Words have power—they can inspire people to act or stop them in their tracks. Crafting messages that connect with a diverse audience is an absolute must for Business Improvement Districts. And making those messages inclusive is becoming more and more important as the United States undergoes a shift in culture and demographics.
When it comes to marketing, most Americans now expect brands to take a stand on social issues. According to the Pew Research Center, 87 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company advocates for issues they care about. Additionally, 64 percent are more likely to buy a product after seeing an authentically diverse advertisement. Simply put, people want to see brands and ads that reflect the changing world around them.
Here are some actionable steps your BID can take to develop more inclusive messaging:
- Get to know the culture. The first, and most important, step is to get to know the people to whom you’re marketing. Do your research, talk to leaders in the community and host focus groups to understand what resonates and what’s considered offensive.
- Put people first. The tourism industry is already skilled at this concept, so it makes sense to develop language to match. For example, say “people experiencing homelessness” as opposed to just “homeless.” This also applies to conveying historical information about your destination, like saying “people who were enslaved” rather than “slaves.”
- Use gender-inclusive pronouns and universal phrases. In California, a state strongly influenced by surf culture, it’s common to call someone “dude” or say “you guys.” Switch those out for more inclusive terms like “everyone” or even the Southern saying “y’all” if it’s on brand. You can also make words like “freshman” and “policeman” more gender neutral by saying “first-year” or “police officer.”
- Take a step back. When working on messaging and selecting imagery to accompany it, take a moment to review what you’re doing. Ask someone else to look at it to make sure it authentically represents your target audience. Don’t be afraid to tweak things or, if necessary, start from scratch with a new concept.
- Identify trusted resources. No one is an expert on all cultures. Likewise, no community is all the same; people have different likes, dislikes, pain points and behaviors. Connect with multiple groups in your community to learn more about their needs and preferences. There are also plenty of resources available online, like The Diversity Movement, that offer DEI tools, training and virtual communities.
- If you aren’t sure, ask. This can be a difficult step for some people, but it’s essential. When interviewing someone for a blog, ask them which pronouns they use. If you think something might be offensive, reach out to a trusted leader in the community to confirm. Just remember to be respectful and to keep an open mind. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your target audiences.
Do you need help crafting more inclusive messaging for your BID? Reach out to use at https://www.verdinmarketing.com/contact/.