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The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion in B2B Marketing

Diversity and inclusion are hot topics right now, both in mainstream society and in marketing. When it comes to B2B technology marketing, it’s common to have some fear around change or stepping outside your comfort zone.  

For example, if your company has always used similar images, phrases, etc. for campaigns, it can be easy to continue those trends. But using diversity marketing (also known as inclusive marketing, in-culture marketing, or inclusion marketing) is not only necessary, but also beneficial for your company both financially and morally.

Diversity & Inclusion in Marketing

 

Diversity & Inclusion in B2C Marketing

You have probably noticed a lot of B2C companies in the media being applauded for their use of unretouched models, models of various abilities, sizes, races, etc. They are receiving such positive attention because, especially in the United States, the target demographic of these companies is vibrant and diverse but have not, until very recently, included such a diverse audience in their advertising.

According to the University of Georgia’s data released in 2018, minority consumer markets have continuously increased faster than that of Caucasian populations since 2000, with African American buying power sitting at $1.3 trillion in 2017, and Asian American populations at $986 billion.

Those statistics are just a small representation of the buying power of minority populations; Forbes estimates the LGBTQ+ population has a buying power of over $1 trillion, while other sources think it could be closer to $3 trillion. Working-age adults with disabilities represent upwards of $21 billion in disposable and discretionary income according to American Institutes for Research.

Why is buying power relevant? Minority markets have been vastly underrepresented in previous years, so when they see representation of themselves in marketing, they are more likely to keep that company in mind for where to spend their dollars later. As shown by the statistics above, these markets clearly have a substantial amount of buying power to contribute.

You’re probably asking… Well, that’s all fine for B2C companies, but how does this apply directly to B2B?

Diversity & Inclusion in B2B Marketing: Why does it matter?

As we mentioned earlier, B2B marketing campaigns have tended to fall into stagnant audience reaches. Especially in technology, which is our primary focus, the so-called “target demographic” tends to fall into the presumptively white male category.

When taking a look at your company, ask yourself how many women, people of Color, varying sexual orientations, ability levels, etc. do you have represented:

  • On your team of employees
  • On your panel discussions
  • In advertising campaigns
  • As featured speakers
  • In surveys
  • In target markets and demographics

Are you surprised by the numbers? If you’re surprised in a good way, that’s great news – your company has probably done a great job of expanding into more diverse audiences. If you’re surprised in a not-so-great way, then that’s okay – that means you have an opportunity to improve and you’re headed in the right direction just by being open to the idea in the first place.

Why Technology Firms Need Diversity

For technology to survive and grow, it must become accessible and diverse, or it will not grow at the rate it should. Technology is prone to adaptation and evolution, and with the emerging generation, those tiny, marginal statistics of minorities in technology are slowly changing.

McKinsey & Company makes it clear: “there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.”

If every single tech company increased their diversity, the revenue brought to the tech industry overall would be significant. And we all know technology growth is exponential, so investing in diversity now will only prove profitable in the long term – not to mention the warm, fuzzy feeling it will provide knowing your company is actively working toward representing the population through hiring and advertising practices.

You can find more statistics on the value diversity brings your business in this infographic by The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP): Diversity & Inclusion is Good for Business. Members who print the poster and post it in their office, then take a photo and tag IAMCP on social media, are entered to win prizes!

Authenticity is Key

We can’t stress this enough: working toward a more diverse company and advertising campaign should come from the heart, not from the wallet. Yes, diversifying your company and advertising will prove profitable, but it only means something when it is authentic and sincere.

Many of the B2C companies attempting to seem diverse face backlash from minority communities for marginalizing the community for profit. For example, companies that slap a rainbow on their merchandise in June for Pride Month, but don’t actively seek to represent the LGBTQ+ community in their workforce or in the community, are actually tarnishing their brand image.

To be authentic, it is important to seek input from minority communities on your products, advertising, and businesses processes. For example, if you’d like to make your website more accessible to those who are blind or have low vision, there are best practices in doing so, but it is also helpful to reach out to a local organization that specializes in accessibility for their input.

It is important to become diverse and inclusive, but do so in a way that actively includes minority communities in the discussion each step of the way, instead of quickly taking steps to seem diverse. Or, as the saying goes, walk the walk – don’t just talk the talk.

Creating a Diversity & Inclusion Plan

A great way to start working on diversity, both internally and through marketing, is creating a diversity and inclusion committee within your team. You can bring in experts on the subject into committee meetings to provide insight, discuss possible opportunities and ideas, and create plans to implement diversity in your company.

When looking at marketing specifically, here are a few easy ways to create a more diverse and inclusive marketing campaign:

  • Include images that feature diverse models using your products in e-mails, on your website, or anywhere else you may use images to promote your products or services
  • Proactively diversify panel members, speakers, etc.
  • Evaluate the accessibility of your website, social media channels, and office location. Even if you are ADA compliant, there are additional steps you can take to make your company access-friendly. Partnering with a local accessibility organization is a great way to learn about ways to improve.
  • Include case studies, blog content, etc. that feature minority populations
  • Use inclusive language in your content
  • Highlight features of your product or service made specifically with your disabled clients in mind to raise awareness of your inclusive features
  • Make diversity an ongoing goal, not a “to-do” list item to eventually check off

No matter your industry, diversity and inclusion will continue to be hot topics moving forward, so getting the ball rolling on diversifying your company and its marketing is crucial. Inclusion is essential to success, proving to be extremely profitable and great for brand image. But more than that, it’s important to the well-being and morale of your company as a whole.

Need help diversifying your marketing campaigns? Contact The Partner Marketing Group team for creative ideas and content.

The post The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion in B2B Marketing appeared first on The Partner Marketing Group.

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About the Author

Cheryl Salazar's picture

With 26 years of experience in B2B marketing, including 16 years as a Senior Marketing Manager for Great Plains Software and Microsoft, I've had the pleasure of developing numerous B2B marketing programs for reselling partners and ISVs as well as creating the distinguished Inner Circle recognition program. An accomplished speaker, I work closely with the world’s leading software publishers and hardware manufacturers such as Microsoft, Intacct, Sage, and Intel, as well as a variety of VAR and ISV organizations.

Much of my work with Microsoft was partner-facing so when I left in 2005, it was a natural transition to The Partner Channel to provide strategic marketing consulting. In 2008, it seemed the perfect time to start my own firm, The Partner Marketing Group, where I could build a marketing 'dream team' designed to serve technology companies with the depth of experience and results they deserved.

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