Traditional marketing very rarely depicts the real world. Fashion and beauty models generally look young, tall and skinny with measurements the average woman can only dream of. Families are usually portrayed as consisting of a (white) mother, father and 2 children while a growing number of “real” families are considered patchwork families with often 5 children and more. Others are made up of homosexual or mixed-race couples, yet these are not often featured in general marketing campaigns.
Breaking down those stereotypes is what inclusive marketing is all about. And the benefits for your business can be tremendous.
What is inclusive marketing?
An inclusive marketing strategy aims to provide content for your business’s entire audience regardless of people’s backgrounds. It reflects and respects the diversity of those that already are or might be engaging with your company irrespective of their age, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, sexuality, or other defining factors.
One of the earliest examples of inclusive marketing dates back to 1971 with the Coca Cola TV campaign I’d like to buy the world a coke. In the clip, 65 people from all walks of life sang a song together on the top of an Italian hill, holding a coke bottle in their hands. In response to the commercial, more than 100,000 letters were sent to the company praising its approach. And after numerous requests were made to radio stations to play the song, a pop version was produced, earning Coca Cola $80,000 in royalties).
In today’s society, marketers carry a lot of responsibility. In addition to ultimately increasing brand awareness and consumer trust through their work, they also have to navigate through a jungle of political and social correctness. By implementing a marketing strategy that is inclusive, a business can help give a voice to those that are generally underrepresented or even oppressed, break today’s stereotypes and create new role models for the future while at the same time contribute to social change in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
Apart from being a powerful tool to positively impact society, inclusive marketing can also help grow your business and strengthen ties with potential and current customers.
Deepen customer relationships
The best way to strengthen customer relationships is to ensure they can identify with your business and your brand. An inclusive marketing strategy can help you achieve this by ensuring your entire audience is represented in the content you produce. In fact, according to the Salesforce State of Marketing report, 72% of consumers these days expect businesses to personalize their engagement with them to ensure their needs are met.
Grow your audience
In addition to strengthening ties with your existing clients, an inclusive marketing strategy can also help attract new customers and grow your audience. Further research conducted by Salesforce revealed that 86% of marketers state that personalizing their marketing efforts moderately or majorly improved their lead generation and 84% claim a moderate to major boost in customer acquisition.
Attract new workforce
With the global demographics changing more rapidly than ever, it is vital to implement a strategy that includes people from all backgrounds. Otherwise, your company might be missing out on skilled and talented workers that could lead your business successfully into the future. In contrast, a company that is genuinely focused on equality and inclusion will not only attract and retain a wide range of customers but also pose an attractive place of work for everyone.
Principles of inclusive marketing
For many, inclusive marketing is the strategy of the future. The following principles will help ensure that your efforts are worthwhile and what you are doing is authentic and believable.
Start with your brand
Your business will rise and fall with your brand, the values your company communicates and represents. Do you foster an environment that respects diverse views and gives room to otherness? How is your workforce made up? What kind of agencies, suppliers or contractors are you engaging with? Do they share your values of inclusiveness, equality and diversity or are they known for shutting out those that are different?
Share their stories
Include intentionally rather than exclude unintentionally. When you are using stories in your marketing campaigns of how your products or services have helped clients succeed, overcome major obstacles or solve their problems, focus on the ones that are truly different, maybe even uncomfortable. Ensure that the stories you share inspire many others, not just the obvious ones.
Stick to the truth
You don’t have to start making up scenarios just to tell a compelling story. More often than not, consumers will be able to look right through those and label you as being artificial. In order to stay authentic and relatable, let your audience bring stories to you. There are many ways your audience can create content for you. Not only will you save time and money, but you will also strengthen customer relationships by showing people you listen and care. At the same time you are ensuring that you are inclusive of all and the chances that a diverse range of consumers can relate are much higher.
Challenge common stereotypes
The easiest way to challenge preconceptions is to avoid them, and instead think outside the box. Portray people in your marketing campaigns that might rock the boat for some – but will actually make it possible for a large number of people to relate to you.
Understand your role
While inclusive marketing has significant benefits for your business, profit and growth should not be your superior motives for implementing these strategies. Rather than seeing your brand or your business as the hero in the discourse on equality, understand inclusive marketing as a fundamental commitment. It all comes back to being authentic and credible, ultimately impacting on whether consumers will believe you and value your company for the contribution it is making – or turn their backs on you for being fake and profit-driven.
If you would like to know more about inclusive marketing and how your business can make a change, contact the friendly team at Energise Web today.