August 2021

Why Covid-19 was a ‘blessing in disguise’ for this Columbus business

Courtesy of Columbus Business First
By Hayleigh Colombo
August 9, 2021

Noni Banks knows many small businesses like hers didn’t survive Covid-19.

More than 200,000 U.S. businesses closed during the first year of the pandemic, according to the Federal Reserve. Black business ownership declined by more than 40% in just the first three months of the pandemic, the largest closure rate of any racial group, according to a Congressional report.

But Banks said 2020 proved to be “a blessing in disguise” for her business, a Columbus consulting and brand management firm specializing in women-owned businesses called The Diva Movement.

“We really looked at our business model and made sure it was fitting the needs of my target audience,” said Banks, founder and CEO of The Diva Movement. “It’s been a blessing. I know a lot of businesses didn’t survive and that’s tragic. Honestly, it caused me to slow down and take a breath and really focus on what’s important.”

Banks launched The Diva Movement in 2012. Earlier this year, the company was one of 30 Black-owned businesses selected for a new mentorship program from Columbus Chamber and the Columbus Urban League.

The program, combined with the extra time the pandemic provided to think, led Banks to pivot from building membership in support groups to focus on offering one-on-one coaching, social media management virtual marketing assistant services. She still offers the group services, but the other business lines have proved more lucrative and allowed her to add employees.

“We were seeing there was a digital divide with the women I was serving,” Banks said. “A lot of women are getting overwhelmed with social media and marketing. We found that social media management was an opportunity. We were training women on the skills, but they were saying, ‘I don’t have to time to do this’ or ‘I don’t want to.’”

In addition, the business’ new virtual marketing assistant service helps women-owned businesses create a marketing plan, email marketing campaign, blog posts and other collateral.

Banks, who declined to disclose the company’s revenue, said what sets her business apart from other marketing and brand management agencies is that business owners are engaged throughout the entire process.

“I want women to understand the process so they can take ownership of their brand and their business,” Banks said. “That’s what’s been most rewarding, is to see the lightbulb come on. Marketing your business starts with you. If you don’t know who you are and what your brand is, you can farm it out to someone but that doesn’t mean they’ll communicate it in a way that is authentic and true to you.”

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