For CRM and Marketing Automation Pros, Inclusive Marketing Makes Good Business (and Moral) Sense

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Whether you are new to CRM and marketing automation technology or are a seasoned veteran, the concept of inclusive marketing may be foreign to you. But as diversity and inclusivity have become important societal values, making them part of your marketing approach yields clear benefits, both for companies and individuals.

What is inclusive marketing, exactly? The concept of inclusive marketing is commonly defined within the industry as creating and distributing content that reflects diverse communities.

For marketers using technology like CRM and marketing automation, this concept should be increasingly pivotal in how you approach your target audience(s) today. It may be difficult to wrap your head around when you’re focusing on a specific target, but it is precisely that mind-set that needs to be broken out of and broadened.

Businesses come in all sizes, and chances are you won’t be targeting everyone with your own business’s marketing campaigns. If you’re a small business in particular, your audience may be very niche, and when you think of inclusivity, you may think of it in terms of a wider spectrum that doesn’t apply to you. Yet how we relate to each other as human beings, even at a technological level, should be much more holistic. We can’t lose our humanity despite impressive developments with artificial intelligence. The marriage of humanity and technology must be present in our inclusive marketing campaigns and corresponding CRM actions.

So you will continue to target your niche audience, but by practicing the art of inclusive marketing, you will be able to speak to them in a more developed way, conversing outside of stereotypes and avoiding bias. Inclusive marketing relates to a broad spectrum of humanity and the unique and intricate experiences individuals go through in a lifetime.

Inclusive marketing allows organizations to develop deeper, more personalized, and more authentic relationships with their target audience(s). Your niche group may be specific right now, but when you open yourself up to inclusive marketing, you will see a richer backstory in them that helps you relate to every aspect of their multilayered lives. Your target audience(s) may not be as simple or compact as you had previously believed.

Inclusive marketing can be broken down into quite a few attributes that resonate across industries and among businesses of varying sizes. First, you must consider the tone of voice in which you speak to your audience. If people are easily offended by your commentary, your tone is probably off. Second, therefore, and related, you must be intentional with language. Salesforce.com does an excellent job of relaying these principles in their newest Trailhead experience, “The 6 Principles of Inclusive Marketing.” (Trailhead is free for anyone to use and learn from. You don’t need a Salesforce.com system or login in order to use the educational tool.)

Salesforce.com follows the first two principles of “tone” and “be intentional with language” with these four: “ensure representation, consider context, avoid appropriation, and counter-stereotype.”

To ensure representation, as marketers, we must have a visual representation of different people in our stories, images, videos, and so on. Context closely follows this principle in that we must be sensitive to our audience’s experiences. We must consider how our content could reflect tragedy or stereotypes, and seek to avoid and prevent those from coming to life in any of our efforts. It’s a matter of being conscious of separate human experiences, and not just using whatever image is at our disposal without thinking.

Appropriation, then, happens when part of a minority culture is culturally disrespected in marketing efforts or in how others (outside of the minority) represent themselves. Last, to counter-stereotype, we must broaden our perspectives of what something looks like and what we think it is, and open it up to diversity and what it could look like, is, or could be.

Salesforce reinforces that “marketers have the power to change the society around us” through the power of inclusive marketing; and this, the company is dead-on!

Whether you use Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or another system, there are ways to complement your inclusive marketing practices through data analysis and input into CRM. For example, you may create more attributes for your team to document that help you develop fuller personas for your audience, which will enable you to speak to them more comprehensively and with care.

When you tie in CRM, marketing automation, and the principles of inclusive marketing, you’re not only setting yourselves up to soar from a business standpoint, but a cultural avenue. Ethics in business is crucial for growth and success in today’s marketplace. Audiences care about how marketers take care of and represent their brands. They care about seeing themselves included in data and visual representations of their multilayered experiences.

When you apply these principles to your marketing automation technology and tie it to your CRM data, whether it’s by spending more time using the right pronouns in your email marketing efforts, or ensuring multiple races and sexualities are represented in your imagery, or taking advantage of surveys to collect more (compliant) unique data for your Contact/Account profiles in your CRM—in short, when we open up ourselves and our technology to our audiences—we make ourselves more likely to succeed in business and to do so with greater moral purpose. Marketing isn’t just a job for CRM users anymore, but a responsibility to the greater good.

We know more than most that CRM is not a singular experience. Nor is marketing automation. We should treat our customers accordingly. The human experience is wide open. Therefore, through this understanding, how we approach our technology and marketing campaigns should be, too.

Julia Flaherty is marketing coordinator at Ledgeview Partners, a business and technology consulting firm that partners with organizations to transform sales, marketing, and customer service operations and processes that are supported by core technologies, including CRM and marketing automation. Flaherty is a professional writer, editor, and digital strategist with a special passion for health advocacy and equality. In addition to her special marketing focus in the business and technology sector, she helps to spread awareness for Type 1 diabetes and advocate for lower insulin costs and equal rights through her body of work.

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