LGBT Marketing is not controversial, it’s a business imperative. Many companies already know this, but there are still some that hold onto outdated thinking that embracing the LGBT market will carry some level of controversy that will adversely affect their business.
Every day that passes for a business that is not incorporating the LGBT community into their marketing plans, they are losing a piece of an estimated $790 Billion market. Given the size of the market, when a company consciously makes a decision not to pursue it, there could be several reasons.
Companies must always decide priorities for its limited marketing dollars. However, too often, marketing departments are prevented by executives from the C-Suite from embarking on marketing campaigns targeted to the LGBT community. Public Relations Departments are also often thwarted from joining in efforts with other companies on pro-LGBT initiatives.
Anyone in those positions has heard the rationale before: “We don’t take positions on controversial issues. It’s not what our business is about.” Troup disagrees.
First, are issues of LGBT equality “controversial”? The answer is an unequivocal no for a vast portion of the population.
Marriage equality is perhaps the issue that most divides the public. However, the speed at which acceptance is happening is stunning. More and more States are moving towards legislative enactment of marriage equality. The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments to overturn the federal statute that prevents recognition of marriage equality as well as the infamous Prop 8, which overturned marriage equality in California.
Public polling also shows major shifts towards support for marriage equality. The Washington Post recently commissioned a poll, which was done by an all-star bi-partisan team. The poll’s results showed opposition to marriage equality remained in three main demographics: 65 and older; white evangelicals; and whites who do not have a college degree. African American evangelicals were narrowly divided. Every other demographic favored marriage equality, many by large margins.
Another recent poll commissioned by ABC News and the Washington Post showed public support for marriage equality at an all-time high of 58%. The 18-29 demographic showed support at an astounding 81%. This is a highly desirable demographic for marketing and it shows that the overall numbers in support of marriage equality will continue to increase rapidly.
In the past four years, politicians have announced their support for marriage equality in numbers that no one could have guessed. While public support from politicians still remains largely on the more liberal side of American politics, growing numbers of conservatives are embracing it as well. This trend can be expected to continue given the increasingly supportive attitudes in the general public.
Second, does support of LGBT groups or marketing to the LGBT community have a negative effect for a company’s reputation or bottom line? The answer is a resounding no.
Every LGBT organization has corporate sponsors. Literally hundreds of corporations contribute to LGBT causes and they almost never have negative repercussions for their involvement. On a rare occasion, very conservative organizations have attempted to mount boycotts. Notable targets in the past have included Disney, JC Penny and Ford. The boycotts were all deemed failures that brought more customers in than they cost.
It also afforded those companies with an opportunity to explain why they support basic values like equality and fairness. This also worked as great public relations to the LGBT market, a great side benefit without the additional cost.
Just as these boycott campaigns were largely failures, as time continues to pass, these efforts will become even harder to successfully organize. The most anti-gay of organizations are seeing their budgets dwindle as public support for their position evaporates. They are less of a risk with each day that passes.
Finally, organizations that embrace the LGBT community also see benefits in their personnel recruitment efforts. Presence at large-scale LGBT events such as Pride or gala dinners exposes companies to well-connected, well-educated group of people. Internal LGBT employee resource groups also become excellent spokespeople for recruitment or marketing at LGBT events. The resource groups also help to build bonds among employees, making them more involved and dedicated to the company.
As managers and executives consider the benefits of involvement in LGBT issues and direct involvement in support of or marketing to the LGBT community, Troup stands ready to guide the way. We have seen the value it brings over and over again. There has yet to be a time when it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Diversity is always good for business.