As the month set aside to commemorate LGBT History, Disability Employment Awareness and Filipino American History, October marks the perfect time to talk about diversity. (I think most times are perfect times to talk about diversity, but the point still stands.)
Often discussions about diversity and inclusion can feel abstract, a bunch of nice-sounding words floating out into the ether. But diversity isn’t just about ideas—it’s about people, recognizing that everyone’s lived experience of the world is not identical. And if the goal of content marketing is to pull people in with content that’s relevant to them, then we have to think about all the ways people’s experiences differ, or we risk creating content that engages a tiny percentage of people while forgetting about all the rest.
Here are a few ways that having a diverse workforce who are educated on a variety of inclusivity issues leads to more exciting and more effective content.
Diversity means possibilities
People with different experiences bring different perspectives to the same subject. Seems obvious, but it opens up a wide range of creative possibilities when approaching content. For example, if all the pictures, text and video for a product aimed at families focus on married couples with two children who look exactly like them, think of all the families that are being ignored. What about single mothers and fathers? Blended families created through remarriage? Children who are adopted?
If writers and marketers don’t embrace the wide range of families that exist, they get stuck creating the same content for the same concept of family over and over again. On the other hand, writers and marketers who are part of these families and who are encouraged to remember them produce more original, more inclusive content. Of course it’s impossible to cater to every type of family, even if you tried, and of course people can and do buy products that weren’t marketed exactly to them. But thinking beyond restrictive definitions, even once in a while, means more creative content that reaches out to more people. It’s a win all around.
Diverse content is closer to the truth
While looking through an array of wedding pictures for a venue, one of my friends asked me, “Why are all the brides white?” They were, and it was a good question. Why would you want to create content that doesn’t resemble the world you and your audience live in? It’s obvious that all brides aren’t white, yet somehow when producing content such obvious truths get forgotten. Diversity isn’t about creating an idealized picture of the world. It’s about reflecting what the world actually looks like. Less diverse content is less accurate.
Inclusive content makes more people feel welcome
In the worst case scenario, a failure to think about diversity when producing content doesn’t just make people feel less included—it convinces them they are excluded. An offer for a romantic getaway or dinner that only uses phrases like “husband and wife” or “boyfriend and girlfriend’ convinces many LGBT couples that they are not safe or welcome. Even if it was an oversight rather than a deliberate choice, couples who often aren’t safe or welcome don’t always have an immediate way of telling the difference.
Similarly, a lack of knowledge about accessibility features or accommodations can discourage people with disabilities from visiting an event or location. People don’t want to go to a restaurant, concert venue or hotel where it’s incredibly difficult for them to move around or enjoy the experience. I don’t think anyone sets out to produce content that makes people worry about whether they’d be safe and comfortable, but a lack of awareness can accidentally have the same effect.
People remember diverse content, and get excited about it
Swiffer has a new line of commercials out where they surprise families with cleaning products, and we watch how much better the family cleans with said product. Pretty standard stuff. But after watching one of those commercials, one of my friends turned to me and said, “I loved that.” What she loved was that the couple in the commercial was interracial, and that the husband had an amputated arm. It was a completely normal family using completely normal cleaning products, but that was the point. They were the kind of real family that was similar to her own but that she didn’t often see on television, and that made her notice the commercial more than any other we watched that night. A lot of people working in marketing don’t think about diversity, or don’t do it enough, so when someone does, people get excited. And isn’t excitement what you want?
If we want our content to provide meaningful, relevant information to real people, we have to think about diversity, because real people are diverse. We need to speak to our audience. In the process, our content will become more creative, more truthful, more welcoming and more exciting, and more people will know for sure that we’re talking to them.
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Taylor Davidson – Content Marketing Writer