The way you market and communicate your offer is important. It can help you raise awareness of your organisation and encourage more people to get involved in your activities. However, there's no one size fits all approach to this. Different groups access information in different ways. Some people may also have additional requirements that need to be met in order for communications to be accessible to them, for example website accessibility, and wanting to see more positive, relatable images and language.
Inclusive marketing looks to address the main communication barriers that people may experience when accessing information on your opportunities. Embedding inclusive and accessible marketing and communications principles when promoting your offer has many benefits. It can:
- Help ensure your marketing efforts are as effective and efficient as possible.
- Help break down potential barriers for people who'd otherwise be unable to access your communications.
- Help you reach a wider audience.
- Improve your brand, visibility, and reputation.
- Help you demonstrate that you're inclusive and have considered a diverse range of communication needs.
Key considerations for inclusive marketing:
There are many factors that can prevent different groups of people or individuals from accessing your marketing and communication materials. This means they may not know about, or be able to access, opportunities to participate or volunteer at your organisation. They may also be unable to attend sessions or matches, respond to only some of the information given, or feel like they are not welcome. This page highlights some useful guidance to help you improve your marketing and communications techniques.
Your marketing efforts should be specific to the audience you are looking to reach. Different audiences may have a variety of needs, face different barriers, and are likely to respond to marketing messages in different ways. Once you've got a clear idea of who you're looking to engage, this will help to shape your message, the language and images you use, and the channels that you use to distribute information about your organisation. It's important to note that communication barriers may not be specific to one single audience. Whoever you are targeting, taking an inclusive approach means acknowledging barriers across every demographic group and increases your chances of reaching more people as a result.
Identifying and understanding the barriers and motivations of your intended audience can help make small, practical changes to strengthen your marketing and communications. You may already engage participants or volunteers from your target audience, so be sure to ask for their views. You can explore our reaching different audiences section of the website to find out more about the motivations and barriers of different groups. It's important not to assume people’s preferences and motivations so be sure to do some research and speak to them.
It's important that the language you use in your marketing materials resonate with your intended audience. It should be clear and easy to understand. Positive, inclusive language can help to alleviate people's concerns and promote the benefits of taking part in sport and physical activity.
When developing your marketing messages, it is important to consider:
- Who your audience is and the needs they may have. One of the best ways to do this can be to ask people and/or get feedback on any materials you develop.
- Using positive and inclusive language and terminology to attract people without causing offence. The Activity Alliance, Stonewall and Sporting Equals have all developed guidance which can help with this.
- Using plain English. This can really help people of all ages and backgrounds to understand your messages, particularly if English isn’t their first language.
- Using testimonials or quotes from existing participants that are from the audience you're looking to reach. This can help make your content more relatable.
- What words you're using. Depending on the audience you're targeting, it may be better to avoid words such as sport and physical activity and instead focus on other elements of your offer such as the social or community side or the health benefits it can bring.
- Clearly defining your message and what action you want the reader to take.
- Referencing the specific facilities or adaptions your venue or activity have, this can make them more appealing.
The images you use play an important role in ensuring the information you share is inclusive and relatable. Ensuring the audiences you're targeting can see people ‘like them’ participating or volunteering is important and can help break down barriers and stereotypes. Using fun, positive images that reflect others and are relatable will show people your offer is inclusive, achievable, and accessible.
Ensure that you share more than one contact point. This could be an email address and a phone number so that people can easily get in touch, address any concerns, or check things they may be unsure of in advance. Having only one contact point can prevent people getting in touch if the method you've chosen isn't accessible to them. If you're signposting to your website or social media channels for further information, make sure the language and images are relatable. Check out our guide on ‘exploring your online presence’ for more information.
The design element is a crucial part of maximising inclusivity in your communications. Before distributing any marketing materials, it's important to check that your content is accessible. For example, you'll have people with visual impairments among your audience, so be mindful of the font you use, the text layout, image descriptions, colour contrasts and compatibility with screen readers. If you're unsure of where to start, consider partnering with local organisations who already work with your target audience and those who may have expertise in developing marketing material. Activity Alliance has a useful resource on inclusive and accessible design.
Using a variety of channels to promote your organisation and offer will help you to reach a wider audience. When thinking about the channels to use, consider:
- Using those trusted by your target audience, the ones they're familiar with and use regularly.
- Reaching out and creating relationships with local organisations who already engage with your target audience and ask if they could help share your marketing materials for you.
- Providing communications in a range of different accessible formats and understanding the barriers your audience may face. For example, those who experience digital poverty or older people may feel less comfortable using online platforms so try not to rely exclusively on these.
Once you've considered how to market your offer in a more inclusive way, it may be beneficial to outline your commitment by developing an inclusive marketing and/or communications plan. Having a plan can enable you to review your current activities and campaigns and identify improvements to ensure your materials remain as inclusive and accessible as possible. It's important to make sure your plan forms part of your wider marketing strategy and covers all of the considerations identified above.
It's beneficial to regularly review your marketing and communications so that your information is kept up to date and aspects such as language and accessibility remain appropriate. Guidance on what's considered suitable for different target audiences can develop and change over time and technological improvements may mean that updates are needed to ensure your content remains accessible.