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As brands plan for how to grow and include more people, a wonderful place to start is by listening to consumers. Tune in to what people are saying on social media, the feedback they are giving you directly, and conversations they are engaging in elsewhere to identify ways you can make more people feel like they belong with you.
That’s what digital invitation platform Evite did earlier this year when it expanded its line of invitations for its parenthood journey. Evite chief marketing officer Karen Graham told me the idea to turn their attention to this area came from actress, writer, producer, and fertility advocate Kellee Stewart starting a conversation with them on Twitter about it.
Since then, Evite has partnered with Stewart to better understand the needs of people who have a non-traditional path to parenthood and to raise awareness about these issues overall. The Evite parenthood journey category now includes invites for in vitro fertilization showers, egg showers, “Rainbow Baby” showers, and adoption celebrations.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report showed that one in six adults, or about 18 percent of the population, experience infertility. Because of these statistics along with other factors, non-traditional parenthood journeys are increasingly becoming more common.
Whether or not your company serves people on the journey to parenthood, there’s a practical marketing lesson here that will enable you to serve more customers, particularly those whose journeys and lived experiences fall outside of what is often considered traditional.
Graham tells marketers, “It’s always so important as a brand to listen to your consumers, to your users and acknowledge what they’re saying and sort of assess what they’re saying.”
Evite reaches more than 100 million people in the U.S. every year through its platform, and thus its customer base is immensely diverse. Along with data on what people are creating invitations for, the brand makes it a priority to connect with people who use their product.
Graham explains why this has been a priority for Evite, “That’s where all the ideas come from…. Talk to people and see their perspectives. We want to be that brand that can represent people’s stories. So I think every brand should sort of be that support system for their users and their consumers, and that’s how you build that lifelong relationship.”
Get smart about serving more consumers
Talking to your customers doesn’t mean you have to be reactive by waiting for them to let you know which of their needs are being met. You can be proactive in your efforts, by taking the time to map out the various journeys and identities — both traditional and non-traditional — of consumers who have the problem your brand solves.
Once you’ve identified the various identities, go out and talk to consumers with those identities to get a clearer picture of how their journeys are different, and to identify what their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations are. These conversations will give you a firmer foundation of how to solve those problems.
Once you do, you’ll likely identify a number of areas within your existing customer journey that can be tweaked to make people with those identities feel like they belong with you. Those chats could even help you identify specific product offerings or messaging that specifically addresses people from within those underserved communities.
I talked with Mariam Shahab, an inclusive communications and digital marketing strategist, about her journey to parenthood using gestational surrogacy. She told me that as brands learn about various non-traditional journeys, they should look for opportunities to support those consumers at common milestones.
Shahab gave the example of the “two-week wait” someone goes through after an embryo transfer to find out if it actually “stuck.” During this time period, those who’ve had the transfer are told to take it easy and relax, which Shahab says is a perfect opportunity for brands to offer solutions to help consumers in this unique waiting period do that.
Put systems in place within the way your brand operates that enable you to not only listen and engage in conversation with your customers but to also identify how consumer journeys can differ based on identity. Then you’ll be ready to serve them with solutions that make it clear that you see them, support them, and want to build a deeper relationship with them.
Be consistent with your customer connection.
Consistent connection with your customers, and their experience when interacting with your associates, gives you insight into possible trends as well as possible associate training needs.
We’re here to keep you connected to the voice of your customers and to monitor the service standards you have in place. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to send you our guidelines on creating a successful mystery shopping program.
BY SONIA THOMPSON AND CARL PHILLIPS