Inclusive Marketing: 3 Tips for Making Your Audience Feel Welcome

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Being socially and culturally aware is at the forefront of public consciousness right now, and it’s opened a platform to give a voice to those who have been marginalized. 

Recognizing the value of these voices has led many organizations to review how their practices acknowledge and welcome diversity. They are aiming for inclusion — fair practices that engage all backgrounds, both within their organizations and outwardly in their marketing content and customer communication.

However, true inclusive marketing can’t happen overnight. It involves awareness, understanding, and intentional practice. Here are some steps you can take to help you begin working on your inclusive marketing practices.     

Related article: 5 Tips for Managing Social Media During Challenging Times

3 ways to create more inclusive marketing campaigns

1. Understand your biases.

All people have biases. These attitudes and tendencies exist whether we like it or not, tucked beneath our consciousness, and they affect our thoughts and decisions.

Not all biases are inherently negative, but they can still have an impact on the things we do and say. Our biases shape our “defaults” — the things that we fall to when we’re shaken out of our comfort zones. 

Implicit association tests use a series of images, words, and keyboard actions to bring awareness to biases. For anyone involved in content marketing, these tests are a good starting point for understanding the underlying biases in order to plan how to manage them when creating and promoting content. 

2. Figure out who you are really reaching.

A good content marketing plan includes a well-researched target audience. But the actual audience may be different than intended. Language and tone of writing, images, and expectations for interaction with content tell a particular story. But what stories are being told? What stories are missing? 

Here are some things to consider when beginning to review your content.

How is language used? Is it approachable (tone, readability, organization)?

Which genders are represented, and how? Does the content use the inclusive pronoun “they” instead of  “him” and “her”? Are any associations tied to a particular gender? 

Which racial and ethnic backgrounds are visually represented? Is any race or ethnic background overrepresented, underrepresented, or missing? 

How are racial and ethnic backgrounds and their cultures honored? If content contains cultural elements, is the meaning behind that element expressed?

Which lifestyles are highlighted? Is a certain lifestyle presented as “standard” or as “other”? Does the content make assumptions about the audience’s background, education, and socioeconomic status?

Looking at your content through a diversity and inclusion lens can help you begin to understand who you are really reaching. If you find your audience is more limited than the scope you planned for, a revision of your strategy is needed.

3. Allow for vulnerability.

People crave connection and trust. They want to be heard. Creating content that achieves this involves vulnerability. Getting there is unnerving, especially when it exposes gaps and shortcomings. But it also presents opportunities for building trust.

Bringing voice to those who need it is part of a journey that intersects with the very personal experiences of diversity. It is empathetic. It is human. Welcoming a more human approach to creating content will not only improve its quality, it will give its audience a place to belong.  

As you consider how diversity and inclusion are part of your content marketing plan, take time to acknowledge and understand the identities that shape you and the people around you. What story can you give voice to?

Need to assess your current marketing strategy? Get in touch with us for a content and social media audit.

Image credit: freshidea / Adobe Stock

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