After having read the previous posts where we talk about defining your target market and determining your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you should be in an ideal position to take this ship out of the harbor and enter the world of LGBT marketing. But you may be asking yourself ‘where should I go? And who should I talk to?’ If you have any peers, colleagues or friends who are active in your local LGBT community, now would be excellent time to get grab a cup of coffee with them. Your local landscape is going to be different than a national or international one, so conversing with the people who know it best will be highly beneficial to you. These friends and colleagues may also be helpful for you in figuring out when or if you are being accidentally disrespectful to the LGBT folks you are looking to do business with. (You can also read passages from my “LGBT Questions from a Friend…” series of blog posts – all of which address LGBT faux pas and expressions to avoid.) In figuring out the specifics of your local community, ask the following questions:
Is there an LGBT Chamber of Commerce near you?
Besides your immediate friends and intuition, an LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the best place to get started. These are the nerve centers of LGBT businesses and commerce, and there are 38 in the U.S. and another 18 internationally. The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has a website here, where you can find your local Chamber and set up a means of contacting them immediately. I am always willing to make a connection between you and the chamber leader in your area as well. Seriously, I will. Just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with LGBT Chamber in the heading and consider it done. 😉
Are there LGBT nonprofits and Pride Centers in your area?
Pride Centers and LGBT focused nonprofits are great ways to get in touch with your local LGBT community. Pride Centers offer a range of activities and community events, and nonprofit organizations can be found in just about every avenue of activity out there. Devoting time, resources and advice to such groups can help you get your own business ideas off the ground fast. With the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor or marriage equality there will be an increase in activities, panel discussion and workshops surrounding this topic. Getting yourself involved in these activities and outlining your knowledge in the area is a great way for you to get your name out there.
What professional networks exist near you?
Business doesn’t exist in a vacuum (my dear friend Sam McClure uses that line regularly and for good reason – hear her podcast interview for more details here). People don’t exist in a vacuum, and it is especially true for people starting businesses. Figure out what trade organizations and professional groups exist with your specialty, and start connecting with them! Networking is always the best way to get your feet on solid ground, so being proactive and engaged will help you find allies and resources you need to start a successful business and marketing campaign. If you don’t have a close peer nearby that you can ask, do a Google search. Make sure to use specific terms like “LGBT business Tuscon” or “LGBT financial industry association.” The more specific you can be the more likely you will find what you are looking for.
What media is there in your community?
Finding out the medium for your message can be just as important as the message itself. Figure out if there’s a local LGBT publication in your area, a newsletter, anything that might be a means of you getting your message out there. Work to find online publications as well, and see where and who you might be able to work with to get your marketing strategy off the ground. And remember that inclusion based marketing triumphs all. The more proactive and visible you can be about your support of the LGBT community the better. A good example of this is Amazon Kindle’s mainstream ad – Watch it here!
Taking the first step in any situation can feel like an enormously daunting task. Thankfully for you, however, there is a well-established network of entrepreneurs and businesspeople in the LGBT community who want you to succeed! Talk to colleagues, build an online presence, and most of all, network, network, network! Put yourself out there and keep in mind, most people want you to succeed! Let them help you along the way. And of course, if I can be of assistance to you along the way, please let me know! If you have a specific question in mind – ask me here. I am always looking to develop new content on this blog.
Looking for the other parts of this series? Catch up on them here.Marriage Equality is HERE: What does your marketing say about your company? (A special 6 part series)
- Part 1 of 6: Who am I trying to market to?
- Part 2 of 6: How will I set myself apart?
- Part 3 of 6: How do I take the first step in marketing to the LGBT community?
- Part 4 of 6: What steps will I take in building networks and relationships?
- Part 5 of 6: How do I measure my success and progress along the way?
- Part 6 of 6: Bonus: The good, the bad and the ugly of LGBT Marketing.
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