Understanding The Importance of Diversity in Advertising


Mar 29, 2017 | Marketing & Branding

On our blog, we’ve talked often about the importance of knowing your audience. If you’ve followed any of our advice, you hopefully understand why it’s critically important to know your audience if you’re hoping to create effective messaging and marketing that resonates with them.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean just honing in on the things you think your audience wants, or even speaking solely to that hyper-specific subset of customers you think will convert into paying residents.

“While knowing and speaking to your audience is important, it’s also worth considering the value of viewing your audience more broadly, and considering the importance of diversity in your message,” says Dean Kistner, Creative Director at SageAge Strategies. “You might be doing a great job of talking to your hyper-specific audience, but you may also be missing out on talking to an entirely different audience who has an interest in your services but doesn’t feel paid attention to or like you care about them.”

The tapestry of our world, and thus our prospective customer base, is constantly changing. What worked ten years ago often yields less than stellar results today. We live in a diverse world today, and for that reason, it’s worth understanding why diversity in your advertising and marketing could be a powerful tool for your community.

So what is diversity marketing anyway?

When you have customers that span a variety of cultures, you inherently have customers that embody a wide range of values, life experiences, expectations, methods of interacting, beliefs and more. Within cultures there are even deeper nuances.

In a nutshell, diversity marketing and advertising asks us to first be aware of these differences, and then we can create messaging that reflects an understanding of those differences.

Just as you wouldn’t send a message intended for upper class older individuals to young, working adult children, you shouldn’t send a message intended for white, English-speaking families to recently immigrated Latino families, for example.

With this knowledge, you can create alternative ways of communicating with the diverse groups within your audience, using a mix of communication methods, design elements, photography and much more.

How to Think More Deeply About Diversity in Your Marketing

When you boil it down, effective advertising and marketing requires us to adapt our message to the market, not the other way around. For many companies, diversity marketing means they develop a campaign, then go back and try to “add on” a multicultural aspect to it. A good example of this is creating a campaign and then simply swapping out the images to show people of ethnicities. This is a band-aid, not an effective approach, and could risk alienating your diverse audiences even further.

An effective, money-generating diversity marketing campaign starts with the audience first. And to do that, you must understand your audience. Some ways to understand your audience include:

  • Desk research: Tap into the online resources available to you regarding the diversity of your community and neighborhoods, how it is changing, and what matters to this audience.

  • In-person conversations: Nothing replaces a good sit-down conversation with someone (or preferably, a whole group) who represent the audience you are trying to reach. Navigate this carefully, though, because as we mentioned, within culture groups there is a wide range of nuance. Your goal should be to listen and understand, not make assumptions.

  • Observation: Pay attention to how the landscape is changing in your community. Simply opening your eyes and looking around with a fresh, unbiased perspective can do wonders to illuminate the possibilities for reaching a more diverse audience.

Through this work, you should be able to gain a better picture of your target audience’s habits, values, beliefs, perceptions, and most importantly, how they like to be communicated with. It might be that one particular group really engages online while another is more interested in traditional, print advertising. Market research can uncover these nuances.

Another thing to consider is if your team is reflective of your audience. While it’s not necessary that your team reflect every possible target customer, it’s worthwhile to actively recruit team members from a diverse set of prospects. They can bring a unique perspective that others might not consider or even be aware of. A large group of like-minded individuals will often look at a campaign, deem it ready to go, and launch it into the world – only to discover they made a glaring error that someone from a different background or culture would have noticed right away.

A good way to discover how your message resonates with various groups, especially if you don’t have the budget or opportunity to hire a larger, more diverse team, is to test your message with different groups before you ship it. Your test groups will provide invaluable insight while you generate goodwill with a wide range of audience segments.

Lastly, a key part of diversity marketing and advertising is actually engaging with the communities and groups you are targeting. This doesn’t just establish goodwill or a positive reputation, it also gives your community an opportunity to make meaningful connections with the leaders and influencers in that target group. In so doing, you enhance your own knowledge and credibility as a business, and establish a better, more meaningful relationship.

The best, most successful businesses adapt to changing landscapes and audiences. In doing what we’ve described above, you can ensure your community is equipped to deal with growth and change in the years to come.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that provides multiple strategic grow

th solutions. For more information, please call or email Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / adrienne@sageagestrategies.com.

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