Hire and retain people who look, sound and think like your audience.
If you are crafting a multicultural marketing campaign that’s designed to reach and engage BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) audiences, and doing it without the counsel of diverse internal stakeholders, it will likely fail. I know you’re thinking that’s just not easy to do. No worries, I got you. Before we start, let’s first establish some ground rules:
1 Diversity and inclusion work is not the same as multicultural marketing. Please don’t try to make them become one.
2 Your external multicultural marketing efforts won’t be successful if you haven’t laid the foundation for a solid Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusivity (DEA&I) internal mindset.
3 The world where you want to sell your products, services or ideas is fast becoming minority-majority. So even if you do not want to have these conversations, if you want to build positive consumer revenue streams, you will eventually have to participate.
4 Your marketing funnel doesn’t begin at the moment of consumer awareness–it begins with you, the marketer. The absolute beginning of that consumer journey is with the people and mindsets that make up your organization and the consumer connectivity they build.
Now let’s talk…
I’ve been in advertising for nearly three decades. There has never been a moment when diversity wasn’t a topic of conversation. Interestingly, when I began, there was more talk around diversity than multicultural marketing. And, 30 years later, the world is still talking.
What is new is that I see an industrywide increase in corporate marketing and media teams who want to integrate DEA&I into their workstream. Some are doing an amazing job, and some, not so much. For me, I think about three important ideas when crafting a strategy.
One, I am positive that building and empowering a more diverse and inclusive marketing team is an action every marketer must take. Two, encouraging those teams of people and their various mindsets to share honest reactions as they contribute to the company marketing mission and workstream is crucial. Three, if you allow the marketing work these teams create to be authentic and empathetic, it will generate any desired consumer response.
Allow me to dig a little deeper.
First, the most important lesson in using DEA&I as a foundation for great multicultural marketing is that you must empower your diverse teams, and their diverse ways of thinking, with a seat at the table. If the talent and qualified people you bring into your corporate family have no voice, their ideas and opportunities will be lost. This means you potentially continue to have flat, inauthentic and homogeneous conversations with scores of consumers, missing out on making connections and creating a customer. Leverage the rich mindset your team can weave, creating an integrated tapestry of marketing and media.
Let’s spend some time on the second point. I’ve been having conversations like this one for years. It is important for me to invoke enough engagement from those I’m working with to create an ally. Many times, there will be a wall between myself and that client. Not because they don’t want to join the conversation but because they emotionally feel a need to stay distant. They fear ‘uncomfortable conversations’ so they avoid them. It’s human and understandable but also unacceptable. Just like getting that cavity checked at the dentist. Might not sound fun but it’s essential to move ahead. I can’t think of any consumer facing business that can afford to ignore the continuing minority-majority population shifts from non-Hispanic white to people of color. The census numbers show us that from 1980 to 2019, the non-Hispanic white population decreased in numbers from approximately 80% of the population to 60%, declining in every one of the 50 United States. Furthermore, if we consider those under the age of 16, we have already reached a minority-majority with more than half of the population identifying as a ‘racial or ethnic minority’. You may not feel comfortable having a team that can talk about these subjects at your table, but imagine how uncomfortable you’ll feel when those sales and revenues decrease.
Finally, it’s important that media and marketing teams are beginning to realize how essential DEA&I is to their external consumer success rates. That begins with making a decision to walk the walk behind the talk we’ve been talking for … well, you get it. If we are all really going to do this, it will take a concerted effort of clarity, awareness, courage, empowerment, empathy and, above all, kindness. You can actively look for those who are in the struggle, seeking a hand up (and never a hand out) and openly encourage those allies wanting to open doors and clear pathways.