Recently Hanan Challouki was the speaker in our webinar on inclusive communication. Hanan is not only a pioneer in inclusive marketing and communication but also a very driven entrepreneur: during her studies she founded a platform called Mvslim and later on a communication agency called Allyens. Challouki was included in the infamous Forbes 30 under 30-list and at the moment she’s running her agency Inclusified and the podcast Wat Zij Wil. She’s also a guest professor at Odisee University College and she just published a book called Inclusieve communicatie. We’ve listed some of our takeaways of the webinar here below.
1. Why should you implement inclusive communication?
Of course there are ideological reasons to do this, but from an entrepreneurial point of view, it’s quite simple: our society is extremely diverse, that’s a fact. If you’re only appealing to a fragment of your consumers or target audience, you’re missing out on a wide array of opportunities and potential clients.
2. Diversity and inclusion are two different things
Diversity is real and it tells us that there are a lot of different people and groups of people in our society. The differences could stem from cultural backgrounds, gender, age, religion, impairments etc. Inclusion is the act of not excluding certain groups of people, or rather addressing, involving and representing them in your communication or campaign.
3. Ethno-marketing versus inclusive communication
The focus used to really be on the differences between ‘target audiences’. The term ethno-marketing: drafting campaigns or communications to specifically target certain ‘minorities’, was widely used. However, only focussing on ethnic backgrounds can feel forced. In this day and age we want to involve different groups in the general communication. There are a lot of similarities between these groups and it’s only by embracing the differences between them, that you can address these people properly.
4. Integrate inclusivity from the start
Inclusivity can’t be an addition at the very end, something that you hurriedly include at the end of your campaign e.g. including a person of colour in a campaign photo but not keeping their positions in mind when working on the campaign. An authentic campaign starts with inclusivity, you can’t skip any steps. If you want to involve muslims in your communications, then it’s wise to have a conversation with a group of muslims before. You have to act with their standpoints and opinions in mind, not yours, as you don’t belong to that group.
5. There’s no magic formula for inclusivity
As with every marketing campaign or communication, the first step is deciding on your target audience. There’s no point in trying to appeal to ‘everyone’ but it’s still advisable to check if the definition of your target audience isn’t too narrow. There are certain basic principles like accessibility, recognition and understanding, but sometimes you have to go with trial & error. The goal will always be positive communication, free from stereotypes. And an authentic message.
6. How do I integrate this inclusivity?
You can integrate inclusivity in every step and branch of your communication. From strategy, to choosing your media, deciding on visual style, the type of models you use for shoots, the collaborations with influencers, storytelling, copywriting and pr, it’s important to integrate inclusivity in all aspects and not treat it like an island, separate from all the other processes.
7. Involve diverse visions
At the end of the day marketing professionals and creatives that work in advertising are also just regular people with their own preferences, associations and personal thinking patterns. That’s why while working out a certain strategy or creation, they usually fall back to their own, sometimes stereotypical, ways of thinking. This is why it’s important to involve and work with different types of people. Ideally, you’d work in a diverse communications team. If that isn’t an option, look for divergent visions and perspectives by working with a diverse group of freelancers, interns, temporary workers or a communication agency specialized in diverse communication.
8. Open your world
For anyone who has a creative bone in their body, this step is usually already a well-formed habit: keep being curious and expand your horizons. Check out other channels, discover diverse platforms like niche radio stations, podcasts, tv channels, blogs etc. This will require some effort and research because these channels, organisations and people usually aren’t part of your world of experience. What’s important to keep in mind though is that putting effort into these things will heavily benefit your campaign in the long run.