How To Make Your Marketing LGBTQ+ Friendly

Marley Braunlich

Marley Braunlich

03 / 15 / 2024

lgbtq workforce

How To Make Your Marketing LGBTQ+ Friendly

Marley Braunlich

03 / 15 / 2024

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The LGBTQ+ community has made great strides in the last couple of decades. It wasn’t that long ago when identifying as anything but heterosexual meant having fewer legal protections and rights. Things are far from perfect, but the fight for equality paved the way for the more inclusive world we’re living in today.

Inclusive marketing can be a hot-button topic, but having LGBTQ+-friendly marketing is important for modern businesses. Representation matters, and it doesn’t just matter to those who fall under the rainbow umbrella. Exclusive language and a lack of LGBTQ+ visibility in marketing can hurt your business in more ways than one.

Most businesses don’t develop marketing plans with the direct intent of excluding LGBTQ+ customers. But even an unintentional lack of diversity and inclusion can lead to a brand image that’s difficult to shake.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make your marketing more friendly to the LGBTQ+ community. In this blog, we’ll explore why inclusive marketing is important and give you tips you can employ to ensure your content appeals to all walks of life.

A Brief Introduction

Recent surveys show that roughly 7.2 percent of the American population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual. That figure is significantly higher than a decade ago before same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015. In 2013, around 3.5 percent of Americans identified as LGBTQ+. That jump shows the major shift in societal views and the importance of inclusivity.

While the LGBTQ+ community is still a relatively small slice of the American population, support for LGBTQ+ rights is at an all-time high. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), approximately eight out of ten Americans favor anti-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ+ community.

Acceptance is higher than at any other point in history. Why does that matter for businesses?

Customers support businesses that reflect their principles. Several surveys found that most people are willing to boycott brands they don’t feel have the right values. One study found that approximately 39 percent of shoppers would go as far as boycotting their favorite brand.

Shoppers don’t compromise on their principles.

LGBTQ+ shoppers, many of whom have strong buying power, are particularly passionate about what companies they give their money to. Failing to be inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly can cost a business big across the board.

The truth is that inclusivity matters to most of the people you’ll market to. People want to feel safe and supported. Furthermore, they want others to feel the same. LGBTQ+ friendly marketing ensures that every potential customer who views your marketing feels seen, heard and included.

how to make your marketing lgbtq friendly

Understanding LGBTQ+ Representation in Marketing

LGBTQ+ visibility in marketing is nothing new. Unfortunately, that visibility wasn’t always positive. Looking at ads from a few decades ago is downright cringe-worthy and offensive by today’s standards.

That’s a good thing! It reflects the importance of inclusion and the shift toward crafting LGBTQ+ friendly content. But even still, there’s a long way to go. Many companies are continuing to make mistakes that cost them big.

One of the biggest problems with inclusive marketing is authenticity. While the days of having LGBTQ+ people become the butt of a dated joke are largely over, the newest problem that brands face is moving away from time-sensitive inclusion and stereotypes.

Pride Month is a classic example of how LGBTQ+ marketing can go wrong.

During June, many companies have pride-centric campaigns that feature LGBTQ+ individuals. While that visibility is important, many individuals and allies take note of the cliches and virtue-signaling. Rainbows are everywhere during Pride Month. But once the first of July rolls around, many brands wipe their social media profiles and marketing material clear of rainbows and return to exclusive approaches.

It comes off as deeply inauthentic and borderline offensive. Many people within the LGBTQ+ community and allies see it as nothing more than pandering. While a business might get a few more “pink dollars”, it reeks of a cash grab.

People see right through those tactics, especially today. To be an LGBTQ+ friendly brand doesn’t mean temporarily screaming support from the mountaintops. It’s ensuring visibility year-round and making small gestures that leave a big impact.

Key Elements To Include

Inclusive marketing is complex. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch or changing a few words. It’s about shifting your entire approach to how you view your customers. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to ignore established buyer personas or demographic information.

However, you must remember that every person viewing your marketing materials is unique. You don’t know who they are, what type of lifestyle they lead or what their background is. Being inclusive is about being aware of the differences and ensuring that your campaigns appeal to everyone.

There are many elements to include in your marketing. Some of the most important include:

  • Unity
  • Amplification
  • Diverse Language

Unity refers to how your message comes off. Inclusivity means that your campaigns cater to everyone but not at the expense of others. It’s a delicate line to walk.

It’s okay to create some content that’s exclusively for LGBTQ+ individuals. But leaning too heavily on one community can backfire. Not only is there a risk of offending those who aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ umbrella, but many will see heavy-handed approaches as opportunism.

Focus on unity and emphasize what brings us together, not separate us. You can recognize differences but avoid pandering.

Amplification refers to how you help marginalized voices take center stage. A big part of LGBTQ+ friendly marketing is ensuring that you cover all experiences. For most of the history of modern marketing, people in the LGBTQ+ community never saw themselves included in campaigns or heard from people like them.

One fantastic way to be more inclusive is to amplify LGBTQ+ voices. Gain perspective from those in the community, feature LGBTQ+ individuals in your content and provide visibility to show the LGBTQ+ experience with your product or service.

Finally, use diverse language. One of the easiest ways to be more inclusive is to pay attention to the words you use. That includes more than pronouns. For example, you can start using the terms “partner” or “spouse” instead of “husband” or “wife.”

It’s a small change that makes a big difference.

LGBTQ+ Marketing Best Practices

Making your marketing more LGBTQ+ friendly isn’t as complicated as you think. The key is to keep several core principles in mind while developing strategies and producing content. Here are a few best practices your marketing teams should follow with every campaign.

Avoid Stereotypes, Cliches and Tokenism

The most important thing is to focus on genuine representation instead of tokenism or stereotypes. Tokenism occurs when you include representation for the sake of seeming inclusive. Unfortunately, many brands will do inclusive on-off campaigns before returning to old strategies.

It goes back to Pride Month and rainbow washing. If you want to be an LGBTQ+ friendly brand, support and inclusivity must be permanent.

Showcase Diversity

Visibility and representation leave a lasting impact. It might not seem like a huge deal to have a lesbian couple on your marketing materials or a gender-nonconforming individual on your website. But to the LGBTQ+ shopper, it means everything.

Get into the habit of leaning into diversity with your marketing material. That doesn’t mean you need to have the “token” LGBTQ+ person. Nor does it mean every ad you publish needs an LGBTQ+ model. What’s important is that you consider your body of marketing work and ensure it’s diverse enough to appeal to the masses.

Be Mindful of Language and Terminology

Finally, always double-check your language. We’ve already discussed the importance of pronouns and gender-neutral titles. But don’t limit it to marketing. Everything from your website security checks to product descriptions should be inclusive.

Tips To Create Inclusive Campaigns

When you’re creating inclusive campaigns, don’t just talk the talk. You must also walk the walk.

One of the biggest reasons why companies get accused of pandering to the LGBTQ+ community is because their marketing campaigns come off as performative. Being an ally and showing support doesn’t stop at providing representation in your ads.

Consider working with LGBTQ+ organizations to get involved.

But don’t stop there. It’s also important to practice inclusivity internally. It doesn’t make sense to put out LGBTQ+ friendly marketing when you fail to be inclusive within your company. Adopting better inclusivity measures in your business translates well to your marketing. Furthermore, it’ll give LGBTQ+ individuals within your company the confidence to speak up if your marketing doesn’t meet the mark.

Before you put anything out into the world, consider performing an audit. See how your content comes off to LGBQT+ people and review your work to ensure it’s 100 percent inclusive throughout.

Even after your marketing reaches the masses, listen and accept feedback. No company is perfect, and it can take time to get into the swing of LGBTQ+ friendly marketing. It’s okay to make a few mistakes here and there. What matters is that your brand is trying and willing to accept feedback to make improvements.

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Inclusive marketing is here to stay. Producing LGBTQ+ friendly content ensures your business does its part to support a marginalized community while aligning your values with your supporters. The key is not grand, inauthentic gestures. It’s small, thoughtful changes that count.

When you need to take your marketing and web visibility to new heights, turn to RankScience. RankScience develops custom-built strategies for businesses of all sizes. We use holistic and data-driven approaches to help you boost traffic, paving the way to continued growth and success. Contact us today to learn more and start your journey to more inclusive and impactful marketing!

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