You’ve got your feet wet in the Just Marketing™ pool; now you wanna learn to swim in the deep end without drowning. I’ve got you. First, much like swimming, you do not learn how to practice Just Marketing™ overnight.
You have to learn the right practices.
You have to try them out and be okay with making some mistakes along the way. Swimming into the deep end of Just Marketing™ involves awareness, understanding, and intentional practice.
Here I have outlined three steps you can take to help you get started. Little by little, you’ll get the hang of it and maybe help other people get started on their journey.
1. Understand Your Biases
Fact: Everyone has a bias.
These are attitudes we pick up either by nature or nurture.
While they are mostly subconscious, they directly affect everything from our thoughts to our decisions and how we interact with other people.
Here’s a true story for ya: I was working remotely from a Starbucks one day in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
It was 2:30 pm, and a group of teenagers entered the store.
There were six of them; two girls and four guys. They were talking loudly, joking with each other, and laughing.
I immediately moved my purse from behind my laptop to the space between me and the wall – why?
Did I really think they were there to steal my purse?!
Well, NO, because I was not alone in the store before they came in. Their presence triggered that reaction in me. I recognized the bias that had surfaced and instantly felt guilty.
They were kids having a good time and nothing more.
They posed no threat to me at all.
It’s the same feeling you may get when a ragged bulky man with a body full of tattoos sits next to you in church. You don’t wanna judge, but for a split second, you judge.
Now, the first Just Marketing™ practice is to understand that you may have biases toward marginalized people. If you can understand your bias, you’ve taken the first step.
The next step will be to be intentional about reframing the bias in your brain. This way, you can learn how to manage them when creating and promoting content.
2. Figure Out Who You Are Really Reaching
Look at your clients, collaborative partners, podcast guests, etc. Do they all look too much alike? If so, it’s an indicator you may have work to do.
When I say “look alike,” remember that not all diversity characteristics are visible. You can quickly scan for gender, race, and age diversity.
But, do you know if the LGBTQIA+ community is represented? Is there religious diversity? Are people from different states/countries?
You need to figure out if your current marketing plans are working to attract a diverse audience, and if not, you need to rework your marketing plan.
If you’ve got a primarily white audience, then adding some stock images of Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC) is an okay start – but it can’t be the only thing you’re doing.
You should also ensure that your language is inclusive. Be sure that you’re not making assumptions about the audience’s background, education, and socioeconomic status – which often ties back into racial/cultural diversity.
What else can you do when it comes to audience reach?
- » Diversify stock photos
- » Use gender-neutral pronouns and language so that all genders feel welcome
- » Seek out experts on the subject, interact with their content and share it with your audience
You want to amplify diverse voices (but be sure that they are still in alignment with your core values). This will help you begin to expand your network.
When posting job opportunities, be sure to include a statement encouraging women and BIPOC to apply.
Research shows women and BIPOC are less likely to apply than men, even if they are equally qualified.
Showcase multiple perspectives on a range of topics.
If you have a podcast, allow guest posting, or host a summit/event with multiple speakers. Ensure that you’re reaching out to diverse voices.
This is Just Marketing™.
BUT, (and this is a big but) be careful not to take it too far.
There is a line you don’t want to cross.
You don’t want to fall into the realm of cultural appropriation, where, in an effort to make your brand seem diverse, you actually offend the culture you’re trying to attract.
African American Vernacular English (AAVE), also known as Black English, should not be used when preparing any written (or spoken) marketing materials if you are not Black.
As a general rule of thumb, if it’s not something you say normally, don’t say it in your marketing messages.
Let your content reflect a sincere commitment to diversity, but in a way, that’s organic for your brand and your audience.
3. Allow For Vulnerability
At the beginning of this blog, I told you that shifting to a Just Marketing™ practice takes work.
It requires you to put yourself out there knowing that you’re not always going to get it right. You will mess up sometimes – everyone does – I still mess up! And THAT’S OKAY.
You just have to be willing to do it anyway.
And when you mess up — listen.
Don’t get defensive.
Then you can learn, and next time you can do better, and better, and better… you get the point. I encourage you to also talk about those lessons (something I promise to do with you).
This way, we can all learn from each other’s mistakes even when it feels embarrassing to admit our mistakes.
Just Marketing™: A Case Study
Now, a practical demonstration of Just Marketing™. Another true story from yours truly.
I hosted a 5-day summit back in 2020, and I had 5-6 speakers each day. I had white speakers, Black speakers, and Latina speakers in the lineup.
I created graphics for each speaker, graphics with the whole lineup, and graphics featuring the daily lineups. The day one lineup had six white (or white-passing) people.
A Black speaker shared the post with her audience, and it was met with a lot of justified anger that I chose not to feature any Black speakers on the graphic.
I could have easily gotten defensive about the reaction. Instead, I took the opportunity to listen to the feedback.
Then I thought about how I could ensure that I didn’t create imagery that felt exclusionary in the future. My feelings were hurt, but I got through my feelings in private and calmed myself down.
I did respond to the post – apologizing for the oversight. I acknowledged that I intended to feature the day’s speakers, but I had not anticipated the impact it would have.
Was it perfect – no, I’m willing to bet it wasn’t – but I tried.
And, moving forward, I stuck to speaker-specific graphics or full-group graphics only.
I didn’t need those daily images with smaller groups, where diversity was harder to ensure/capture.
Voila! Just Marketing™.
Sharing these experiences lets other people see that it’s okay to mess up, as long as we also learn from the experience and strive to do better next time.
The easy thing is to keep doing business as usual.
But, if we want to change the world, we need to shake things up — because the status quo is not equitable. We need to shift to Just Marketing™ practices — especially when it’s hard.
Just Marketing™: A Podcast For Equity-Centered Marketers & Entrepreneurs
Want to learn more about how to market your business ethically?
Check out the Just Marketing™ Podcast, where we dive deep into how to promote your business to prioritize accessibility & inclusivity, value people over profit, and evaluate all campaigns/strategies through an equity-centered lens.