Friday, March 29, 2013

Over 100 Attendees at 6th Annual NAWBO Day Thinking Ginormous!

6th Annual NAWBO Day, Think Ginormous, 

Big Branding for Small Business

Over 100 Attendees Thinking Ginormously about Branding

By Tamar Cerafici, Esq.

Last week was big for our unbeatable chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. March 22 was declared NAWBO Day by the City Council. I got to talk about the tremendous impact women have on the Post-Crash economy. And no review of a THINK GINORMOUS event should be printed without a quick review of these statistics.

If you’re a woman business owner, and you don’t think you’re making a contribution, print these numbers. Frame them. Put them on the mirrors right next to the “employees must wash their hands” signs. Write these in lipstick on your mirror. Don’t use lipstick? Use a crayon or something (watch for a super cool infographic as soon as I figure one out).

  10.1 Million:  The number of business in business during 2012 that were at least 50% women owned.

  $1.3 Trillion (that’s a T, folks): the ANNUAL contribution to the US economy by Women Owned Businesses.

  2X Faster: That’s the rate at which women will start their own businesses compared to every other sector in the United States.

  200,000: That’s the number of Women Owned Businesses started in 2012 alone. That’s 550 new businesses EACH DAY.

So you ask, Why should the National Association of Women Business Owners of Pittsburgh ( host a full day of international and local branding experts, like the group did last Friday?

Debbie Hickman
Because, as Debbie Hickman and Susan Newman pointed out, we are really good at starting businesses, and we’re really good at keeping them going, but we’re terrible at branding ourselves to really create an enterprise with a legacy.

That’s what THINK GINORMOUS was all about. Women Business Owners, and the men who employ bright intelligent women, must recognize the unique brand that each businesswomen has. Each speaker had a story to tell, and they boiled down to this: until you are true to your brand, the brand that is YOU, you will continue to slave away, staying in business, but failing to grow.

And women, in particular, need to grow and nurture; they suffer when they merely create a job for themselves and others. This was Debbie Hickman’s story.

Debbie Hickman, independent store owner of Giant Eagle on Frankstown Road, told her inspiring story about going from $2.20 an hour minimum wage employee to owning her own store and making it work despite four other franchises failing in the same place.  Her lesson was linking your business to a big brand without giving up your passion or autonomy. She also noted that her particular brand was to nurture her employees so they could grow in the business. Many of the Frankstown alums have gone on to manage other stores and even create their own businesses.

Susan Newman
Susan Newman of Broadcast Louder and Susan Newman Designs told a similar tale of growth. After being laid off from her large publishing company, she found work as a free lancer, but never felt that she had any identity. She finally realized her work/brand was her ability to create brand visibility on the web. This has been her mission; she’s fulfilled it by developing instructional videos and creating a fantastic interview series that helps people talk about  the thought process behind their brands.

She really straightened us out on how to keep our brands consistent from business cards to websites and Twitter and gave us some good information on long tail key words.

NAWBO Pittsburgh hosted a lovely buffet, but I didn’t get to eat any of it. I was too busy listening to Runa Magnusdottir, whose BrandIt online magazine resulted out of her trip to NAWBO Day in Pittsburgh in September of 2008. She returned to Iceland as that country’s economy collapsed.  Like all good women entrepreneurs, she simply refused to acknowledge the recession and relentlessly developed her brand.

Runa Magnusdottir
She did it by following some really simple rules:

People make decisions about you in 7 seconds or less. In those 7 seconds they make at least 11 decisions about you. You are your brand.

Besides her conviction, Runa left us with three indelible tips about our brands, what she called the three Cs:

1. Clarity. You must be clear about who you are and what you give.

2. Consistency. Showing true value means you show it all the time. People may not come to you immediately, but you will be remembered when the need arises.

3. Constancy. Your brand has to stand for the same things, as Runa said, “again and again and again.” If you’re constant, your network and their network are all repeating the same message.

Be clear. Be you. Everybody else is taken
I had never thought of branding myself through awards, but I read the things in the Pittsburgh Business Times, and I want to be those people. I had no idea they had people like JoAnn Forester to do the work for them!

Jo Ann Forrester
Jo Ann Forrester owns Blue Ribbon Profiles. She’s optimized her clients’ brands by creating peerless nomination packets that get noticed. Her clients have won national and local awards. She gave some remarkable tips for building our brands through nominations and awards. Most important take away: if you want an award, or if you think it will enhance your brand to have the award, go for it!

Oh, and have JoAnn write it. She’s a lot better at it that you are. Seriously. Jane Austen didn’t get much credit while she was alive because JoAnn wasn’t there to get her noticed.

Donna Baxter
Branding yourself on the airwaves and Internet was the topic of our panel discussion. It was a lively group of my personal heroes. Each of them created their own media presence because a need had to be filled. They have become their own brand, and live their vision each day.

Donna Baxter, founder of The Soul Pitt, recognized in college – maybe even
in high school – that minority groups needed a voice. She gave them that voice, first as a rapper, and then as an Internet entrepreneur. The Soul Pitt is a brand that is not only associated with Donna, but is intrinsically linked to the minority communities she represents. You must check out her brand at!

Ola Jackson
Ola Jackson, founder of OWN, OR Onyx Woman Network, gave the background of her brand. She has a powerful story; for 22 years she has leveraged radio, print media, TV and the Internet to build a brand that supports women of color – meaning colorful women! She talked about the consistency of her vision, and how it strengthened her brand. Check out the way she uses her brand and stays true to her vision at

Joanne Quinn-Smith
Joanne Quinn-Smith, aka The Techno Granny, was one of the first people to leverage the talk show format on the Web. Using a platform called Talkshoe (, she has created several talkshows, and publishes Pittsburgh’s First Internet Radio and TV Network which  gets 2.5 million visitors a year.   She’s been able to keep that going – winning the national SBA Journalist of the Year Award– by keeping relentlessly clear about what she does, and what she can accomplish for her clients. You must see what how Joanne spreads Good News about Pittsburgh at:

Ruth Byrd Smith is the Executive Director at  Allegheny County’s Minority, Women, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. She has broadcast theMWDBE’s enterprise over the radio (at WGBN), and we learned that this
Ruth Byrd Smith
was simply a continuation of her student body radio show in high school. She explained the very solid results that can be seen from a radio and multimedia presence. She has used it to build the department’s brand and the brand of many small businesses over the years. Check out how she continues to build the departments vision and brand at

SO,  if after reading this review, you are kicking yourself that you missed it. YOU SHOULD. But you can get this kind of information on a daily basis simply by joining the National Association of Women Business Owners, the strongest voice for women-owned small businesses in the country. NAWBO and NAWBO Pittsburgh offer monthly workshops and unlimited resources for small businesses.
Through April, NAWBO and NAWBO Pittsburgh are offering a $50 discount on new membership dues. This is a wicked good deal. Don’t be kicking yourself again. Join NAWBO, and get access to an international group of successful professionals whose only goal is to see you succeed too. If you would like additional information about joining NAWBO you can go to: or contact Membership Director Tamar Cerafici at:

Tamar Cerafici is an environmental lawyer whose national practice includes nuclear power and sustainable development consulting. She is the author of “Dominate: How Lawyers Crush Their Competition (with these 4 Powerhouse Marketing Techniques),” and the founder of as well as LegalShoe, and The Lawyer’s New Clothes, new media channels on that teach lawyers how to build enterprises and find balance in their practices without selling their souls.

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