Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword to throw around during staff meetings. It’s not just the right thing to do in a world that grows more diverse every day. When you make your content marketing more inclusive, you reach new customers and stand out from other companies. Bottom line: being more inclusive and diverse helps grow your business.
Image via Flickr by Angermann
One of the principles of great written copy from sales pages to blog posts is to use the word “you” to speak directly to your audience. We use it here on the blog and encourage clients to use it in their style guides. When you speak directly to your reader, you allow them to feel like they’re part of the conversation. Using “he” or “she” may have been part of writing principes 30 years ago or when you were in school, but it’s an impersonal way to share information and will, invariably, leave someone out.
Sometimes you’re sharing a case study or story about a specific person. Of course you have to use their correct pronoun, but what about your hypothetical customer? Unless your company focuses on one gender, consider using the gender neutral pronoun of “they.” Using it will feel strange, but it is an accepted way to write singular, neutral pronouns today.
Let’s go back to those case studies or success stories for a minute. Do they all have to focus on the same type of customer? Unless you serve only one type of customer, they shouldn’t. Feel free to change your focus for each one. Think about the customers you serve and make sure your case studies show the diversity of your clients or customers.
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In a perfect world, the images you use on your website, in your blog, and on social media would be photographs or graphics created by you and your company. It’s a guaranteed way to put your personal touch on your marketing without having to worry about copyright. Most businesses don’t have that luxury, and you must rely on stock image websites. Diversity isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but it is more important than you realize.
Your customers will identify with companies when they see people like themselves reflected in your marketing. This is known as affinity marketing. Customers work with businesses and buy from companies, in part, where they feel welcome and see themselves represented. It’s not enough to say that you’re a diverse company serving everyone. You have to show people, too.
Instead of doing the basic search for “business people” or “happy customers” which invariably shows you images of thin, young, and often white people, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Add terms like “African American,” “Hispanic,” “senior,” “gay,” or “disabled” and in most sites, you’ll see more options. Another option is to use websites like Blend Images or the Lean In Collection by Getty Images meant to make finding diverse images easier. No matter what option you choose, look for images that represent all of your customers, not just one.
Image via Flickr by Failed Imitator
Written copy and blog posts, although not always easy to create, are the most common forms of content on the internet. Google and other search engines love written content and the more focused, good, interesting, and valuable blog posts you share, the better your search engine rankings will be. It makes sense to focus on the written word for your content marketing.
When you do, though, you’re missing out on a new and often underserved customer base. Podcasts and video blogs are popular with people who simply prefer to consume content in a different way but that’s not the only reason to consider adding them to your content marketing plan. Audio recordings will reach your vision impaired customers. Videos with captions reach the hearing impaired/deaf community.
You don’t have to create new content to produce audio recordings or videos. Use the good content you already have. Read your blog post and publish it as a short podcast episode. Take the top principles of your best blog posts and turn them into video content. If you include a link to the written copy with your audio and video, you’ll give people of any physical ability the option to consume your content in the way that works best for them.
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It’s easy to look at demographics — age, gender, race, sexual preference — and think that’s all you need to do to show diversity in content marketing. It’s a good place to start, but it’s not the only way to build a strong audience and find more customers. Marketing, with today’s technology and access to data, can be much more personalized. The next stage in content marketing is to speak to people on a psychological level.
Think about your business and what it does for your customers. In your research, what have you learned about them? Do they drive specific types of vehicles? Have they formed specific types of habits (early morning runs, coffee in the morning, nail-biters)? Do they have goals for themselves (entrepreneurs, starting a family, buying a house)?
From these answers, you can build content just for them. Offer access to places within your website or on social media hosted by you to let people come together and discuss their experience. If you adhere to the other principles of diversity in your marketing, you’ll create an inclusive space where all customers feel welcome, as they bond with each other and your company over a shared love or goal. You can build brand loyalty while reaching different customers.
Making your content more diverse and inclusive takes effort. You’ve got to change old habits and think of how you want to reach people in new and different ways. It’s easier than you think it will be, and once you start, you’ll notice just how bland and similar a lot of marketing is online. Unfortunately, diversity and inclusivity are still rare in most content marketing. The good news for you is that you’ll stand out from the crowd and attract new business.
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