2020 was a whirlwind of challenges, pivotal moments and new learnings. Marketers everywhere in every industry had a quick lesson in changing on the fly and evolving marketing strategies with only a moment’s notice. One of the biggest societal issues brought to light last year was the lack of inclusivity in marketing.
In the past, marketing campaigns didn’t represent all of the customers and audiences that a brand had, it focused on and represented a small minority within society. This means a lot of marketing campaigns aren’t resonating with people. Hard lessons were learned as brands and organizations were exposed for lack of diversity and inclusion, and they were forced to look closer at their values. When done effectively, inclusive marketing shows that your brand understands and respects your entire audience.
In the webinar with the Calgary Marketing Association and Advertising Club of Edmonton on February 23, Anita Chauhan, Director of Marketing at Eirene Cremations, shared her insight on the benefits of inclusive marketing relative to innovation and, how we can remove barriers and how inclusive marketing can be used to help brand and marketing activities resonate with target audiences.
When you’re planning your next marketing strategy or campaign, here are ways to consider all audiences for your marketing campaigns, design inclusive strategies and the tools that will help.
Where To Start?
Go beyond mainstream diversity and inclusion (D&I) such as skin tone and think deeper into what connects us all. Customer experiences should make people feel like they are seen and understood. This starts with the organization as a whole. Start from the inside out and strive for inclusive culture within your business. Capitalize on the diversity you already have and include diverse voices in decision making processes. Innovation is driven by inclusive culture and business strategy which flows through marketing. Attract diverse voices to help speak to and accurately represent different audiences.
If you’re already running campaigns:
1. Solve for your customers
Get close to people and learn what it’s like to be in different people’s shoes. Use the research and insights to help drive campaigns that will create new areas for business impact.
When it comes to building inclusive brand and marketing campaigns start with empathy and get curious. Find ways to uncover how people might feel left out from a product or experience. It isn’t about perfection when running these campaigns, we are all still learning. What matters is that you are trying to be inclusive and representative in your strategy and you’re willing to ask questions and keep an open mind.
2. Highlight real stories
Use real customers or employees that have unique backgrounds and stories to share. When you add a human element, it helps people connect and see themselves within your brand.
Inclusive marketing is more than just a photo of diverse people. The new face of marketing amplifies common human values regardless of age, gender and ethnicity across the entire company, not just the marketing department. Building an inclusive brand is a business strategy that offers valuable ROI. The inclusivity of a marketing strategy shouldn’t be an add-on, it should be THE marketing strategy.
Include your entire market with inclusive storytelling. You’ll not only be able to reach a larger audience, but you have the opportunity to solve problems for groups that you probably haven’t thought about before. As the world becomes smaller with the growth of technology and digitalization, we are looking at a global consumer. Spend time researching to understand who the people are that you are talking to and new trending consumer mindsets. Global companies need to shift their thinking to be more empathetic to their actual customers.
3. Unite people with things that connect them
Human values should be at the core of your marketing. Create empathy and highlight things that all people have in common.
There is a new class of consumers in town, the belief-driven buyer. Mostly made up of millennials, these consumers expect more from the brands they buy and interact with. Millennial’s link what your organization stands for with their own values and if you remain silent on your social or political values, you risk alienating your audience. People will do their due diligence to make sure the brand they support share their values. They want proof to know if they can trust you. Business is about belonging, when your customers feel like they belong with you they reward you with their loyalty, if not they will go find another brand.
There are a ton of resources and tools to use when building your inclusive marketing strategy, here are a few that Anita gave to get you started.
- Descript app – uses AI to include closed captioning for those hearing impaired
- Fable – product testing powered by people with disabilities
Imagery – black owned and stock photography
- Textio Unconscious Bias Checker – recruit from a wider group of people. Making sure you’re not using biased language
- Conscious Style Guide
- How Authenticity in a brand leads to success
- 25 Boldly Diverse Campaigns
- Multicultural Marketing: What It Is, Why You Should Do It, and How to Do It The Right Way
- 5 Awesome Benefits of Diversity at Work
- Guide to gender-inclusive language
- Google’s CMO on diversity & inclusion in advertising
- Progressive Shopper
- A guide to help SMBs to build different strategies to be more LGBTQ inclusive
As storytellers, we have a duty to our customers and people at large. We live in a diverse society and marketing should reflect that. Inclusive values that can grow in our industry will create a better industry to be a part of. The change starts now.
About the Author
Rachel Antony is the owner of Poolside Digital, a digital marketing agency helping brands connect with their audience through social media, copy writing and content creation. She is a blogger (RachelAntony.com) and influencer (@almostffamous) with a passion for writing, photography and supporting local businesses. Rachel is also the host of Poolside Podcast which shares the stories and advice of business owners and entrepreneurs. When she’s not working, you’ll find Rachel working out, spending time with her dog and fiancé and hiking in the Rockies.