What Is Liberatory & Culturally Competent Marketing?

If you somehow associate marketing with aggressive sales tactics and a weird mix of objection-breaking techniques (pressuring discovery calls, anyone?), we can’t blame you. With the recent surge in popularity of online businesses, marketing has become a highly triggering subject for many folx.

Although marketing is essential for any business development, the reality is that the advice roaming around the internet can be incredibly conflicting, creating all kinds of anxiety and overwhelm in new business owners. 

And, naturally, for entrepreneurs who still don’t feel comfortable putting themselves out there, the whole let’s-market-like-everyone-else-does approach can seem like a quick way to fix the issue. 


The conflicting marketing advice can also explain why new business owners are prone to engage in aggressive strategies that ultimately don’t deliver the impressive results promised by the latest guru (like cold emailing by the thousands, super expensive PPC campaigns, or launches that rely mostly on fake scarcity triggers). A flop that only reinforces the idea that marketing is complex and incredibly taxing. 

But there’s good news here! Marketing doesn’t have to be this complicated. There’s, in fact, a better strategy around, one that prioritizes community and relationship building and doesn’t require you to spend thousands on strategies that don’t deliver much. Enter liberatory and culturally competent marketing, a customer-centered approach that delivers a personalized experience to every client.

Why liberatory & culturally competent marketing is perfect for small businesses.

Traditional marketing strategies tend to rely on some form of audience segmentation to create buyer personas or customer avatars, which allows marketers to “personalize” their approach to a specific market segment. And although creating these personas is not a manipulative tactic in itself, the reality is that it’s easy to overdo it. 

As a result, marketers end up using stereotypes, false assumptions, and cultural biases to sell their products, which is manipulation and pressure at its best. 

However, online businesses that attract customers from all over the world and backgrounds cannot rely on these manipulative tactics for closing the sale for two reasons. 

  • First of all, the pool of potential prospects is as diverse as the internet itself. Thus segmenting appropriately can become a whole job. 
  • And secondly, these pressuring tactics don’t tend to bring in qualified leads. In fact, the opposite is true: when a marketer pressures a potential client into buying a product that they’re not so sure about, refund requests and returns increase. 

Unlike Big Brands, who have to rely on mass marketing strategies that don’t really consider the human behind the screen, small businesses can (and should!) capitalize on the proximity they have to their target audience. This is particularly true for online businesses that can attract customers from all over the world.

READ MORE: Getting Political: 4 tips for Bringing Activism into Your Social Media

Is liberatory & culturally competent marketing the key to a successful online business?

Unsurprisingly, we do believe that a culturally competent marketing strategy will give your business a competitive advantage. 

It’s not that traditional marketing strategies don’t work…on the contrary!

However, how sustainable are they? That is the real question. 

If you use manipulative tactics, will you be able to stay in business in the long run? Will you be able to build the required relationships and consistent fan-base that are crucial for your business’s success? 

Let that be food for thought.

In our view, a fact remains: if small businesses want to remain competitive and relevant in today’s changing online landscape, they need a marketing strategy that takes into account the cultural differences and different life stories of their potential customers

Basically… if you want to boost your client retention rate, you cannot rely on manipulative tactics to close sales. 

The how-tos of a liberatory & culturally competent marketing strategy 

Now that you understand what a liberatory and culturally competent marketing strategy is let’s review some crucial elements of this strategy!

KEY #1 Know who you’re serving and what they need. 

If you want to position yourself and your brand, you need to know the real demand for your services. And the best way to do that is with thorough market research. 

Do some calls or conduct a survey for your past clients, and always ask meaningful questions. The trick here is getting to know who your client is as a human, what genuinely interests them, and their worries. 

Imagine you’re launching a Virtual Assistant (VA) agency. You could always start the conversation with these questions:

  • Have you ever hired a VA? What was your experience with the service?
  • How did it help you to achieve your productivity goals?
  • If you could change one thing, what would it be?
  • What’s your biggest complaint about the service?

The intent is also important here! 

You’re not asking all these questions to use the responses afterward in a triggering way. You’re asking because you’re genuinely interested in offering a tailored service that actually covers some needs. 

In other words, be ethical. All the time. See the person in every lead. People are not just numbers; complexity is everywhere. Honor that complexity.

KEY  #2. Understand what negatively triggers your customer… and avoid it.

This is the beauty of cultural competence: once you understand that you’re dealing with complex human beings, using stereotypes or ableist/ageist/colonial narratives in your copy or general campaigns will no longer feel appealing or easy to use. 

With a cultural competence lens, you’ll start noticing that all the scarcity triggers that plague marketing materials are irrelevant once you have genuinely captured someone’s trust. 

A thorough understanding of triggers to avoid will allow you to market in a way that feels good and of service, which leads us to our next point…

KEY #3 Understand that trust precedes sales. Every single time.

 It is not uncommon to see new business owners scratching their heads while they wonder why their latest uber targeted Facebook Ads campaign for a high-ticket offer completely flopped. 

If this is your case, instead of thinking, “has the algorithm changed, and I just didn’t know?” consider what type of commitment you’re demanding from your clients. 

Have you spent enough time building a solid relationship with your prospects if your offer is a high-ticket program? Do they trust you enough to make that type of investment? If you’re just collecting emails in exchange for a freebie, are you making it clear that you won’t spam them or sell their data? In both cases, it’s important to find ways to cultivate trust before asking for any sort of commitment or compensation. 

KEY #4 Do you, unapologetically. 

Finally, don’t forget to be yourself. Even though it may sound like an old cliché, authenticity is the key in business, like in life. And the best way to be authentic is to have crystal clear branding. 

  • What’s your mission as a business? 
  • And your vision? 
  • What about your brand values or tone and voice? 

Not only that, this means understanding your identities, stories, cultural background, and more! The more you know about yourself, the more you can make an impact with your business AND marketing!

If you’re still unsure about these things, your best bet is to get a solid branding strategy in place.

READ MORE: Social Media Marketing Through a Feminist Lens

Wrapping things up

As we explained at the beginning of this article, a liberatory and culturally competent marketing strategy allows you to connect with your customers in a personalized way. Moreover, it takes away all the pressure and manipulation from your marketing materials, which in turn allows you to come off as a relatable human being.  One that is not afraid of putting themselves out there.

To carry out a personalized liberatory and culturally competent marketing strategy, you will need to take into consideration the following things:

KEY #1 Know who you are serving and what they need

KEY #2. Understand what negatively triggers your customer… and avoid it.

KEY #3 Understand that trust precedes sales every single time

KEY #4 Do you, unapologetically. 

So, have you ever tried any of these tactics? Let us know in the comments!

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We’re a brand strategy & copywriting studio for mission-driven, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Feminist-run brands and businesses who want to increase their visibility and connect with their communities through the power of story and content. We share tips & advice on how to make marketing (and business) fun!

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