We’ve already run through some of the marketing trends experts predict will dominate in the new year, but there is one element in particular that promises to be absolutely critical: inclusivity. 

This is bigger than a trend, though. In many ways, inclusivity has become a mandate. More than ever, consumers are demanding to see themselves and those they know and love reflected in the brands they buy from. if they don’t, they’re willing to spend their money somewhere else. In fact, one Accenture study found that 41 percent of buyers have taken their business elsewhere when they found a particular vendor didn’t appear to value identity and diversity as much as they did. 

With that in mind, it’s crucial to think about how your messaging reflects those with backgrounds and experiences that differ from your own. Consumers of different races, sexualities, religions, abilities, and more are searching the photos on your website, the videos you put out on YouTube, the social media content you share, your product line, the services you offer and more in hopes of identifying the ways in which you can help them. If they don’t find a depiction to which they can relate, they may very well move on. 

Of course, the goal here should not be to embrace inclusivity to boost or protect your bottom line, but to ensure that you are serving everyone who may need or want your product or service in the best manner possible. Inclusivity should be an imperative because it’s the right thing to do. 

How can you increase the inclusivity of your message if you haven’t taken steps to do so previously? Let’s discuss. One thing to note: One blog post certainly can’t serve as a comprehensive guide, but it can give you a few general areas to focus on going forward. That’s what we aim to do here. The first step is pretty simple: think about what your clients and customers encounter right off the bat when they find you online. 

Who is featured on your website? If your website has stock or customer images or videos, who do they capture? Can those visiting for the first (or fourteenth) time find themselves represented in the visual material you share? If not, it’s probably time to reconsider your approach. 

Is your language inclusive? In addition to the images you provide, you must pay close attention to the language you use. To whom does your copy speak? Who does it exclude? Even words like “he” or “she”—which can be easily swapped for “they”—may limit the number of people who feel welcomed or valued by your brand. It’s worth double checking that you’re not relying on stereotypes, either. For instance, traditional family and gender roles have gone out the window for so many, and your approach should likely reflect that.  

Is your content accessible? Another crucial question to ask yourself is whether or not your content is accessible to every member of your consumer community. For example, is every image on your website tagged, so that it can be described by a screen reader? Are the colors high contract so that those with low vision or color deficiencies can easily decipher the content? A quick search for tips on how to increase site accessibility will provide a wealth of helpful information. 

Are you capturing what your client or customer really wants? It’s easy to get caught up in what we think our buyers want, or even what we believe would be best for them. But it’s important to remember that those are merely assumptions. The only way to find out if you’re truly serving your audience is to do your research. Don’t hesitate to ask them what they want and need, and to inquire again at regular intervals.  

Maintain a beginner’s mindset. The concept of a beginner’s mindset comes from Zen Buddhism. It invites us to forget everything we think we know and approach a particular subject with a fresh perspective. When it comes to inclusivity, there is always more to learn. You’ll never be “finished,” no matter how much homework you’ve done. Stay curious and open, and be willing to adjust when you acquire new information. 

Don’t hesitate to apologize. We all make mistakes, and if and when your marketing doesn’t hit the mark at some point, be ready and willing to take responsibility for the issue and offer up a sincere apology. If you’ve truly adopted that beginner’s mindset, you’ll view this as an opportunity to learn and do better next time. 

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