By Shannon Courtney
With the challenges presented to entrepreneurs and their businesses during the pandemic, it is crucial, now more than ever, to utilize this time as a moment of professional growth and self-reflection on the branding and marketing efforts of businesses. Entrepreneurs are discovering new and innovative ways to reach their target audience and express their mission, through their branding. 2016 YLAI Fellow Liziane Dranka Silva has realized the necessity of marketing and rebranding to expand and specify the target clientele of her company.
Liziane is the founder and CEO of Ink Inspira, a social business that consults and mentors nonprofit professionals to maximize project impact and develop long-lasting strategies in the vibrant Brazilian social sector. She was inspired to establish Ink Inspira after encountering professional management issues with project development in a nongovernmental organization she worked for and decided to replicate her international project management certification in the Brazilian nonprofit community.
As Ink Inspira started growing, she encountered difficulties trying to renegotiate the terms of partnerships and with those trying to hold her back from accomplishing her entrepreneurial dreams. Ultimately, these experiences have prompted Liziane and her company to develop renowned expertise in consultancy and mentoring to Brazilian nonprofit organizations, to increase not only efficiency and management but also the proactive development of her community.
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liziane has learned valuable lessons and strategies during the era of digital marketing with social sector businesses. Here are her top three pieces of advice:
Surround yourself with diverse professionals with different skill sets
Although Liziane has a strong background in nonprofit management, she has admitted to struggling with accomplishing mass marketing on her own.. “I have been able to drive the branding of the company in connecting to our client and because of my non-profit background,” says Liziane. “ I know I need a partner to expand more and depersonalize from my personal image of the Ink branding and focus on mass marketing.”
She aims to better develop partnerships operationally so she can focus on the services of their non-profits, while mass marketing experts extend the Ink Inspira brand to a more extensive nonprofit audience on social platforms. She recommends young leaders to surround themselves with individuals with different skill sets that can help one another to find success.
Turn challenges into opportunities and know when to rebrand and redirect
As Brazil descends into an economic crisis made worse by the pandemic, Liziane feels immense pressure to ensure that her company and its supporting nonprofits are “very efficient right now.” Her non-profit clients have been “very successful in stepping up to this new moment because they have a clear strategy, and they can communicate that so they can get the investments they need to grow and deepen their impact,” she says.
Unfortunately, she has seen stagnation this year, not because of her product, she states, but because “of our marketing. We need to get more people to know us,” says Liziane. “At the stage that we are in now, it is not a matter of just investing more. It is a matter of knowing how to be smart in this investment to get to the niche that we actually serve.”
Utilize a multichannel marketing approach of digital and personal connectivity
In comparison to selling a tangible product, you must really convince clients that a social business and brand will be the right fit. For example, Liziane notes that when you buy clothes online, you do not want to talk to anyone about it, i.e., “Oh, is this really for me?” Instead, you make your own choices geared toward your preference and style.
In contrast, her main hurdle in the social sector is proving to nonprofit organizations that Ink Inspira’s services will help them be more successful and efficient than their own tools and resources. They use digital marketing strategies for potential clients to get to know that Ink exists and that they can count on them since nonprofits do not have many professional and focused consulting services for them. Thus “we first utilize digital marketing to raise awareness of Ink Inspira and establish trust with nonprofits to ensure that they can count on our services,” says Liziane. “Then, we must create personal connections with a potential client to build a solution that will fit their specific needs and concerns in project management.”
Finally, Liziane encourages aspiring social entrepreneurs in the YLAI Network to learn more about the client you are serving: their wants, needs and expectations of your organization. You want to establish a brand that highlights your company as a strong authority in your specific entrepreneurial sector. Find your unique voice, be authentic and be flexible.
Thank you to Liziane for taking the time to share your story. Look out for more resources about expanding your business with #YLAIBrandBetter.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewees and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shannon Courtney is an intern with the YLAI Network team, as well as a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in political science and double minoring in Spanish and global studies at UCLA. Her academic and professional experiences in foreign countries sparked her passion for foreign diplomacy and learning more about global languages and cultures.