What if I said you might be missing anywhere from 5–8% (approximately 10 million people) of the U.S. population with your marketing efforts? What if I also mentioned that a segment of that population has a household income of $176,000, approximately $63K higher than the average household income? And what if you also knew this global group would have the fourth-largest GDP in the world if it were a country? *
What if the answer is the LGBTQ+ community?
It is difficult to fully identify the real LGBTQ+ population; even in 2022, many in this community still live in fear of being “outed” due to discrimination and violence. But this conversation is not about the politics that continue to make it difficult for the LGBTQ+ community to navigate their lives. This is about how to recognize the importance and value your marketing efforts can achieve.
I realize this topic is not an easy one to deal with in boardrooms.
However, Doe-Anderson has a way for you to think about marketing to this robust community. It should come as no surprise that coming out is one of the biggest struggles this group faces. It is an ongoing process much the same way we as marketers hope to grow and learn. It’s through this growth and learning that Doe-Anderson believes you go above and beyond. I hope you find the following thinking helpful in your journey to Building Belief among the LGBTQ+ community.
As a gay man myself, I know the ultimate happiness I achieved through this process of introspection and affirmation.
Now we have boiled this down to make it blog-worthy, but these two ideas should provide you a better understanding of your motivation and your commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
Much the same way an LGBTQ+ person is on a journey…so is your brand. And to navigate this journey, first you may want to start with introspection. It is important to hold a mirror up to your company and be critical of the ways in which your organization holds itself accountable to the LGBTQ+ community. Do you have company values, HR practices, internal support groups or any foundation on which to build? This initial foundation can go a long way for you to be seen as an ally vs. a company that is only trying to take advantage of this multidimensional group from whom you can profit. This introspection is likely the most critical first step in identifying why and how you should approach your journey forward. You may need to do a lot of work in this area before moving forward. Which is ok, just remember building your foundation on rock is better than sand.
Actions should reflect values
Doe-Anderson is the AOR for OhioHealth, and OhioHealth began this journey with introspection around their core values. They recognized that INCLUSION was an important additional component for their key values. One area of focus has been to expand their internal BRGs so more voices and perspectives are heard. By looking closely at themselves, they were not only able to make their organization stronger but also gain more relevance to their patients. This emboldened our approach to a new brand campaign called We Believe. It was centered around the “true-isms” of OhioHealth. How they approached the health and wellness of every patient. They were the first healthcare system in their market to feature a same-sex male couple in this new brand advertising. This particular creative was one of three brand-specific television ads. Knowing that TV still garners significant reach, it contributed to a level of LGBTQ+ representation in the media that is highly critical to acceptance and understanding. It was important for OhioHealth’s patients of all sizes, shapes, ages, ethnicities and, yes, sexual orientation to be represented. Because they had done the internal work and were living this value of inclusion, nothing seemed out of place for this same-sex couple to be celebrated in the advertising Doe-Anderson developed.
The next point along the journey could be considered affirmation – this is the space where you state your commitment to the community and do something about it. You will need to stand up and stand strong during this time. However, that isn’t to suggest you must begin by shouting from the mountaintop. There are many ways big and SMALL to support the LGBTQ+ community. Most cities have nonprofit organizations or support groups that could always use a financial hand to help them do their mission work. This is a powerful way to show you are investing before you are asking the LGBTQ+ community to invest in your product or services.
Another client of Doe-Anderson’s, Maker’s Mark, established support for a Minneapolis LGBTQ+ organization – The Aliveness Project. The organization helps provide free HIV testing in that community so people affected by HIV can manage their health and mental well-being. Maker’s Mark specifically briefed us to be aware that the LGBTQ+ community is often addressed by brands with surface-level communications. They wanted to ensure we focused on values and sharing support for this community in a relatable way. As mentioned, this was initially developed with the intent for the Minneapolis area, but because the commitment from Maker’s Mark was so evident in the work, it was used nationally to support the LGBTQ+ community. This was an affirmation from the brand that it stood by and understood this community.
A tough conversation. Worth the work.
It is important to know that much like the coming-out process for any LGBTQ+ person – the work in this space is not easy. Any minority marketing takes time, effort and commitment. It also requires the recognition of the needs and differences of these communities. We all need to work harder at accepting each other’s differences and celebrating what makes us human.
As we approach Pride Month advertising in June, maybe this is the year to think about how this community fits into your marketing communications. Instead of considering a rainbow washing or superficial support in your efforts, ensure that you are doing the hard work in developing the principles at the brand level. These customers need to believe in you more deeply than just the products or services you offer. They need to know that you believe in them, too.
Starting with one brick can build a foundation while you continue to Build Belief among the LGBTQ+ community.
Interested in learning more or talking about how these trends may apply to your brand? Get in touch!
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