If you’ve been living under a rock this past week, have I got good news for you – this past Friday (June 26th – also my birthday!), the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Finally–this ruling makes same-sex marriage a right nationwide! The repercussions of marriage equality will be felt across the board not only in the legal and political realms, but in business and marketing as well.
With this ruling, we can expect to see an outpouring of support for the LGBT community from small businesses and corporations alike. Much of the support will be authentic and genuine, two things I talk a lot about on this blog. But there will also no doubt be businesses that see the LGBT community as a way to make a quick buck. Those who will put little to no effort in behind the scenes for the sake of their employees and the greater community and only throw their money into putting rainbows in their marketing. I don’t want that to be you. And I know it won’t be because you are reading this blog.
So, to help you avoid potential pitfalls and make the most of this unprecedented legal victory, I’ve done a six-part series on ways to shape, refine and execute a marketing plan that will help your business show its commitment to LGBT equality and let the LGBT community around you know you’re not just trying to cash in on them.
While developing a marketing plan for your business, you should ask yourself the following 5 questions, each of which will be addressed in the series. Then there will be a bonus post highlighting some of the best and worst marriage equality efforts I’ve seen to date.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, the LGBT community is not a monolith that shares the same ideology, political beliefs or views on the world. When thinking of the “LGBT community” it is easy to picture wealthy, childless white couples in their 30s and 40s, but this is only a small part of the community. Figuring out who you’re trying to market to, and the specific concerns of each individual within your market is critical in establishing long term connections.
Marketing to the LGBT community has become increasingly more competitive, and you can bet it’ll get even more so in the aftermath of this Supreme Court ruling. By taking practical steps and engaging with your local LGBT community openly and transparently, you can find your business’s unique hook and differentiate yourself from the rest of the market with ease.
Taking the first step is always the hardest, and it’s often difficult to even know where to start. I’m here to explain where you should dive in, in a way that helps establish yourself and your business as the go-to person for the LGBT community. With any community, you need to be honest, proactive, and network, network, network!
This is a question you should always be asking yourself in the marketing world. If you’ve already established who you want to market to and how, this can be fairly simple, but if you’re just getting started, it can be a bit trickier. Be specific and detail oriented, write things down, set deadlines and weigh the benefits and costs of every potential decision. Time is money so use it wisely.
Measuring your progress can be a bit tricky. It is not always clear and not everything can be simply laid out and quantified in front of you. But, by making sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and constantly challenging yourself to do better, you can make sure your efforts won’t be for naught.
For every good marketing attempt made towards the LGBT community, there are countless that fall into the traps of failing to properly network, appearing insincere, and otherwise putting minimal to no effort into their outreach. This type of outreach, which we’ll call “sticker marketing” (for the strategy of simply slapping an HRC or rainbow sticker next to one’s business and calling it good), reeks of insincerity and is something to be avoided. In this special segment, we’ll talk about some of the most common pitfalls of businesses trying to market to the LGBT community, as well as some of the most successful recent outreach campaigns.
This is an incredibly exciting time for the LGBT community as a whole, and by following these tips and working to be socially active, engaged and honest with those you are marketing to, you can help your business be a part of changing history for the better.
Looking for the other parts of this series? Catch up on them here.
- Marriage Equality is HERE (almost): What does your marketing say about your company? (A special 6 part series)
- Part 1 of 6: Who am I trying to market to?
- Part 2 of 6: How will I set myself apart?
- Part 3 of 6: How do I take the first step in marketing to the LGBT community?
- Part 4 of 6: What steps will I take in building networks and relationships?
- Part 5 of 6: How do I measure my success and progress along the way?
- Part 6 of 6: Bonus: The good, the bad and the ugly of LGBT Marketing.