Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

How to Do Business Activism the Right Way

June 07, 2022 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 33
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
How to Do Business Activism the Right Way
Show Notes Transcript

For every month that there’s a special designation (Pride month, Black History month, etc), you’ll see businesses try and target that audience with specific marketing. And it has become increasingly obvious that these brands are mostly pandering to get those extra 💵 💵. But there is a way to incorporate true activism into your brand without it feeling salesy or fake. Using your business as a voice for those in marginalized communities needs to start from a place of genuine ally-ship and align with your own personal beliefs.

In this episode, I'm giving 5 tips to help your practice genuine ally-ship and how to use your business for activism without alienating your audience. 

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Episode Transcript

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Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. I of course, am your host Sasha and it is a brand new month. And it is actually Pride Month. And so that means today I am talking about how to do brand activism the right way. I know that if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, that Pride Month is just a way for corporations to slap a rainbow on everything and try to make it seem like they are taking a stand or are allies of the LGBT community. And they might not necessarily be that. And it is the same thing with every special month that has a designation whether it's Black History Month, Asian Pacific Islander month, Hispanic month, all of those different causes, you will see big corporate brands start to, in my opinion, pander and market specifically to those target demographics, all in an effort to make more money. And I don't want you guys to do that. As small business owners we are the face of our businesses and our personal beliefs are becoming more and more increasingly popular, or they are becoming more and more increasingly important for our clients and customers to be aware of. Most people now want to know what business owners value before they do anything or purchase any of their services, or use their business for anything. They want to know what the owner values. What that person behind the brand values, because they want to spend their money on people that have values that align with them. We talk about this all the time in when we are trying to build our like, know, trust factor. It's all about getting people to like you, know you, and trust you and one of the ways that people do that is by making connections with like-minded people. And so it is becoming more and more popular, or you'll start to see it more and more, you probably have already seen it more and more often, where you will know very quickly where small businesses stand. Where your favorite blogger or Instagramer or what their values are and what they find important. And that probably connects you to them. And you probably also see that they get a lot of comments where people will be like, unfollow, or I don't support this, so I'm not going to support you. And in my opinion, that's okay. We don't need to serve everyone. We've talked about our target audiences before. It's okay to turn people off if you have values that are very important to you. But I want to today talk about how to do brand activism of the right way. How to make it seem that you are not pandering and marketing and targeting specific people solely because you want to make more money off of them but because you actually value the things that they bring to the world and that their causes are important to you. And so I'm going to just kind of go over five things that you can do, you can take as action steps for your business, in order to practice brand activism and infuse that into your business if you so choose. Now, I do know that there's some people who still are in the camp, that personal beliefs should stay out of business. I think that more and more that is becoming less of a thing. Again, people want to know where people stand before they spend money with them. And so I think at some point, people will start to get curious about where you stand and your beliefs with very various things. And so I think it's important to kind of figure out what that means for you. And so the first one is to align your personal beliefs with a cause. You will see a lot of times that these big corporate brands, a lot of people view them as pandering because we know that every Pride month they put rainbow flags on everything, but they might be co- signing legislation that doesn't give rights to the LGBT community. Or they might, every February, put out all of this African American/Black apparel, but they aren't contributing to uplifting those communities and helping out those communities where it matters. They don't have their stores in those communities, or they don't pay their workers a fair wage. And so you want to make sure that you're aligning your personal beliefs with a cause. I very much talk about what I personally believe in. If you follow me on Instagram, if you have been a listener of the show for a while, then you know what I believe in. I have a black husband. I have an Afro Latino son. My husband is a police officer. So I do support him as a police officer. But I do recognize that there's issues in the policing community. When my husband takes off his badge, he is just a black man. And he doesn't have that same protection, as others in that community do. So I make my personal beliefs very well known, because they're important to me. I also, you have heard me talk about this before, I'm a proud Puerto Rican woman. I love my culture and my island and where my family comes from, and that is a central part of who I am. And I display that proudly. And so of course, Hispanic causes and Latino causes are going to be very important to me. I have co-founded the Boundless Audio Podcast Network, where the whole mission of the network is to uplift the voices of marginalized communities, specifically women, women of color, and those and other marginalized communities. So I aligned my personal beliefs with causes that are important to me. Back when I was selling more products, in my business, I even designated every month that a certain percentage of profits will be donated to specific organizations. A lot of times it lined up with whatever month that that was designated. So if it was June, for example, I would give to a cause that was serving the LGBT community, or the black community or Hispanic community, whatever month it was, I would give to that cause. But I made sure that my personal beliefs aligned with what I was doing in my business, and I make it known so that people know who it is that I support, and the things that I don't find, okay, and if people choose not to do business with me for that, I'm okay with that. Some people might not be but I personally am okay with that. And so the number one thing is to align your personal belief with any causes that your business is going to contribute to, or push forward or anything like that. You also want to know your target audience. And I think that this goes hand in hand with your personal beliefs. So my target audience, of course, is women in business. That's what this podcast is geared towards. But I also recognize that not every woman in business has the same philosophy that I do or supports the same causes that I do. So while I don't talk about as much on the podcast about the general things that I believe in, I still make it known. And if people want to overlook that and still find value in the podcast, that's awesome. If they don't, that's their decision, but I know who my target audience is, and so that I and I know for the most part, the things that I believe in, in the causes that I support, aren't going to alienate or push away my target audience. You will see a lot of the times in any community. One of the product people that I follow is heavily, heavily Christian. But it's not a way that I find off putting. I know that I'm not her target audience, I'm not much of a churchgoer, I have spiritual beliefs, not religious, we won't get into that. But she very, she makes products that talk about Jesus and about God, and she has scripture verses and things like that. And while it's not my personal cup of tea, I still like her products. She does have some secular ones, I do like her products. But I know that I'm not her target audience and her target audience loves that type of stuff. That is who she is selling to. And she knows that by putting those things on products that she is probably alienating a certain segment of the population. But she also knows who her target audiences and that's who she's creating products for. So when you know your target audience, it is okay to be and stand in your personal beliefs and stand in whatever causes you believe. And because you know that your target audience is going to support that. You also want to admit your mistake. So we're all on a learning journey, whether you are a member of a, if you're a person of color, like myself, or another marginalized community or you're not we all have mistakes in our learning. And we're all growing right. And so there are times where we can make mistakes in our language and the way that we speak in our businesses that might not be inclusive. We might not intend to be disrespectful or to say the wrong thing, but it's still something that can occur. And the important thing is that we admit when we're wrong. And so if you, for example, if you know that and I'm just going to keep going back to LGBTQ because it is June and that's what's going on right now. If you're misgendering people if they are trans people and you misgender someone, admitting that that was a mistake, and that you're still learning that is something that you want to do in your business. If you are still learning what the correct pronouns are or how to ask for pronouns or how to talk about that community in a way that's not offensive or any community. There's always a big discussion about whether you should say Black or African American or as a Hispanic or Latino or that Latinx or Latina, how do you address all of that? So admitting your mistakes, and that you're still learning is important because people aren't going to... cancel culture is a thing. Yes. But it's because people tend to double down and stick into those things. If you are admitting that you are still trying to learn and that you're still trying to do your best, and you want to be an ally, or active in these communities, than admitting your mistakes, most of the time, people will take that as genuine and that you still are really trying to help these communities and better these communities. And we're all learning, right? We're all in different stages of learning. But admitting your mistakes is super important to just coming across as genuine and building that trust, and building that like, know, trust factor. So it's important to admit your mistakes. You also want to do your research. So any causes that you are pushing forward, you want to make sure especially in your business, that you are doing your research before you align yourself with certain causes. A lot of the times we only get the cursory, top-level view of what specific causes are, without doing any deep diving into what that specific cause is trying to accomplish. And so we might say that we support something and then if you dig a little deeper, you might be like, "oh, I really don't support this", or "it's nuanced", or "I don't want my business partnered with this". And so it's important to do your research into what exactly you are trying to support in your business. So that way, you can have an influential voice with your business and that what you're doing is coming across as authentic and clear, especially when it comes to sensitive things. So you want to make sure that you are sounding genuine and caring. And that just goes beyond surface level research. It's it's having first hand experiences. It's doing learning. It's asking questions if you don't understand what's happening in certain communities. So that way you can be aware and promote those things and come from a genuine place that your business is trying to support. And so you want to make sure that you are doing your research into things that you don't understand. And that again, we're all on a path of learning. And so doing your research into those things, will help you align your business better, and help you to create activism the right way within your business. And then lastly, you want to give proof and show results. And this is what a lot of businesses fail at. If you remember back in 2020, there was a lot of black squares going on. And there was a lot of Caucasian businesses and big corporate businesses that were coming across as being supportive of the black community. And it literally lasted for that black square. And then you never heard about it again. It didn't go any further than that. And they went right back to doing business as usual. That is what comes across as fake and not genuine activism in your business. Messaging in your business is only going to get you so far. The people that follow and support your business are going to want to know if you are helping a cause beyond what you say. So again, like what I was doing in my business, when I was product heavy, I was donating portions of my profits to organizations that I supported, that upheld and uplifted, marginalized communities. That is literally putting my money where my mouth is. It's showing proof and showing results. And it's not just me talking, it's showing that I actually do believe these things, and that I'm willing to put my money in these things. I always mainly support women of color businesses or women owned businesses and the things that I shop for almost day-to-day basis. While I do love Target and Amazon, my hairstylist is a black woman who does my hair. My nail person is a black woman. The person who does my social media is a black woman. I try to find women of color in business that I can support, because that is literally giving proof and showing results in my business that I am taking what I talked about, and I really am supporting it. So think about how you can show that messaging, but actually show what you're doing to support a cause. That isn't just words, you want to make a commitment to the values of your business, and put that mission into motion and not just have it in messaging. You want to show that you are actually being active in your business. Now of course there are risks when it comes to showing what you support in your business. Again, you will alienate some people who don't support what you do and who don't think it's okay. And you have to decide whether or not that's a risk that you are willing to take in your business. It could be that you are turning off or you are neglecting a portion of your audience who may have supported you if you weren't active in your business. That is something that you would have to decide personally about whether or not that's what you want to do. We can all choose to keep our personally held beliefs personal that's why they're personally held beliefs. But again, it's becoming increasingly clear that people want to know who who they are supporting when they are buying from a business. And so I think it's important to let those beliefs be known. But you want to make sure that you are practicing brand activism the right way and it's not coming across as pandering or trying to get people's money just for the sake of getting their money. So if you're going to be active in your business, if you're going to be an activist in your business, make sure that you're doing those things that come across as genuine so that people know where you really stand and what your business really supports. Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course, following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips. Part of the Boundless Audio Podcast Network