I remember watching an interview with President Obama back in February, right around the time that Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids. Although A-Rod was not the focus of the interview with President Obama, the reporter did ask the President his opinion of A-Rod admitting to steroid usage. The President’s response was simple yet very insightful and something that has stuck with me ever since.
In so many words, the President said that he hoped that the message that A-Rod’s dilemma sent to the young boys and girls of this country is that “there are no short cuts.” That you have to work hard for what you want in life and put in the time and effort to accomplish your goals by following the right rules and processes to accomplish those goals. And not following those rules and processes could lead to negative implications and consequences.
Now these words resonated strongly with me because I’ve lived it and learned it first hand and have seen examples of it time and time again over the years. I have been doing marketing for over 15 years and I am currently President of my own urban & multicultural marketing agency, Alloy Access. And trust me; Alloy Access did not happen overnight. But prior to Alloy Access, I was going to be an electrical engineer, a restaurant owner, a rapper, and a few other things that I thought would make me a lot of money quickly. And this was all in my adult life! So based on my own experiences, I would always share with younger people that I would come into contact with in both my personal and my professional life, the importance of having a plan and staying the course. Focus, focus, focus is what I would preach.
What has occurred to me recently is this very same advice should be shared and applied among brands and agencies seeking to reach multicultural consumers. On too many occasions I have seen brands and agencies who want to reach multicultural audiences, particularly African-American and Hispanic, simply apply what they think they know, or what they believe should work based on nothing more than a hunch. Too often, brands that want to reach African-American consumers assume that incorporating hip hop music or a rapper in their campaigns will suffice. Or if they want to reach Hispanic consumers, that simply translating their general market campaign into Spanish language or using a Hispanic celebrity will suffice. Those are shortcuts! And shortcuts that as President Obama shared with the youth of America in the A-Rod steroid commentary, can lead to negative implications and consequences.
And I can tell you from experience, poorly thought out multicultural campaign strategies usually do more damage than you expect, because they can tend to come across stereotypical and offensive. When developing a program or campaign for urban and/or multicultural consumers, take the time to understand the real attitudes, opinions, influences and cultural nuances of that consumer group. Understand the dynamic of the relationship with your brand and the consumer and the common interests or intersection point that they share with your brand. Develop a structure and process that works for your agency or brand an apply it EVERY TIME! It will be worth it in the long run. Taking shortcuts will only lead to unnecessary frustrations and poor results. Following a process definitely takes more time and money, but it is worth it.
Here is the proven Access Process that we use whenever we are developing a program or campaign for our clients. And it has delivered us and our clients’ successful results time and time again.
- Explore Understand client’s objectives, brand essence, target consumer, marketplace
- Build Develop strategy, media plan, creative ideas that meet a client’s objectives and maintain market relevance
- Deploy Execute tactics that are relevant to the concept brand objectives
- Assess Evaluate program measurement and offer insights into actionable recommendations
Taking the time to fill out a brief, establish program success measures and most importantly gather consumer insights does take time and sometimes money, but it will yield a much stronger ROI when its all said and done. If you want to be successful reaching urban & multicultural consumers, take the time to get it right; There Are No Shortcuts!
Read more of Tru Pettigrew’s Alloy Access blog
Tru Pettigrew is the President of Alloy Access. As its founder, Tru is passionate about providing fresh ideas and identifying emerging platforms to make products and brands relevant to today’s urban and multicultural consumers. Tru and his team travel around the country immersing themselves in culture at basketball courts, nightclubs, music stores and barbershops. In educating his Fortune 500 clients, he provides a reflection of today’s multicultural world. Tru started his career performing as one half of a Los Angeles-based rap duo. He executed promotions for Converse, which led to a position with Houston Herstek Favat. He later joined AMP Agency’s Triple Dot Communications (acquired by Alloy) and co-founded its consumer insights division.