This website contains hundreds of blog posts (aka articles) filled with information on how to reach the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. I am a passionate advocate for LGBT equality and teach business owners and professionals how to go about reaching the community, the right way. And yes, there is a right and a wrong way to market to the loyal LGBT market. I will show you what the ‘right way’ looks like. I can sum it up in two words – authenticity and transparency
Two simple words: Authenticity & Transparency
I am of the business mindset that being completely authentic and transparent is a benefit to everyone I do business with. There are many others who feel this way too. Doing business with someone who is real, genuine, authentic and transparent about the way they conduct business has a realness to it that’s hard to explain. I would rather do business with someone that I can trust and that I know is being honest and authentic with me – wouldn’t you?
These two words have an even greater meaning when applied to the LGBT market. It is not a matter of if you would like to be authentic and transparent, you must be authentic and transparent. Period. Without following these two simple principles you will not make it. I don’t want to sound like the bearer of bad news if this isn’t your style, but LGBT consumers are ultra aware of what a company is or is not doing for the their LGBT customers, LGBT employees and the LGBT community at large.
Let me give you an example; if ExxonMobil were to run a print advertisement in a magazine featuring a lesbian or gay couple, the untrained eye may think, “Oh wow, I didn’t know ExxonMobil supported the LGBT community.” But the reality is ExxonMobil does not support the LGBT community and the vast majority of LGBT people are very much aware of that fact.
So now you may be wondering how I would know that ExxonMobil is anti-LGBT? Well, I know because of a handy little guide called the Buying for Workplace Equality guide that the Human Rights Campaign produces on an annual basis. Click here to request a copy or to download their phone app. This pocket guide is an LGBT (or allies) best tool when trying to identify what companies are and are not doing for the benefit of their employees and the greater LGBT community.
The information in this guide is based off of a lengthy questionnaire called the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) that companies are asked to fill out. They report answers to questions about their human resource practices, non-discrimination policies, LGBT spousal benefits, transgender benefits, and their employee resource groups, among many other items that are part of the scoring criteria. Companies range from perfect scores down to negative numbers. The pocket guide is color coded so at a quick glance you can tell if a company you are about to shop with is green (safe to do business with) or red (steer clear.) ExxonMobil is in red with a negative -25, in case you were wondering. This means that not only are they not doing anything to benefit their LGBT workforce but they are doing things to actively go against their LGBT workforce.
So how does this affect my business?
So now that we’ve talked about authenticity and transparency and I showed you how to find out what a company is or is not doing for the LGBT community, you may be saying, but how does this affect my business?
In short, what I am saying to you is LGBT consumers are savvy. They know what you are and are not doing for their benefit and the benefit of the LGBT community. If you decide overnight that you are going to launch an LGBT marketing campaign without first doing your homework or ensuring your employees and internal practices are happy and in order – you will fail. It’s quite simple. All of the marketing dollars in the world will not help you if you are not authentic or transparent. If you attempt to cover up something happening internally, the odds are against you because the LGBT community will find out about it. Your best bet is to be transparent and if you have flaws, own them. Talk about them. Tell your potential customers how you are working to fix them. Hiding them under the rug will do you no good.
Take the first step with me
At this point I may have scared you. If you are reading this blog the odds are in my favor that you are working for a company who is interested in pursing the LGBT market. It is my hope that you are open and receptive to the education I can bring to you. What I challenge you to do is take the first step with me. Go and assess the landscape of your company as it relates to the treatment of your LGBT employees, look at what your internal policies say, and get a general sense of how an LGBT marketing campaign will be received. If you miss this critical step you will likely waste a lot of marketing dollars on something that will be destined to fail.
If you need that extra kick in the pants and would like some one-on-one help, please e-mail me at email@example.com and we can talk about the ways we can work together. If you are a self-starter and like to learn at your own pace, then you are in luck because this blog has hundreds of blog posts designed to help you create the best LGBT marketing plan possible.