Early on each year, I like to lay down a foundation for some key areas to focus on as it relate to how to be successful with inclusive marketing.
In 2021, it was about 4 inclusive marketing trends that will impact your brand.
In 2022, it was about embracing these 5 inclusive marketing principles to win more customers.
In 2023, it was 5 consumer expectations of brands engaging in inclusive marketing.
And now, here we are at the beginning of 2024, and I’ve got a new one for you, a blueprint for inclusive marketing success. I do these each year because for so many people, marketing with inclusion in mind is new.
There’s a lot of nuance, and a lot of times, marketers and business leaders need guidance on where to focus their energy and resources.
The good news is that everything I’ve written in these posts, which all of those previous ones that I mentioned have been published on Forbes, posts that I have the right to kick off the new year, don’t have a shelf life of just that year.
All of the advice trends principles and expectations are still relevant today. So if you still have work to do in these areas, I’m including links to each of those posts in the show notes. And this blueprint, which is really 5 Ways of Thinking is all about helping you think the right way about how you approach inclusive marketing for your brand.
Think of the areas I’m going to cover as core principles that will fuel your success as you go out to win, Keep, and serve more customers this year.
So after this short break, I’m gonna walk you through my blueprint for your success in making your marketing more inclusive and, of course, effective in 2024 and beyond.
Alright. The first area that I want you to focus on as a part of this blueprint is really with regards to friction. Think frictionless.
Frictionless needs to be your goal or as the least amount of friction as possible. The customer experiences brands deliver are often rampant with friction. And when you look at those experiences through the lens of consumers who are part of underrepresented and underserved communities, Then that friction is magnified significantly.
A friction, in case you’re not familiar with the term, is a force between 2 surfaces that prevents those surfaces from sliding or slipping.
Friction is a force that is always acting to slow things down.
Friction comes in many forms. We want friction to do its thing when we press on the brakes on our cars and our bikes. I mean, because, really, if pressing the brake and there’s no friction, you’ve got a big problem about to happen.
But in business, of course, when you’re working to move your ideal customers Further along in their journey with you, friction is not what you want.
As a consumer, I’ve been frustrated on way too many occasions as a result of friction in the experiences I’ve had with brands. For instance, I experience friction when I go to a restaurant, and it isn’t clearly marked what is and isn’t safe for me to eat as a gluten-free person.
What’s the fix for this? Work to eliminate as much friction as possible for the people you serve. Brands are working to reduce friction all the time in the customer experiences they’re delivering. I mean, a big friction point that comes for me is whenever I have to get up and go get my credit card from my purse and then enter in the information.
There have been many, many, many abandoned carts That I have just left things because I just had zero desire to get up and go get my credit card. My having to get up and go get my credit card is friction in the experience.
So how are brands working to eliminate that friction there? They don’t want those cards abandoned. A lot of brands, specifically those who are doing e-commerce, will store your credit card for you if you give them permission to so that you don’t have to input it every time.
So I’m much more likely to order something where the information is already inputted Because there’s no friction there. I don’t have to get up from sitting comfortably on a couch with a blanket or I don’t have to do all of that stuff.
Getting rid of friction is already something that brands are doing. Now how do we extend that with regards to inclusion? Now there are plenty of brands in a broad variety of industries and sectors that are doing that.
For instance, when it comes to watching something Like a series or a movie in my household, we’re almost always watching it in 2 languages. Generally, the audio is in English, and the subtitles are in Spanish.
Most of the streaming services have taken the friction out of the process for us Because when they’re publishing a show, a series, or a movie, it’s already uploaded with the audio and subtitles available in multiple languages.
So how do you create customer experiences with the least amount of friction possible? Think about your end customer. Consider all the ways in which the people who have the problem your brand solves could be different, and then design your products, services, and experiences in such a way
That it removes that friction. Walmart recently removed friction for people with sensory processing disorder By implementing sensory-friendly hours from 8 AM to 10 AM every day in all of the stores across the US and Puerto Rico.
Now during these hours, the televisions on the walls showcase the static image. The radio is turned off, and the lights are dimmed. So Walmart listened to their customers and people who wanted to be their customers, particularly in the stores couldn’t because the stimulation was too much for them or the people that they love, who they’re shopping for or shopping with, and as a result, they removed that friction that was occurring to them, and more people are coming into the stores and, of course, as they’re in the stores, they’re buying more.
So I want you to embrace this principle of being frictionless.
How can you remove as much friction as possible in the customer experiences you are delivering to make it easier for all the people that you’re serving To move forward with you?
Friction is an opportunity for people to abandon their cart virtually, physically, and emotionally. We don’t want that. Alright.
The 2nd principle I want you to embrace in this blueprint for inclusive marketing success is transparency.
Consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities already have a certain degree of mistrust and skepticism for brands that have long ignored them, and then suddenly decide they want to start marketing to them.
They’ve seen far too many brands engage in performative marketing and say how important the community is to them and that they are committed to them, But without ever following up on those claims with real and tangible action.
So what’s a brand to do? Be transparent.
Be clear about your past, especially if it conflicts with your values beliefs, and goals today. Be transparent about where you stand now, especially, if your current situation doesn’t reflect the state you’d like to get to.
Now this one for me is especially important when I think about the makeup of teams on brands. I’ve talked about this quite a bit. You must have a team that reflects the communities that you want to reach.
If you don’t have a representative team today, don’t hide that. Tell us. And also tell us what your plans and goals are to remedy that So we know you’re working on it, and so we can hold you accountable.
I’ve seen brands like Target and Salesforce do this well on their websites, showcasing their numbers of what their workforce looks like, their global workforce looks like, what it is today, and what they’re aspiring it to look like in the future.
Be transparent about your marketing practices.
For instance, if you’re going to donate a portion of your proceeds to a charity that supports the communities you want to serve.
Be clear and upfront about how much you’re donating. There’s a big difference between donating 5% of the proceeds, I’m looking at you, Ralph Lauren, and donating 50%.
For reference about what I’m talking about with this Ralph Lauren thing, Tune into episode 90 where we talked all about this in-depth. I’ll drop a link to it in the show notes for you. Harry’s, the shaving brand, often puts together Pride Shave Kits every year for Pride Month, And they are often always donating to the Trevor Project, which provides LGBTQ + youth access to Mental Health Resources.
When I checked for this a couple of years ago, they were doing 100% of the profits or the proceeds of the sale of their limited edition versions of their shave kits to the Trevor Project. Whenever I checked recently, I saw on their website They’re very clear that for every $30 kit purchased, the brand will donate $5 to the Trevor Project.
How they’re donating and the ways in which they’re donating have evolved and adjusted over time, but they’re always very clear about what they’re doing from a marketing standpoint, particularly as it relates to special edition projects that focus on particular underrepresented and underserved communities, how they are going to be profit sharing or supporting those communities with those special edition projects, you must do that.
Be transparent about your values. 71% of consumers want to buy from brands that align with their values, and it’s often hard to know what your values are or what it is you stand for If you don’t actually show us, make it clear.
Put it on your website. Talk about it on your socials, and then back those words up with actions Then make it clear that you live your values on a consistent basis.
Another thing that I want you to lean hard into as part of this blueprint for inclusive marketing success is technology. It’s easier now than it ever has been to be inclusive.
Technology is a big reason for that. There are more tools now than there ever have been at our disposal to make it easier for us to serve people from underrepresented and underserved communities.
One of the things I’m committed to doing is letting you know about more of these types of tools. I’m thinking about the best way to do that, and one way is within the inclusion in the marketing newsletter. So, definitely, if you aren’t already signed up, do get it.
Do sign up to get it.
There’ll be lots of great resources to help you level up in this area.
Go to inclusionmarketing.com/newsletter to get on the list. I’ll also drop a link to it in the show notes for you.
But, yeah, there’s an abundance of tools available to caption videos for you to make them more accessible, to create transcripts of your video and audio content to make them more accessible.
I’ve started checking into technology that helps you translate your content into different languages. Disclaimer, that content would always be checked by an actual human for accuracy. I recommend that you do the same.
There are tools for you to ensure that your websites are equipped to support multiple languages. There is so much technology out there to help you be more inclusive that, quite frankly, more of your customers are gonna start giving you the side eye if you aren’t using them.
But, of course, you can’t use what you don’t know about, so I’m planning to help you with that more this year and beyond. Now there’s even AI technology out there, more than 1, right, that is even more culturally relevant with its database of inputs.
You can get different perspectives, support, and outputs to help you better serve the needs of different types of consumers.
So let’s lean into the ease and support that technology can bring as you work to better serve more people who have the problem your brand solves.
Alright. We’re going to get into 2 additional areas to lean into for Inclusive Marketing Success after this short break.
Alright. The 4th area that I want you to lean into is connection.
Inclusive marketing has always been about connection. It’s been about collaborating, cocreating, building, strengthening, and nurturing relationships. I’d even go so far as to say that you cannot be effective with inclusive marketing at all without building genuine relationships with the people who are part of that Community.
Connection means having people who are part of the communities you want to serve in your circle of influence. People you’re learning from, spending time with, talking to, getting entertained by, and inspired by.
Connection means having people on your core and or your extended team who are part of the communities you want to reach.
Connection means cocreating with people Who are part of the community to ensure your product service and experiences you’ve delivered to them are designed to serve them.
Connection means getting a constant feedback loop from people who are part of the communities you want to serve to ensure the products, services, and experiences you’re delivering evolve and grow with their needs and have the least amount of friction possible.
Connection means being tapped into the wants, needs, and desires of the people you serve beyond just your product because relationships mean you care about people, not just as it relates to what they buy from you, but you care about their overall well-being and those they care about, Which often extends to their community as well.
The more you connect with the communities you want to serve, the more successful your inclusive marketing efforts will be.
The last area That I want you to lean into, focus on, embrace, and change your mindset about is investment.
Investment can take on a number of different forms. It doesn’t always have to mean financial. But anything that you want to give you return on, you have to invest in it.
But I want to be clear.
To be successful with inclusive marketing over the long term, you will have to invest financially, whether it’s in technology, team, training, research, investment in being in the room with communities you want to reach and build relationships with, for you, it might be investing in consulting and learning how to do things better.
It can be investing in diversity-owned media, investing in getting the personnel you need to do custom photo shoots the right way, getting new more inclusive photography, overhauling your website to make it more accessible, hiring partners, collaborators, influencers who already have relationships with the communities you want to serve, that investment can look like framing your internal systems, processes, and resources to enable you to operate more inclusively.
Investing could mean partnering with organizations that support the communities you want to serve on issues that are important to them.
Investing takes on many forms. And to be clear, you can get started being inclusive today with zero financial investment, but there is no finish line with building an inclusive brand. There’s no finish line with serving a community.
So even though you may start your Inclusiv brand journey with $0 in financial investment. Just know that as you go deeper down this path to serve a broader base of customers who are growing increasingly more diverse, there will be some financial investment required.
But why wouldn’t there be? You’re going to get business results from it.
Both your sales and your customer base will increase when you are more inclusive with your marketing. So it is unreasonable to expect that there won’t be any financial investment associated with that happening.
Alright. So lean into the fact that to be effective with inclusive marketing and reaching a broader diversity of consumers, There’s gonna be some financial investment involved. Maybe that’s not today, but you will need to do that in the future.
Alright. So there you have it. That’s my blueprint for you for inclusive marketing success in 2024.
And the beauty of it is doing these things will lead to your success no matter what year it is and, quite frankly, with any customer group.
What I’ve laid out for you here is really just about how to be successful with your marketing in 2024, which is perfect because inclusive marketing is really just good marketing. More about that soon.
If you like the show, I’d so appreciate it if you leave a rating and review for it in your podcast player of choice. It really does go a long way towards helping more people discover the show.
As mentioned before, if you haven’t already, definitely get signed up for the inclusion and marketing newsletter. Each week, I’ll send you news, tips, insights, and coming soon, tech recommendations so I’ll be building an inclusive brand that attracts and retains a broader base of consumers, including those from underrepresented and underserved communities. Go to inclusion in marketing.com/newsletter to get signed up.
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.