Certification as a Marketing Tool: A Small Business Resource

Run Your Business Apr 14, 2017


Certification is an effective marketing tool for accessing contracting opportunities and becoming a supplier to Corporations and Government agencies. As a marketing tool, certification can also serve as a critical point of differentiation between your business and your competitors.  Certification can especially help make an impact to corporations that are committed to creating a diverse supply chain, and have a targeted goal for spending with diverse-owned businesses (a diverse owned business is a business owned by members of a diversity group).

What is Certification?

Certification is a review process to verify the business is 51% or more owned, controlled and operated by the diverse applicant or applicants.  An authorized third party or regulatory agency performs the certification.  Companies that are successfully certified are provided documentation in the form of a letter or a certificate.

Where do I get certified?

Depending upon your diversity classification (i.e. minority, women, veteran, service disabled veteran owned or other) you will find that many federal, state and local governments have programs that certify diverse suppliers. Inquire with your local or state municipality for program participation. There are also national organizations that provide this service as well: 

National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

Some certifying agencies are fee based while others require no fee at all.  Additionally, your business and goals should help you determine the certification that is most beneficial. For example, if your customers are primarily in the private sector or corporates, then national certification is highly recommended. In the public sector, government customers tend to prefer certifications from their own state government certification agencies.

I’ve gained certification, now what?

Let people know ... mention your certification at every opportunity and inform your current and potential customers that in addition to offering superior goods and/or services, your certification will assist them in meeting  their supplier diversity goals. Throughout this process, also keep in perspective that holding a diversity certificate does not guarantee sales, it is a valuable tool used to open doors to opportunities, increase visibility and build relationships!

Learn more about U.S. Bank’s Supplier Diversity Program