How to Do an Inclusive Website and Social Media Audit to Improve Conversions

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Sonia Thompson
Sonia Thompson

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Inclusive website and social media accessibility audit graphic with a laptop and photo of inclusive media strategist Sonia Thompson.

This piece is in collaboration with Breaking the Blueprint, a blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs.

I’ve been an inclusive marketing strategist and consultant for the last seven years. I’m also a consumer with several identities that are part of underrepresented and underserved communities.

And I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on brand websites and social channels exploring whether or not I should buy something, only to decide "this brand isn’t for me" based upon something I saw or didn’t see.

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Once, I was sitting with my credit card in hand while clicking through to a brand’s Instagram account from a sponsored post, only to quickly put my card away because I didn’t see anyone in the imagery that looked like me.

Unfortunately, experiences like that aren’t unique to me.

Most brands don’t know how much they could improve their conversions by optimizing their website and social media to also work for consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities.

Conducting a website and social media audit can highlight opportunities to deliver better experiences for all the customers you want to serve while improving your conversions.

Website Accessibility Checklist

This checklist will help you make the following more accessible on your website:

  • Web Pages
  • Navigation
  • Video & Media
  • And More!
Learn more

    Download Free

    All fields are required.

    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    The Starting Point for An Inclusive Marketing Audit

    Get clear about the customers you want to serve.

    Over the years, as I’ve chatted with and trained marketers about inclusive marketing, one thing that has popped up repeatedly is the notion of feeling like you have to serve everyone.

    However, that’s a myth.

    Inclusive marketing isn’t about serving everyone. While that would be fantastic, most brands lack the resources to do so effectively.

    Inclusive marketing starts with acknowledging the many ways consumers are different and intentionally choosing which identities of your ideal customers you want to feel like they belong with your brand.

    In this episode of the Inclusion & Marketing podcast, I discussed the concept of not feeling obligated to serve everyone in great detail.

    When I lived in Philadelphia, home of the Cheesesteak, there was a big controversy when in 2006,
    one of the famous Cheesesteak houses, Gino's put up
    a sign in the window that read:

    This is Ameri
    ca. When Ordering Speak English.”
    T
    he sign sparked international debate and a lot of outrage, it even sparked an official complaint of
    discrimination. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights ruled that
    t
    he sign was not
    discriminatory.
    S
    o the sign stayed for years.
    From a marketing standpoint, the business owner at the time, Joey Vento, made a choice. He
    decided that he only wanted to serve English speakers or rather people who ordered in English.
    In Jun
    e of this year, the US Supreme Court ruled that a website designer could lawfully refuse to
    create websites for
    things she doesn't believe in.
    In
    this
    case, the woman did not want to create
    sites for same
    -
    sex weddings. The court ruled that First Amendment
    protections meant she didn't
    have to.
    And back in 2018, Victoria's Secret Chief Marketing Officer at the time,
    Ed
    Razek, declared in an
    interview that the brand didn't include plus size and trans models in their iconic fashion shows. The
    reason
    -
    was that
    he felt they didn't exemplify the

    fan
    tasy” the brand was selling.
    A
    nd
    in
    each of these cases, people were hurt, people were upset,
    and
    backlash ensued. But at the
    end of the day, these business owners and marketers made a choice that is aligned with the
    first
    rule of inclusive marketing. We'll get into that rule, what it means
    ,
    and what it doesn't. After this short
    break.
    The first rule
    of inclusive marketing is this.
    It is not about serving everyone.
    If you do want to serve everyone and you have the r
    esources to do so, and that is truly your inclusive
    brand type, go for it. Go all in.
    Side note, I cover inclusive brand types in episode 29. I'll drop a link to it in the show notes for you
    so you can access it easily.
    Now, here's the definition of incl
    usive marketing.
    It's all about acknowledging the many ways in which consumers are different, intentionally
    choosing whom your brand will serve, and authentically incorporating those diverse
    consumers throughout all phases of the marketing mix.
    Most of
    the time when brands make these choices, they're doing it in the affirmative. They'll decide
    the specific identit
    ies. They'll want to feel seen,
    supported, and
    as
    if
    they belong with their brand.
    IM_Ep 71_Rule # 1 of inclusive marketing.pdf
    2
    So often publicly, that affirmative choice of
    whom
    a brand decides to inc
    lude may look like one of
    these:
    “We are pet friendly”
    “W
    e are LGTBQ +
    friendly”
    “W
    e are
    kid
    -
    friendly

    “We are size inclusive”

    This is a
    safe space for people of color”

    We speak Spanish
    ” or rather “Se habla español”
    Now,
    peop
    le generally don't tend to get outraged over statements and declarations like these when
    they are public because they don't feel excluded.
    And in the examples I mentioned previously, the owners intentionally chose, as I mentioned, they
    followed the first
    rule of inclusive marketing. But the backlash came because when these plans
    intentionally chose, they did it by publicly declaring who they were
    EXCLUDING
    .
    It doesn't feel good when you're excluded.
    No one wants to be told
    ,
    “Y
    ou don't belong here.

    Now,
    I am
    ANNOYED
    when I want to go to a restaurant and they don't have gluten
    -
    free options
    available.
    However, that restaurant isn't wrong for choosing
    (
    whether t
    hey're actively choosing or not)
    We'll
    get into that later. They aren't wrong for not including g
    luten
    -
    free items on the menu.
    Brands do not have an obligation to cater to consumers who have different identities.
    We know this because
    ,
    for ages, brands have not catered to people who were not part of the
    dominant group.
    But we're in a new day now as c
    onsumers. We are not the same as we were even 10 years ago
    .
    N
    ow
    ,
    because more of us have identities that make us not so cleanly fit into wha
    t's considered to
    be mainstream
    -
    have experienced the joy that comes when a brand do
    es make us feel like we
    belong
    -
    w
    e're not just accepting that it can't be done or that not sufficiently getting our needs met
    is just

    the way it is.

    No.
    A
    s consumers, we are engaging in credit card activism. We make our voices heard with our wallets.
    Oh, you don'
    t wanna serve glut
    en
    -
    free food. N
    o problem. I'll go to the restaurant down the street
    that does, and I'll take my
    gluten
    -
    eating
    friends and family with me.
    IM_Ep 71_Rule # 1 of inclusive marketing.pdf
    3
    Oh, you're not interested in creating makeup that works for darkened complexions? No problem.
    We'll go to this bra
    nd over here that provides exactly what I need.
    Oh, you don't have anyone that s
    peaks Spanish that can help me?
    No problem. I'll go find a business
    that does.
    Brands are ch
    oosing to include or to exclude.
    A
    nd consumers are choosing to spend their money
    or not
    .
    E
    veryone gets to choose.
    Okay, now, there are a few exceptions where government mandates do exist that restrict who and
    how brands can exclude.
    For instance, the American With Disabilities Act says that companies must provide reasonable
    access a
    nd accommodation to consumers with disabilities.
    A couple of years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man who sued Domino's Pizza
    because their website and their app were not accessible.
    The website and the app were not compatible for use with
    screen readers, which are used by people
    who are visually impaired.
    So when one man wanted to order Domino's Pizza on the website and app and couldn't us
    e his
    screen reader to do that,
    Domino's was guilty of restricting access and not providing
    accommodat
    ion.
    The court ordered Domino's to make their website compliant from an accessibility standpoint using
    existing guidelines.
    S
    o there are exceptions.
    B
    ut with every choice, we must accept what comes with it.
    When you include people, a consequence is you
    often get more customers
    .
    W
    hen you exclude people. A consequence is you often lose out on willing customers.
    The challenge with most brands
    is that they are not choosing.
    T
    hey aren't being specific about deciding who they want to make, feel like they be
    long. And as a
    result, lots of identities, particularly those from underrepresente
    d and underserved communities
    -
    f
    eel left out.
    We're gonna get more into how brands aren't choosing from an inclusion standpoint and what to do
    about it after this short br
    eak.
    I did an interview for one of my progr
    ams a while back with Sabrina Meherally
    , a relational designer,
    speaker
    ,
    and consultant.
    IM_Ep 71_Rule # 1 of inclusive marketing.pdf
    4
    And in it, I loved how she explained the process a lot of marketers take when defining who they
    serve because it was
    absolutely true. It's absolutely the case in a lot of instances. And because
    marketers aren't specific enough, they end up leaving a lot of people out.
    Sometimes what we see, or a lot of the time, what we see are organizations that say, well, our
    product i
    s for all children between the ages of this and this. And so we'd say like, all really all children,
    what kind of children, right? Is it that product for children with varying physical disabilities? Is that
    product for children that are black?
    Is that prod
    uct for indigenous children? Is that product for queer children? Is that product for? So
    when we start to actually ask these questions, then what we see is that a lot of companies are like,
    oh, I don't know. I, I didn't think about that. Because what we te
    nd to default to unintentionally is
    privileged identities and that becomes the norm.
    When we are designing something for children, what we really mean is the cisgender boy who is
    able
    -
    bodied and white and so and so like we have that we have an idea in mind
    , but we haven't
    actually explicitly called it out. And so it gets masked under children because all children are white
    boys, you know? So tha
    t's kind of how we,
    what we tend to default to.
    The same goes for when we say, you know, a product is for all wom
    en. Well, what women? Are we
    also thinking about trans women? Are we thinking about women with disabilities? Are we thinking
    about the black woman?
    Are we thinking about indigenous women or women of color? Like when we start to actually stretch
    it beyond
    these bigger umbrella terms and we realize that intersectionality is a
    really important
    consideration,
    then we can start to see which, groups have we really prioritized here and which ones
    have we forgotten about or have we excluded.
    So the goal when choo
    sing is to be specific.
    So if you are deciding that as a brand you want to serve women, it is important to be clear about
    how the different identities that exist for these women can not only impact
    how they receive your
    messages,
    whether or not they feel
    seen
    ,
    and what you're offering, and whether or not it is for them.
    And those various identities could even have an impact on the degree of success, certain identities
    experience.
    So here's an exercise I'd like to walk clients through that helps them gain
    clarity in this area.
    So if you're saying you want to serve
    high
    -
    performing
    women who are tryi
    ng to balance career and
    family.
    A
    sk yourself, what are the different identities of a woman who fits that description?
    Is it well, white women, black women, Lat
    ino women, Asian women
    ,
    and indigenous women?
    Are they included? Does it include trans women?
    Does it include gay women?
    Does it include Muslim women?
    Does it include women in their twenties, women in their forties, and women in their fifties?
    IM_Ep 71_Rule # 1 of inclusive marketing.pdf
    5
    Does it include women with disabilities?
    Does it include women who live in Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Columbia?
    Does it include women who have blended families?
    Does it include women who are caretakers of aging parents?
    The
    re are a ton of
    dimensions here.
    A
    nd again, I'm not saying that you have to specifically sa
    y you are including all of them.
    B
    ut which identities do you specifically want to make? Feel like they belong with you? Who do you
    specifically want to make sure that you devote a
    ttention to, to ensure that they achieve success?
    If you choose to ensure you're focusing on women with disabilities, Muslim women
    ,
    and black
    women, that's
    okay
    .
    It does not mean that women who have
    blended families, white women,
    LGBTQ
    +
    women and
    women
    in their fifties will necessarily feel invisible, ignored, and like they don't belong.
    Rather, it means that you are specifically considering these specific identities you've chosen and
    figuring out how to incorporate them throughout the various component
    s of your marketing mix.
    So that could mean ensuring you have Muslim women, black women
    ,
    and women with disabilities
    on your team and or your extended team.
    It could mean that you ensure those identities are represented within the content and visual image
    ry
    you put forth.
    It can mean that you create campaigns that celebrate holidays and other cultural and heritage
    celebrations that are meaningful to people in those communities.
    Over time, as you do these things, more Muslim women, black women
    ,
    and women
    with disabilities
    will start to buy your product and become customers
    .
    A
    s you focus on making sure you support them to ensure they achieve success at the same rates
    as your other customers.
    In time, you'll also start to accumulate testimonials from Muslim
    women,
    black women, and women with disabilities. And then you know it will start to happen. More women
    who have these identities will see themselves reflected in more areas of your customer journey and
    will start to engage and buy from you, and the cycle
    continues and continues.
    Now, once you've set a strong foundation with these identities you've chosen and you have
    the
    capacity and resources to serve other identit
    ies,
    repeat the process. This time, you might choose
    women who are part of the
    LGBTQ+
    commu
    nity, women who speak Spanish and French, and
    women who have blended families.
    As you pull specific levers within your marketing mix that make more people feel seen, supported,
    and like they belong with you, you'll start to build a more diverse customer b
    ase. Your brand will
    grow
    .
    IM_Ep 71_Rule # 1 of inclusive marketing.pdf
    6
    A
    nd it all starts with choosing.
    Choose who you're going to serve.
    Choose who you wanna make, feel like they belong with you.
    Choose who you're going to develop a greater degree of intimacy with.
    The opposite of choosing is not excluding.
    If you're a bookstore and you decide to feature women authors or black authors or indigenous
    authors, that does not mean that you are choosing not to carry support and promote books and
    authors that don't fall wi
    thin these categories.
    The people who enjoy what you offer will still come.
    Rule number one of inclusive marketing is to intentionally choose
    whom
    you're going to serve.
    C
    hoosing
    whom
    you want to ensure knows they belong with you.
    If you've already got a
    group of people who are absolutely sure that they do belong with you, you
    don't have to put as much attention trying to continue to convince them of that over time.
    Just continue to nurture that relationship so they continue to know that, they will belong
    with you
    while you're investing time, energy, and resources, making sure that other groups of people
    absolutely know that they belong with you. Don't skip this important step of choosing because
    everything you do
    afterward
    flows from this choice.
    That's
    it for today's episode.
    I'm super curious
    to hear your thoughts about it
    -
    s
    o let's continue to have this conversation on
    social. Tag me in any post you make so I can join the discussions.
    If you like this show, I'd love it if you'd share it with a frien
    d, your colleague, and your network, and
    I totally love it. If you leave a rating, I review it i
    n your podcast player of choice. I
    t really does go a
    long way toward helping more people discover the show.
    Also, are you getting the inclusion and marketing n
    ewsletter? If you're not, what are you even doing?
    Each week I send you stories, news, insights, and other tips to help you attract and retain a more
    diverse customer base.
    Go to inclusion and marketing.com/newsletter to get signed up.
    I'll also drop a li
    nk to it in the show notes for you to access it easily.
    Until next time, remember, everyone deserves to have a place where they belong. Let's use our
    individual and collective power to ensure more people feel like they do.
    Thanks so much for listening.
    Talk to you soon

    You should only assess the experiences you deliver for the specific audiences you’ve decided to reach.

    But herein lies the crux of the issue. One of the most common areas where brands get thrown off with their inclusive marketing efforts is by not having a sufficient degree of specificity regarding the ideal customer they are trying to reach.

    So, if you’ve defined your audience as "working moms with an active lifestyle," it's essential to be precise. Does that include:

    • Asian moms
    • Single moms
    • Muslim moms
    • Moms with disabilities
    • Queer moms
    • Moms with kinky hair
    • Older moms

    If you haven’t been clear about the specific identities you want to include, it becomes very easy to exclude moms from underrepresented and underserved communities from your planning for various elements of your marketing.

    As a result, your ideal consumers from these groups won’t convert to customers if they feel you haven’t considered them with the products, services, and experiences you deliver on your website and social channels.

    Where To Focus Your Inclusive Website & Social Media Audits

    There are plenty of areas throughout your brand's customer experience that you can evaluate through an inclusive lens. Focus on these core areas as a starting point to improve your conversions.

    1. Representation

    Representation matters. We know this. One research study I conducted showed that 74% of consumers say representation in marketing is important to them. That same study showed that three out of four consumers say they buy from and engage with brands that have adequately represented them.Brand representation graphic

    When I educate on this topic, I like to remind marketers that people need to see themselves and who they aspire to be reflected in their brand's visual imagery.

    Seeing themselves represented is like a permission slip to take the next step forward with you, which increases your conversions. When they don’t see themselves, it causes unnecessary friction that often causes them to disengage with a brand.

    When I’m conducting inclusive website and social media audits, representation is one of the key areas where many brands fall short.

    I landed on Audible’s Instagram account recently due to some influencer promos they did, and I was super impressed with the representation. The nature of their product offering naturally speaks to a broad diversity of people. When you look at the brand’s grid, the people featured reflect a range of identities.

    Audible Instagram

    Audible even found a way to represent different identities in their Instagram Stories.

    Caribbean Heritage Month story

    Here are some critical areas to evaluate to ensure you have adequate representation of the people you’ve chosen to serve on your website and social media:

    • Customer testimonials
    • Featured experts
    • Your team
    • Influencers
    • Power dynamics
    • Photography (both custom and stock)

    This video explains more in detail what you need to be on the lookout for with power dynamics.

    In this episode of the Inclusion & Marketing podcast, I covered key considerations when searching for inclusive stock photography.

    Head to this link or Apple Podcasts for the full transcript https://inclusionandmarketing.com/ep-30-best-practices-for-incorporating-inclusive-stock-photography-into-your-bransds-visual-imagery/

    2. Accessibility

    I’ve included accessibility on this list as something to check — whether or not your brand has intentionally chosen to serve people with disabilities.

    Some government entities have mandated certain accessibility requirements for brands on their websites. One case in the U.S. landed on the Supreme Court's desk after a visually impaired man tried to order a pizza on Domino’s website and app but couldn’t because they weren’t compatible with screen readers.

    Ultimately, the courts ruled Domino’s needed to make its website accessible.

    Inclusive marketing drives business results, and there are plenty of great reasons to represent people with disabilities in your marketing (besides mandates).

    The good news is that there are plenty of resources, including HubSpot’s website accessibility checklist, to help you ensure your website is accessible.

    Website Accessibility Checklist

    This checklist will help you make the following more accessible on your website:

    • Web Pages
    • Navigation
    • Video & Media
    • And More!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      When it comes to social media, here are a few things to check from an accessibility perspective:

      • Captions on videos
      • Alt text usage
      • Use Camel Case or Pascal Case in your hashtags
      • Image descriptions
      • Usage of emojis

      I’m super thankful someone on LinkedIn slid into my DMs to educate me on my inaccessible use of hashtags. Once I learned how to do it correctly, I made this quick video to share the knowledge with others.

      3. Brand Values

      Many research studies reveal that consumers want to buy from brands that share or reflect their values. The HubSpot Consumer Trends Study showed that 82% of consumers feel this way.

      Since consumers increasingly care about brand values, it is more important than ever for brands to evaluate how well they are doing at both communicating and living their values.

      Many brands struggle with this. A while back, I audited several websites for eCommerce brands, and my feedback for all of them was that they needed to find a way to highlight their values.

      While most brands don’t mention their values on their websites or social media, I’ve also found that the small percentage of brands that do often have them buried somewhere in the footer or under some vague name, making them difficult for consumers to find.

      Both ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s and retailer Patagonia do a stellar job of communicating their values on their website and social media channels.

      Patagonia Instagram

      Ben & Jerry's Instagram

      Ben & Jerry’s brand values are also featured prominently on its website.

      Ben & Jerry's brand values

      As you’re doing your inclusive marketing audits, review these key areas related to your values:

      • Communication on website and social media
      • Ease of finding values-based content
      • Examples of living your brand values integrated into your content

      4. Language

      The words we use matter.

      That’s why, in 2021, Unilever decided to remove the word "normal" from packaging and advertisements for its personal care products. After conducting a global study of more than 10,000 people, they found that 7 out of 10 people felt the word had a negative impact on consumers.

      It is important to take great care with the words you use to ensure they draw the people you want to serve closer to you rather than pushing them away.

      When auditing your website and social media, I recommend evaluating the words you’re using for:

      • Appropriation
      • Harmful meaning and connotation
      • The reach, context, and meaning of pop culture references
      • Gendered language
      • Ableist language
      • Stereotypes

      This video explains more of the details about what to be on the lookout for with pop culture references.

      This episode of the Inclusion & Marketing podcast discusses how to ensure that the language you use in your brand’s messaging is inclusive.

      A brand's messaging, particularly the messaging that you will find, like, let's say, on their website,
      on their home page, or landing pages that you arrive
      at
      as a result of some very specific searches,
      that messaging, I would say, is like a very important
      first impression that the people you serve will
      engage with and will very quickly let them know whether or not your brand is for them or whether it
      is not for them.
      Because the reality is, unconsciously or not, consumers are often looking for an answer t
      o this very
      important question of, is this brand for me? And the signals that they are looking for, whether that
      comes in your visual imagery or the words that you say, the messages that you put forth throughout
      various parts of your customer journey will
      very quickly give them an answer to that question.
      Is this brand for me? So it's very important that as you are working to create the messaging for your
      brand, really that high
      -
      level messaging, especially for your brand, it's essential that you are making
      sure that you take into account the various identities of the people who are your ideal customer, the
      people that you want to serve so that whenever they land on various aspects of your brand's
      customer journey, whenever they encounter that messaging that
      they know that this brand is for me.
      This place is a place where I can see myself as belonging, and it
      permits them
      to take the next step
      forward with you. Brand messaging is super important, and that's one of the reasons why I brought
      on my guest today w
      ho is a brand messaging strategist.
      So after this short break, you're gonna hear my conversation with Diane Weiradoo, who is the
      founder of LionWords. I just love that name. And we are gonna talk about how to make sure that
      your brand messaging is inclusi
      ve of the various identities that you want to serve.
      Sonia:
      Hey, Diane. Thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
      Diane:
      Great. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to have, this conversation.
      Sonia:
      Oh, me too. I think we've been chatting it up, in in each other's worlds over the past couple
      of years on LinkedIn. So I'm thrilled that we're able to have this sort of virtual face
      -
      to
      -
      face meeting.
      So I know you are all about messaging, and before we ge
      t too far into this, can you just let the
      people know who are you and what you do?
      Diane:
      Yeah. Sure. So I'm Diane Wiredu. I run a messaging consultancy. So I work mainly with
      growth stage, B to B tech companies, B to B tech, and SaaS. And I essentially he
      lp them create
      messaging that resonates with potential buyers, potential customers so that they can get better
      results from their marketing and sales efforts, right, from marketing assets like their website.
      Sonia:
      Very cool. Very cool. I don't think that
      we have enough people
      whose
      brand messaging is
      so important, and I think it can make a world of difference. And I don't think we spend a ton of time
      focusing our energy on that, let alone from an inclusivity standpoint.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      2
      So I saw on LinkedIn that you sai
      d messaging is the single most important thing startups and growth
      -
      stage companies should focus on to grow and succeed. That's a big statement. Can you talk a little
      bit about that?
      Diane:
      Yeah. Sure. I'm happy to. I do make a lot of big statements. And then a lot of people call me
      out on them, so rightly so. I mean so when I said that, it's essentially boiling this down to the idea of
      communication and words and talking about what you do.
      Right?
      So essentially, what any company is trying to do is either sell a product, sell a service, be in touch
      with a group of people,
      or
      a group of customers, and make a connection with them.
      And so it comes down to words and how you communicate that. Rig
      ht? I define messaging as how
      you articulate the most important things about your company, your product, your service, and then
      why that matters to your audience.
      So I think that it's one of the most important things for companies to focus on when it come
      s to
      actually connecting with that audience and making sure that they're saying the right thing.
      I can't remember where I said this. It'd be interesting where you pulled it up from.
      But often, the kind of clients and companies that I'm working with, it f
      eels like messaging and, like,
      the words are like an afterthought. Right?
      It's like, oh, we can get out there and get customers and build the product, and then, like, the last
      -
      minute thought is like, okay. But how do we talk about this thing?
      Whereas, real
      ly, like, this needs to come up front. Like, how do you talk about you in a way that
      resonates with the people that you're trying to help?
      Sonia:
      Yeah. I think that a lot of times, it's kinda like I don't wanna say a chicken or an egg. But a
      lot of times I
      feel like the messaging for people is an afterthought.
      And how people think about your product is gonna play a big role in whether or not they feel like
      they belong with you, if this is gonna help them solve their problem.
      So like what you said, you did
      n't say this exactly, but I feel like the essence of it is we need to give
      proper respect and attention to the message because it can be the best product in the world that is
      exactly perfect for the people that you want to serve.
      But if they are close to
      your message or it goes over their head or it just doesn't resonate, it's kind
      of like you've done all this work for nothing.
      Diane:
      Yeah. Exactly. And I think you've just echoed what I say all the time, you know, that you can
      have the best product, the be
      st service in the world, but if you can't explain it and you can't express
      that and you can't get that across, it doesn't matter.
      Like, it will be irrelevant. You know? And every single business on the planet relies on words and
      relies on a message to hel
      p them grow. And so, really, this has to be the priority.
      And so that you don't wanna have this situation where, which I see a lot, of this kind of copycat
      syndrome where, you know, just kind of instead looking out at what everyone else is saying,
      whateve
      r else is doing because then that's why we end up with these such boring, saturated
      categories of companies just saying the same thing.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      3
      We want companies to focus on what is it that we do differently, what are we trying to what change
      are we trying to make, and then
      talk
      about that in a very clear, relevant, unique, and differentiated
      way as well.
      Sonia:
      Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Alright. So I am
      curious. You've worked with a lot of brands. You've seen
      a lot of brands messaging over the years. What would you just wish that brands would stop doing
      whenever it comes to their messaging?
      Diane:
      So how much time do you have? How much time? There's a lot
      . There is a lot of there are a
      lot of mistakes. There are a lot of mistakes that companies make, but let me preface this by saying
      that they're very easy mistakes to make.
      And I understand why companies do make them. Right? And I think that you know, dep
      ending on
      your listeners, listeners of this podcast, whatever size company you're at, whether you're earlier
      stage or maybe you were 1 person marketing team or whatever, right, it's very easy to kind of fall
      into these traps.
      But one big thing I see is wh
      at I call overstuffed syndrome with the messaging, which is the problem
      where a lot of companies are just saying too much. Right? Just trying to talk about everything that
      you do.
      And I see this particularly more so in in in tech and B to B, which is we ha
      ve to have to talk about
      everything. Right? It's very hard for companies to simplify and kind of boil things down.
      But when you go into a store, they don't show you their entire range and say, look at all these things
      that we've got. You have to think tha
      t when a customer interacts with you, there's a journey. Right?
      And there's a structure.
      In the same way that we have a conversation, there's a normal flow of conversations. You jump in
      and say, hi. Hi.
      How are you? How are you? And you go through this fl
      ow. You don't meet someone and tell them
      your entire life story within the first few seconds.
      And what I see a lot with companies is trying to fit everything. Trying to fit everything in a headline,
      a sub
      -
      headline, in a paragraph talking about every singl
      e feature of their product before just getting
      the basics.
      And I often kind of liken this to this, analogy of when you go to an all
      -
      you
      -
      can
      -
      eat buffet. Right? You
      know, you go to an all
      -
      you
      -
      can
      -
      eat buffet, and there are so many choices that you just kind
      of pile
      everything on your plate, and then you walk over this plate that's like this mishmash of stuff that
      doesn't even look like a meal.
      And we do the same with our messaging book. We don't know what to say, so we kind of say
      everything.
      But the problem is when you do that, it's very hard for customers to understand what you're all about,
      and then what they walk away with is nothing. Right? Because when you've mentioned 8, 9, or 10
      messages within a short
      period
      or in a short space, if we'
      re talking about home page messaging, for
      example, they'll walk away not remembering anything.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      4
      And so it takes a little bit of a disciplined approach to prioritize, what you're all about. One of the
      things that I talk about, which might be a helpful exe
      rcise for your listeners, is to think about an OKM.
      An OKM is what I call the one key message. Right?
      So what is this one key message that you want customers or prospects that they could only
      remember one key thing, what would you want it to be? And then
      making sure that every interaction
      with your brand, every touch point, at least really focuses on that and then brings them through
      further so that they can find out more. Yeah.
      So, yeah, that
      one's
      one. That's that's only one thing. Right? You asked me wh
      at are some of the
      things that
      Sonia:
      Yeah. But, no, I think that's an important one because you're right. Like, I do think that we
      try to, like, vomit all these things that we think are wonderful about, you know, our brand, and we
      think that more is better, but that's not always the case.
      No
      w when it comes to communicating with people from underrepresented and underserved
      communities, how well do you think brands are doing now with their messaging in the way they
      resonate with people from those communities
      Diane:
      Like, Should I sit on the fen
      ce here, or should I not? I don't think brands are doing a great
      job. I do think it varies wildly. Like, the work that I do, again, like I've said, is mainly with B two B. I
      think you're doing a much worse job at that.
      Okay. I do think that in consumer pr
      oducts, there's a little bit of movement. Right? I'm seeing a little
      bit of change. But I don't think, as a whole, I think this is not really a top of mind and present for
      enough marketers.
      I think this is also related to something else that's, a mistake t
      hat I see, which I call kind of me me
      me syndrome. So companies are really focused too much on the brand, themselves, and their
      product that they almost forget about the customer.
      And so many companies are doing the same, but forgetting about the customer
      . Never mind
      forgetting about the range of customers and the range and the type of people that interact with their
      brand and making sure that what they're talking about is accessible, is inclusive.
      I think that a lot
      of
      sound
      than
      really understanding how
      nuanced your customer is and making sure
      that the ways that you communicate with them
      do
      factor in that they could be from a wide variety of
      backgrounds, ethnic
      makeups
      , locations, or one.
      So it's hard. It's a challenge, and I understand that it's a chal
      lenge. But I'm seeing some change, but
      I don't I don't think it's I don't think it's enough yet.
      Sonia:
      Yeah. I definitely think there is progress to be made. And I'm wondering if brands because I
      think this happens this problem happens at brands of all si
      zes.
      And I think that sometimes brands are thinking about that one key message that you mentioned, but
      they forget that there are so many different touch points in ways in which to engage a consumer. I
      remember I saw a woman that I follow on LinkedIn.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      5
      She's a disability advocate, and she talks about the Apple Watch. She's like, if I had known that the
      Apple Watch was accessible and had all these accessible features before, I would have bought 1 a
      whole lot sooner. I would be on my 3rd Apple Watch by now
      instead of my second.
      For
      me, that comes down to
      it being
      a messaging problem because not that they needed to lead,
      so to speak, with their accessibility features. Maybe they could, but for that particular audience, that
      was something that they needed to
      lead with, but they weren't getting it in some way.
      Maybe it was buried in their product specifications and features.
      So I'm wondering when it comes to messaging, is there is this one key message, but how do you
      have any thoughts on how brands should thi
      nk about delivering the right message to the right
      customer in a way that makes sure that they hear the thing most, that they need to hear from you?
      Diane:
      Yeah. I think that's really important, and I think what you've touched on is a key distinction.
      So o
      ften, I talk about what we could call maybe top
      -
      level, top
      -
      line messaging for a company, which
      is where you need to have this overarching, consisting message about who you are, what you do,
      who for, and why. It should be really clear.
      And we can think abo
      ut this as a kind of top layer. But then underneath that, of course, companies
      target different groups of people, different demographics.
      We also don't wanna just think about people as demographics, but we also wanna think about
      people from the lens of ps
      ychographics, from behavior, from interests, which i
      s actually what unites
      us more.
      Right?
      I have a lot more in common with, people who share the same the same passions than just someone
      else who's a marketer. Right?
      Sonia
      :
      Like Yeah. Yeah.
      Diane:
      If you're a 34
      -
      year
      -
      old marketer living in a city, like, we could be completely different people,
      and you speak to me in a different way than if you actually understand people's behaviors.
      So I think understanding actually how to approach sort of customer
      -
      led marketing and customer
      -
      led
      messaging, again, comes back to really understanding, your customers really well. And then
      understanding once you have actually done that, how can you take th
      is sort of how can you just
      take this a step further, really.
      And then we've got high
      -
      level kind of company messaging, and then it's almost down to the
      campaign level. Like, who do we need to? To in different ways? And that's where it's sort of
      messaging
      is what and copy is, like,
      how.
      There will
      be different ways to translate the messaging that you have for your company, and you'll
      need to target those again for different personas.
      So it's sort of a layered. Right? There's a layered approach to marketin
      g and messaging and having
      that overarching message, but then understanding that
      we need to speak about things in different
      ways within different contexts
      .
      Sonia:
      Yeah. No. I love that. I love that there are so many there's within inclusive marketing, ther
      e
      are layers to it. Right? To everything. I would probably most things I would say.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      6
      So does this top
      -
      level messaging need to speak to as broad an audience as possible, or is there a
      way to we're
      talking
      to this small group of people in a way that we know
      they're gonna get it, but it
      also has meaning and it's relevant for a broad group?
      Is there a distinction, or does it
      depend on
      your audience?
      Diane:
      Yeah. So I think the answer to that, it's not that we're trying to speak broadly or narrowly.
      Oh, okay. E
      very company, I think, just really needs to have their customer dialed in. Right?
      And so if you're trying to speak to everybody, you end up speaking to nobody. Right? No. There are
      very, very few brands out there whose customer is everybody.
      Unless you a
      re maybe you're Coca
      -
      Cola, but even then, like, spe
      ak to the marketing department.
      They have their customer type. They're really dialed in.
      So there's no excuse for you as a small or medium or growth stage business to not have, your ideal
      customer really
      dialed in and get to know them, get to understand what are the needs that you're
      solving, what are the pain points, what are the desires, at which point what are the triggers that your,
      ideal customers have going on in their day that make them think, you k
      now what? I need this product.
      I need this service.
      Or
      I'm starting
      to start looking. I think once you have once you
      understood
      that profile, then, yeah,
      all of our
      top
      -
      level
      ,
      top
      -
      line
      company messaging is still speaking to that specific audience type. So
      ,
      yeah, to come to your question, it's not about, like, messaging, so it should be super general.
      It should be targeted still, but to that specific group of people, that you're helping with your product
      or with your service.
      Sonia:
      Yeah. Which I love because it's
      all about customer intimacy, I think that this is gonna make
      a lot of people breathe a sigh of relief because I think sometimes they might, like, wait a minute.
      Do I have to have a different message for all these different
      people to get it to work? But I'm really
      curious on how well you feel like brands do with having that customer intimacy or having their
      customer having, you know, their ideal customer dialed
      into
      the point to where they're able to deliver
      messaging that h
      its, right, that makes people feel, like, seen and know that this is exactly for me?
      Diane:
      Yeah. I mean, it varies it varies wildly. But if you I mean, can you think back to a time when
      you were you've had an act interaction with a brand, whether it's you
      received an email or you were,
      I don't know, scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, and you stopped and read something? And you
      were reading alo
      ng, and you're like, wow.
      I get it. That's me. Or
      did
      they get me or something
      ?
      Sonia:
      Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
      Dia
      ne:
      Then that's that's when you
      have a good a great example of
      Marketing and messaging that
      has that speaks to you simply because it's speaking to it's speaking your language. Right? Yeah.
      But
      understand
      you.
      So I think there are examples of companies doing that. My focus, obviously, from the messaging
      and communication side of this is how we do that with words. Right? How do we do that through our
      language?
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      7
      One
      of the really important parts of my process is
      going out, with companies and speaking to their
      existing customers, doing customer interviews,
      and
      customer surveys, to understand how they
      think,
      how they feel, and how they
      speak about the brand, to make sure that the communications, that the
      copy and e
      verything that we create does speak to your customers and speaks to them, in language
      and words and using phrases and the themes and topics that do resonate.
      I think it will be quite a simple exercise that more people can do. And that's also a way for you
      to
      keep in touch and make sure that you are constantly speaking to a wide range of your customer
      base and that you're bringing their thoughts, their needs,
      and
      their feelings into your marketing.
      So it's kind of, like, circular flywheel to make sure that
      you're what's the w
      ord I'm looking for here?
      They just got you're just kind of on point. Right? I guess,
      that
      is what I'm tryi
      ng to say.
      Sonia:
      I get that. So alright. So the other question along those same lines
      Diane:
      Sure.
      Sonia:
      I have a friend who sen
      t me an email the other day, and it was, like, some report that he had
      got from his company. He works for a pretty big company, and it was saying, oh, these are the top
      5 TV shows of all time in the US. Right?
      And so his the note that he wrote to me, he's
      like, top 5 according to who? Like, who did they ask?
      And I looked at the shows and I was like, yeah. I think they asked a very specific group of people.
      Diane:
      And demographic.
      Sonia:
      Right. So you just said that a big part of your process is doing those interviews with
      customers and understanding more about what it is, the words that they're using, the things that are
      important to them.
      And so I'm curious to you is so the linchpin he
      re is making sure that whenever you're doing those
      interviews, that you've got a broad
      cross
      -
      section
      of the different types of consumers, the different
      identities represented so that whenever you're creating this top line messaging, it speaks to the
      variet
      y of customers that you have, but in a way
      ,
      that's very specific to the problem that your brand
      solves.
      Diane:
      Yeah. You nailed it. Right? Okay. And I don't think I can put it better than you. But there's
      there's a really good example here.
      So I don't kno
      w if your listenership is more US
      -
      based or Europe
      -
      based. I'm, British, though I have a
      kind of UK
      -
      based example here.
      So I know a couple of guys who run, a great company in the UK that they do they do essentially
      what that study needed to do. Right?
      Becau
      se
      of
      that
      ,
      they lead research and studies with minorities and underrepresented groups in the
      UK, mainly underrepresented groups and also younger people.
      They
      have companies access this group of people and get their opinions, get data from them so
      that th
      en they don't end up putting out information that is completely skewed.
      So I'll give them a
      shout
      -
      out
      because they're an awesome company
      called Word on the Curb.
      So
      they're a little bit more
      UK
      -
      focused
      , but they work That's a cool name.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      8
      They work with some big brands, and they've been doing it for, like, 10 years. And I think it's a great
      example of, like, do this work yourself if you can.
      So, y
      ou know, when I'm working with B
      to
      B
      and tech companies, it's easier for us to go out and
      spe
      ak to a
      cross
      -
      section
      of their demographic.
      Now if you are a consumer brand that, you know, has a much wider, demographic, then maybe it's
      harder for you to actually perform that type of research and get, the types of opinions and feedback
      that you need f
      rom groups.
      Maybe you can't access the groups that you want to. So maybe it is that you're listening to this and
      you want to be more inclusive, but you're just not sure how. Well, then go out and get that help.
      Right? Like, I still want you to think, okay
      . Well, I'm not getting a
      cross
      -
      section
      of opinions and
      feedback from a group of people that I would like to target.
      So then you have to find a way to access them. So, you know, we're talking about, methods of doing
      this, but I think we should also be tal
      king about the desire and the will and almost the obligation for
      companies to be focusing on this and investing time, budget,
      and
      resources to making sure that they
      are speaking to a much wider subset of their
      1
      customers as well.
      Sonia:
      Yeah. You talked ab
      out willingness, and what popped up for me is, like, this whole concept
      of responsibility. You know, if this might be a change in the way people are accustomed to doing
      things and accustomed to approaching their marketing. But, early on in my career when I
      worked in
      corporate, I went through this whole 6 Sigma certification process. And one of the concepts that,
      like, is burned into my head is this concept of doing it right the first time.
      And
      do you know,
      of course, we always wanna do things right, but th
      ere's always gonna be extra
      resources, and extra headaches whenever you have to go back and do something again that you
      didn't plan for and do right the first time.
      And what I would really love to get marketers to a place to through the show, for the work
      that we're
      doing, through conversations like this, of course, is letting them know that if they're not doing this
      currently, the responsible thing for their business, right, and to get the business results that they're
      doing, you're already investing all
      these resources to do this work, to get the messaging that you
      need. It's so worth it and needed for your business to invest in doing it right and doing it right the
      first time, which means making sure that you're including the right voices that make up th
      e people
      who you're actually serving so that you're gonna get the results that you need in a manner that
      speaks to your customer base.
      Dian
      e:
      Right. Exactly. And if you can't and you're struggling, then hire. Hire th
      e right people. You
      know?
      Like, you run
      this podcast on inclusion and marketing, and you have, I have no doubt, an in
      creating a credible network of people that, you know, you people could reach out to. You know, I
      think as well, it's looking at internally.
      Sometimes looking at, okay, well, not
      only who are we speaking to on the customer side, but who's
      creating. Right? So we're thinking about the messaging, copy, content, working on content creation,
      and trying to speak for such a broad group of people. So who's doing that? Whose voices do we
      ne
      ed to bring in?
      Do we need to bring in as well? And then making sure that you actually do that.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      9
      Sonia:
      Yeah. Yeah. Diane, this has been so much fun. This is great. I wanna switch gears a little
      bit. I wanna get your perspective as a
      consumer
      can
      you tell
      me about a time
      when
      a brand made
      you feel like you belonged?
      Diane:
      I'm gonna need a second to think about this. I'm not the best consumer. You know?
      Sonia:
      It's okay. I think that people struggle with this question because it doesn't happen often
      enough.
      Diane:
      Yeah. Which is crazy, isn't it? As a consumer, I don't buy a lot of stuff. I mainly spend my
      money on food and drink. Like, that's where all of my money goes
      ,
      and then CrossFit and working
      out.
      But there is one company. So I do remember this was a
      while ago now, so I'm trying to dig into the
      archives, that I came across this brand, and I was like, oh my god. I have been waiting for something
      like this.
      And it just hit the nail on the head. So melanated,
      dark
      -
      skinned
      ladies will know the challenge that
      you have when you want when you when it's sunny, you wanna put sunscreen on. Right? Sunscreen
      has this, like, white cast.
      And when you have dark skin, you end up with these, like, white layers all ove
      r your skin, which is
      terrible.
      And then there was a brand I mean, I can name them. I think they're called Supergoop or
      something like that.
      And they put out a line of sunscreen that was kind of really, like, transparent. And a lot of their
      marketing and
      their messaging was speaking to people that understand understood that, like, this
      was an issue. Right? People like, if you're lighter skinned, you can just go out and buy sunscreen
      and, like, you can buy
      any. It's not really an issue.
      Whereas
      darker
      -
      skin
      ned
      girls really have to consider
      it. Like, I always have to buy transparent stuff.
      And it's rubbish or it's lower SPF. So yeah. So I think as a brand, I think it's I think it's called
      Supergoop.
      They did I don't know what their marketing's like now, but
      a couple of years ago when I first
      discovered them, it felt like a very inclusive approach, and it really spoke to something. It spoke to
      a pain point. It spoke to, like, they understood their customers, the problems that they had, and they
      had a p
      roduct t
      hat was speaking to it.
      They're they're a really good example of that.
      Sonia:
      Very cool. Yeah. I think that sometimes it doesn't even have to be the messaging. It could
      be, like, the actual product design Product design. It's like you did this for me. And
      there's only way
      you could have done this is if you had me in mind whenever
      you were
      making it.
      So I think that's fantastic. Great example.
      Where can people find you if they wanna learn more about you and your work?
      Diane:
      Yeah. So I spend a lot of time o
      n LinkedIn posting and sharing my thoughts, frameworks,
      ideas, all about, messaging and copy, and communicating better with your customers. So you can
      connect with me over there.
      IM_Ep 111_How to deliver inclusive brand messaging with Diane Wiredu.pdf
      10
      Feel free to send a message as well and say hi. So I'm just under Diane
      Wiredu. Or if you wanna
      learn a little bit more about the work I do with my messaging consultancy, which is called LionWords,
      then you can head over to lionwords.com, and you can get to know a little bit more about the services
      and the work that I do with
      companies as well.
      Sonia:
      Very cool.
      I will include all of that in the show notes, so people can access it easily. Diane,
      again, this has been so much fun,
      and
      so enlightening. Any parting words of wisdom for marketers
      and business leaders who wanna do a b
      etter job with their messaging by making more p the people
      that they serve feel like they belong with them?
      Diane:
      Yeah. I mean, I think a couple of parting words of wisdom would be just kind of understanding
      that it's a process. Right? I think I'm gonna t
      ry and keep this light instead of maybe giving, like,
      practical steps and tips because I think, I've got a lot of content and free content on this, and I've
      written about this a lot.
      So definitely head to my LinkedIn and check out things. I've written gui
      des and posts all about this
      stuff. But I think just kind of understanding, giving yourself a little bit of grace. Right? So the
      messaging that every company starts with is never gonna be the one that we end up with.
      And so it's really about understanding
      that you can tighten this, get better,
      get more specific, and
      improve.
      So I think that that would be my kind of passing word of wisdom.
      Sonia:
      Very cool. Thanks so much, Diane. This has been a real treat.
      Diane:
      Yeah. This was fun. Yeah. Been lovely chatt
      ing with you.
      Diane had so many cool things to share, and I really learned a lot in terms of how to think about
      messaging and how to think about ensuring that you have insights from the various identities of the
      people that you serve so that your brand me
      ssaging can do the job that you're hiring it to do.
      That's it for today's episode. If you like this show, I would so love it if you would share it with a friend,
      colleague, and your network. It really does go a long way towards helping more people discover
      the
      show. And while you're at it, please do leave a rating and review for the podcast on your podcast
      player of choice.
      It really does go a long way towards helping more people discover the show, and I like to think that
      all these actions help more peopl
      e be inclusive, and we can all just really use more of that. Right?
      Another question for you. Are you getting the inclusion and marketing newsletter? If you're not,
      really, what are you even doing? Each week, I send news, tips, stories, insights, and othe
      r goodies
      for you to help you build an inclusive brand that helps you attract and
      retain a diverse customer
      base.
      Go to inclusion in marketing.com/newsletter to get signed up. I'll also drop a link to it in the
      show notes for you so you can get access to i
      t easily.
      Until next time remember, everyone deserves to have a place where they belong.
      Let's use our individual and collective power to ensure more people feel like they do.
      Thanks so much for listening.
      Talk to you soon.

      It’s Time To Improve Your Conversions

      When working towards a goal, it's useful to assess how you’re performing today so you can identify areas of opportunity to improve your results.

      It’s no different when marketing to an increasingly diverse customer base.

      Evaluate how the customer experience you’re currently delivering on your website and social media channels measures up to attract and convert more of the customers you want to serve.

      As you start implementing changes that make more of the people you want to serve feel like they belong with your brand, you’ll be poised to increase your conversions.

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