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Creating Inclusive Personas to Reach All of Your Potential Customers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“We may have our differences, but nothing’s more important than family.”

Miguel (the uber-talented guitarist from Pixar’s Coco) has a point. There’s nothing more important than those who are close to you. 

As a business owner, your customers are those who are close to you. They purchase your services, share their experiences with others (good or bad) and help you grow your business through their loyalty. 

But do you know who your customers are?

It’s absolutely critical to have buyer personas to guide your marketing efforts. But not just any personas will do—the personas you create must be inclusive, considering each of your customers and their unique differences. It’s the only way to ensure your marketing truly connects.


Inclusivity Goes Deeper Than Diversity

Let’s lay some groundwork here first. Inclusivity is so much more than diversity. While diversity focuses on the characteristics that make us all unique, inclusion is the act of looking past our differences to ensure everyone is invited in.

Inclusive personas, also called ideal customer avatars (ICAs), are tools for ensuring the mindset behind your marketing is to make everyone feel like they’re a part of your family. An inclusive persona considers every one of your customers, regardless of skin color, personal beliefs, left-handedness or right-handedness, perspectives, disabilities hidden from view, sexual orientation and beyond.

Marketing materials created with inclusivity in mind say, “Come as you are.”

The Power of Inclusivity: I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

In 1971, one of the most important and well-loved commercials flooded TV sets around the world. That commercial was Coca-Cola’s “Hilltop” ad. The company’s mission was to bring the people of the world together, if only for a moment, to enjoy a Coke and celebrate their differences.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing

In perfect harmony

I’d like to buy the world a Coke

And keep it company

That’s the real thing…”

The Coca-Cola Company understands (and wants their customers to understand, too) that their product crosses the borders of age, sexual orientation, race and other differences. Everyone is welcome on the hilltop. In the words of the company itself, “Refresh the world. Make a difference.”

Coca-Cola’s ad generated a positive response from millions. Fast forward 50 years and many companies are finally becoming more conscious and inclusive of who they serve.

Here are just two examples of many: Dove’s® Real Beauty campaign and Target’s® ad that included a boy in a wheelchair that went viral in early 2020.

Dove // Image Source: HuffPost
A little boy in a wheelchair looks at a Target ad featuring another boy in a wheelchair
Target Corp. // Image Source: USA Today

How to Develop More Inclusive Customer Personas

We know you can’t serve everyone. And that’s not the goal here. Not everyone likes Coca-Cola, but they are still in need of refreshment, right? 

The goal is to serve each customer in your target customer base with respect, regardless of differences. You can make it happen by using an inclusive persona to guide your marketing efforts.

1. Brainstorm the Differences Between Your Customers

The majority of this work lies in you considering the differences between your customers. It’s about becoming aware and changing how you share your marketing messages. Take some time to make a list of the differences you can think of. 

You must go beyond simple demographics and get to the heart and soul of what truly matters to each of your customers. You must dig deeper to discover who they are as a whole. Depending on your business, your list of unique traits might include:

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Education level
  • Religion
  • Physical, mental or emotional differences
  • Language
  • Diet
  • Priorities

Were some of these aspects surprising? We totally get it. That’s why making this list will allow you to walk away with a better understanding of just how unique your customer base could be.

2. Put It All Together

Use your differences list, customer demographics and any data you’ve gathered to create a new in-depth persona. Here at CCS, we put all of our information about each persona into a document for safekeeping.

We also give our persona a name and include an image to remind ourselves of the humanity of our avatar. Every time we brainstorm new content or update our content strategy, we reference our persona.

Important Note

It’s okay if you feel the need to have multiple personas. In fact, it’s great! Having multiple personas allows you to see how you can tailor your marketing messages to reach each unique customer.

3. Use It!

When you sit down to create marketing materials, you’ll want to ask yourself questions using your new personas to ensure you hit the right mark. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Will my persona connect with this copy? 
  • Is there anything in this content that might deter them away? 
  • How can I better serve my persona through this content? 

This step can seem overwhelming at first. The idea is to get you thinking about simple changes you can make now, so you can continue building on those in the future.

There are endless ways to improve. For example, you may need to add alt text to images in your blog posts to ensure those with vision impairments can understand images via screen readers. Or you may need to stop using phrases such as “black and white” in your copy. 

A resource we’ve found helpful is the Conscious Style Guide.
This guide gives examples and methods to improve the inclusivity of your content and to help you become more conscious of those you serve.

Are You Connecting With All of Those Who Need You Most?

There are people out there who desperately need you and what you have to offer. Your content should be connecting with them all. If it’s not, it’s past time to do something about it. We can help! Join our family by sending us a message today.

Cari O'Brien

Founder & Chief Word Nerd
Cari has been providing content marketing services to businesses for over 15 years. She writes and speaks frequently about brand messaging, SEO copywriting and audience-focused copy. She’s the creator of the Connection Copywriting Method and the online writing course, Write that Site®.

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