If you are like so many small business owners, you may be frustrated with the results of your MWBE certification. I hear from so many people about how aggravated they are with the process of getting certified – only then to achieve little or no results after receiving certification. More and more, I am seeing people just totally give up.
So, first I have to acknowledge and agree that the process for getting certified is daunting; time consuming and even frustrating at times. Could the process be improved upon – yes, absolutely, but more important are there really opportunities for certified MWBEs after its all said and done. My answer is yes – emphatically yes. In fact, this year my professional services firm grew 100% – something I attribute to my deliberate and intentional marketing of my certification to government buyers. Has it been easy? No. Did it take a while – yes? That said, I am not aware of any other market place where I could have done the same thing in the same amount of time.
How did we do it, here are some of the strategies that we use:
First and foremost, we are strategic about what certifications we pursue. When someone tells me that they are thinking about getting certified, my first question is – why? Why do you want to get certified and most of the time, the answer I get is vague – there is no real thought behind it. The decision to get certified must be purposeful – you need to know how you are going to use it. It’s really about identifying your target audience. Who are they, where they, and what are they buying. If you are really going to leverage your certification, your target audience should include government agencies and prime contractors.
As you identify your targets, you must take the time to understand the market place that you are entering. You should also consider what the barriers to entry there are. For many MWBEs, the barriers to entry are financial capacity, bonding and past performance. Your certification may open some doors, but it’s not going to do much for eliminating barriers to entry. You need to figure out what some of the challenges are and come up with a strategy to address them. One of the strategies that has worked well us is leveraging our certification subcontracting which has given us the experience and past performance we needed to become a prime contractor. On the financial side, we made a significant investment in
The other very important thing you need to know is that marketing is the essential tool that fuels the ability to leverage the certification. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of MWBE firms and most were doing very little or no marketing at all. The game has changed significantly, and more than ever it’s critical that you develop a marketing strategy that focuses on building trust, creating value and demonstrating your expertise. I should also mention that whatever you decide to do – you need to be consistent. You must stay in front of your target audience at all times and have a strategy for following up.