On February 23, the Calgary Marketing Association and Advertising Club of Edmonton will host The Urgency of Inclusive Marketing webinar. In the lead up to this event, we had the opportunity to chat with Anita Chauhan, the Director of Marketing at Eirene Cremations. Anita is a senior marketing, communications, and content leader. Equal parts strategist, storyteller, and creative media producer, she has worked in startups, DEI, and marketing for the last 8+ years, executing countless multicultural and inclusive marketing campaigns.
Take a look at the conversation below…
CMA: How did you begin your journey with Inclusive Marketing?
It’s been a long, windy road for me in Marketing, to be honest!
It all began in University when I ran and was elected to be the VP of Academics and Equity for our student union. I felt joy when I thought about providing spaces for others where they could be themselves, as well as facilitate more conversations around what makes us different, yet, still connects us.
As I entered the job market, I began my career in Marketing at a non-partisan lobby group. My job was to market to various stakeholders, but I had to consider tone, voice, audience, and partisanship, which made me think about communicating clearly and effectively. I also worked very hard in that role to increase accessibility options on our website and marketing materials.
After moving over to tech from the government, I worked at a Toronto-based B2B DEI company. This role was the defining one for me to actively engage with diverse audiences and teach businesses how to help their employees celebrate their differences. The brunt of my work depended on running multicultural campaigns and understanding the best way to structure my team to ensure that I could accurately communicate to and connect with our diverse audiences.
As the daughter of immigrants growing up in Canada, I always felt I was straddling two cultures. I never felt that anything marketed or advertised to me in the 80s, 90s, and the 2000s even remotely fit me as a person. As I grew up and found myself in the role of a marketer, making those decisions for a company, I decided that I would work my hardest to make sure that no one felt the way that I did growing up: different, on the fringes or as if I didn’t belong.
CMA: If companies were to take one step forward right now to start the journey towards Inclusive Marketing, what would you recommend?
Approach everything with open-mindedness, a lens of openness and vulnerability. Be deliberately curious about others and understand the more significant, underlying things that connect us as humans beyond just skin tone. From a shared desire for joy, happiness, opportunities… the list is endless and definitely is more than just updating your blog imagery with a group of laughing POCs!
Empathy is the key here. And remember that you shouldn’t aim for perfection when running these campaigns. Mistakes can and will happen but remember to give yourself a little bit of forgiveness and remember that we are all learning. What matters to audiences and consumers is that we try to be inclusive and representative in our campaigns.
CMA: What advice would you give a student or recent graduate beginning their career on how to start incorporating Inclusive Marketing into their day-to-day work life?
I would tell them to do as much user research and interviews as possible. Here I’ll bring up being curious again. Understanding the individual and not merely assigning a static persona to your audience (ultimately going against common marketing practice) is vital.
Spend the time talking to your audience to understand their perspectives, who they are, and from there, you can begin to build more thoughtful and more inclusive marketing campaigns and strategies.
If you are a BIPOC, bring that to the forefront and use that to help guide and influence your marketing. Your perspective is valuable and valued and can help grow brands and businesses. I’ll talk a little more about how having a diverse marketing team can help increase sales and business in my talk, so tune in!
CMA: Can you recommend any podcasts or books around Diversity and Inclusion for our audience?
A couple of Marketing books I would recommend include:
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller. This one is an excellent read for those looking to strengthen their storytelling muscle and clarify their message by understanding their audience.
I also really enjoyed The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value by Patrick Barwise and Thomas Barta. It helped me tie my marketing efforts to my company values.
Non-marketing books that left an impact on me and sparked curiosity:
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald.
CMA: As an astrologer, can you share with us a couple of insights for the coming year that you would like to share with us?
Oh, some fantastic things are coming our way this year. In comparison to last year, this year has fewer ups and downs but some great opportunities for us to get out of our comfort zones and grow. Specifically, though, we will experience some powerful eclipses four times (two lunar, two solar). While significant, they are not that rare, but the first two will allow us to explore themes related to our methods of communication and an interest in learning new ways of living and connecting with new cultures.
Pretty on the nose for the changing world and for us as marketers, if I do say so myself! We’ll experience a shift in how we perceive these things, and it will play out differently for each sun sign! Read more on my blog, Ad Astra Astrology.
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About the Author
Jan Wood is Vice President of the Calgary Marketing Association and heads up Events and Partnerships. With over 20 years in the marketing profession both in Canada and Internationally and primarily in product development, Jan offers consulting in the education, health and oil & gas sectors.
Kyla Mackie is a recent graduate from Mount Royal University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a major in Marketing and minor in International Business and Economics. During her time at University, she was the Co-President of Enactus, a non-profit organization that helps create positive sustainable change through economic, social, and environmental projects. Now, she is working at the Calgary Marketing Association as the Communications Coordinator.