This is part 4 of 5 of the 5 part series of How to be more Effective in your LGBT Marketing.
We are going to talk about how stereotypes are a losing game. Stereotypes are just plain bad news and you are damned if you do damned if you don’t, so its better to stay clear of them as much as possible.
This series is about how to be more effective in your LGBT marketing. What I mean by marketing in this post is your visual marketing, the way your copy is written, and the imagery you use. I’ve written dozens of blog posts around stereotyping as it relates to verbal communications and conversational interactions. There are so many ways you can inadvertently offend someone with stereotyping, many of which I’ve written about here, if you want more info.
I cannot in good conscious sit here and try to claim that LGBT stereotypes don’t exist because I would be flat out lying to you. Whether we like it or not all stereotypes have an origin somewhere – however, it is your responsibility as the business owner/decision maker not to perpetuate stereotypes in your LGBT marketing.
You should focus on one thing and one thing only – being authentic. For example, if you are producing a major ad campaign, skip the stock photography and use real LGBT people. There are a lot of stock photos out there of “LGBT” people, and chances are they are models that 100 other companies are using to represent the LGBT community. Invest the money, do it right, and get yourself some authentic LGBT photos. Click here to read more on creative ways to do this on a shoe string budget.
Stereotypes are Bad. Period.
Chapter 11 of my Amazon Best Selling book, No, wait… You do look gay! The 7 Mistakes Preventing You from Selling to the LGBT Market” covers stereotypes. I would like to provide you with a brief passage from that chapter to make my point here.
If we look back at the history of LGBT people in advertising, it hasn’t been a pretty road. Every possible stereotype has been played out to an extreme and has damaged the image of the community over time. Often what someone outside of the community sees and what someone within the community sees, as it relates to advertising, will be drastically different. Using extreme examples of LGBT people may make your straight client take notice, but at the same time it will offend the LGBT client you are actually trying to reach.
There are common themes that have occurred for years in mainstream television and media that have used extreme stereotypes in an effort to sell products. Some examples include:
- Lesbian stereotypes:
- Lesbians are hot and here for male fantasies.
- Or the opposite – lesbians are overweight, wear flannels and just want to be men.
- Gay stereotypes:
- Gay men are always white and shirtless.
- All gay men are over-the-top flamboyant.
- Bisexual stereotypes:
- Bisexual people are opportunistic sex fiends.
- Bisexual people are confused and can’t make up their mind.
- Transgender stereotypes:
- Transgender people like to surprise and confuse people intentionally.
- Surprise, you thought she was a she, but she’s really a he!
There are many commercials and/or print ads that have perpetuated all of these stereotypes – seems kind of wacky, right?
If you want to read the rest of Chapter 11 in the book, you can get it here.
So, what you can learn from the mistakes of past advertising attempts?
If you have any advertising currently that perpetuates any of the stereotypes noted above, get rid of it immediately! Put yourself into the shoes of any LGBT person for just a moment to understand how poor of a message these stereotypes communicate. Do you really think lesbians want to see themselves on TV portrayed as sex objects for the benefit of men? Do you think portraying only gay men as white, shirtless and in shape is going to resonate with the population of gay men who don’t fall into one of those categories? Of course, this won’t work.
Please remember I am not writing this to make you feel bad about how you may have done your LGBT marketing in the past, but rather I am here to educate you on how to use this information for the betterment of your business and the LGBT customers and clients that you serve. As always, please reach out to me with questions and comments!
If you liked this post, please enjoy the others in this series: