Your company may have a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, but are those values reflected in your marketing content?
An effective brand represents what an organization stands for while also resonating with customers and prospects. Inclusive content also does both; it demonstrates one of the most important characteristics of a company – the commitment to championing equity, diversity and inclusivity -- and also attracts a wider range of people to the brand by representing different voices and points of view.
Whether you are part of a small business, large corporation, nonprofit or government organization, creating content that customers, citizens and donors can relate to and see themselves reflected in makes good business sense. It’s not difficult to see why; the broader range of people reflected in your content, the more likely you are to attract a larger pool of potential customers. And for existing customers, inclusive content reinforces their decision to buy your product or donate to your organization because they gain a sense of belonging when they feel genuinely included and understood.
However, many organizations fall short of this goal. According to a Microsoft blog, 93% of marketers believe inclusive marketing is important for the business potential it represents, but fewer than 1 in 10 review for inclusion as part of product design and marketing campaigns. The intention is there, but the follow through falls short.
Given that the purpose of content marketing is to attract and inform audiences, and eventually turn them into customers, inclusive content can be a powerful tool to expand your customer base. Showing a diverse range of people and capabilities in the photos you choose for your marketing material is important, but it’s just the first step. Here are a few ways to go deeper:
Acknowledge implicit bias, the unconscious attitudes, or stereotypes that everyone has, and how they impact your work. Once implicit bias is acknowledged, it can be addressed by asking questions that challenge how content is typically created and overturn long-held assumptions.
Get to know your audience. Talk with customers in one-on-one interviews, convene focus groups to explore what their challenges and goals are, follow them on social media, read what they post on user forums – understanding their priorities, preferences, even word choices will help you more accurately reflect their perspectives in your own content.
Mix up your go-tos. If you go back to the same set of examples, anecdotes or experts to use in your content, change it up. Research some new sources or talk to customers or partners to gain new perspectives.
Ask others to review your content. Ideally, marketing departments would have a diverse range of people working on content who represent many different groups and contribute to inclusivity. But if that’s not always possible, you can still strive to reach an inclusive outcome by eliciting honest feedback from a diverse group of colleagues. For example, think about your content and who it represents or who you’re trying to reach. If your content is for a specific holiday or celebration (e.g., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth, Pride Month, National Coming Out Day), make sure you’ve done comprehensive research on how your brand can effectively speak on these topics. Ask for feedback from people who are most familiar with the subject.
Visit Catalyst.org, a global nonprofit that works toward deepening the understanding of workplace inclusion, for additional information and resources.
Taking the time to understand different perspectives and experiences and reflecting them in your marketing content can positively impact how your customers and prospects view your organization.