How to partake in cause marketing effectively without alienating your customers
by One Two Collective staff
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and the energy around Pride Month is at a fever pitch. Corporate marketers love to let their inclusion banner wave and paint everything from their Twitter logos to limited edition t-shirts rainbow in June. We love seeing all the creative usage of rainbows, but cause marketing can be tricky and how you navigate these waters can be the difference between swimming or sinking your reputation. Anytime you publicly align your brand with politics you’re going to see some type of backlash because of the nature of the internet and online trolls. Despite this, it is still important to push cause marketing and stay true to your beliefs because consumers want to work with brands who are willing to put themselves out there to support causes they believe in and exemplify.
This year in particular the LGBTQ+ community has made it clear that they expect brands to be year-round allies and pandering to fit in will no longer cut it. Vocal LGBTQ spokespeople have used their platform to offer guidance by reminding brands that catering to your LGBTQ demo is no longer exceptional, it’s the standard and with the political climate in this country there just isn’t room for inauthenticity in this space.
As you know, we’re big fans of piggybacking on cultural moments to gain a boost for your brand, so how do you participate and support an event without being accused of co-opting it? Time to tap into a core value of ours, authenticity and get busy aligning your brand values with the community you want to engage with. While we’re specifically discussing Pride Month and the connected LGBTQ community to inform the content of this specific blog, these tips will come in handy regardless of the cultural moment you’re interested in tapping into.
There are more recognizable faces than anytime in LGBTQ history and yet the demographic is still underrepresented in many areas. The first openly gay governor has only been in office for a year and as of 2018 only 6.4% of primetime television characters can be described as LGBTQ. This is why it’s important to incorporate LGBTQ voices into the marketing efforts you wrap around your brand and embody the cause you’re taking on. When reflecting on what we know about creating a consumer experience, there are two relevant takeaways here. First, partnering with influencers who convey authenticity are more successful than those who fake engagement or overdo sponsored content. Additionally, we also know Gen Z loves to put their stamp on things and participate in the actual crafting of campaigns and the development of products and services to reflect their ideologies.
Weighing both of these considerations, utilizing an influential voice to support your brand is the surface level answer, but engaging your partners to design and contribute to your overall look and feel creates a more authentic campaign tone. Engaging with leaders in specific communities to create your tone, message, and supporting overall causes in addition to showing support during specific “celebration” times shows that you are actually invested in the community and not leveraging them for sales. Keep in mind that doing this component well takes time and effort so prepare to start partnership talks early to craft a message that works for both of you. The benefit of working with community voices is twofold: not only are you avoiding the clueless trope of executives making decisions about communities they don’t represent, but you’re creating authentic content that is discoverable and can be repurposed by your brand.
Speaking of creating content, one overarching goal of Pride is to elevate the voices of the LGBTQ community. You don’t have to work for a media organization to create opportunities for your brand to participate in or even host conversations around Pride, especially as it pertains to your industry. Who are the LGBTQ representatives and vocal allies in your organization and industry? What are they contributing to your brand and the community they represent as a whole? Work with your PR team to develop the best methodology to distribute their insights whether that’s the local news or a Facebook Live conversation and strive to own even a small space of the thought leadership angle of the cause you’re focused on.
The world is evolving quickly, and cause marketing is going to continue to look different every year, too. We’re not here to discourage your brand from participating in a cause you believe in, but instead push you to create a campaign and deliver a message rooted in thoughtfulness and authenticity. One of the great things about social media is that there is no shortage of new voices waiting to be discovered on Instagram, new artists waiting to showcase their talents, and new ways to show how your brand embraces the community you’re supporting. Embrace your diverse audiences and bring them into the conversation, we can all learn from each other.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a place to start to support the LGBTQ community, please consider these organizations that support LGBTQ youth:
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