"We have a responsibility to recognize how our marketing impacts people's lives. Start with inclusive marketing."
When you create social media posts, email newsletters, or other marketing materials it can be easy to get caught imaging your customer as a static individual. Perhaps you picture a local mom who is familiar with your store and products. You might imagine another business professional from down the street. Maybe you don’t even really think about who is reading your marketing materials and simply write what it is you want to express. If that’s the case, you’re probably imaging someone quite similar to yourself as your customer. This can easily lead to a lack of inclusive marketing.
Inclusive Marketing is incredibly important to not only reach your entire target audience, but to avoid excluding segments of the population. The first and most obvious step in inclusive marketing is to be sure a variety of people are represented in the photography your business is using to promote products. Allowing a large audience to visualize themselves engaging with your product is both beneficial for your business and refreshing for the consumer to see. Next, take it farther by representing a variety of life experiences in pictures and language.
Imaging a Diverse Customer Base
The first step to creating more inclusive marketing is to find ways to consistently remind yourself that a large variety of people are encountering your posts. Read through what you have written from the perspective of as many people as possible. Ask yourself how it sounds to a new dad who moved to your town last week. Think about how it would read to a grandmother who has never been to your store. What would other business owners think when they read it?
You may be unintentionally excluding people due to the language and images you are using. If you continually reference family events, baby items, after-school options, and other family-based concepts, you could be signaling to people outside of those categories that your products aren’t for them. Posts that are speaking to men, home owners, and you imagine that “do-it-yourself-dad” as your primary customer, you could be pushing women and other potential customers away. If you speak about decorating your home, impressing the in-laws during the holidays, and finding the perfect anniversary presents, you are suggesting to younger people that your product is not right for them.
Remembering that life experience influences the way someone interprets your business is pivotal to reaching a broad audience. If you consistently imagine the same type of person as your “ideal customer” then you are likely only going to reach that one type of person. Be aware of the language, imagery, and tone of your posts and how various segments of the market respond to those themes.
Inclusive Marketing During Holidays
The types of marketing we see during holidays is a huge catalyst for my desire to discuss inclusive marketing. We all know by now that it is important to recognize holidays that we ourselves may not celebrate, but it goes farther than that. We need to recognize that religious and cultural differences are not the only distinctions we should be making in marketing. Everyone experiences holiday seasons differently but marketing rarely allows for that.
Let’s talk about Mother’s Day. Throughout the month of May marketing materials and messaging surround finding the perfect gift for mom, spending time with mom, saying thank you to mom. We see happy, smiling families laughing on vacation, enjoying spa days, and surprising each other after a long time apart. This is where I encourage you to pause and think about the individuals within your audience. Take a look at the advertisement I’ve linked here and imagine watching it if your experience with motherhood falls outside the norm.
Every person that you are hoping to reach may not have a positive relationship with their mother. Many people have a painful relationship with that day due to their parental figures failing to meet expectations, their own inability to mother children, the loss of a mother or the loss of a child. There are endless reasons why someone may not connect to the traditional messaging we see during Mother’s Day. Over-saturating your messaging in May with mom-themed content excludes these customers and could diminish their desire to purchase your product.
Am I telling you to stop celebrating holidays as a business and to avoid encouraging people to buy Mother’s Day presents? No, of course not. It is a valuable way to promote certain products and experiences that your business is selling. However, there are plenty of ways to remain inclusive in your language and extend an olive branch to those who may be struggling with the day and the barrage of happy-family marketing they receive. The same can be said for people spending Christmas alone, those who mourn the loss of family members on Veteran’s Day, and customers who are simply sick of seeing holidays exploited for consumerism.
"Celebrating mom and others who fill that role."
Importance of Inclusive Marketing
Select photography that represents a larger audience. Include people with disabilities, single parents, LGBTQ+ relationships, a range of skin tones, multiple age groups, and as many people as possible to avoid targeting on the obvious section of your market. Then, take the next step.
Inclusive Marketing is about far more than simply bringing customers into the fold. Inclusivity is about recognizing that people who differ from the norm still deserve to be represented, they deserve to be noticed, and they deserve to be thought of. Being kind and gentle to human experience is not just about generating business, it’s about creating a more healthy world and more positive experience for consumers. We have a responsibility to recognize how our marketing impacts people’s lives. Inclusive messaging is the first step.