As you’re reopening, rebuilding, or rebranding, you might be ready to reach out to a new audience. Maybe you’ve realized you want to work with a younger crowd, or an older one. Maybe you’ve decided that men as well as women could benefit from your offerings, or you have a new product you think would appeal to a more urban segment. Whatever the direction, you need take some new steps when you’re reaching out to new demographics.
Our “Aha!” moment was when a client asked for our help in appealing to the LGBTQ community. Their professional updates told them that lesbian and bisexual women had higher rates of breast cancer, higher rates of mortality from breast cancer, but were also more likely to skip regular mammograms. As health-care providers, they could see that this was an underserved group that needed some outreach.
Find the barriers
Our first step was compassionate thinking about the situation, developing a new customer persona and trying to put ourselves in her shoes. But the truth is, we did not know why lesbians would less likely to get screening mammograms than heterosexual women, no matter how compassionate or imaginative we might be. We also couldn’t imagine why they’d have higher rates of breast cancer.
Fortunately, there is research on the subject. If you’re good with Google, you can probably find studies that shed light on the barriers to service your new target audience is facing.
Often, they’re not what you would think. Are people hesitant to go back to work because they’re enjoying those extra unemployment benefits…or because the cost of childcare is prohibitive until schools open again? Are they unvaccinated for political reasons…or because they don’t know how to make an appointment?
Sometimes if you’re not a member of a group, your first thought is wrong.
So it took us some research to realize that since lesbians are more likely than straight women to be childless, this increases their rates of breast cancer. They’re also more likely to drink and smoke than straight women, adding more risk factors. And since they spend less time with doctors than women who have babies, they’re also less likely to develop that relationship with their ob-gyn that leads to reminders and referrals for mammograms.
Use your words
Once you know what the barriers are, the obstacles that keep your new target audience from using your services, you can develop a strategy to overcome those barriers. But bear in mind that you need to use the right words.
We found that both transgender men and transgender women may need regular screening mammograms under some circumstances. This is not a situation in which we can keep saying “women” and be sure that all the people who need mammograms will recognize themselves.
In fact, we learned that a majority of transgender individuals didn’t know whether they should have routine annual mammograms or not, and that this lack of knowledge kept them from getting this care.
As we wrote, we found ourselves in the middle of sentences searching for a word. Do most of our readers use “cisgender” or know what it means? If you want to appeal to an older audience, should you call them “seniors”? Should you offer products for bipoc hair care, or does that even make sense?
While we prefer, in real life, to ask people their preferences, you can’t do that at your website. Organizations like GLAAD have resources for writers that can help you choose the terms that are acceptable to the largest number of people in a community at a given time. We tried to find one great big inclusive language resource that covers everything, but no such luck.
At the same time, remember that your goals to communicate. One website that suggested we avoid phrases like “millennial salesgirl” in preference for “salesperson who is female and identifies as a Millennial” was giving us a recipe for distractingly unnatural language.
Be aware that these preferences can change, and keep track of pages that may need to be updated in future. Language changes, and thou knowst this if thou thinkst on’t.
Watch your media
We like to make sure the visual media we offer is inclusive, just as the language we use is. This is especially important when you are trying to communicate with a new group of customers.
If you have an offer for young moms, this picture won’t make them feel at home.
Try a campaign
Want to reach boomer consumers? Try a segmented Facebook campaign directing your new message to that specific age group. You’ll get data to confirm that your new message suits your new audience — or find out where it falls short.
Try a guest post at a publication that speaks directly to your new target market, or an influencer campaign with representatives of the group you want to communicate with.