Diversity marketing is about seeing, valuing, and speaking to your customers. Here’s how to build your diversity marketing strategy.
You probably know that America is growing more diverse with each new generation, but have you seen the numbers? Of the 76 million baby boomers, 72% are white. Millennials—an even larger generation at 87 million—are much more racially diverse; only 56% are white.
Not only does the largest generation look more diverse than any previous American generation, but they expect diversity and inclusion of the brands they wear, the restaurants they order from, and the businesses they give their money to.
According to a 2020 consumer culture report, 83% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 say it’s important that the companies they buy from align with their values. These customers hold an ever-growing share of global buying power, and they’ve made their preferences clear.
Prominently embracing diversity is no longer an optional strategy for businesses. Diversity is a requirement.
That means it’s time for businesses like yours to develop an effective diversity marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at how to do just that.
What is diversity marketing?
While not a campaign in and of itself, diversity marketing sets an intention for all of your marketing campaigns. A strong diversity marketing strategy will influence your email marketing campaigns, your social media presence—even how you define your brand and tell your story to customers.
Before you can plan how to market diversity as a business asset and fortify that diversity plan with your tech stack, you need to take a good look around your company-wide meetings. What does the makeup of your business tell you about your internal diversity and inclusion commitment?
An authentic commitment to diversity across your company is foundational for a diversity marketing strategy that maintains influence and persuades buyers. Remember that you’re looking for more than just an equal mix of men and women (though that could be a good place to start).
- Sexual orientation
Establish a business-wide diversity strategy
Developing a diversity marketing strategy can feel like a daunting task, but support and buy-in from your team at the start will go a long way toward building a strategy that everyone feels invested in.
Sit down with your team (or get them all on a call) and open a dialog around how they have positively experienced diversity with the brands they love and support. Use those experiences as you begin mapping your own priorities and decide how to feature that commitment in your marketing and customer-facing communications.
To make sure your diversity marketing strategy is supported by diversity and inclusion within your business, Gartner recommends that business leaders begin by designing an implementation plan that aligns their business priorities with their inclusion and equity goals (full content available to clients).
When completed, this implementation plan should have three parts: a commitment statement, an action strategy, and a means of holding your team accountable to your goals and metrics. This implementation plan should account for all aspects of your business, from hiring employees and thinking about how you train them, to how you target and communicate with customers, to what kind of support services you offer existing clients.
This business-wide plan for diversity is called a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) strategy, but don’t let the acronym intimidate you. Businesses of all sizes can and should adopt a DEI strategy. Here’s how:
- Make a commitment. Write up a mission statement that summarizes how your business will make diversity and inclusion a priority. Make sure that mission is featured in places both employees and customers will see.
- Design an action plan. Come up with a detailed action plan for how every part of your business will strive to fulfill the commitment made in step one. When everyone across your business feels personally committed to a goal (instead of keeping it isolated to your marketing team), it’s more likely to happen.
- Have an accountability plan. From the start, establish what your benchmarks for success are and how you are going to measure your progress. Then, clearly communicate those benchmarks to your team, making sure everyone understands how they will help uphold the diversity commitment as well as how their team plans to hold them accountable.
A strong internal DEI approach provides a solid foundation for your diversity marketing strategy. Use your company’s diversity and inclusion mission statement as a place to start, building a publicity campaign on your social platforms, and featuring it prominently on your website.
Lead with diversity in every aspect of your marketing strategy
Instead of thinking of diversity marketing as a type of marketing like email marketing, social media marketing, or brand marketing, think of it as a theme that ties all of your marketing strategies together. No matter what activity or strategy component you’re executing, use these three guidelines to keep it in line with your diversity marketing efforts.
1. Use inclusive language in your marketing collateral
Look back through your emails, social posts, and website content. What assumptions are you making about potential and existing customers? Choosing language that is inclusive (such as saying partner or spouse instead of husband or wife) is an easy way to make members of marginalized communities feel seen, included, and valued.
2. Explore personalization and targeting options in your marketing tech
A big part of diversity marketing is understanding and targeting different groups with content and advertising that reflects them. Take a look at the marketing software you already have and see if it’s equipped to help you group customers and design personalized content or digital experiences for them. There are marketing automation software options out there that specialize in building personalized customer experiences.
3. Ask your customers what they care about
In addition to the data your marketing and sales teams collect from customers, another way to get a clear picture of the diversity among your customers is to ask them. Whether through running a survey on your website or talking with your community on social media, directly engaging with customers and asking about what is important to them will build trust. Even more important for your strategy, this info will help your team identify the types of images and marketing messages that will most effectively reach your target audiences.
Diversity is a future-proofing investment
Diversity is the future. According to Pew Research Center, Gen Z (born after 1996) is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, with barely more than half (52%) identifying as white.
A diverse America means a diverse audience, one that cares about inclusion and has little patience for unconscious bias in the brands they choose to support.
Wherever you are on your diversity marketing journey, there’s always more to learn and do.