely love to just play a really quick commercial from my sponsor, the Human Performance Academy.
So there it is, my very first sponsor of the podcast. I am absolutely thrilled to have them on board and I can say with 100% confidence and certainty that they are an amazing company because I actually work with them one-on-one personally. So that’s my commercial and now I’m going to get into the meat of things which is probably what you’ve all been waiting for as we’re about ten minutes into the episode.
Alright so let’s dive into the questions.
Question number one…
Our first question today comes from an LGBT business owner in Las Vegas, Nevada. And her question is, “I come from a limited marketing background via a five-year stint as a radio account executive. I’ve been out of the marketing loop for about five years now and so much has changed. I’d like to learn more about marketing my security and consulting company to my community. Do you have any tips that will get me going in the right direction? My advertising budget is approximately $100.00 per month.”
So I’d first like to say thank you to this person for reaching out to me via email and feeling comfortable enough to ask me this question. Traditionally I would take this question and find a way to incorporate it into my blog post, however this question kind of goes hand in hand with two others that I have. So I figured this is a great time to just kind of answer all the questions in one shot. So I would first recommend that you seek out your local LGBT professional’s organization in your area. If you’ve read any of my blog posts or you’ve listened to the prior two episodes of this podcast, you’ll know that I am an absolutely huge advocate and proponent of local LGBT Chambers of Commerce. As a business owner you likely know what a Chamber of Commerce is, and essentially an LGBT Chamber of Commerce is a chamber that is specifically established to help advance the economic opportunities for LGBT people within a community. And it’s not just LGBT people, it’s also LGBT allies. There are approximately 51 of these Chambers of Commerce and professional organizations and business organizations that are scattered across the United States and additionally I believe there are ten or eleven others internationally. I could be wrong on that number however if you would like to see if there is one in your area you can head on over to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce website, and their website is www. NGLCC.org. They will certainly have information in regards to whether or not there is a chamber in your area. So essentially, I did a little bit of research and I happen to know a great deal of the chamber professionals that are scattered around the country, and I know that there is a Chamber of Commerce in her particular area which is Las Vegas, Nevada; and it’s called the Lambda Business Association, and they do have a website if you just hop on over to Google, you can certainly just type in LGBT Chamber of Commerce Las Vegas, and similarly if you are in another area you can certainly do that as well and if there’s a chamber in your area it will likely come up in that Google search. And if there isn’t necessarily a Chamber of Commerce you very may well have a community center in your area. Community centers are great places for networking opportunities as well, even though that’s not necessarily their specific intentions behind why they exist, but they’re still absolutely a great place to network and meet new people. So she’s saying here that she has about $100.00 per month for an advertising budget to start selling her security consulting and sales business to the community. So what I always recommend is step one is to get active in the community in which you’re trying to reach out to. So I briefly mentioned that there are Chambers of Commerce available and if you’re a little bit uncertain as to what a Chamber of Commerce really is or really does, or if you’re absolutely new to the business community then you can certainly hop on over to my blog and check out the post that I titled ‘What the Heck is a Chamber of Commerce?’ And that is located at JennTGrace.com/chamberofcommerce. And that will give you a little bit of information as to how I am able to leverage my relationship with several Chambers of Commerce, LGBT ones in particular, and ways that you can also leverage having a LGBT Chamber of Commerce in your backyard. So that would be the absolute first step. And the second step is tied into that, and that’s really to get active in the community. So that was basically step one and step two. So step one being get active in the community, step two engage with your local LGBT Chamber of Commerce, business organization, professional organization or community center if you have one of those in your area. And the third step I would say is to start building a plan. You know if you are really interested in reaching out to the community you have to have a plan for how exactly you’re going to go about doing that. I recently created a blog post that was around this particular area as well in terms of creating a solid plan. And in that post I outline five specific questions to ask yourself before you actually start marketing and selling yourself to the LGBT community.
Establishing your target market…
So to go over those five questions, the first question to ask yourself is ‘Who am I trying to market to?’ That’s a very specific question that will help drive exactly the steps that you need to take in terms of creating your marketing plan. So often I will be talking with people and I’ll say, “So who’s your target market?” And they’ll give me something really broad like the LGBT community. And the LGBT community is obviously a great niche within business, however within the LGBT community you can be far more specific. So if we’re talking about this particular person’s business, and she is in a security consulting business, one would say ‘Okay, within the LGBT community, who am I trying to target? Okay somebody who has needs for security.’ So to me, and I don’t know enough about her business and she could be a commercial security consultant or she could focus on residential security. So since I don’t know which she’s focusing on I’m just going to pick one of them and give you an example based on that. So let’s say that she’s targeting commercial security. So the LGBT Chamber of Commerce is an absolutely perfect place to go because you are going to be around plenty of other chamber members and business professionals, and likely a lot of business owners. So to me if you’re looking to promote your security business, I would say definitely part of your target market would be I’m reaching out to the LGBT community, more specifically LGBT business owners within the community. Now if you happen to be a local business, so again I don’t know enough about her business in particular, but her business could be that she only serves the Las Vegas, Nevada area. And Las Vegas is a large city and that very may well be the only city that she serves. However, she could be serving an entire county, an entire state, or perhaps the three states bordering it. So again not having all of the information in front of me, I would very much say that within figuring out your niche, then she could say LGBT community, specifically LGBT business owners, within the state of Nevada. So that sounds far more focused and goal-oriented versus just saying that I want to target the LGBT community as a whole. So that’s where I would recommend you start first. So if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, ‘You know I really have been trying to market to the community and now I need to figure out my plan,’ that’s step one. Who are you trying to market to and be as specific as you possibly can.
Question number two..
Question two is “How will I begin my LGBT outreach efforts?” And this question directly ties back to the first step that I talked about which was get involved in your local community, join a professional organization, join a Chamber of Commerce. So there are likely a variety of other outreach efforts that you can get involved in, and they don’t necessarily have to tie directly back to business, they could be your local marriage equality counsel, or they could be networking outside of the LGBT community that you happen to know that there’s a lot of LGBT people who are networking there. So really try to look at your community and figure out where there are opportunities to be reaching out within the community. And again with this particular person’s business being security I would definitely say sticking with the chambers and professional organizations would certainly be the right avenue. However if you are somebody who is a financial advisor for example; financial advisors can find business and build relationships in a variety of settings, just like many other businesses can as well. So as a professional advisor you may be able to get involved in your local pride center, or your local HIV / Aids program, or a lot of other areas where you’re going to find more consumers and not necessarily business owners. So definitely step number two is determining how you will go about your LGBT outreach. And I would say put together a couple of different opportunities, or a couple of different options for you. So you know bulletpoint three different ways that you think that you can begin reaching out to the community and then of course as you start to tackle those three different things, try to make notes to yourself of where you’re finding the most success and then focus your efforts on that particular area.
And question number three…
Question number three is “How will I position myself differently than the competition?” And I would say to ask yourself this question because marketing to the LGBT community can certainly be a crowded space. And every networking event you go to, whether you’re in the LGBT community or not, you will always find financial planners, lawyers, accountants, realtors – those types of professionals who are out there hitting the ground running, always out there networking, because networking with people one-on-one is how they get their business. So if you are in one of those fields you have to find a way to make yourself stand out from the competition. And I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a very successful financial advisor who was in New York City, and I spent about an hour on the phone with her yesterday. And she was able to give such great insight as to how she sets herself apart from others in the LGBT community. She was able to talk about ways that she sets herself apart from the competition when she’s marketing to the LGBT community. And as a lesbian herself she was talking about how she gets really active in the community, which is always the first thing that I recommend. So during this conversation with her yesterday, she made a really great point in saying that she is a supporter and a giver and not a solicitor. And I think that that’s a very smart way of going about it, because her way of positioning herself is that she is a resource. So if you have questions in regards to your financial planning or if you’re looking for a specific business that she can help connect you with, then she is by all means there to support you and to provide information to you that you likely need. In exchange for not soliciting your business. As we were talking for about an hour yesterday we both got on the tangent of it’s not a tit-for-tat game. So just because I’ve done something for you, I don’t expect to get something in return. And it was really interesting to have this conversation with her because I do know a lot of financial advisors and I feel fortunate enough that the ones that I do know seem to really kind of play the same way which is ‘I want to build a relationship with you. If it takes five years before I see any reciprocal business from our relationship, why I am having what I feel is great success and excitement around my blog and this podcast, is that I am here to give you as much information as I possibly can to help you market to the LGBT community. And I’m asking for absolutely nothing in return.’ So if one day in the future you are in need of help in order to actually create a plan, or you’re in need of some sort of business coaching around your marketing specifically, I’m absolutely here and we can certainly have a conversation then. However I’m not going to say by you listening to this or reading that that I expect something from you. And it was a really great conversation to hear that from somebody in the financial world as well. And it’s been working exceptionally well for her and that’s something that she does to position herself differently. Another thing in terms of positioning herself differently is the fact that she is part of the LGBT community. So I’m not saying that by being a straight ally to the community that you can’t get business; that’s certainly not it at all. If you are genuine and authentic in your approach of reaching out to the community, there are plenty of opportunities for you. However with her specifically her being a lesbian and a mother of three, it’s able to give her a bit of a leg up compared to somebody who might be a straight ally within her community. So if she’s at the local pride center just talking with and networking with people, and it’s her and a straight ally standing side by side, of course people are always going to go with the person that they know, like and trust; that’s just kind of the rule of business. Somebody I’ll refer you business if I know you, if I like you and I trust you. So whether you’re gay or straight, knowing, liking and trusting is a completely different story. But what she does is she just positions herself as ‘I’m part of the community, I know what you’re going through.’ So in terms of financial planning she was telling me that occasionally she’ll be sitting down doing a financial plan with somebody and then she’ll ask the person she’s talking to, ‘Well how old are your parents?’ So she’s trying to determine specific information in terms of a policy. And if that person says, ‘Well I don’t know,’ then to her she realizes, okay there’s a disconnect between this person and their parents which signifies that they’re not on speaking terms or they don’t have a good relationship which could easily be tied back to the whole coming out process, the family not accepting that person, et cetera. So as somebody in the community and who may have dealt with that herself, she’s able to empathize with the person that she is sitting down and doing business with versus perhaps a straight ally who hasn’t gone through that experience or doesn’t know that experiences like that happen. So that’s how she plays the LGBT card to her advantage and I would absolutely recommend if you are LGBT to go about and really kind of hang your hat on the fact that you are an LGBT person and you can relate with them. On the flipside if you are an ally to the community, what I would recommend you do is educate yourself around different nuances that may be different in the LGBT community. And you could easily have a conversation with somebody such as the person I was on the phone with yesterday and kind of get the tips and tricks that she uses, and then use those in your bag of tricks as well. Because one of the things that we were discussing was when somebody might come out to their financial advisor as HIV positive. And how she’s had experiences in the past where she has a new client, and the reason they left their previous relationship was because when they came out as being HIV-positive the reaction was negative from the person that they were doing business with. And that of course is absolutely unacceptable in a business setting because if you want to keep my business, kind of being judgmental or reacting in a very funny way to something that I’ve told you that’s very personal; that’s not going to be a way to help keep my business. So it’s things like that that I would recommend everybody get themselves educated on, you know what are those nuances within the specific area that you’re doing business with. And my intention for future blog post and possible podcast episodes is to be talking with people in specific areas of business, and getting those tips and tricks so I can share them with you. And yesterday’s conversation was the first of many that I’ll be having that I hope to then be able to pass along to you and educate you.
“What steps will I take to start building relationships?”
So now that we have been side-tracked a little bit I will bring us back to question number four which is “What steps will I take to start building relationships?” And this question is thinking about strategies, and we kind of touched upon a good deal of it in the first couple of questions but you know how are you going about building those relationships? Have you joined that Chamber of Commerce, or are you attending any big gala events that happen to be in your area? Are you volunteering for a local LGBT non-profit organization to really build your quality of relationships and get a solid reputation for yourself within the community? I would recommend being active in as many different areas as you can without spreading yourself too think. And if you have a specific interest in sports then look around, find an organization that’s LGBT-specific that’s around sports. So that way not only are you volunteering with an organization but you’re volunteering with an organization that you feel really passionate about. Because that’s how you’re going to start building the relationships and creating your own network of people within the community. Along the lines of what steps will you take, I recommend being specific and putting it down on paper. So if part of the action steps that you’re taking in terms of building relationships entails surveying your current LGBT clients to see why they continue to do business with you. Put it down on paper, write down ‘by February 15th I am going to have talked with all of my LGBT clients to figure out what it is about me that they like doing business with.’ Or you can put ‘By February 28th I will have joined my local LGBT Chamber of Commerce or pride center in my area.’ Or ‘By March 31st I will have LGBT-specific marketing material created to use in my outreach efforts.’ So that way you’re holding yourself accountable, so you have a couple of different ideas and I recommend don’t do more than like three or five, just kind of keep yourself focused so you don’t get too overwhelmed. But once you put it down on paper it gives you the beginnings of a roadmap to go about accomplishing your goal.
Measurement of progress…
Which then kind of leads into the last question which is, “How will I measure my progress?” So putting a goal out there is all fine and dandy, but you have to measure your progress against that goal to see if you’re actually accomplishing the results that you need. And I always recommend using smart goals and many people have heard of SMART goals, however there’s plenty of people this may be very new to; but a SMART goal is something that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So I’m not going to get into all of the details of SMART goals, however but if you head on over to my blog at JennTGrace.com/solidplan you will see these questions outlined. In question number five you will see a link to friends of mine in the Portland, Oregon area, who have a page specifically about SMART goals that I think would be of absolute value to you. And each one of the episodes that I create has a blog post that accompanies it and I call them show notes, and that’s kind of the podcasting terminology for it. But essentially it’s just a blog post that goes along with this so that way instead of you having to dig deep for all of these specific links and things that I’m talking about, in that post itself I will have links to all of the things that I have mentioned.
So to recap the three steps in answering this particular question, step one was to join a local professional organization. Step two was to get active, just by merely joining an organization is not going to help you. You need to be active within that organization. And step three was to build a solid plan.
So that is a really broad high level overview of a couple of steps that I think will help get you going in the right direction. In your question you had mentioned that your advertising budget was about $100.00 per month, and most of these professional organizations cost maybe $200 or $300 a year so your membership within an organization should certainly fall into that budget and I would absolutely say that you can count your membership as part of your advertising budget. And of course a lot of these organizations do have opportunities for advertising or sponsorships or anything like that. So I would absolutely say that doing these first couple of steps will certainly fall within the price range that you have allotted yourself.
So that answers the first question. And so the second question that we have is from somebody that I received a message from on Twitter, and her question was, “My fiancée and I are going to be doing marketing for his business in the near future. I am not sure where to begin.” So I should have read this question alongside with the previous question right from the get-go, because what I would say in terms of you not being sure of where you should begin, would be to absolutely follow the three steps that I had outlined above for the woman in the security consulting business. So again since this was a message from Twitter I’m not entirely certain the details of this particular business, but I would say those three steps that I outlined above which get active, join an organization and build a plan; those three things would absolutely be applicable to your particular case.
So rather than spending more time rehashing the same information over I will hop on down to our third question for today. And that question is from a woman named Pamela who sent me an email asking, “Is there such a thing as LGBT Business Set Aside?” So I got this email from Pamela yesterday and I tried to reach back out to her to get more specific information in terms of what she meant by an LGBT Business Set Aside. Are there procurement opportunities specifically for LGBT business owners within a government setting or a corporate setting perhaps. And I have talked a lot about this on my blog in terms of being able to leverage your status as an LGBT business owner. The answer to this question could easily be an entire podcast within itself so I am going to give a very high level overview of the answer here and I will put a link in the show notes that will give you additional information if you are looking for it. But essentially as a LGBT business owner you can take advantage of programs within supplier diversity. And supplier diversity is essentially a program that gives opportunities to people who are ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBT people, et cetera. And it’s essentially when a corporation has an initiative that they say ‘We’re trying to diversify our supply chain. And within that supply chain we want to spend a certain amount of money with women owned businesses, a certain amount of money with African American owned businesses, or a certain amount of money with LGBT owned businesses.’ So as a LGBT business owner you could certainly take advantage of those opportunities. And not every corporation recognizes LGBT business owners as one of those minority groups for their supplier diversity opportunities but often what I find is that you’ll have somebody who’s LGBT who’s also a woman. Or you will have somebody who’s LGBT who is Hispanic or African American or has a disability or perhaps is a veteran. So the key to supplier diversity is to get yourself involved in certification for a number of different minority statuses, if you have additional ones. So I being a woman I qualify for LGBT certification in addition to being a women owned business, so there’s a woman owned business certification as well. So that means I can leverage my status as a woman owned business to get my foot in the door with corporations. And I shouldn’t even say get your foot in the door because honestly the way supplier diversity works is that you get the door open just a crack, and you have to be a competent business person who is offering the best possible product at the best possible price to that corporation. So just because you are LGBT, a woman or a person with a disability, that has no bearing on your competence in terms of being the best business for that corporation’s need. So it basically gets you a seat at the table for the bidding process, and then of course they pick the bid that has the best fit for their company. So supplier diversity is a really huge broad topic and there are a lot of nuances within it, and I certainly have it on my radar to do a podcast that is specifically around that. However I wanted to give that broad overview because I believe that’s what Pamela was getting at in her question. And of course if I hear back from her with additional information between now and the next podcast I will absolutely update everybody on that. If that has sparked some sort of question by all means please reach out to me.
I do have a couple of blogs that have mentioned supplier diversity in the past, and I will like I said before, include it in the show notes; that way you have some sort of information to go on so you’re not completely in the dark.
So that wraps up episode three of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. As always I encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Twitter or join me on my Facebook page. Right now I am thrilled to say that I am just about to hit 500 on my Facebook page, which in the grand scheme of things is not a lot, however I just started the page a couple of weeks ago and I’m absolutely thrilled with the amount of response and feedback I’ve gotten so far. So if you are already on Facebook and active, I thank you so much for being there. I really do appreciate it and I read all of the comments that I get, all the messages that come to me and I’m just absolutely grateful for all of your support. And the same thing goes for being on Twitter, I am absolutely thrilled and love engaging with people on Twitter, and then of course via email. I absolutely talking with you and finding more information about your business and finding ways that I can create content that helps push your business along. So if you do have a question that you would like me to address in an upcoming podcast, I would recommend hopping over to my website at JennTGrace.com and clicking on the button on the right hand side that says ‘Send Voicemail,’ so that way I can actually play your voicemail within the episode itself. So you’ll be able to give a little bit more information about your question and your background, so that way I have more information to then answer your questions.
So that wraps up episode three of the podcast, I will be back with you soon with my very first guest on the show. If you would like to reach out to me please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll talk to you then.