To succeed with Black History Month marketing, exhibit cultural competency

“Our cultural strength has always been derived from our diversity of understanding and experience.” — Yo-Yo Ma

Black History Month gives organizations a unique platform to connect with black audiences. Highlighting the lives of black leaders of industry or creating community partnerships can have a lasting effect on your organization’s success.

To determine how your marketing can best exhibit cultural awareness and celebrate black history, consider the following insights.

Focus on the community.

According to, black economic influence is growing, and marketers should take note. Although some organizations have tailored their marketing to speak more directly to black audiences, many are missing the mark.

Because black consumers gravitate toward campaigns that reflect their culture, marketers should hone in on authentic messages that resonate with black consumers. According to the Los Angeles Times, organizations should create campaigns that speak to black consumers’ needs and aspirations. By targeting the experience or circumstances of the black community, brands can draw these consumers in and establish trust.

Community partnerships are an effective method for reaching a diverse audience. For example, during February, home improvement brand Lowes and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets have teamed up to produce a video series that highlights black community leaders and their accomplishments.

Emphasize the people, not the product.

According to the Diversity Best Practices blog, marketing during Black History Month should center on strengthening an organization’s black consumer base, not selling products.

Alicia R. Alston, Prudential’s VP of global communications, called attention to the importance of authenticity in attempting to connect with the black market. In a Business Wired blog post, she asserted that creating a legitimate and lasting connection can only occur when marketers have a clear understanding of both the target market and its community.

Marketing pros should work on understanding how their product relates to consumers.

This year, the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrated this by launching a Black History Month campaign that sets out the accomplishments of its African-American employees:

Keep the conversation moving forward.

Instead of giving your Black History Month campaign an end date, support the achievements of African-Americans throughout the year.

Diversity Director, Simone Morris, suggests surveying your employee and customer base for ideas on how they would like to see the Black History Month conversation continued. If you only market to reach black audiences particularly one month in the year, you’re going to miss a consumer base that buys throughout the year. A University of Georgia study projects black buying power will reach $1.2 trillion this year and continue growing.

That’ why a recent Coca-Cola Co. Black History Month campaign focused on the future. According to the artist’s website, the “BE” campaign was created “not as a look to the past of Black History but as a look forward.”

Advertisers looking to make an impact during Black History Month should invest time in learning about their black target audiences. The more you learn, the more loyal those consumers will become.

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