Today's diverse consumers (Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered consumers, and women) are looking for more than just talk.

They want companies that are an authentic part of their niche community with long-term commitment. They are savvy and skeptical, and they are tired of spin. That means that they are watching your company to see how sincere you are in including them—as employees, senior managers, board members, media partners, vendors, and through event sponsorships and community outreach.

If your commitment is only wallet-deep, watch out.

Some inclusiveness is easy, but often overlooked. For example, the photos on your Web site, in your brochure and annual report, in ads and on signs and billboards should reflect the diversity of the consumers you want to reach. Take a look at your photos. Do you see men and women, a range of ages, and a variety of ethnicities?

As you create more targeted marketing, PR, and media plans, give serious consideration to creating ads that feature the target audience group prominently in the foreground—as the main players, not background figures. Prospects consciously and subconsciously look for people like themselves in your ads.

Where you place your ads is equally important. If you want to reach one of the target audiences listed above, become knowledgeable about magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts and radio/TV programs that reach that audience. Equally important are in-group owned media outlets, especially in the Asian-American and African-American communities. Consumers reward community loyalty and look skeptically at marketers who shun their media.

Think your vendors are invisible? Think again. Your consumers want to know if you support diversity at all levels, including making an effort to include women-owned and minority-owned businesses in your bidding processes for contracts and in your selection of vendors. After all, those vendors are a part of your target audience community—and they talk with their friends.

A strong supplier diversity track record makes an important marketing statement.

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Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications ( and has over 20 years of corporate and nonprofit experience at senior-exec levels. Reach her via "gail at dreamspinnercommunications dot com."

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