By Dionna Smith Bratton
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur, the hard part for me, was figuring out what type of business I wanted to own.
While I was a student at Howard University, I found my niche. Marketing. I had it all mapped out. I would graduate in exactly 4 years. I would start my company and everything would work out perfectly. Well, my college years lasted a little longer than anticipated and during that time my son was born and I got married. After 4 years in college, with no degree to show for it, I transferred to Tulane University and things started coming together. I took every marketing class available and worked full time to get some practical experience, since I had no intentions of working for anyone when I graduated. Well, following graduation, I fell into the trap that many would be entrepreneurs fall into "CORPORATE AMERICA". I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, and it proved to be just what I need to put my business ownership plans into action. While working as the Marketing & Promotions Director at a small urban radio station, I discovered the great need for companies to tailor their advertising and public relations campaigns when attempting to reach Black consumers. When I decided to leave the station and go solo, most of my family and friends were a little less than supportive, but I was determined and head strung and went out on a limb to follow my life long dream of business ownership.
Many people tend to think that ethnic marketing borderlines stereotyping, when that couldn't be further from the truth. What I do is help companies tailor their ads to appeal to a specific demographic. For example, if a company has one set radio spot that they run on every station, it may be extremely effective on most stations, but may not be effective on predominantly Black Urban stations. A specific example would be, a commercial with a country music backdrop. Most urban listeners do not care for country music and will automatically change the radio station before even listening to the message, because of something as easily changed as music. How does this affect the company? Well, they are spending thousands of dollars a month for advertising, and their message is not being received. So what does my company do? We reselect the music and add it to the spot. We distribute it to the stations and the message is much more likely to be listened to. The same is true of billboards and print ads. Advertisers are amazed to see what a huge difference it makes to use the same shot and ad, but do a series using African-American models for advertising geared toward the Black population.
Most African Americans are extremely receptive to ads with models that resemble themselves. It catches their attention and they feel that the company recognizes and values them as a consumer. Though separate marketing plans may not be necessary for all services and products, it has proven to be quite beneficial to those wanting a significant piece of the over $455 Billion dollars in Black buying power.
As a marketer, I recognize the need to expose services and products to as many potential customers as possible. With target marketing this is much easier. Think about it, because African Americans have a limited amount of media mediums it is much easier to reach vast majority. Most cities have one or two Urban stations. Statistics show that these stations reach about 95% of the A.A. population. National African-American publications reach about 83% of the total AA population. Imagine the possibilities of having an effective ad in any of these mediums.
So what exactly do I do? I work with clients' Marketing Departments and/or Ad Agencies to construct and execute marketing plans specifically for their current and/or potential AA consumers, while working together with them to meet and/or exceed their overall sales goals. I personally ensure that all ads are constructed, placed and actively running. I also maintain relationships w/ the Radio, TV and Print mediums to ensure the best rates and highest level of quality, as well as maintain the company's predetermined budget.
Best of all, I work from my home office and though I do have a babysitter, my son is at home with me. I always know what he is doing and I am able to take an active role in his daytime routine. So what is my advice for aspiring work at home moms? Believe in yourself and your cause and go for it. We should not sit around waiting for others to validate our dreams, because sometimes that never happens. Initially, I did not receive positive feedback on my concept, but that just made me work harder. Figure out what it is you want to do, and map out the steps to get there. Finding a niche market, within an established market, can really help your company stand out amongst the masses. Use every spare minute, as time to build your enterprise. I started my business from my computer desk, which was squished in a corner in my kitchen. I had no start up money and little resources. All I had was a vision and belief in myself. I found and utilized every free source available.
The web is a wonderful thing; use it to your advantage. I built a website and it made my organization appear much larger and more established, than it ever was. This helped me gain the respect and business of large corporations, who thought, from my professionalism, that I was fully staffed and operating out of a business suite. Remember image and professionalism is everything, if you are working directly with corporations. "What they don't know, won't hurt them," but there is no need to lie or misrepresent your business or yourself. If you handle yourself professionally and effectively when marketing yourself they will make their own assumptions and the question will never come up. It may seem difficult, and it is, but owning your own business is quite attainable. Besides, you would be surprised how all the long hours and sleepless nights become enjoyable, when you are doing what you love and making your dreams come true.
Dionna Smith Bratton's company Diversified Marketing & Public Relations has successfully helped businesses, of all sizes, create effective Marketing & Public Relations campaigns targeting African American consumers. She also provides consulting to start-up companies, who want to incorporate effective target marketing in their initial Start-Up Marketing Plan. Dionna provides a free initial consultaion to analyze whether target marketing could effectively increase your companies sales. Her company is homebased and she is the mother of 4-year old Ahmad. She welcomes you to contact her with your comments and inquiries.
Dionna Smith Bratton
Diversified Marketing & Public Relations
email: [email protected]
1-877-378-7171 ext. 836