Nowadays, inclusivity is not only something to strive for in everyday communication. If you are running a business, it has become essential to think of diversity when promoting a product or service. Applying inclusive language to your customer service, newsletters, websites, social media posts, and software will ensure respect for all of your audience and improve your relationship with customers.
Many brands are changing their image and products to reach an increasingly diverse and multicultural target audience. Google has tweaked its Google Translator algorithm to reduce gender bias and offer more inclusive translations twice already, in 2018 and 2020, and will continue to improve it in the future, seeing that the way we use language is directly connected with the way we think about people.
The time has come to abandon archaic forms of communication born from cultures that tend to exclude minorities to favour dominant groups. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, aesthetic canons or disability are just some of the categories that need to be included in our communication strategy in order to address every person you are speaking to with equal respect.
In this short guide, you’ll find various strategies for treating differences fairly in your texts, particularly when addressing a group of people through writing. Choosing which solutions to use and to what extent to use them depends on the context and your sensibilities.
Why you need more diverse and inclusive marketing for your contents
What does inclusive marketing mean? Inclusive marketing is the type of communication strategy that uses a language capable of addressing all the recognisable differences in the people who make up a social group. Inclusive marketing refers to a more natural and authentic communication approach, not addressed to a single person but to a diverse group of people.
It is a language that accounts for differences in income, gender, ethnic and cultural origins, sexual and religious orientation, making them an integral part of all communication. As you may have noticed, it all sounds rather abstract —it is difficult to give a univocal definition of inclusive marketing. The Internet may be full of “ultimate guides” on the topic, but the truth is that inclusive language is continuously evolving as culture becomes aware of its flaws.
It is a set of strategies and a style of content writing that concerns not only individual advertising campaigns, but that also sometimes redefines the entire marketing strategy. You’ll always come across new problems and have to look for new ways to solve them. In short, it is the adoption of a language that allows you to speak to consumers while including them in your vision, your values and an image that reflects them.
A diversity and inclusion guide for your content marketing
Inclusiveness pushes you to revise some of its established rules of marketing. Brands are increasingly asked by clients to consider diversity at all levels. Inclusiveness is, therefore, a value to promote in your marketing strategy.
Plus, with inclusive marketing, you can increase conversions and customer acquisitions. The perception of your brand will improve as you reach those audiences’ sensibility who care about inclusion over exclusion.
So, let’s put theory to practice. How do you make your brand more inclusive? What are the steps to take in order to address a diverse target audience accurately? Here are four key steps.
Try to reflect reality in your content
Research on gender bias in advertising has shown that from 2006 to 2016 women accounted for only about one-third of characters in commercial advertising, going from 34% to 37% over the course of a decade. However, Lorraine Twohill, chief marketer at Google, explains that diversity goes far beyond gender or skin color. It’s also about age, geography, socioeconomic differences, skills and sexuality.
To address diversity, it is important to have a clear view of the group you are speaking to, accounting for all differences when creating your target personas. Clearly, correct communication will depend on the product or service you are offering – there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing. But drawing target profiles based on real people rather than our imagination can help make a campaign more inclusive.
Set up copywriting guidelines
Writing with inclusion in mind can get complicated, and not every content writer in your team may have the same level of awareness. Setting up writing guidelines will help you address this obstacle and get everyone dealing with communication on the same page. In his “language spectrum” analysis, copywriter Alex Capitan shows how words can carry meaning even when they do not explicitly say what they communicate. Many terms have a history of discrimination, and while not everyone can be expected to be aware of this, content writers should acknowledge what may be problematic.
A good way to go about writing inclusively is to think of a “global audience” – to imagine that anyone in the world could be reading the text. This means striving for clarity and attempting to make the information as accessible as possible for everyone. Remember to use gender-neutral pronouns unless you are addressing a specific person.
Don’t forget the visual language
We live in an increasingly visual culture, and communication doesn’t only happen through text. The Atlantic reported that in 2014, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images online every single day. We are so used to communicating via images that we often take for granted that a photograph is simply a representation of reality.
The mass of images used by advertisers, marketers and regular people impacts how we perceive the world. If there is a mismatch between our visual language and the group that consumes our content, some people might feel left out or excluded entirely. Using stereotypes in your target audience’s representation is the perfect way to let viewers know that you don’t know them at all and drive them away from your brand.l
Hire a diverse team
The best way to be inclusive in your communication is to have a diverse team communicating. Creating a balanced team can take time and effort, but it will bring positive change to your inclusive marketing strategy. Hiring with diversity in mind means choosing among a larger number of job applicants and keeping in mind that a varied group will translate into more opinions being exchanged and better marketing ideas developing in the long run. It will also help you stay consistent in your communication, as a diverse team will be more likely to notice as bias appears.
It’s always good to have a person who understands the target group through personal experience speak directly to them. While it can be difficult to have a team that fully represents your audience—especially in smaller companies—it’s good practice to assign communication tasks to someone that knows how a reader can feel and empathize with them. Needless to say, a diverse team shouldn’t be used for virtue signaling.
In conclusion: inclusive marketing has become an essential asset
Being inclusive in your marketing can bring many benefits to businesses. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are more likely to buy from brands that care about diversity, and using an inclusive communication strategy will ultimately translate into a better user experience.
Inclusive marketing marks the beginning of a virtuous path for brands. It generates trust, loyalty and positive word of mouth. Social responsibility, sensitivity and commitment are rewarded by consumers, with a tangible impact on business performance.
Looking for help in finding the right way to speak to your audience? Get in touch today to find out how we can help you develop an effective (and inclusive) communication strategy.