Why inclusive marketing should be the norm and not the exception?

Konabos Inc. - Konabos

17 May 2021

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Inclusive marketing refers to creating marketing content for traditionally underrepresented and diverse communities to allow them to experience and connect with brands while elevating their voices in the public sphere and decreasing bias and harmful stereotypes.

Inclusive marketing considers all layers of a person's identity. It relays a brand's message that resonates with people regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, background, ability, size, or otherwise. It also recognizes that some people represent more than one of these identities and that their voices need to be heard and seen respectfully and positively.

One takeaway of the inclusive marketing strategy is that specific human values and experiences are the same for all people, and the brand message must speak to everyone. All human beings share similar experiences, overcoming obstacles when getting older or changing careers. Everyone deals with the same emotions and fears such as safety, friendship, family, and better opportunities, and this is what inclusive marketing addresses.

Inclusive marketing allows a brand's products and services to connect with people on a deeper level to make them feel visible and understood.

How inclusive marketing can help your brand

The world has changed, and generations Y and Z are no longer satisfied being targeted through images and messages that do not reflect society. The "cookie-cutter" mentality of yesteryears no longer resonates with generations who have increasing purchasing power.

We know that personalization is essential and that clients choose to interact with a brand that speaks to them. Identifying your target audience is nothing new; however, nowadays, you also need to have a social presence that promotes and reflects our time's increasingly diverse society. 

With this paradigm shift, brands have the power to change the narrative and dispel negative stereotypes rather than perpetuate them. Refusing to do away with outdated practices can seriously affect a company's reputation, leading to shaming on online platforms, often resulting in a public relations damage control crisis. 

Your audience wants to recognize itself in your brand and through your content. If they don't, they will find a company where they can feel included and represented. People who can identify with those using your product or services are more likely to engage with your content and reward you with loyalty. An inclusive marketing strategy can give you a competitive edge over competitors who have not adopted this approach.

Diversity begins at work

One of the challenges that companies face when promoting inclusivity is abiding by their message and values within their own team. The lack of diversity in leadership has been a highly discussed topic, with pressure being placed on companies to reflect our ever-changing landscape and commit to a more diverse workforce.

Diversity and inclusion are not the same yet are intertwined with the same end goal in mind - leave no one behind. The truth is more diverse staff and leadership help with creating messages that connect with intended audiences on a deeper level.

A company that promotes the inclusion of diverse communities yet does not reflect this from within will be seen as less trustworthy and sincere. Customers don't just take your word; they want proof that you lead by what you preach.

Companies that do inclusive marketing yet fail to include diversity within their organization give the impression they don't fully believe what they are selling; they are just using marketing trends to get attention.

Dispel stereotypes and avoid assumptions

Ensure that your content reflects inclusion and avoids any language that can be misconstrued as offensive or insensitive. Slang or street-lingo could have origins in harmful stereotypes and can be misinterpreted by audiences; always err on the side of caution and learn more on how your audiences identify with specific terms. This awareness also applies to the use of pronouns.

Gender-neutral pronouns, such as "they" should be used in your content to avoid assumptions of your audience.

Above, I mention inclusion in your written content, but it's also essential to pay attention to your visual media and include diversity in various situations. Images of business meetings with a round table of diverse individuals are common and commendable, but to really be inclusive, you need to dig deeper and go beyond the generic. Challenge the stereotypes of what a boss looks like, an athlete, or how to represent a young suburban family. This will demonstrate a deeper understanding of what being inclusive means.

Have a review process

Social faux-pas are dangerous in the days of 24/7 social media and can require extensive damage control to regain public confidence. Always take a step back and analyze your final content before publishing. Review it through a different mindset to see if any appropriation or discriminatory words have been used and seek out a diverse review panel to get their input and perspective. Again, this reiterates the importance of having a diverse team with different experiences and viewpoints. No matter how tight your deadline, do not skip the content review process - the repercussions can be a public relations nightmare.

Inclusive marketing going forward

Inclusive marketing is still a relatively new concept for many. It will only keep growing as marketers try to figure out the best way to better understand how to be an inclusive brand in a diverse society. Inclusive marketing is the opportunity for companies to engage in open dialogue with their audiences, to attract people who would otherwise feel underrepresented and unheard. Inclusive marketing is not about sacrificing one group for another; it's about making sure that everyone is seen and heard positively and respectfully. Although not an overnight success, narrow views and prejudice are still around and always will be; however, marketers can bring societal changes by making inclusivity the norm rather than the exception.

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Konabos Inc.

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