Lately, inclusion and diversity are words that resonate loudly. There is a widespread conscience of the importance of reaching and including under-represented groups in companies, media and Internet content. How can you tap on this opportunity and ensure you provide interesting content that reaches to all relevant audiences? This article gives you a primer into inclusive marketing practices and a diversity calendar that help you mark relevant dates and plan your marketing accordingly.
Why Is It Important to Create Inclusive and Diverse Content?
You know your demographic, your target audience. You know their generic pain points and their needs. However, profiling the audience, creating marketing personas, can be tricky since we live more and more in multicultural environments. Chances are that your audience is diverse, physically, psychologically, and geographically. Moreover, your audiences want to see more than one type of consumer or voice in your content and media.
A 2019 survey showed that 62% of respondents said that a brand’s perceived diversity or lack of it impacts their sentiment towards their products or services. This percentage was even higher for some demographics, such as millennials, BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) and the LGBTQ community, reaching up to 85%. The reality is that societies are multicultural, and people are connected in diverse, heterogeneous groups.
The key is helping your audience recognize themselves in your brand and content. If they don’t, they will look somewhere else for representation. Some industries, such as the fashion industry, have started to change. The growth in fashion blogging, and the boom of fashion influencers in social media, showed the real customers. Now you can see top fashion retailers websites such as Next and Zara, with models from every race, size, and ethnicity.
Consumers want to see people that look like them using your product or service, and when they do, they are more likely to buy and engage with your content. Therefore, when your company adopts an inclusive approach, it can gain a competitive edge in your market.
The Challenge for Diversity in Publishing and Advertising
One of the key topics when talking about diversity and inclusion is the role of the publishing industry and advertising agencies on the change for diversity. Recently an open letter by 600 Black agency employees called for more representation in advertising agencies in staff and leadership.
Change takes time, and many top agencies signed onto the new initiative #CommitToChange and publicly disclosed diversity data and their commitment to a more diverse workforce. Because the truth is, a more diverse staff and executives helps create messages that are really connected with the intended audiences.
Diversity and Inclusion Are Not the Same
Diversity means the demographics of your team and your audience. Factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, and geography can mark an audience you didn’t take into account until now. You should question if there are audiences that might be interested in your product or service that are not represented in your marketing campaigns? If your answer is yes, it is time to improve.
Inclusion is how your company creates content and addresses diversity in its business practices and marketing actions. Salesforce is a great example. Not only they keep inclusive hiring practices, with almost half of their workforce made up of under-represented groups, but they reinforce the message in their learning system. They require developers to abide by principles of inclusive marketing – creating content that resonates with people of diverse backgrounds and characteristics.
How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in your Marketing
So how can ensure you use inclusive marketing practices to reach diverse audiences? Here are some tips.
Tip #1 -Research Your Audience
Know who may be interested in your product and content even when they are not your typical marketing persona. Go deeper into your data beyond gender, income level, geography, and race, trying to understand factors that don’t usually appear in marketing research such as physical ability. When you create your marketing personas, try to be as varied as possible, reflecting different characteristics of your audience. A way of getting information is to conduct surveys, conduct focus groups to get the sentiment of customers towards your company, becoming an involved brand.
Tip #2 -Diversity Begins at Home: Look at Your Team
If your company and marketing team do not reflect the diversity of your audience it can be hard for them to connect with your intended customer. When you hire new team members, freelancers or agencies, think about including that voice that your team is lacking. The less distance there is culturally between your team and the market, the more you will reach it.
Adopting an inclusive culture can boost your business too. According to a Deloitte report, an inclusive culture in your company can improve your innovation, drive growth, and exceed financial goals.
Tip #3 -Edit Your Content for Inclusion
Start with the tone. Ensure the tone reflects inclusion, avoiding assumptions. Avoid the use of slang that can be misinterpreted. The Associated Press Style Guide has a whole section about writing about race-related topics. It is important also to use inclusive language when covering disabilities, ensuring you use the proper terms and words on physical, mental, and cognitive disabilities.
Be careful when using pronouns, using gender-neutral pronouns in your content is best. When in doubt, ask. Try not to use “he” or “she”, instead use “they”.
Tip #4 -Pay Attention to Your Media and Artwork
The stock photos, media, artwork, and videos used on your website and marketing materials should include a variety of individuals in diverse situations. For example, you want to use an image of female coworkers for a post or ad:
This is a good example of a picture that includes coworkers of different races/ethnicities and ages. However, beware of stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Remember to depict people in a variety of situations regarding gender, race, and physical ability.
Knowing where your company is at is a great first step to assess your inclusion culture. Then, you can plan your marketing actions around diverse audiences. A useful tool to plan your content and marketing campaigns is to have a diversity calendar so you can tap the opportunity of relevant dates and create awareness on diversity topics, engaging your audience to your brand.