Experts Tell All: How Industry Giants Use Data to Speak Authentically to Diverse Audiences
Liz: I am so thrilled to be here today and moderate this panel for Signals'22. At CM Group, we talk a lot about the best ways to collect and activate data to move customers from unknown to known and build a relationship with them. So when it comes to engaging in authentic diversity efforts to create effective messaging, it's not just about doing, it's about believing. Our beliefs guide our actions. So it goes without saying that this is easier said than done because of the sheer amount of data that is created every single day. According to finances online, by the end of 2022, the world will produce 94 zetabytes of data. And for reference, a zetabyte is one to the 21st power. So it's like one with 21 zeros behind it. It's a lot of data. And while we acknowledge the challenge this presents to today's marketers, we also want to provide some tactics and strategies that have been successfully employed by best in class brands across multiple verticals. By the end of our time today, you'll have some practical steps to take in order to speak confidently and capably to your diverse audience, powered by your data. Let's go. All right. So I want to go ahead and hop right in to our discussion today. Got three, I would call you my friends, but professionals in your own right, in addition to being friends. So I'd love for you to introduce yourself and give us your areas of expertise, what you've been doing professionally, so everyone will have complete confidence that what they hear from you today is going to be the best and most sage advice to help them and we will start with Ramona.
Ramona Wright: Well, thank you Liz. I'm really excited to be here. And my name is Ramona Wright. I am the founder and CEO of WrightOne Media Group. We are a full service strategic communications firm. We were established in 2009, so we are getting up there 13 years old this year. We're based in Los Angeles, but we work with a range of clients internationally. Some of our clients are on the NGO side of things. We've represented Oxfam, the global humanitarian organization all the way to Brookfield Office Properties and Sony Latin Music along with other public figures and celebrities.
Keana McGee: Hi, everybody. I'm Keana McGee. My background is marketing. I have been working in the entertainment industry for 20 years, which makes me very tired to even think that I've been doing it for that long, starting in the production side of the business and then eventually making my way over to marketing where I have worked across digital and social for a really long time and then moved into full campaign creation. I've worked across a couple of agencies also, Sony Pictures, Stars Entertainment, and latest at Netflix. So I'm super excited to be here in this conversation.
Juntae DeLane: Awesome. Well, thank you Liz for having me on this panel. It's certainly a pleasure to connect with you all again. Hi, everyone. My name is Juntae DeLane. I'm the founder and CEO of Digital Delane. We are a full service digital marketing agency located in Los Angeles and we essentially help brands, bring brands, ideas, and campaigns to life. We've worked with many different clients across the board in different verticals from entertainment, CPG, higher education, SaaS, e- comm and so on, just to name a few. But again, really excited to be talking with everyone here today and hopefully I can bring in some of my insight and all the brands that I've worked with and have been associated with here in this conversation. So looking forward to it.
Liz: Fantastic. We're going to jump right in because I have a lot that I want to hear from you about. So I want to set some groundwork because it can be hard to have a conversation without a common understanding of language. So we've heard the word diversity quite a bit in recent years. So I want to hear from each of you how you would define diversity and why is that important to marketers? So Keana, how would you define diversity and why is that important?
Keana McGee: Yeah. I feel like if you would've asked someone this a couple years ago, would've been really, really race based quite honestly. You often hear people start with that and also sexual orientation, but I feel like now we're seeing that the real meaning of diversity is not only those things which are very important, but also ableism and just people's personal experience and life experience quite honestly. So I think really opening the aperture on that conversation from where it is now to really truly understanding what diversity has been an interesting journey even for myself working on titles that have had people of different colors, sexual orientations, people that are in wheelchairs or immigrants. I mean all of those are elements that will define someone's personal experience in life.
Juntae DeLane: Well, I think it's important first for marketers to understand is if you would consider yourself a good marketer, you have to consider diversity. And I think diversity actually makes good marketers of just having this conversation recently where we talked about what makes a good marketer. I feel that my diversity in terms of background, upbringing, experiences, circles that I'm in, really helped me to be a good marketer because I'm able to take those different experiences in those circles and then apply them to some type of marketing challenge. So I think it's certainly important that that's what makes you a good marketer. And it's important today to consider diversity because things in general are starting to be more diverse. So if you're very siloed in your thinking, it's going to be very difficult to reach across the board to all the audiences that you may be trying to target. So I think it's very important in marketing.
Liz: I love that. We're going to explore too, and that's why all of you are here is bringing part of yourself and your own experience into how you advise brands because Walt Whitman said, " I contain multitudes." And that's very true for us in particular. So last but not least, Ramona, how would you define diversity and why is it important for marketers to understand that?
Ramona Wright: Yeah, so I think our agency at WrightOne Media Group has gotten a great education over the last two years as it relates to diversity and inclusion and why it's important to marketers because we represent actually one of the leading subject matter experts in diversity and inclusion at a company called Culture Creative. One of the things that the founder at Culture Creative always talks about, Julian Newman, he says, " Diversity is about all of us, not just some of us." And so I'll steal some of his expertise when answering this question, but I have found in working with brands and marketers, I always ask them to think of diversity and inclusion as it relates to their target audience. So when you think of Coca- Cola's target audience what does diversity and inclusion look like? It really does look like all of us, right? I don't know too many people who don't like Coke, Coca- Cola or some sort of Coca- Cola brand, but if you are a brand or a product that maybe focuses on customers who have ability challenges, making sure that every single person in that target audience is represented from the age perspective. Ageism is something that we really talk about from a DE& I perspective. And I love Keana how you mentioned ableism, right? I think this is National Ability month from an employee perspective. And so ageism and ability are something that we often forget about where a lot of brands are only marketing, let's say to the young person or the young person at heart. And so we can't forget about those people who've come before us as well.
Liz: Wonderful. And not to belabor the term diversity, but I feel like there's a diversity of definitions that we've seen today.
Ramona Wright: Yeah, absolutely.
Liz: It just goes to show, it's an important conversation to have to make sure that marketers are really thinking holistically about what it means to them, how they define it, how they help their teams define it, right? Because you have to have a vision specifically before you can empower your teens. And when we're now talking about specificity. I want to get into each of your experiences. So Keana, you mentioned that you have a lot of experience working on campaigns for major shows and movies, big name brands that we've all heard of. Many of those titles have specific audiences which you also refer to. So how are you able to achieve success and be authentic in crafting messages to promote these titles?
Keana McGee: That's right. And you know what? It's not always easy, if I'm being honest. I think the best thing for me is always to try and get as ahead of the game as possible because I want to bring in partners that look like what this audience is so that the messaging is actually spot on. And sometimes what that looks like is having to reach out to partners that I work with, agencies that I work with and ask questions. It's like if I'm working on a title for example that is really targeted at a black audience, I want to make sure they're not rolling in the receptionist into a creative meeting just so that there's a face there that looks like the audience, but really asking a lot of questions to make sure that the person that they're bringing to the table has actual influence in what we're doing. And sometimes you have to get in a little bit deeper in that conversation because what I hear a lot of times from my agencies is, well, we have a hard time finding the right people. And what has become really clear to me is it's like, " Well, you got to go look for them." And on top of that, you can't look in the same places you've been looking because you're not finding them there. And the work is actually happening. There are creative people of color and people of different sexual orientations and ages and all of those things, they exist. You just have to find sometimes unconventional ways to find them. I had a colleague who was working on a show that is very popular, that's very sort of young and urban if you will and he found a really beautiful poster art designer on Instagram. It was a kid that was 17 years old in high school who actually got to make the poster for a series, a very popular series. And it's because he looked in an unconventional place. So really challenging our partners and other agencies to look beyond the same art schools that they're going to. I mean, we have so much access now to great creative folks with Instagram and YouTube that people have to really turn over those rocks and find new and interesting talent. And then I think beyond that, it's just really about how do we create, how do we let people know that those jobs exist so that they're in the right place to be found. So anyway, that's how I personally done it is really spending time and really trying to partner with diverse agencies and give them the chance and to start them early so that we can work through all the kinks of what it is to work with a bigger studio.
Liz: I love the concept of giving people a chance because what happens is we tend to find people who look like us. And if you find people who always look like you, the ideas are always going to be the same.
Keana McGee: That's right. Absolutely right.
Liz: Like you said, looking in those unconventional places and taking a chance on someone who obviously you can tell from their following if there are people who the work resonates with and being able to bring them in an authentic way.
Keana McGee: That's right. I think giving them time and starting them early is important because sometimes they're not able to scale for something as big as a film or a series with all of the demands that we need from them. They may have only worked on smaller community things or local things and they just are a different animal. So to handhold them and be able to explain to them how we do things and how we move because our pace is so fast. It's much easier, quite honestly, to go to an agency that has done this on 700 other shows. But to give someone a chance is you have to know that you're like, " Okay, this is going to take a lot of my energy, because they're not going to know all of the things. But I can teach them. I can help them get there." And so that's the challenge is that sometimes people don't have the time or the desire or they're too busy or they're going to be working 80 hours a week if they use this agency because of all the work that they have to do. But it's a good investment and I think that is important and it's on the decision makers to really decide to put that time and effort into shaping our partners.
Liz: Right. Because you can teach skill, you can't teach authenticity.
Keana McGee: Sure. That's right.
Ramona Wright: When you talked about making sure that everyone doesn't look the same, sometimes obviously we make those decisions just based on appearance. I think, Keana, you had a really great point that, " Hey, let's bring an African American in." And even if it's just the receptionist, but it doesn't mean that that person might have the experience or the perspective. So a lot of times we're making decisions based on skin tone or what appears to be someone's ethnic makeup. But a lot of companies don't realize the diversity from a cultural perspective that make up certain ethnic communities. So if you say African American, clearly our call is comprised of people who are African American, but each of our experiences are going to be completely different. We also don't think about when we target the African American community as well as the Latinx community that there's the Caribbean communities that are there. You have East Coast and West Coast and all these different experiences African. So I think that that's important for marketers to think about is the diversity within a particular community and also education and regionality, how those things can make a difference as well because we can look at someone on paper and you'll see that there could be a lot of diversity on the flip side of everybody looks different in a space and place, but let's say they're all Ivy League educated. So then you're getting a lot of the same experiences even though people might appear to be different. So I just wanted to throw that little caveat out there.
Keana McGee: Yeah. No, I agree. I think to your point, even from a social economic perspective, and I think that's what you were just hitting on is people's experiences range vastly. I remember having conversations in my office where someone will be like, " Hey, can you take a look at this?" Knowing that they want my perspective, but I would always be like, " Well, I think this." But go ask these other five people because I'm curious to see what they're going to say to you about the same thing. And sometimes our opinions are the same and sometimes they're different. So I think you're absolutely right about that.
Liz: But even creating an environment where that awareness is there. The idea that you don't have to represent everyone, but you at least have to acknowledge that I can't get everything in one place and I really want to, because I believe that when you believe that diversity is important that, that impacts your actions, and it's not something that we expect people to do overnight, but it starts you moving in that right direction to say this is important for us to undertake and we want to take steps to move us towards that.
Juntae DeLane: Absolutely. And if you're thinking about filling a position with one person that is considered diverse, it's almost a backwards way of thinking because it should be a situation where you are establishing a culture within the company because you may get that one person that is diverse and because you selected them because of their diversity, they may not be uniquely qualified or be able to fully excel in that position. Now, you're in a situation where you're like, " Okay, we checked that box. It didn't work out." And it's a perpetuating cycle at that point. But I think if you create that culture within any organization that attracts diversity that's when you're going to get the higher quality candidate as well to want to be a part of your company's mission. So overall, I think starting from the top down is certainly the best bet when it comes to diversity in the field.
Liz: The top down approach. Absolutely. And even jumping on what you just said, people think that having one person is diverse. A person isn't diverse, right? They have diverse experiences, but you get the diversity when you have a group of people. The group can be diverse because that puts pressure on folks where it's like, " Well, you're our diverse person. You're a black man. You have this experience and that experience, so you're supposed to be able to speak for all of us. So going back to the definition of you being who you are firm in your experiences and then partnered with other people who have other experiences as well, and that's the diversity. But to your point about it being from the top down, it sets the tone for the entire organization, whether it's the marketing team we're talking about or whether it's the entire company that we're talking about. It has to be important as a vision at the top that everyone else is inspired by. And Juntae, I've actually seen firsthand your process of helping an organization articulate and define its brand. So what are some things that you've done to help brands maintain and protect their authentic voice in the market?
Juntae DeLane: So I think it going back to the earlier point of starting from the top down and really looking at the leadership to determine how that brand voice can be articulated, because nowadays it goes beyond just the general marketing communications. It's whoever is the leadership is being looked at the part of your organization's brand. And so it's critically important to really get a good understanding of how are they approaching the way in which they're communicating the values of their organization just by sure virtue of their position within the organization. And so when we think about that brand voice, we have to consider the trends that come about with regard to what's most important to target audiences. In today's world with all the things that's going on in the environment from systemic racism to police reform, so on and so forth. These are some things that are impacting regardless of your skin color that are impacting your life and the people, your loved ones, your friends and family and so on. So because of that, it's important to have this brand voice that is really going to resonate with that target audience in the way in which they want to engage with that particular brand. So when we look at things such as the pandemic and how that's impacted people with regard to their challenges, their fears, what keeps them up at night and so on, and if your organization is providing value in that time, your brand voice has to be on point. So sometimes if you are a very traditional buttoned up brand, you may consider staying central, staying neutral, staying vanilla, but ultimately that's not going to really resonate with people as I'm sure all marketers know. But it's important to note though that because of the pandemic and how it's changed the behaviors of people and how they engage with brands, because frankly you couldn't walk into a brick and mortar location and really experience a brand because doors were shut down, but it's going online in particular and looking at engaging with the brand in a way where you may not be in the position to purchase a product or any type of offering, but you may want to engage. So when you are in the market to purchase some product or service, are you going to patronize a brand that actually is authentic in terms of where are they when it comes to some of the issues that you feel are most important in your life? Are you going to support those brands that are aligned with that? Or at least acknowledge that as an example. That's become critically important today. So when working with brands on identifying how they can remain authentic, it certainly starts from the top down with regard to what type of people are on the... Who's on the team, what type of affiliations they have, and what are the programs and community organizations, vendors that they work with that actually showcase their authenticity as an example. So all of that stuff is certainly something that brands are considering today. But to remain authentic, again, it has to start from the top down, from the people on your team, the vendors that you work with and all the associations that you have.
Liz: That is such a great point. There is a woman on Instagram or TikTok or something where she goes to company websites and looks at the board of directors and also who is at the C level of the organization and calls them to task to say, " You're reaching out. Your audience is very broad, but the people who are in charge don't reflect that." So you lose a bit of that authenticity because information is super easy to get to nowadays, but you lose a bit of that authenticity in your voice in the marketplace when those things aren't aligned. That's a fantastic point. You've got to walk the walk after you've talked the talk.
Keana McGee: Can I also just add to that too is I think we saw so much of this over the past couple years and the messaging that brands were putting out. One of the things that was a conversation that we were having at our company was like, " Okay, we put this messaging out. Now what?" It's one thing to just say like, " I'm in support of this and then what?" How? How are you showing people? What are you doing? Where are you spending your money? How are you bringing in diverse people? So I think that's the other element of it too, and I think a lot of people really got taken the task by the world and by consumers because their" and then what" was very short on what it needed to deliver on. So I think there's even more at stake.
Liz: A hundred percent. We want to know what's next past this? Is this a long term thing? Because with a brand, Ramona mentioned Coca- Cola earlier as an example of a brand. They've got a long track record. No one does all the work of setting up a brand just to abandon it, right? So you've got to look out for your brand in the long term and be very specific about it. And that authenticity will take you a long way because even if there's a misstep, think if you have an authentic brand that's built up trust and the audience, you can come back from that. Ramona, you've run a really successful business 13 years, shout out with a very diverse customer base. So what is your philosophy in developing impactful press and events and helping your clients stay true to their mission and their audience?
Ramona Wright: Yes. Thank you, Liz. We take the 3B approach. I can't really say that this is original because actually my illustrious colleagues have mentioned a lot of the things that I'm going to talk about, but I say 3Bs because we always talk about value. We talk about vision rather. So vision, value and voice. One of the things that this was something that I would take my students through. I was actually an early pioneer who taught social media marketing back in 2007 to 2011 at Loyola Marymount University. So kind of an OG dating myself I guess. But many people weren't thinking about their value proposition. They weren't thinking about their voice and they certainly weren't thinking about often their vision as it relates to social media marketing. But one of the things that we always try to get our clients to think about is social impact. Whether it was something that they were thinking about at all, now companies, it's a part of their ethos, but it's always been a part of our company's ethos. So when we talk about vision, I think it's so important to, and I just made a few notes, when we think about what a company's vision is, we need to ensure that the vision is clear and do our customers want to go where we want to take them? I think a really great example of a brand that had a clear vision, unfortunately they're no longer around is Virgin America. They were probably one of my favorite brands. And I know Liz, you used to love to travel on Virgin America. I was one of their first customers, but they had such a clear vision and voice in Virgin Atlantic and Galactic, and everything that Richard Branson does. It's visionary. I'm not saying that a vision has to be quirky or off the wall, but it just needs to be clear. So I think starting with a clear vision is number one. And then from a customer based standpoint, can your customers vision themselves within your brand or product? Do they see themselves in the campaigns that you have? I think I'll use Virgin as another example. They just came out with, I think, a campaign that really highlights gender inclusion and that people can really identify themselves however they see fit. So again, even if that is not your company's ethos, making sure that your ad campaigns reflect the people who you want to attract because it makes me feel good if I see a company that has a woman with curly hair or if I'm a mom and there's a product that highlights moms. Or if there's a company especially that highlights single dads, right? That's a huge population that we don't address, that there are single fathers, divorced fathers that are underrepresented in ad campaigns. So that's on the vision side, both for the company and how they're engaging with customers. From a value standpoint, I think it's important to what Keana talked about, so many companies put out these values, but really is it authentic, right? An issue happens and they'll jump on this trendy bandwagon. But it's really not a part of their true value system. Customers are savvy. They can read through that. And then from a customer base perspective, am I valued? Does that company really value me as a person? So I wanted to just highlight a couple of stats. Weber Shandwick put out the global and culture agency that I'm sure many of us are familiar with. They did a research study that resulted in nearly one half of millennials. So 47% say CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society. So tying back to what Juntae said the leadership level starting at the top. And then one of the second things I thought was really interesting from a values perspective is 50% or 53% of Gen Zs by products to support a cause and 40% stop buying a product from a boycotting standpoint if they feel it doesn't align to their values. So we see how powerful the consumer is, but how important it is for a company's values to be aligned. And lastly, when you think about voice, does the company have an authentic voice that compliments the values and the vision that they've put forth? Can the customers hear their voice in the midst of the crowded marketplace? Some people might be familiar with the book, Blue Ocean Strategy and this idea of wanting to not be in a bloodied ocean that is bloodied by competition. And so can you be in a space and place where you don't have too much competition because your voice is clear, your values are authentic, and you make people feel seen and heard and multi most importantly, valuable.
Liz: The three V's. We'll put that on a shirt. That's what we're doing.
Juntae DeLane: That's branded.
Liz: And I think part of really being... It's branded, let's do it. Part of being seen is that customers today put themselves out there and they're on social media. They're sending all kind of message recording videos and letting marketers know who they are. And that's coming in the form of lots and lots of data. We've been drinking from the fire hose of data for quite a long time and here at CM Group we encourage all of our customers to use that data in a way that informs the content that they put in their messages, the idea of the right message, the right time on the right channel, and acknowledging the fact that we have these diverse audiences is a big part of that. So can you give me at least one example of how you have successfully encouraged a brand that you've worked with to use that data to inform their messaging?
Juntae DeLane: We're looking at having data inform our messaging. Let's say one client would be the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. So we did a complete brand revamp there and we looked at social listening and really to get a good understanding of one, what is their target audience talking about in the various communities, whether that be through LinkedIn communities or Facebook groups as an example. We looked at any of the engagements that are taking place on various conversations that are aligned with the topics of the courses that they provide. We aggregate all of this content and yet generally, one, a sentiment analysis on what people's opinions are. And then two, we try to surface any other additional courses that could be offered based on these conversations. And so social listening is a major part of that strategy and we're able to use that and relay that to the client and make sure that they have a good idea of what could be on the roadmap in terms of the most relevant courses and information that their target audiences want, and then they're able to create some outcomes from it. So that's one good example. And play that for everyone else in terms of if you're looking to leverage data, tap into social listening. There are some API restrictions based upon specific platforms, but the Twitter fire hose as an example is probably the most wide open in terms of information that you're able to collect from those conversations. So different industries really farewell for Twitter, but you can certainly look and use that as a potential resource when trying to shape your communications to your target audience.
Liz: I love that. We talked about that at the top of the call, the idea that you need to go to certain places to find the information and to get a multiplicity of opinions and input. And social listening is a big part of that. But what you also brought up is the idea that it has to be a structured approach. You can't just have someone go on some social media website, look at a couple of entries and think that that's going to inform all of it. So taking a very structured disciplined approach to collecting that data, aggregating it, analyzing it, and having that informed the way that you approach your market, I think is really important that step by step process.
Juntae DeLane: I was going to say even to add on to that, there's things that you're able to do cross platform that'll also give you more insight into your communication. So for example, if you're testing email subject lines, you could use a social media post to figure out what people are engaging with, add them to your email subject lines. You can even take that into looking at new keywords that you're looking at for SEO as an example, and that can translate to what your paid media strategy or paid search strategy could be as well. So be sure to also, once you look at social listening and use that as a single platform, you could also use Intel from other channels as well to and correlate that data and that information to also further inform your brand messaging as well.
Keana McGee: Yeah. To Juntae's point, same with us. I think when I'm working on a creative strategy and we've got a timeline, it's really about testing the waters early. So a lot of times we'll do creative and audience deep dives. We have worked with organizations that have really great consumer insight teams. Most of the time those things are very spot on, but sometimes you get little surprises. It's really about being smart about how your timing things too. So in my world, we may have some insight on things that are going to resonate or excite people or that are going to be problematic and we will put out a trailer, for example, and we will see what people are really thinking. And it's social media, as you've said, as it's been said here is a great way to find out exactly what people are thinking. And you would be surprised by things that you just didn't catch. It could be anything from someone that they love, someone that they hate, someone that said something and now we're going to dig up some tweets from 10 years ago related to this person. I've had that be an issue for sure. All of those things. One of the things that I learned is that even a map can be a problem. If you have a map that has lines that divide like countries and regions, those are things that will become social conversation. It can be a real point of aggression in some parts of the world. So really digging into those things. But having that data, what's great is having that insight and information and being able to do that early enough down the line allows you to course correct. And so that was always my favorite thing about social listening is to sort see what things are resonating. Let's give that thing more effort, more of a push. If it's not something that we recognized immediately that would be really successful and excite consumers. There might be things that we're like, " Ugh." And the other thing about that too is you're always needing to keep your pulse on what's happening in the world. What are current affairs that are happening? If you have an action movie and someone's running around an agent with a gun and they're blowing up things, that's not something you want to put out in the world after a mass shooting or something, a terrorist activity. So really sort paying attention I think is so incredibly important and really sort keeping track of the world itself, but also what people are saying and really taking that into account. And people feel it. When you do a good job with it and people will raise an issue and you correct it, people acknowledge it. It can actually do more for your brand. In the long run, that brand, what's the word I'm looking for? That brand love is cemented when people feel like they're heard.
Liz: I completely agree and I'm glad you brought up the part about this being a global conversation.
Keana McGee: That's right.
Liz: That when we talk about the diversity of our audience for a lot of marketers and the bigger brands, their audience isn't just in one place, it's all around the world. And that introduces all kinds of wrinkles because there's never... It's like whack- a- mole with issues around the world. Something might not be happening here, but there's something definitely happening in another place and we have to wrap our arms around that as marketers. But it goes back to being deliberate. If I'm being deliberate, like you said, getting ahead of things, testing, being able to really dig into the data that will allow me to have a really structured approach to how I create and send out my marketing messaging.
Keana McGee: Don't get me started on translations of things too, because that's a whole other conversation.
Liz: Right. We don't have a word. That word doesn't mean what you think it means.
Keana McGee: That's right. You'd be surprised.
Liz: Okay. Ramona, what ways have you, or at least one great story that you've been able to use data to successfully help your client launch a campaign or have a successful event or be able to maintain their brand's authentic voice?
Ramona Wright: Yeah, I'm excited about this question because we love data. I'm a data junkie and I'm so proud that we've been able to convince all of our clients to trust the data and not do anything before they really understand the data and do market research if they don't have any data that aligns with their campaign goals or objectives, I think is really important to start off with. Number one is start with data. And so for us, we've actually done some really exciting in- person market research around surveys of some of the largest retail centers in Southern California, specifically Los Angeles. Pre- pandemic and even post- pandemic we know that malls and physical in- person retail centers have been struggling. And for us, a lot of, excuse me, companies, big retail centers, real estate companies, entities like Brookfield Office Properties have hired us and relied on us to actually do in- person surveys to understand foot traffic. So what are the times of day that people are coming to a retail center and we provide ambassadors and representatives that actually do it, old school, go up to someone, talk to them, give them an incentive of course to share just some information, get some demographic data about who they are, but what are their motivations of why they're coming to that retail center? Many retail centers have turned to entertainment and productions to attract people. And so prior to these retail centers hiring us, let's say they would do events and the attendance maybe wasn't what they wanted it to be or the lunchtime hour or happy hour. So we actually encourage them to allow us to go through a full cycle of serving people for seven days straight at the lunch hour, end of work hour to really understand who was coming and who wasn't coming. And then we worked with them for their next season to not only identify the right times, the right days, but also the right content and right artist. I'm happy to say that actually FIGat7th, which is a really influential retail center in downtown Los Angeles, we helped with that rebranding and repositioning in regards to some of the market research and helping them with their programming. We actually helped them inform the types of content that they had. And they did a concert series that actually had Anderson. Paak and we were instrumental in making that happen. And this was obviously before Bruno Mars and all the work that he's doing now, but it's that sort of thing that if we hadn't done that market research, we wouldn't have known that that was the kind of artist that their customer base wanted to see and experience. It was actually one of the most well- attended public events in downtown LA, especially for their space and place. So those were just some examples of how we found the power of serving people, doing things in person, providing those incentives and starting with data before you do your programming or before you do your campaigns.
Liz: What is so impactful, I think about all of your examples as something that we talk about here is we want to build a relationship with customers and take them from being unknown, meaning we don't know very much about them to adding data progressively that allows us to know who they are and be able to speak to them. What I'm hearing is that there are so many ways to do that. There's being in front of them physically and creating a survey, but then how do we tie that back to the person who's on social media and then tie them back to the person who comes to our website or the person who then comes to our store. There's a lot of ways to do that, but I think if you have that vision in mind that you want to hear from them and you realize there's lots of different channels. This isn't like back in the day when we got our JCPenney catalog at Christmas and that was the only way that we knew what was hot and what was coming out. There's so many different avenues, but being deliberate about understanding that we want to know our customers and we're going to do everything we can to communicate, have that one to one communication, whether we're in front of them or they're behind their keyboard or on social media. So just the diversity of experiences there, of collecting data, being able to analyze it to learn more about your customers, and then being able to use it to speak to them effectively and ultimately protect and maintain brand authenticity. This is good. This is like Harvard Business Review stuff right here.
Ramona Wright: And Liz, if I could just speak to that, I think it's important for companies to have a strategic communication plan then that strategic communication plan might have, obviously, market research, might have some of the things that Juntae and Keana said or doing the surveys. And so I think it's really important that clients really think about their strategy from their communication plans, from a strategic perspective and all the things that they might need, but also doing an audit, really assessing where they are, not just from a strategic communication perspective, but from a DE& I perspective as well. A lot of companies sometimes are afraid to do these audits from a DE& I perspective, but those audits will help inform the next thing, which is the strategic communication plan, and then inform what are the tactics that each of us talked about that might be most effective to reach the market that they're trying to connect with.
Liz: What would you say to someone who thinks we've been successful selling products. Why should we make this extra effort to incorporate diversity into our campaigns and really speak to our audience? So what are the benefits of doing this and what are the ramifications of not doing it?
Ramona Wright: Yeah. I would say number one, more money. There's so much money on the table when we don't reach out to more diverse audiences. I think there's unfortunate misnomers or misconceptions about the BIPOC community, the buying power, the things that they're interested in. So I would say money, money, money. If that's not an incentive, I'm not sure what is. But also being cautious. To the point that we talked about earlier, some companies don't have that authentic voice to create a campaign that will resonate with an audience they want to reach out to and it can do more harm than good. I think that there were some pros and cons to what Nike did by standing behind Kaepernick. They made a lot of money. A lot of people felt very endeared to Nike for taking such a risk, but there was a lot of backlash too. So I think every company has to weigh the pros and cons for their overall brand value.
Juntae DeLane: So any client that comes to myself and the team at Digital Delane and says, " Hey, we have enough sales. We don't have to be directly concerned with diversity because it's not really going to impact our bottom line." One thing I would say is that that notion is essentially fundamentally flawed because ultimately as a business, we should be looking at where the market is going so that we can remain relevant. So it's important to consider this because when we think about where we need to be and where we are is to completely different things. So we understand that the market is really embracing diversity. That is the diversity of your clientele, the diversity of the vendors that you work with, and essentially the diversity of the people on your team. And all of that is going to impact your bottom line because based on the stats that Ramona said earlier, the majority of those survey respondents were focused on patronizing brands that they actually have some affiliation with and brands that are really aligned with their personal visions. So that's very important when you think about the longevity and success of your brand. So I would highly recommend that they reconsider and start focusing on diversity now so they won't be behind the eight ball years later.
Liz: 100%. Keana, what do you think? So you're in a new place. You're working within with a new set of people and they're like, " Eh, we've been doing this. Everything is fine. We don't need to think about specifically talking to the diverse audience." How would you caution them and how would you encourage them?
Keana McGee: Yeah. I mean, well, I think Ramona said it best. Dollars on the table. I've worked for, my past two companies have been with companies that have a subscription model and the word that we like the least is churn. It is way more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep the ones that you have. You're really leaving money on the table when you don't have somebody that's free to you anymore. I'm sure you can speak Liz to what those conversion rates is for a new customer. So those are things that you don't want to mess around with. You want to make sure you keep that. But I think the other thing too is to keep in mind is in a competitive marketplace, sometimes you're looking at the cost of things and sometimes you're like, " Well, these things are all kind of the same. What's the most important to me personally? Where do I want to be spending my dollars?" I think that that's really important. People want to want the companies to align to their personal values. And then the other part of that is word of mouth is the original social media. So when you're talking about what you're offering and what your brand stands for, people are having those conversations and they're not just having them on social media, they're having having them when they're getting their hair done or they're in the grocery store or they're having brunch. So really having those really strong affinities to what your value is and making sure that diversity is one of those things is really key because people want to support those places no matter what you are. And it's beyond even just the specific examples we gave. I think Ramona gave such a great example identifying that diversity is not exclusive, it's very inclusive. I'm saying it wrong, Ramona, I'm sorry. But it's everybody. So how do those things align with your personal beliefs? So just making sure you're knocking it out the park in those places.
Liz: We've talked about a lot. We know that there are benefits, but we also know that there's quite a bit of work to do. I'm personally the kind of person that's like when I finish a panel, I want to be able to have something I can do when I would say get back to my desk, but people are probably already at their desk. But what is something that I could do when this panel is over, I'm inspired by it and I want to start to think and be deliberate about how we use the data to speak to our audience and keep in mind the diversity of that audience. So give me one or two things that a really inspired marketer could do as soon as they finish this panel.
Ramona Wright: So I think the first thing is look at your budget and be intentional with your money and put your money where your mouth is as a company. I think that's something that so many brands make commitments and we've seen a lot of corporations make commitments, but there's so much power that agencies have to spend advertising dollars and to market those" diverse campaigns" with diverse media. Byron Allen obviously has been very vocal about that, but I think it's really important to look at your budget. There was a time when I managed over a 2. 5 million budget for the drug maker that produces Cialis back in the day. So I had a chance to spend a lot of money all over the world, but it wasn't something obviously that I could spend with potentially certain types of underrepresented companies because of the target audience we were going after. But if you do have capacity to do that, think about where you're spending your money. And then from a resource standpoint, on the vision side, TONL, T- O- N- L is a wonderful site for stock images that reflects people of color for advertising and marketing campaigns. I think the folks behind it were really smart is a lot of times when you Google search a word, there's a lot of negative images sometimes that come up around people of color. And if you search other types of communities, there's a plethora of diversity from images that you could find. But for example, black people hiking before TONL, you might not have found images with a particular stock image website of Latinos or black folks or Asian people hiking. And now there's a wonderful resource that can be utilized. And again, you can spend dollars with an entity like that.
Juntae DeLane: Yeah. So one thing I would say is piggybacking off what Ramona mentioned earlier in terms of working with diverse vendors and really putting your dollars toward resourcing with those individuals. Now, one thing that I would point out is, of course, as business managers and operators, we're all busy. So we're sort of used to doing what we're comfortable. We think about diversity, we'd ultimately want to focus on joining groups that are more diverse. Outside of your circle, I think that would be the first step. So that could either be LinkedIn communities as an example, or go to some events that are more diverse than what you would normally go to because ultimately that's going to help you surface any opportunities that may come about within those diverse communities. So first step is to start that process of doing things outside of your circle to have those ideas and those vendor opportunities surface. I love the recommendation with regard to the type of creative asset that you're using to communicate. And using TONL is a great example of that as well. So I love that Ramona. And then also thinking about your team and the diversity not only in the sense of skin color, but diversity and experience and so on, and embracing that, right? Seeing how you can embrace that diversity and bring it out of individual team members. So I think those are some things that you can do right when you finish watching this presentation here and go back to your office and begin to implement some of those tactics.
Liz: Wonderful, wonderful. This has been a phenomenal discussion. I think what we are doing is drawing awareness to the fact that even though on one hand you see your subscriber list and you see a number, these are actual people with lived experiences who you want to have a one to one conversation with. And so as a marketer, you have to start thinking in that way, that emails don't go into inboxes, emails go to people. Text messages, don't go to SMS inboxes, they go to someone's cellphone who's living and having an experience, and how do we have that authentic conversation with them and use the data that we have access to take them from someone who we don't know very well to someone who we do know very well and becomes an advocate for our brand, someone who appreciates the authenticity of our brand because we've spent time building that very authentic brand based on values, the voice and the vision. So that wraps up our time today. I think if anyone wants to get to know more about you, I think another option too is hiring a consulting firm, a consultant who can help you start this journey. It might seem daunting, but you don't have to do it on your own. And like you said, Juntae, being able to step outside and going to groups that you may not go to before, they'll be able to find thought leaders like you and Ramona and Keana to really help them move their program forward and keep this inspiration alive in their organizations. So if they want to find out more about you, I'm sure you're on LinkedIn. This little website called Google that people use to find folks. But I'm thankful for the time that we've spent today. Thank you for being so open and sharing your expertise. One thing to point out, even though obviously we are all African American, Black, identify as such, the experience has to do with the expertise that we have accumulated over the years in marketing. So there are qualified people of all backgrounds who are ready to share other parts of them, in addition to the marketing expertise, to help companies have a really great experience and build that relationship with your audience, that long lasting relationship. Thank you for your time. Like I said, you can find any of these fantabulous experts on LinkedIn. Talk to them about how to improve your brand and from a number of areas. Thank you. I appreciate you.
Keana McGee: No problem. Thank you for having us.
Ramona Wright: Thank you.
Juntae DeLane: Thanks, everyone.
Ramona Wright: Yes. Bye. Take care.
Keana McGee: Bye.
When it comes to creating a compelling brand voice and inspiring customer advocacy, marketers face numerous challenges. At the top of that list? How to effectively use data to create genuine, engaging content for consumers from increasingly diverse backgrounds. In this session, you’ll learn strategies and techniques to create and measure the impact of these initiatives from PR, brand and marketing experts with experience at industry giants including Starz, Toyota, the City of Los Angeles and Netflix.
- There is tangible ROI for organizations who create and nurture brands that value the diversity of their audiences.
- There are multiple ways to gather and use data - including zero party data and surveys - to inform the content creation process, and measure the impact of your initiatives.
- The best brands create an environment where creativity and authenticity have a measurable impact on communication. They also ensure all partners - internal and external - believe in the importance of the efforts, and operate accordingly.