Whenever we discuss the do’s and don’ts of a feminist and culturally competent marketing strategy, the common reactions we get range from mild surprise to open bewilderment.
“Feminist marketing? Is that even a thing?”
Uhm, yes it is!
Look, we get it. Feminism & cultural competence are big terms—the kind of hype words that folx would typically associate with big social issues and activism.
But marketing? Isn’t the latter supposed to be a capitalist tool that big corporations use to squeeze the pockets of ordinary citizens? How can it coexist with feminism & cultural competence?
Well, revealing the answers to those questions is what this article is all about! But before getting into the nuts and bolts of the issue, let’s clarify some essential concepts.
What is a feminist marketing strategy?
Briefly speaking, a feminist marketing strategy is a customer-centered marketing approach that allows you to sell a product or service without relying on patriarchal and gendered-biased sales tactics. When you approach your marketing through a feminist lens, you commit to genuinely understanding your audience’s needs and solving their issues in a way that actually resonates with them.
It is important to note that every small business, regardless of the niche or industry, can adopt a feminist marketing strategy. One of the most common misconceptions around feminist marketing is that such strategies are restricted to female-owned or female-centered businesses.
While it’s true that a good portion of the small companies that have adopted a feminist approach to marketing are female-owned (or female-centered), any business can benefit from adopting an inclusive and non-gendered marketing strategy. Such an approach will allow the marketing team to focus on what’s truly important: customer satisfaction.
Are you interested in getting certified in feminist marketing & cultural competence? Check our 12-week certification program!
And what is cultural competence?
Now, when we mention cultural competence, we’re referring to the ability of a business to communicate with a diverse and international audience without using a condescending or paternalistic discourse —and without reverting to your typical (and bogus) cultural stereotypes.
Moreover, you don’t need a degree in ethnography or international relations to become culturally competent.
Even the smallest of businesses can integrate cultural competence in their communications.
The best way to do this is by questioning any cultural assumptions you may have internalized.
- “You cannot sell the same products/services that you sell in America or Europe in third-world countries.”
- “You can’t sell self-development products to people in the global south.”
- “We can reduce our production costs if we outsource manufacturing to Asia.”
These statements use bogus cultural assumptions to make marketing decisions, which somehow validate oppressive and colonial stereotypes. Unfortunately, as we have explained in this article on feminist social media marketing, traditional marketing strategies tend to overlook these red flags, creating marketing campaigns that end up exploiting marginalized groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or more.
As you can see, being culturally competent is crucial for handling your marketing and business comms like a pro. And, if you’re an online business, this skill can genuinely be life-saving (trust us on this!).
3 Ways to add more feminism & cultural competence to your marketing
Now that you understand what a feminist marketing strategy is and what it means to be culturally competent – let’s review three simple ways to upgrade your current marketing strategies.
- Get to know your audience.
Like, for real! Do extensive market research and never assume that you know your audience’s wants without validating ideas with them. This step is crucial. A validated offer can be the difference between onboarding ten people on the first day of your launch… or just hearing crickets.
So, how do you get to know your audience? Here are some ideas that we’ve used and our clients:
- Conduct market research calls with past clients. Ask thorough and personalized questions!
- Inviting prospective clients to complete a survey in exchange for something they value. Use a tool like Google Forms or MonkeySurvey, but don’t share your link randomly. Start a conversation with your prospective clients and only then invite them to complete the survey.
- Building focus groups with 5 to 10 “dream clients.” Then conduct a group call to get more insights on a key pain point.
Feminist and culturally competent marketing is based not only on market research and data but also on asking deeper questions that bring about awareness of your ideal clients’ beliefs, values, and goals.
After all, businesses can change the world – right? If you’re clear on your vision and the vision of your ideal clients, this adds an extra layer of understanding to your marketing (and branding).
2. Hone in on your unique selling proposition (USP) or what we like to call your “Fierce Factor.”
We know that competition in today’s business world is fierce. This is particularly true if you’re running an online business, where you’re essentially competing against similar companies all around the globe (*yells silently*).
In this slightly terrifying global scenario, a compelling USP (or Fierce Factor) is your business’ best friend —the kind of tool that has the power to propel you to the glorious heights of entrepreneurial success… or send you back home with nothing but a funny story.
To craft a killer Fierce Factor, here’s what we usually offer for our 1:1 clients:
- Get clear on your brand’s foundations. Write down your business mission, vision, brand values, and target audience.
- Analyze your competitors’ messaging. Create a list of your direct and indirect competitors and study what makes their brands stand out. Fight with all your might against the temptation to imitate whatever they’re doing.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what your own strengths and weaknesses are, as well as, your culture, identity, and privileges all help you hone in on your FIERCE FACTOR and make it easy to understand how you best help your clients.
Do you need extra help figuring out your branding strategy? Check our Brand Strategy & Content Intensive Workshop!
3. Ask for regular feedback while nurturing your fans consistently.
This is probably one of the easiest action items to perform… and, sadly, also one that small-business owners tend to overlook.
Once you’ve completed your client project, send a survey or personalized email asking for complete feedback. Create a special email list for your past clients and, no matter what you do, don’t forget to nurture them consistently.
If you notice common demands in their feedback surveys, maybe it’s time to create a product or service that addresses those demands.
Remember! Satisfied customers are the best advocates of your brand.
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Wrapping everything up
This article explained that a feminist marketing strategy is a customer-centered marketing approach that allows you to sell a product or service without relying on patriarchal and gendered-biased sales tactics.
We also clarified that cultural competence is a business skill that allows you to communicate with a diverse and international audience without using a condescending or paternalistic discourse —and without restoring to your typical (and bogus) cultural stereotypes.
Both are relevant for your marketing because a feminist and culturally competent approach enables your marketing team to create an inclusive and non-oppressive brand, one that prioritizes genuine customer satisfaction over key performance indicators (KPIs) and massive profits.
You can add more feminism and cultural competence to your current marketing using the following strategies:
- Get to know your audience.
- Hone in on your unique selling proposition (USP), what we call your “Fierce Factor)
- Ask for regular feedback while nurturing your fans consistently.
Have you tried to include more feminism & cultural competence in your marketing? Let us know in the comments!