The COVID-19 pandemic has turned consumer behavior upside down but, in recent weeks, we have seen states begin to devise and even implement strategies for slowly reopening.
During a normal year, corporations compete for LGBTQ buyers using traditional and sometimes antiquated methods, such as gay pride events and circuit parties. However, this year, many of those larger events have been canceled or postponed. And even if a pride event is now scheduled for October/November, chances are that attendance will be lower than in previous years.
With more than $1 trillion of buying power and a lot of disposable income, the LGBTQ community will most likely come out in force when the country reopens for business. History and research have shown that this community is one of the first to resume travel and shopping after periods of uncertainty. Without large-scale events as an advertising vehicle, businesses need to think outside the box to reach these customers.
Here are some ideas to make your organization top of mind for LGBTQ community:
• Start marketing now. If everyone waits until the country is fully operational, then your business will be competing with hundreds of others for the same customers.
Why not be one of the first movers in the space and gain a bit of an advantage over the competition? Start your marketing and PR efforts now, especially since you can’t count on a pride event to reach LGBTQ consumers. Advertising in local LGBTQ publications are relatively inexpensive and a great way to support the community. Yes, people still read print publications, especially in niche media.
• Support LGBTQ charities. Sponsoring a gay pride event should not be your ultimate LGBTQ marketing initiative for the year. These events are particularly important to the community.
Savvy consumers have taken note and now would rather patronize a business that makes an authentic and long-term effort to support the LGBTQ community all year round. National charities are great to support, but there are also many smaller LGBTQ charities in your city that need help as well. You may get more bang for your buck donating to local organizations. Trust me, the community will notice, especially in times like these.
• Designate an LGBTQ liaison. Some companies are lucky enough to have a person on staff who specifically works with the LGBTQ market. If your organization does not have this luxury, then find someone on staff who identifies as LGBTQ or reach out to a few community leaders who can serve as a point of contact for the LGBTQ community. Better yet, create an advisory board that meets quarterly to discuss local community involvement.
Despite the ongoing health crisis, it is important for your company to stay active and relevant. The companies who show support to the LGBTQ community during times of crisis will be the ones who will benefit the most when business returns to a sense of normalcy.
Joey Amato is the owner of Agency33, a consulting firm specializing in LGBTQ marketing and public relations. He has spent over a decade in LGBTQ media and has implemented LGBTQ campaigns for numerous travel destinations, celebrities, corporations, and small businesses.
Photo credit: kbyc photography