Marketers Shift Approach To Embrace Women’s Health

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After more than 20 years in marketing and brand development as an African-American man, it was not an uncommon occurrence for me to be the only minority in the room at the companies I have worked for or at various industry events and conferences. Frankly, over the years, it has been something that I have almost come to expect and that I have grown quite accustomed to, but times have changed and companies have begun shouting from the rooftops that diversity and inclusion are among the most critical elements of their strategic imperatives.

Some of the largest brands like Facebook, Uber and eBay have hired their first chief diversity and inclusion officers, where I would expect to see a concerted, resourced effort to continuously evolve these large organizations. We are even seeing entities like banks, schools, park districts and NBA teams following suit.

Marketing has been even more reflective of this paradigm shift in society, as we see more brands representing diversity in executions. It has become commonplace, while in the past we would've been shocked to see ads featuring multiracial families, biracial and LGBTQ couples, people representing different religions and women and minorities serving as lead brand ambassadors.

The sky is the limit in this evolution, and it is a beautiful thing that has been fueled by the fearlessness of the industry pioneers and of a new generation that demands it with their spending dollars and where they want to work. With all of that being said, I recently attended one of the largest marketing conferences, where one of the key panels was about diversity, and I found one glaring issue: I was the only minority in the place.

This points to the biggest mistake brands are making with diversity -- that is to view it only as a strategic marketing imperative instead of focusing on creating diverse marketing teams from top to bottom and environments reflective of the brand messaging they want to portray. This mistake creates the potential for savvy consumers to view your branding message as inauthentic.

Having diversity in messaging is great, but it's the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances that people recognize that can make the messaging seem fake or even offensive. Now, I know this is going to take time and there have been some major strides as companies start to ramp up these efforts, but there are some key things brands can do immediately, outside of hiring internal marketing people, to address this issue.

1. Test your diversity messaging with consumers. I have been blown away by how many brands do not take the time to test their diversity messaging with the consumers they are targeting. Brands are willing to spend millions of dollars to launch marketing efforts. Spend a little more to find out if your campaigns are resonating the right way with a test group.

2. Hire multicultural ad agencies. If your agency partner does not have a diverse creative team, then tell them they need to add to their team or find another partner. Multicultural agencies still do exist and some are thriving. These agencies study and take the time to understand diverse consumers, so they are experts in the matter of how to reach them.

3. Segment your consumer targets if it's necessary. If there are key differences in your product's brand value proposition for various consumer groups, you should approach them differently. I can't tell you how many brands I know of that have gotten rid of their multicultural marketing positions because they believe all of their messaging should address a diverse consumer group. This is a huge mistake, particularly for brands that are in the lifestyle space like fashion, entertainment, sports, cosmetics, spirits, etc. As a matter of fact, I believe a homogenous approach to marketing is a step backward and in the wrong direction.

4. Give back to diverse community organizations. One big testament to see if brands really care about the consumer groups they are targeting is to take a look at the community nonprofits that they are supporting. It is not enough that brands covet their dollars with demand creation efforts; they have to drive home their values by supporting organizations that are enriching and assisting the communities that their consumers live in or care about.

5. Create an inclusive environment. Creating a diverse team is a huge first step, but it really means nothing if you don't have a safe environment where people with diverse backgrounds feel respected and part of a team where their input is taken seriously. It is perfectly fine to ask people what they think even if they don't work in the marketing function.

6. Don't do it. Diversity marketing may not be for every brand, and you shouldn't implement this strategy if you don't have the right team in place. I don't have an issue saying this. I have seen brands try to force the idea and it just turns out badly. Also, if your core consumer does not fit the mold -- for a few brands this is true -- then don't pretend.

Diversity marketing should never be the solution to a company's approach to driving corporate diversity. It should always be the other way around, where good diversity marketing is a result of a corporate culture that is focused on diversity and inclusion.

Brands need to pause on how they are approaching the messaging they are putting out into the marketplace and ask themselves if they are just putting lipstick on a pig. You have to embrace the notion and true value of being a diverse and inclusive company from within before you can lead with it in your messaging. We have come a long way and it is truly exciting, but we also have a long way to go so that the next time I go to a marketing conference, the room is representative of this diverse society we live in.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

Do I qualify? " contentScore="5756">

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After more than 20 years in marketing and brand development as an African-American man, it was not an uncommon occurrence for me to be the only minority in the room at the companies I have worked for or at various industry events and conferences. Frankly, over the years, it has been something that I have almost come to expect and that I have grown quite accustomed to, but times have changed and companies have begun shouting from the rooftops that diversity and inclusion are among the most critical elements of their strategic imperatives.

Some of the largest brands like Facebook, Uber and eBay have hired their first chief diversity and inclusion officers, where I would expect to see a concerted, resourced effort to continuously evolve these large organizations. We are even seeing entities like banks, schools, park districts and NBA teams following suit.

Marketing has been even more reflective of this paradigm shift in society, as we see more brands representing diversity in executions. It has become commonplace, while in the past we would've been shocked to see ads featuring multiracial families, biracial and LGBTQ couples, people representing different religions and women and minorities serving as lead brand ambassadors.

The sky is the limit in this evolution, and it is a beautiful thing that has been fueled by the fearlessness of the industry pioneers and of a new generation that demands it with their spending dollars and where they want to work. With all of that being said, I recently attended one of the largest marketing conferences, where one of the key panels was about diversity, and I found one glaring issue: I was the only minority in the place.

This points to the biggest mistake brands are making with diversity -- that is to view it only as a strategic marketing imperative instead of focusing on creating diverse marketing teams from top to bottom and environments reflective of the brand messaging they want to portray. This mistake creates the potential for savvy consumers to view your branding message as inauthentic.

Having diversity in messaging is great, but it's the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances that people recognize that can make the messaging seem fake or even offensive. Now, I know this is going to take time and there have been some major strides as companies start to ramp up these efforts, but there are some key things brands can do immediately, outside of hiring internal marketing people, to address this issue.

1. Test your diversity messaging with consumers. I have been blown away by how many brands do not take the time to test their diversity messaging with the consumers they are targeting. Brands are willing to spend millions of dollars to launch marketing efforts. Spend a little more to find out if your campaigns are resonating the right way with a test group.

2. Hire multicultural ad agencies. If your agency partner does not have a diverse creative team, then tell them they need to add to their team or find another partner. Multicultural agencies still do exist and some are thriving. These agencies study and take the time to understand diverse consumers, so they are experts in the matter of how to reach them.

3. Segment your consumer targets if it's necessary. If there are key differences in your product's brand value proposition for various consumer groups, you should approach them differently. I can't tell you how many brands I know of that have gotten rid of their multicultural marketing positions because they believe all of their messaging should address a diverse consumer group. This is a huge mistake, particularly for brands that are in the lifestyle space like fashion, entertainment, sports, cosmetics, spirits, etc. As a matter of fact, I believe a homogenous approach to marketing is a step backward and in the wrong direction.

4. Give back to diverse community organizations. One big testament to see if brands really care about the consumer groups they are targeting is to take a look at the community nonprofits that they are supporting. It is not enough that brands covet their dollars with demand creation efforts; they have to drive home their values by supporting organizations that are enriching and assisting the communities that their consumers live in or care about.

5. Create an inclusive environment. Creating a diverse team is a huge first step, but it really means nothing if you don't have a safe environment where people with diverse backgrounds feel respected and part of a team where their input is taken seriously. It is perfectly fine to ask people what they think even if they don't work in the marketing function.

6. Don't do it. Diversity marketing may not be for every brand, and you shouldn't implement this strategy if you don't have the right team in place. I don't have an issue saying this. I have seen brands try to force the idea and it just turns out badly. Also, if your core consumer does not fit the mold -- for a few brands this is true -- then don't pretend.

Diversity marketing should never be the solution to a company's approach to driving corporate diversity. It should always be the other way around, where good diversity marketing is a result of a corporate culture that is focused on diversity and inclusion.

Brands need to pause on how they are approaching the messaging they are putting out into the marketplace and ask themselves if they are just putting lipstick on a pig. You have to embrace the notion and true value of being a diverse and inclusive company from within before you can lead with it in your messaging. We have come a long way and it is truly exciting, but we also have a long way to go so that the next time I go to a marketing conference, the room is representative of this diverse society we live in.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

Do I qualify?

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/12/13/the-biggest-mistake-made-in-diversity-marketing-and-how-to-fix-it/

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