Awareness in Digital Marketing Part 2: Stereotypes

Diverse digital marketing research team

In our previous blog entry looking at some of the ethical obstacles in digital marketing, the JumpSIX Marketing identified market research, privacy, and brand fatigue as some of the key issues. In the following entries, we’re going to look at these issues in more detail and offer some ideas on how to avoid tripping over them on your way to a successful digital marketing, digital advertising, or even more traditional media campaign.

The Importance of Market Research

Even the most enlightened, modern and switched-on individual can have a hard time not making assumptions about others based on all kinds of factors, whether it’s age, race, gender, social background, financial status, culture or a variety of other differences.

It can be difficult to shake off learned associations, especially if we grew up with them and find them reinforced day-to-day. This can cause problems in many situations, and digital marketing is no different. If you’re in the marketing profession, it’s important that you can recognize your own bias.

Thorough, in-depth and well thought out market research before you start a campaign is the best way to avoid making these mistakes, but there are some things you should think about before you start.

Check Your Assumptions

One of the keys to avoiding social or cultural assumptions when you’re conducting market research is awareness of yourself, before you even talk to your audience.

Be honest with yourself about some of your own preconceived ideas before you begin, and do the research in order to fact-check yourself, especially if you’re targeting a specific demographic you’re not familiar with, you need to be sure that you’re not relying on your own assumptions about people, whether in digital marketing or more traditional media.

Mature discussion of these assumptions and associations as part of a creative team can be insightful, and these conversations help to identify and dispel assumptions before you start putting your research plan or copy together.

Steering Clear of Stereotyping

You also need to be aware that there’s a very thin line between targeting a demographic and targeting a stereotype. The difference in stepping over that line comes down to how much research you do. Too little or too shallow research inevitably leads to relying on more stereotypical assumptions based and what you already know—or think you know—about a target group. Communication with potential customers, clients, or audiences and extensive research on the way similar products or services have been pitched in the past is priceless.

Avoiding these stereotypes—whether they’re about race, gender, age or any other factor—is more important than ever. Remember the awareness many people now have about marketing tactics that we mentioned in part one of our socially conscious digital marketing blog? Consumers will instantly recognize shallow, stereotypical advertising, and they won’t be afraid to call you on it. This can do some severe damage to your image. Modern audiences know when they’re being patronized, and it’s something you desperately need to avoid.

The solution here is that you listen. In looking at your own preconceived ideas about a demographic, it’s easy to forget about the purpose of your campaign—your audience. When it comes time to conduct active research and survey or talk to people, make sure you really pay attention to their responses. Make sure the questions you’re asking are clear, and get as much detail as you can.

You should also look at the ways in which larger, established or older brands and companies have handled negative stereotyping controversies.

Communicate Your Mistakes

There are plenty of examples of brands misstepping in their digital marketing and traditional advertising, lumping people from a particular demographic together without considering social or cultural differences, and without an appropriate level of awareness or sensitivity. The way they handled the backlash is their key to success.

Actively engaging with negative responses to digital marketing or any traditional media or feedback generally shows that a company, brand or organization is willing to admit mistakes, willing to apologize and, perhaps most essentially, willing to learn.

Cultural and social change are always going on, and your brand or business’s ability to evolve and adapt is the difference between stagnation and success. With the prevalence of social media and social media marketing, this kind of back-and-forth between advertisers and audience is more immediate than ever, and you need to be sure to keep on top of it.

Mindful Digital Marketing

The benefits of extensive market research are immeasurable. It gives you the opportunity to find avenues to sell where you might not have noticed them before, and it offers you a way to communicate with a base and make them feel a part of your process. Appreciating your users, customers or audience—whoever they are—makes all the difference, and digital marketing gives a uniquely personal opportunity for communication. Join JumpSIX Marketing in the next part of our exploration of socially aware advertising. Call 417-409-1550 to get started today!

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