The conversation around inclusive marketing is important and one we need to be having to ensure long-term improvement.


What is inclusive marketing?

Inclusive marketing is seeing and understanding all of your target audience and authentically representing them in your marketing material.

Brands and businesses of all sizes have a responsibility to represent and understand all the differences within their target audience including (but not limited to):

  • Physical characteristics and ability
  • Culture, race and ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographical location
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Occupation and socio-economic position

As said by Ramat Tejani “It’s about showcasing to the world, what it is that you do without shutting the door in people’s faces.”

Everyone in your target audience wants to see themselves in your marketing. And more importantly, they want to know that you ‘see’ them too.

Keeping an open mind and awareness to make sure your evolving audience is always reflected in your marketing requires more energy than using “diverse” imagery. It requires deep thinking, knowing and consideration consciously and subconsciously about the people you want to serve as a business.

In the words of Jon Colclough from Mass Appeal, “The fact is we live in a diverse society – and the advertising we create should reflect that.”


Why is it important?

If your customers don’t feel that you see them, they will find someone else who does.

Consumers are increasingly noticing the brands and businesses who make a conscious effort to buck stereotypes and authentically represent all of their target audience. And similarly, consumers can see when a brand is exuding tokenism, misses the mark or isn’t making an effort at all. This initiates action in the form of protesting with their pockets or speaking up on social media.


“Diversity is not a marketing strategy”

Krystle Watler from Virtue powerfully stated, “Diversity is not a marketing strategy”.

Diversity is a commitment that covers the whole scope of your business, internally and externally. Consumers are in tune and will see straight away if your brand is authentic in its approach to diversity or showcasing diversity just in one campaign to “jump on the bandwagon”.

Having a human first approach to accurately reflect your target audience starts inside your business. “The foundation of good inclusive marketing is driving good inclusive culture” said Kristen Ogdon from Microsoft.

You need to show your commitment internally at home before you can start saying it externally.

Most importantly, your output needs to align to your business mission statement. What does your business stand for, what is authentic and true to your business and what does it make sense for you to champion?


Audit your existing marketing

Ask yourself these questions to audit your existing business and marketing inclusivity:

Business inclusivity:

  • Is there diverse talent working for your business?
  • Is your product or service accessible to everyone in your target audience? For example:
    • Can someone with limited ability physically access your business?
    • Does your website have accessibility measures?
    • Are your services delivered in an accessible way for people in remote locations?
  • In the decision-making process, does your business foster an environment where everyone can share their opinion?

Marketing inclusivity:

  • Do you have a diverse range of people approving the content and campaigns that your business shares?
  • Do you take adequate time to research and understand all segments of your audience?
  • Do your previous campaigns showcase people who appear to be from similar backgrounds?
  • Do you ever challenge stereotypes in your marketing?
  • Do you share real and relatable stories and images from your audience?
  • If you are a consultant, do you encourage your clients to express diversity in their marketing?
  • Do you share the mic with influencers relevant to your target audience from diverse backgrounds?

How did you go? Every business has room for improvement and here are some tips on how to get there…

  • Rather than singularly defining the differences between people in your audience, can your business foster the similarities between members in your audience? Hint: Could the key similarity be the affinity towards your brand?
  • When planning a campaign, ensure you have accurate representation of those you are trying to target involved in the approval phase. You could even consult a portion of audience first before it goes live to receive feedback.
  • Don’t go overboard and ensure you are coming from the right place. Having a sincere commitment to diversity in an organic way will avoid missing the mark.
  • Take the time to understand the individuals that interact with your business and more importantly, upskill your team. Pay for training to learn more about minority groups, cultural competency and more.
  • Ensure you are using inclusive copy and check your tone.
  • Double check your imagery and representation, are you playing into or against a stereotype? Does the message and imagery you are portraying display a group or person in a negative light?
  • Understand that a genuine attempt to highlight diversity, representation and inclusion is not achieved through one “diverse” image or person in a marketing campaign, that is tokenism.
  • Your organisation doesn’t need to be the spokesperson; think about how you can use your businesses platform to pass the mic to someone else from a minority group.

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