I don’t typically write about “current events” because you may be reading this when they aren’t current anymore. But diversity and inclusion is an exception because it’s an important topic for everyone and I’m hopeful it will continue to be an important topic. So let’s talk about it in the context of marketing.
There are a wide variety of ways to be sure that, as you focus on marketing, you’re being inclusive in your communications. Here are three ways – out of many – to think about it, if you’re not doing these now.
- Visual images
Visuals are important in marketing because they cause an immediate, visceral response. It’s no wonder that Instagram has risen to be such a powerful social media channel; it is based on the power of a visual image – either a photograph or a video.
Are your images diverse and inclusive? Even if you use stock imagery, it’s important to think about diversity and inclusion. This means that everyone should be represented (in your target audience); for example, if you’re reaching out to people in the marine industry, be sure to include people from different countries, as the marine industry is an international arena. If you’re in a legal profession, be sure to include people of all races and ages. Inclusion also can mean people with disabilities; if you haven’t already, stretch your mind to think about those you’ve not included before.
Of course, be sure to avoid visual imagery that appears to be racist, as Volkswagon did recently. And if you’re going to make a statement visually, aligning yourself with the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, be careful you don’t look like you’re simply “jumping on the bandwagon” without deep consideration of your message; this is the kind of mistake Pepsi made back in 2017.
2) Who does your marketing?
No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to be aware that the people who do your marketing play a large role in determining your success. If you haven’t been actively seeking to be inclusive in this area, it’s time to consider this may be hindering your business potential. Why? Because people with different backgrounds can help you craft your message and communicate with customers in ways you’ve not considered.
There’s nothing more exciting and creative than getting a diverse group of people to work on your marketing. That means being inclusive with regard to backgrounds as well as with age and other factors. I’ve spoken at length about the critical nature of working with Millennials in marketing; it’s equally important that you consider every type of diversity when filling a new role or hiring a team.
3) Be mindful of the words
Language has the power to define – including what’s important and what isn’t; it’s critical to be thoughtful about what can and should be said, versus what should not be said. Over the past 20 years, I’ve watched as the wording in marketing has become more relaxed and conversational. There’s nothing wrong with this; however, there’s been a tendency, at times, to be blind to how certain words or ideas may be received.
It’s important for every organization, brand, and person to be mindful of the many ways a word or phrase can be interpreted or perceived. Don’t make the kind of error that Ancestry.com made, for example, that appeared to romanticize slavery.
Remember that the topic of diversity and inclusion is timeless; it should be something you work on in your marketing and your business every day. Living this mindset authentically will help not only with your marketing, as you become more mindful and inclusive in your messaging, but with your business and your life. It’s something we all should strive for as we move forward.