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Transcript [Ep. 104]: How to use an inclusive marketing consultant to support your growth

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Inclusive marketing is a fairly new discipline. As a result, inclusive marketing consultants and strategists are newer areas of expertise for talent.

So whenever I introduce myself and explain that I’m an inclusive marketing consultant, coach, and strategist, I always find that I must explain what that means. That includes sharing ways that I support clients for people to get it.

An inclusive marketing consultant isn’t like a copywriter, salesperson, or even a market researcher where people tend to understand right away more or less what it is that you do. Thankfully, more brands focus on building inclusive brands that attract and retain a bigger, more diverse customer base.

As such, I thought it would be helpful to understand how an inclusive marketing consultant can support you in your efforts. This is especially relevant if inclusive marketing isn’t firmly rooted in the DNA of the way your brand operates.

So after this short break, I’m gonna walk you through a couple of different ways brands use inclusive marketing consultants as a means to help them grow.

Alright. So there are a variety of ways an inclusive marketing consultant can help you grow your brand. Here are just a few.

First off is strategy. There are several ways an inclusive marketing consultant can help you reach the results you desire from a strategy standpoint. The point at which you bring a consultant on to assist you often depends upon the degree to which you are already engaging in inclusive marketing. It depends on what your objectives are as well, of course.

A brand that is just getting started on its journey for inclusive marketing may need help with establishing inclusive values. They may also need to better define who their ideal customer is to ensure the definition isn’t inadvertently excluding people who have identities that are often underrepresented and underserved.

Your inclusive marketing consultant could also help you with your overarching strategy. They can help you identify how to make the impact needed on the communities you want to serve. They may also help you understand your data such as what data you need to collect and how to measure success over time.

If you are a little further along in your journey with inclusive marketing, you might engage an inclusive marketing consultant to help you with your business planning process. Baking inclusion into business planning will help you tie your efforts in this area directly to your business results, which is important for longevity.

Alright. Another way that brands work with inclusive marketing consultants is through audits. Inclusive marketing audits are often an entry point for brands who want to get going with implying inclusive marketing to what they are already doing.

So having a consultant conduct an assessment of the current customer experience your brand delivers will help you identify areas of opportunity for you both over the short, medium, and long term. Having a consultant conduct an assessment of the current customer experience your brand delivers will help you identify areas of opportunity for you over the short, medium, and long term.

So depending upon how in-depth you want to go with your audits, your consultant might also conduct user testing for you. With user testing, you can get feedback directly from consumers with the specific identities you want to reach. Then you can discover how they receive the experience your brand delivers. Doing an inclusive marketing audit can help you identify what core areas to focus on in your overarching strategy.

Now, a lot of times, marketers are super focused on the campaigns they put together to reach people from underrepresented and underserved communities. And as a result, they don’t take the time to look at the entire customer journey to see how it measures up.

They don’t look for areas of opportunity to reduce friction and improve conversions. So working with a consult or doing an audit on your own even can help you identify areas to increase your conversions and to focus on how your overarching customer journey and customer experience is performing, particularly from those communities, from underrepresented and underserved communities that you want to serve.

Okay. Another area an inclusive marketing consultant can help you with is organizational readiness. You may not realize this, but much of the work to consistently deliver authentically inclusive marketing happens internally. If your organization hasn’t tied inclusive marketing to business results or even your business and strategic planning process, it could be one of the first areas cut if management comes looking for areas to eliminate that aren’t directly positively impacting the bottom line.

Also, if you don’t have systems and processes in place that support your brand in delivering inclusive products, services, communications and experiences, you will struggle to consistently engage a more diverse customer base.

So having systems and process in place are crucial as is having your inclusive marketing efforts tied to business results. That’s all part of organizational readiness. Now, I’ve worked with clients to help get them ready to show up consistently and authentically for the people they want to serve from underrepresented and underserved communities.

That’s included helping them to develop customer experience vision statement to declare how they want to show up for all their customers. Oftentimes, it has been in helping them establish brand values that incorporates an element of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

And in other instances, it was all about helping the team strengthen their systems and processes that support inclusion and belonging in their marketing outputs. Establishing professional development plans to increase the team’s degree of cultural intelligence was part of the work with 1 client.

That even included making recommendations for how the team should be held accountable in their individual performance metrics. Now, there are a ton of layers involved in getting your team ready to be an inclusive brand.

You and any inclusive marketing consultant you work with will identify what areas are most needed for your team to accomplish your goals over both the short and the long term.

Another way you can partner with an inclusive marketing consultant is to help you get insights and culturally intelligence you need for specific communities. Now, to deliver inclusive marketing that is authentic and relevant to the communities you want to serve, it is essential to have cultural insights needed to speak to your ideal customers in a manner that will resonate with them.

Cultural intelligence is critical to effectively engage with underrepresented and underserved communities. And having a sound understanding of the ways in which the customer journey could be different for people with different identities is essential as well to deliver products, services, and experiences and communications and having a sound understanding of the ways in which the customer journey could be different for people with different identities is essential.

You need to also know this to be able to deliver the product services, experiences, and communications that ensure all the people you serve achieve success at the same rates and feel like they belong with you.

Several clients have hired me as an inclusive marketing consultant to capture insights. The clients wanted to better understand the journey of specific marginalized communities they wanted to reach. In most instances, that included conducting in-depth 1 on 1 interviews and other times that entailed going out and sourcing secondary research to better understand specific communities. Increasingly, more brands are leaning into inclusive marketing and cultural consultants to enable them to produce better work.

Now, here’s one example where you’re probably familiar with the output, but not the role consultants played in achieving those outcomes. And that was specifically with Disney and how they use cultural consultants to save the movie Coco. Now, Disney Pixar initially had a lot of trouble with the film that we now know as the Academy Award winning film Coco. And one of the first things they did wrong was trying to trademark Dia de los Muertos and Day of the Dead, which Day of the Dead was the original name of the movie.

Many people rightfully so, particularly from the Latino community called the entertainment giant out for cultural appropriation. Eventually, Disney withdrew the patent amidst all that backlash. Lee Unrich is the film’s co director. He talked about the pressure he felt to get the film right. So here he is talking about that at a press conference. So the last thing I wanted to do was to make a film that felt like it was made by an outsider. I mean, I’m not Latino and I never will be Latino. I just can’t change that.

But I comforted myself in knowing that there had been a lot of great films made over time by filmmakers that were not of the cultures that they made films about. So I took the responsibility very serious and have for many years.

It has been great having Adrian Molina by my side and all of the cultural consultants that we’ve gathered and the many Latino members of our crew that have been a part of this for a long time, and I hope that we’ve got it right. So the Coco team hired cultural consultants to guide them. And as one critic commented, to fix the mistakes that they made. Now, Unrich shared that those cultural consultants played a major role into shaping the film. Here, he’s talking about that again.

So we were constantly meeting with cultural advisors and learning more about the celebration, learning more about the traditions.

All of that to continue to inform and to guide us to the story that we ultimately told. So having the insights you need and the cultural intelligence you needed for those communities you wanna serve is super, super important as you can see.

Okay. Another way that inclusive marketing consultants can help you is through reviews and approvals. I first heard of this a couple of years ago from a colleague. She told me that her company had implemented a new rule that all marketing teams needed to get sign off from the diversity and inclusion office before going out the door.

I remember my eyes getting super big when I heard that. It seemed like not only a major bottleneck, but what also seemed like it was gonna be problematic was having a non marketing person review marketing materials to establish whether or not they were acceptable.

Now, of course, I know there will be times where other people, not in marketing, need to weigh in. Lots of companies have legal teams give guidance on certain materials. When I worked at j and j, we always had a clinical and regulatory sign off on all of our materials as well.

Checks and balances are good, but we’re not talking about a specialized area like legal, regulatory, or clinical. We’re talking about marketing functions that is being outsourced to another department. I have an issue with having materials go for approval in the diversity department for a couple of reasons.

Having the diversity team review just seems like one other thing to quote unquote dump on them. It feels like a crisis prevention measure. And in a lot of instances, whenever they’re sending to the diversity team, the objective is to ensure that nothing super offensive goes out the door that was going to get the brand canceled. It also feels unfair to all involved.

Thinking about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging from an organizational standpoint is not the same thing as evaluating whether or not something is okay in marketing. The competencies are different, and what marketing teams shouldn’t be doing is outsourcing this task to another department when what they really should be doing is investing in the cultural intelligence, the customer intimacy, and the appropriate insights that they need for them to be able to do this themselves within their own department.

So then I heard from another client that from time to time, they send materials to their DE and I team. So I really wanted to sit and understand more what was at the heart of this action. For me, as you heard me say before, it just really feels like a band aid fix to a bigger issue, an unequipped marketing team, and of course, not having processes in place going back to organizational readiness, which I mentioned before. I’m gonna say it again.

Marketing teams need to have the cultural intelligence and sufficient customer intimacy internally as a competency to take on this important function within their own department. All those thoughts were top of mind for me when a client came and asked if I could serve this function for them. So now, part of how I support this client is by being their inclusive marketing reviewer on their materials.

Now, this doesn’t include every single piece of content or campaign campaign that goes out the door. I created a guidance document for them to identify when items should come to me for review. And whenever I do send things back to them, my process isn’t just to give them the thumbs up or the thumbs down on a project.

It’s to educate them along the way so that over time, they can develop this competency for themselves in house and won’t need me or another inclusive marketing consultant to do this for them. They’ll have the competency within their own team to do it for themselves.

Okay. Another area where an inclusive marketing consultant can help you is in campaign development. A while back, a client brought me on as an inclusive marketing consultant to work on their African American engagement strategy.

They knew they weren’t performing as well as they should have been with this customer group, and they needed to not only understand why, but also figure out what to do about it. So I went to work. I discovered some issues that needed to be addressed.

Next, I came up with some campaigns that were relevant to both the community and the brand. Core down is a nonprofit organization that supports the advancement of people with down syndrome, Leading up to world down syndrome day every year, the brand releases a new campaign.

Their goal is to bring awareness to how to better support people with down syndrome living their best life. Their latest campaign went viral, and I’m gonna drop a link that in the show notes so you can have a look because it’s fantastic.

It is phenomenal, in case you haven’t seen it already. So as I dug into the marketing of the campaign, I discovered that people with down syndrome were heavily involved in the development process. In essence, they were brought on as co creators that enabled the team to bring forth a powerful and authentic campaign that was transformational for a lot of the people.

Alright. Another way that inclusive marketing consultant can support you in your brand is through training. Now, I’ve lost count of the number of training sessions I’ve conducted on inclusive marketing.

Workshops, keynotes, and other types of training can be useful to give your teams a primer on what they need to know. And when your team is ready, advanced topics are also an avenue. Investing in your team’s professional development, no matter the format, will pay dividends.

An inclusive marketing consultant can support you with a training program to give your team the skills they need to be successful. Just choose a format which works best for your team and a partner who can deliver on it. Common formats include on demand virtual sessions, live workshops, and even custom training solutions.

And the last area that we’re going to talk about today of how an inclusive marketing can support your business growth is through coaching. Not enough brands are doing this, but coaching really can help marketing teams advance when it comes to inclusive marketing.

Fear, lack of competency, and confidence are major reasons why a lot of brands haven’t gotten started with inclusive marketing. And for others, those same reasons have prevented them from engaging in inclusive marketing at a deeper level.

So a lot of brands will sign their teams up for training, which is important. But how many times have you gone through a training session that was really useful and then probably went back to operating the way you always did.

Okay. Maybe you continued or attempted to apply what you learned for about a week, but then you soon found yourself back into those old same habits. I get it. It happens to all of us. Training has no real value if you don’t put what you learn into practice. Application is how you build confidence.

Application is how you build know how. It is in the application of learned principles that fear begins to wane, and the process of doing inclusive marketing is where the questions learning process. And at times, uncertainty comes along because marketing inclusively can sometimes feel like there are a lot of gray areas.

Having a coach in your back pocket who can provide guidance, support, and answer questions along the way is helpful. I’ve worked with marketing teams and business owners to coach them behind the scenes. We focus on how to develop inclusive marketing and an inclusion based mindset into the way their brand operates.

The cadence could be once or even twice a month to talk through present projects and challenges. Now the coaching process should enable you to chart a path to achieve a goal. Support might also look like attending office hour sessions to ask questions. This could be live during a preset video session or within a Slack channel, for instance. Find the coaching cadence that works for you and the consultant that you choose.

Alright. After this short break, we’re gonna talk about the different types of inclusive marketing consultants.

Alright. So, like with many things, there are various types of inclusive marketing consultants you can work with. Here are 3. The first one is an identity based consultant. Now, some inclusive marketing consultants focus their efforts solely on one identity of consumer.

The identity they focus on is often identity that they hold. So let’s say you wanna ensure that people in the LGBTQ plus community feel like they belong with you. That may mean working with an LGBTQ plus inclusive marketing strategist to support you in your efforts. This type of consultant can help you ensure you’re addressing the needs of that specific community you want to serve throughout your entire marketing mix.

Another type of inclusive marketing consultant is the cultural consultant. Now, this is someone that you bring on to help you specifically understand aspects and nuances of a particular culture. They will give you and your team lots of cultural intelligence and insight on what is authentic to the specific community you’re trying to reach.

Lalo Alcaraz is a cultural consultant who’s worked for brands like Disney and Nickelodeon. He described his role on the Nickelodeon show Casa Grande as reviewing scripts, making suggestions about language, and monitoring Spanish pronunciations in recordings. Many cultural consultants focus strictly on ensuring aspects of what a brand does with regard to a culture is authentic. In a lot of instances, they aren’t engaged in larger conversations about strategy, organizational readiness, or even training. And the last type of inclusive marketing consultant is the general consultant or the generalist.

They don’t necessarily specialize on one particular identity or specific area of the marketing mix. General Inclusive Marketing Consultants often can support you in various aspects of your organization, and just about all of them that I have encountered can provide support in a number of the areas that I listed previously.

Okay. So how do you know if your brand needs an inclusive marketing consultant? Ask yourself these simple questions to help identify if working with an inclusive marketing consultant is right for your brand, and these are in no particular order.

Can your brand go out and confidently execute a campaign that speaks to an underrepresented and underserved community?

Another question, does your team know how to deliver experiences that ensure all the people you serve feel like they belong with you? Do all of your customers, no matter their identity, achieve success at the same rates?

Another question. Do you have a customer base that is representative of all the types of people who have the problem your brand solves?

Another question, is your organization equipped to consistently deliver inclusive marketing throughout all areas of your marketing mix?

The last question that I’ll leave you with here is, do you and your team know if areas of the current customer experience you’re delivering send signals to your ideal customers from underrepresented and underserved communities that you don’t belong here?

Did you answer yes to any one of those questions? If so, your brand could benefit from working with an inclusive marketing consultant in one or several of the ways that I walked you through earlier.

So if you answered yes to any of those questions, are you ready to work with an inclusive marketing consultant? If your team and your business need it, don’t hesitate to invest in it. Inclusive marketing is the future of marketing.

Be sure to give yourself and your team the best chance you have to succeed. Give them the support they need to achieve the impact and business results you desire for your brand. Find a consultant that you trust and like, then reach out and identify the right approach and mechanisms for which they can best support you.

Now, I offer a number of the services that I walked you through above. I will drop a link in the show notes if you’re ready to chat about how I can support your growth efforts with Inclusive Marketing.

You can go ahead and book a call with me and we can figure out what makes the most sense for you and your brand. That’s it for today’s show. If you liked it, I would so appreciate it if you would share it with a friend, colleague, and your network, and leave a rating and review for the show in your podcast player of choice.

It really does go a long way towards helping more people discover the show, which I like to think helps the world become more inclusive.

Are you getting included in marketing newsletter? If not, like, tell me, really, what are you even doing? Each week, I send stories, insights, and news, and other little tidbits to help you build an inclusive brand that helps you attract a bigger and more diverse customer base. Go to inclusion in to get signed up. I’ll also drop a link to that in the show notes for you.

Until next time, remember, everyone deserves to have a place where they belong. Let’s use our individual and collective power to ensure more people feel like they do.

Thanks so much for listening.

Talk to you soon.