Sonia Thompson: Inclusive Marketing – The Future of Marketing

What does inclusive marketing look like? Sonia Thompson, an inclusive marketing strategist and consultant joins us to talk about how inclusivity impacts marketing and how it is the future of marketing. She also speaks about how cultural intelligence and awareness contributes to the impact of a brand.

Mainstream marketing

When it comes to marketing efforts, most brands do not think about people who don’t fit into what is considered to be the mainstream. People are always ready to buy into ideas and products, but sometimes can’t because they are not the ideal target. 

There is a specific way that the ideal target looks and behaves, and if someone does not fit their mould, they will not be able to form part of the mainstream event or product.

Importance of a full-time diversity and inclusion member of staff

It’s important to plan your inclusive marketing calendar. The idea is that there are certain events that happen every year from an inclusivity standpoint, whether it’s something like:

  • Black History Month;
  • Martin Luther King Day;
  • Pride Month;
  • Hispanic Heritage Month, or;
  • International Women’s Day. 

Depending upon whatever group(s) you decide, it is important to celebrate or acknowledge observances that are important to these communities. 

It’s not just related to racial or sexual orientation, sometimes it’s about religion. Oftentimes when brands acknowledge religion in some way, it tends to usually be Christian holidays. So, people who aren’t Christian, feel left out and that’s not just about the customers that you serve, that also includes the people on your team.  

It’s not about saying you have to celebrate everything, but just plan for one of the things that you want to take note of that you want as a brand. Acknowledge and support your team and your customers by celebrating their holidays and special occasions. 

Planned vs unplanned inclusive marketing

People know when it’s an afterthought. Sonia gives an example of a TikTok video she saw. It was about Valentine’s Day and how some tend to pick up flowers at the grocery store. At that point getting a gift for their loved one, but it is an afterthought as if they were reminded of it on the way home. The gift is quick and easy and not planned at all. 

This means that your followers can see when something was rushed and when effort was put into it. It is always visible if something is rushed. People will appreciate what you’ve done if they feel like you’ve put more thought and effort to it. 

This means it is important to start planning ahead in the future to ensure what you are putting out in the world is worth the time of your followers. 

Let’s talk about cultural intelligence

If you are not part of a particular religion, but you  want to celebrate it and acknowledge it, you are still able to celebrate it. The easy thing for people to do sometimes is to just pull out some type of quote, or Happy Hanukkah, or whatever it is. 

But there are other times where people want to try and do something, but they don’t do it just because they’re not a part of that community. They don’t understand what the culture is, what’s appropriate and what’s not. 

It’s especially important whenever you’re trying to engage with people who are different from you to show that you are celebrating with them and that you made the effort to do your research.  This will make them feel appreciated and acknowledged, but also avoid them from being offended. 

Exercising cultural intelligence

This should be something that comes natural to you, wherever possible. Partner with people who are part of the communities that you want to serve and celebrate. 

If you’re creating a product, it’s great to work with people to have them create it on your behalf. If you are putting together a series or social media content, figure out how you can involve people who are part of the community. Not only will that help you from the cultural intelligence standpoint, but it also gives opportunity to elevate the voices of people who are often part of underrepresented and underserved communities. And it just helps you just get the whole thing right, and it gives you a deeper degree of intimacy in the process.

Listen to the full podcast and see how you can improve your inclusive marketing. 

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