5 Ways to Make Your Marketing More Inclusive with Sonia Thompson

This week’s episode I have an interview with the lovely Sonia Thompson who is a customer experience strategist and consultant and CEO of Thompson Media Group. We are going to be talking all about the Black Lives Matter movement and how we can ensure we are doing everything we can in our business marketing to be inclusive.  

  • As much as we focus on speaking to the right person, we also need to make sure we are not putting anyone off as well.
  • Ask yourself: Am I being inclusive to everyone this is suitable for?
  • You can’t serve everyone, but you need to be intentional about who you want to serve and who you don’t.
  • Create an inclusive environment where customers who do have special requirements don’t feel they have to ask and stand out.
  • It is sometimes worse to not say anything or acknowledge something is happening.
  • It is better to be the business that acknowledges something is going on, that the one that says nothing.
  • If you make a statement, it needs to relate to your value and how your business operates. You need to really truly believe in what you are saying.
  • It’s ok if you haven’t got it right in the past, just acknowledge this and how you are going to move forward.
  • It is important to have conversations with people if you don’t understand something due to never experiencing it.
  • Diversify your circle of influence – Make sure the voices you are listening to are all different to give you a broader view of the world.
  • Re-evaluate your customer avatar – If you limit and define your avatar, you could be leaving out a big group of people who may have the same pain points and needs.
  • Commit to representation – Your customers need to see themselves and who they aspire to be in your marketing and business.
  • Make cultural intelligence a priority – If you don’t have an understanding or appreciation for other cultures, it can be very easy to say the wrong thing and potentially offend.
  • Take an audit of your customer experience – Go through your customer journey and think about the signals you want to send out.

It is better to try and potentially get it wrong, rather than say nothing at all. This isn’t just for now, this is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed and things need to change.

  • An Introduction to Sonia – 07:01
  • Being Inclusive in Marketing – 10:22
  • The Inclusivity Spectrum – 14:20
  • Mistakes We Can Learn From – 19:20
  • 5 Steps to a More Inclusive Business – 27:50
Transcript below


Hello and welcome back to this week's episode of the podcast. How are you doing? So thank you so much, firstly, for all the lovely comments and DMs and things after last week's episode, it was a slightly odd episode.

Uh, I am very happy to say that I am much more on the mend and have enjoyed being back in the swing of things of work, which is lovely. And I know it seems like, I dunno, is it sad or is it, you know, not good for me? And people will be like, “Oh, you should be resting.” But the fact is I love work. It makes me truly happy.

So actually I am more than happy to be back. I'm more than happy to be sat at my desk, which I enjoy very much. Maybe I should get a hobby. Um, anyway, this week we have great episode and I don't mind telling you that I was a bit nervous about doing this episode. So obviously you'll be aware that some months back there was a awful lot of press and news around the black lives matter movements.

And there was a big thing on social media putting up black squares and people sort of commenting things. And if I'm totally honest, there was a real nervousness around it in terms of what people were saying and doing, and were they doing the right thing or not doing the right thing? And I have to say I was one of those people that was also really nervous.

I didn't want to make a mistake and I didn't want to do something that potentially could be seen the wrong way or, or not do something. And it was a really, really tricky situation to get right. But I knew that I had not educated myself enough. I knew that I had not surrounded myself enough in this situation, in, in the circle of friends, in various different things.

And that I had to change that and that I had to make a conscious effort to ensure that I understood what was going on. So obviously I did things in my personal life where I watch things on Netflix and I read things. And, and to be honest, I didn't post these on social media because I didn't, it again, it's really tricky cause I didn't want it to look like, look, “I'm just watching this thing and reading this thing because of social media and now I've ticked this box.”

I really didn't want it to be like that. So I didn't say that I'd been educating myself, but I was educating myself. And then I was very keen looking inwardly at my own business that actually I need to make some changes in my business as well. And in terms of what circle of influence I had got and who had come on the podcast and what guests I'd interviewed.

And I knew that I wanted to interview someone who could talk about this, who could advise us as small businesses as to how we can bring this in. Because I've been at talks before. And I've been in conferences before where there's been a speaker, who's talked about inclusion and they've tended to talk about big businesses and big companies and TV advertising and, and, you know, using actors and that sort of thing.

And I knew that that just wouldn't work. So I wanted to find someone that could really talk to you guys as business owners and help us become more inclusive. Not only with the black lives matter movement, but also inclusive in every way. And I basically, some has stumbled across this very lovely lady called Sonia Thompson, who actually ended up being on Amy Porterville's podcast.

And I listened to it and I was like, do you know what you have just hit the nail fully on the head. This is exactly what I think I need for my audience. So I reached out to her and she very kindly said she would come on the podcast. So I have recorded an interview with the very lovely Sonia Thompson. She is a customer experience strategist and consultant and CEO of Thompson Media Group, where she helps companies deliver inclusive and remarkable customer experiences that win customers, she also writes a weekly column for Forbes and Ink. This woman knows her stuff where she covers high belonging, inclusive marketing, and remarkable customer too serious. I'll try that again. Remarkable customer experiences, fuel growth and customer loyalty. So honestly, could that bio read. Any better for what I need for what you guys need and something that is going to help us all.

She was so lovely to talk to. And I said to her that I was nervous and I didn't want to make a mistake. I didn't want to get it wrong. And she really helped me understand as to how we can confidently go out into our businesses and ensure that we are doing everything that we can do to be inclusive in our marketing.

And she was great to talk to. I had a lovely, lovely chat with her, so I really hope you enjoy this week's episode and get, get lots from it. And I can't wait to hear what you think.

Okay. I am so excited today to welcome Sonia Thompson to the podcast. Welcome Sonya, how are you doing?

I'm doing well. Thank you so much for having me.

My absolute pleasure. So I am really excited about today's episode because I love it when I interview someone where I need to learn. Okay. And I like it when I can act stupid because I, I am as much learning as my listeners. So for me today, I am ready to suck up as much information as possible in order to improve.

Not only for my listeners, how they can become more inclusive, but also for myself. Because I think as business owners, you do have lots of things to think about and you have to juggle lots of things. But I think what's happened recently is so important for us to sit and go, actually, am I really being, you know, you might feel like you're not being.

It's sort of excluding people, but the sheer fact that you're not including them is probably just as bad as the fact that you're not going this isn't for you type thing. So I'm really excited about today's episode, but you are, you're actually your background and where you've come from, what you do is also very apt for us and what we do here.

So please tell my audience, guess, haven't heard of you where you came from, what you've done and how you got to be doing what you're doing right now.

Sure. Uh, so I worked a corporate job for what nine years. Um, and I worked in healthcare and marketing. And, like most people I realized in the first year that corporate life was not for me.

Um, but I kept making excuses and I ended up staying for nine years. Right. Um, and, um, but the good news is while I was there, I picked up some great skills. Great built a great network that really helped me. Um, whenever I left and to start my own business. Um, I really wanted to, my goal was to help entrepreneurs, um, in the, in the realm of customer delight and customer experience. That is always where, I've you know been excited about talking, um, in, in have loved it whenever I've been delighted by a business and been frustrated whenever I've gone to a business that had so much potential, but they just, the owners struggled with the business part of running a business.

Right. So, yeah. I just kind of made it hard to be a customer. So anyway, I did that. Um, I left my job. I quit my job. And spends a lot of time, um, working on learning concept marketing. So as a way to sort of build up and have people learn more about me. So along the way, um, I ended up writing for a bunch of different publications.

So right now I have a column in Ink. I have a column in Forbes. I write for a number of different publications and, um, I do my consulting work. Where I, um, help businesses, um, enhance their customer experience. Um, and that includes making sure that their marketing is inclusive. Um, so that, because that of course is part of the customer experience.

Cause a lot of businesses don't really realize that they're sending signals along their customer journey that is pushing customers away rather than saying you are welcome here and letting them know that they belong here. Um, and that became sort of a passion project for me. Um, not a project, but just sort of an area of a great interest for me because I've got a lot of differences. I'm a black woman. Um, I followed a gluten free diet. I'm lefthanded. I'm an expat. I live in Argentina rather than the US. Um, recently, now, like I got married here, so my husband is Argentine. So we're in a mixed race, mixed cultural marriage. We just had a baby and now we have a mixed daughter who's going to be bilingual.

And cross-cultural like, so there's all these differences that we have. And I encounter businesses differently because I don't neatly fit into the mainstream. So as a result, there are plenty of times where I feel like I don't belong and I am ecstatic whenever I encounter a business that went out of their way, or they clearly decided that they wanted to make sure that I, in whatever it was difference was felt included and felt like.

You know, they saw me, they got me and they wanted to make sure that they adapted their experience or they not adapted. They built their experience in a way that made sure that it would work for


And do you know what, there's so many things about your story and about what you just said that really kind of hit me in terms of you talked about.

What you're doing to push your customer away. And we often talk about, and when I talk about creating your perfect avatar, finding that perfect customer, I say to my audience, you need to write for them like you're in their head. You know? So there's a lot of work we do around attracting that right person.


But in the same breath, we're not checking while we're doing that. We're not putting off the right person as well. So rather than just thinking of it as a, you know, am I getting to the right person? It's almost like, but am I being inclusive to everyone that this is suitable for rather than just one person.


And the thing is. You can't serve everybody. And I'm not suggesting that you serve everybody. It's more that you are intentional about who you want to serve and who you aren't serving. So for instance, there's a lot of, um, businesses who will say, okay, we serve women. Right. But, um, and they want to make sure that they have a business that is very welcoming to women.

Okay. So we're gonna actively repel men. That's okay. We're making that choice, but there's a lot of different nuances in women, right. So, um, you know, are there types of women that you are sending these unconscious signals or are unknowingly sending these signals that your business isn't for them. Even though they can fit your avatar perfectly in terms of the psychographics, but when it comes to those demographics. And demographics are important, because they impact the way someone receives your messages, they impact the way someone sees and views the world. Right. And so, because of that, um, you just need to make sure that you're being specific about who are the different types of women that you want to serve and making sure that you are adjusting your avatar accordingly and adjusting the way in which you send those signals out to make sure that they do feel welcome.

Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing I love that you said, one of the things you talked about is the fact that you're gluten free, which I know Whiteside really silly that we've come on and have this conversation.

Yeah. Because obviously there's been and rightly so a huge, surge of, of awareness and knowledge around the black lives matter movement. Which is so, so important, which is obviously why I've looked at me and what I do and gone. Oh, actually, I've got a lot to learn here. Um, but also the fact that when we talk about being inclusive, we, we are talking about lots of things.

I have a brother who's special needs that I have, you know, family that, you know, I've got different needs and different wants and that sort of thing. And like said I can relate to the gluten free thing. And what's really interesting cause I've listened to some episodes, some different interviews that Sonia has already done.

And you mentioned in one of them that having to go to a restaurant and go I'm gluten free. Right? I hate it! And you know what happens, right. We went out for dinner just the other day, because although we're still in some kind of lockdown, the restaurants have opened again. And we went out for dinner and I was sat off as, at the time of my husband and this woman, the waitress comes over and she's like, “is there any allergies that I need to know about?”

And I'm celiac. So it's like, I absolutely can't have gluten and, um. Anyway and I'm like, “no, no.”

What is wrong with you? And it's

like, do you know what? I just look at the menu. And I was just like, guess what's gluten-free. Cause I don't want to make a fuss about, I don't want to stand down and I don't want to be one of those people that, you know, they find it annoying because they're going to have to make an allowance for it, you know?

Right. There's this, um, I have this thing called the inclusivity spectrum, um, and I can create something for your audience if they want to find out where their business falls in the


That would be amazing.

But one of the things that is. There were, there's a business in the way where you can fall is where your customers feel like they have to raise their hand if they're different.

Right. So we've got, we've got accommodations for you. We can serve you, but you have to let us know how you're different first, and then we can accommodate you. Even though it's helpful. Like you can be served, you can get your needs met. There are times, like you just said where you don't want to have to raise your hand and say that, you know, you need these special needs.

This, this one stood out to me. Um, very much so I read Shonda Rhimes book the Year Of Yes.

Yes it's. So my list it's on my list.

It's a fantastic book, but she gave an example of, um, the time that she was on an airplane. This is before she lost a ton of weight. And she needed the seatbelt extender. Right


Been there, done that.

It didn't quite fit in her first class seat.

And she felt like she's like, you know what? At this plane goes down, I'm going to die because she did not want to have to raise her hand to ask for it because it was just. It just made her feel not good. Right? So there are times where whenever you've got customers, you've got differences. You do have some types of accommodations for them, or you have thought about them so that you can serve them.

But if they have to raise their hand to say, “Yes, I need this special menu. I need the seatbelt extender” or whatever it is, you know, depending upon where they are, they just might not want to have to do it. So if you can create the environment so that they feel, um, seen without having to signal to everyone else, how they're different, it makes the experience for them so much better.

Honestly, this is, this whole conversation is resonating with me so much in the sense of I've been that person having taught. And it honestly it's mortifying me saying this, but I have been that business. That's asked for a seatbelt extender and I make my husband does not need one, but because I am so mortified.

And then I look at, you know, and the funny thing is then I start comparing myself to other people like. Well, I'm not that big. I'm not like ridiculously huge. I'm not, you know, so why can't I fit in the seat, you know? And like you said, it's, it's more for the fact that we have to acknowledge our difference and, and make that obvious to the world, you know?

And it's like, I don't want to have to do that. And so I thank you for putting in a way that I can, I can completely understand that, but that is not something we want for anybody we don't want someone's having to go, I have this different need. And although I know you're going to accept it, I've got to bring it to you.

And I don't want to do that. Cause that's just a bit. Can be humiliating, especially with something like, seatbelt extended Jesus man. Yeah. You know, but yeah. That's so good. Okay. So, so let's talk specifically, then more around everything that's come up in sense of black lives matter and in terms of being inclusive, that, because I'm really interested to hear from you in terms of not necessarily naming and shaming businesses at all. But what I, what I would like to hear from you is what do you think some businesses are doing wrong so that hopefully if someone sat out there and they go, yeah, “Oh God, I do that and I didn't realize”. Because right, for me, this is, I know that, you know, you've had this conversation before cause I know when you spoke to Amy and stuff. That actually there's this huge fear of getting it wrong and upsetting someone because that is the absolutely last thing. Like the only thing I can liken this to is my, as I said, my brother's special needs and when he was little, he used to have to wear, um, he has, um, curvature of the spine and he used to have to wear this plastic.

Like brace that was strapped onto him all the time. And if we'd ever go on holiday and it was warm, he would obviously still be in his brace. Cause he had to wear it every day. Cause it was straightening his spine. He was a kid. And so he's running around on the beach and he's got his brace and his shorts on and cause it was really hot and of course he'd be really hot underneath it.

He would just have his vest underneath it and have his brace and no t-shirt on. So you could see the brace. And all the kids would come up and go what's that then. And literally would point at it and go what's that then? And we'd go, Oh, Mark. His spine. Isn't straight like yours. And this is helping him get his spine straight he jsut to wear.

And they'd just go. “Oh, okay, cool.” And then move on. But the adults wouldn't ask and you can see them looking and you could see, they want to know, but I'm, I'm guessing it's because of the same sort of thing, but they didn't want to say something that could offend. But then that's still not offended, but it was like, we've just asked.

So anyway, I digress there a little bit, but yeah. So what do you see that they're doing that is, is possibly, you know, not what they should be doing right now?

There there's two main things, but they all have a bit of the same root cause. Right? So the first one is not saying anything, um, and not acknowledging what's happening.

It's like there's a fire happening in a building next to you. And you're just kind of going along at you,

nothing's happening right?.

And this is an issue because more and more customers are becoming vocal about. They want to know that the brands that they're spending their hard earned money with have the same values as they do.

So if something as important as, um, black lives matter and racial justice and ending systemic racism is, um, it's fundamental to who you are as a it's very hard to just sort of disassociate yourself from it. Because it it's, it's, it's a part of you. So even though it might not be related to, um, going to yoga right.

Or going to, it might not be related at all, but it impacts who I am as a person and how I'm interacting with the world. So I have to choose between which yoga studio to go to. I'm going to go with the one who has acknowledged that this thing is happening and that, um, This exists and that they they're recognizing, they're saying some things to let me know that they see me, they acknowledge me.

They want me to be here. Um, versus the one who just kind of acts like there's nothing going on. Right. And they might be acting like there's nothing going on, because like you said, they don't know what to say. Um, but saying something is better than saying nothing in this instance. Right. Okay. So that's the first thing. Uh, the second, um, big issue and where people get it wrong is.

By just making a statement, but there's nothing to ground the statement. We stand with the black community, I'm saying black lives matter is important. So this is definitely a step in the right direction. But statement isn't enough because it doesn't really reflect your values. So there have been a number of brands who have made very great statements. Um, on social media, um, they put up these posts, may some of them have even made videos and it's been great pieces of marketing. But it doesn't, it's not congruent with their values. It's just the statement. Like, so if you're making a statement about how important black lives are, how important diversity and inclusion is to you, but your business is not diverse at all, in terms of who your employees are, um, who your leadership team is, it makes it harder for people to feel like you really mean it. Is this something that you really and truly believe, or is it just the statement that you're saying? Because you feel like you have to, you've got to check this box because if you don't say something, it's the wrong thing to do. Um, so a lot of times, and it's okay if historically you haven't gotten it right.

But whenever you make these statements, If you haven't gotten right. Acknowledge where you haven't and then talk about what you're going to do to make it better in the future. That gives your statement some weight. So there've been businesses who have said, okay, well, we're going to make some donations.

Donations have been helpful. But again, the donation is, is, is great because you're putting your money where your mouth is, but what are you going to do specifically in your business? Um, so that's kind of where it


Cause again

that could be,

it's be a kind of box ticking exercise because that's in my mind sometimes just it's like when it's someone's birthday and you're like, right.

I could go to the store, find something beautiful for them, buy it, wrapping whatever. Or I could just shove 10 pound to the card and hand it over. It's almost a little bit like that, but it's like, yeah, don't get me wrong. That is great. But actually it's so much more than that. Isn't it? Yeah.

Yeah. And really what it comes down to because it's, it's more the relationship, right?

So whenever you're giving the birthday gift to somebody, if you don't know somebody well, um, or if you don't really value them so much, that gift card is easy. You can't go wrong. Right? Like it's it's, but it's generic. And it doesn't necessarily say I see you, you know. Um, it doesn't say that you belong here. But whenever you give this perfect gift to somebody, it shows that you've been listening.

It shows that you know them. And if you think about your product and that your services and the customer experiences that you deliver as a gift that you were giving your customer, you better be able to tailor it whenever you have a better relationship with this person. So going back to what you were saying about your brother, um, and people, know like wanting to ask, but not.

Sometimes that goes along with the degree of customer intimacy you have in the relationship that you have that person. The more time you spend with somebody who doesn't cleanly or neatly fit into the mainstream, they have differences. You understand more about what to say, what not to say what's appropriate.

What's the hot button, what's not. You just kind of know intuitively because you've observed them. You've seen them, you've seen their frustrations and you get better about not saying the wrong thing, because that degree of intimacy that you have with them educates you. Uh, so, um, whenever brands are struggling with getting it right, that means that in particular, they have, have an intimacy issue with the black community.

Or with the customers who are different. You see the same thing happen in pride month, every year. There would be brands who will put up a rainbow, PRIDE! You know, we support that community, but it's superficial because it's just this one thing, but they actually don't have any sort of connection with the community, um, to actually prove beyond the rainbow.

And again, that's so right. I have, um, a student that works with me on, I have a 90 day program where they, I helped them launch stuff and, and, uh, she's a black woman living in California and we got on, on a call that we have every other week and I speak to her and we talk about our business and marketing and all that sort of thing.

And. Although, obviously I would have said I was completely inclusive. You're right. Until I spoke to her and got to know her and her business and her life more intimately, I didn't know some of the struggles that she would have dealt with that I quite frankly have never, ever had to deal with. You know, and for me it was fascinating in a sense of, you know, I needed that I needed that conversation.

I needed the so, you know, and luckily we've built up a really good relationship. She's worked with him for much longer than 90 days, and we're still working together and I was able to go. So, can you help me understand I've not experienced that. Can you tell me what you mean by that?


And that was great, but like you said, that having that conversation with her on zoom, talking about her business and the challenges that she has is very different to me just saying, well, yeah, my things for everybody. You know, because actually I don't understand those challenges the same way as you know, there was another lady I was speaking to who she was selling in America. She was based in America, but she was from, I want to say some not so sure if she was like Italian or something. And she came and sat in this mastermind group talking to us. And she said the thing that she feared the most, cause she did it have a really clear accents because their accent was so Italian and she got so upset about that and was very like “That's going to affect my business.”

And it was so odd because we're all sat around the table going your accent's amazing. Like, what are you talking about? It was obviously a fear that she had because she didn't quite conform. You know, she wasn't from the States and didn't say like everybody else. And so, yeah, that is know such a great way of putting it.

So. What is wonderful and what I love about you and what you've, you're doing and talk about the moment is that you have five steps that we can follow to have a more inclusive business and to help market our business in a more inclusive way. And I am a big fan of step-by-step stuff. So I am so excited to have this voice that's to go over.

So let's get started with them if that's okay. Let's first just say what the five steps are and then we'll go through each one, if that's all right.

Okay. Step number one is to diversify your circle of influence. Number two is to reevaluate your customer avatar or your, um, your buyer personas. Number three is to, uh, commit to representation.

Number four is to make cultural intelligence of priority. And number five is to, um, take an audit of your customer experience.

Perfect. Okay. Let's kick off then with the diverse, your circle of influence.

Okay. All right. So going back to, um, we were talking about being gluten-free right. Before I became gluten-free.

I didn't really have any appreciation for people who had dietary restrictions. And this is a dietary restriction, whether it is, um, something that you're choosing or something that you just have to do. Yeah. Um, and so I didn't have an appreciation for it. Nobody in my family really had an appreciation for it, but whenever I became gluten free for health reasons, um, suddenly it became something that my family had to become acquainted with.

Um, and so they didn't ever sit down and ask me, what does it feel like? You know, and how does this, like, they didn't ask me that they just wanted to know. What did we, they need to do to be able to make sure that I felt included whenever we went out. So whenever we go out from family or friends, I'm the one who chooses a restaurant because everyone wants to make sure that I'm included.

And I feel like I belong. I feel like I belong with the group. So I choose something that makes, that works for me. And then it works for everybody else. So, because I've got differences and I'm in their circle, my inner circle are more aware of people who are different from them.


So they make accommodations, they make adjustments, they do what they need to do.

They learn about, um, different ways of being so that it's more top of mind for them. So whenever you want to have, um, a more inclusive business need to make sure that the voices that you're listening to, the experiences that you're being privy to the way you view the world, isn't something that is just, um, what you're used to and accustomed to. There's this scientific principle called homophily that basically says that we have networks that are very similar to us. Um, look at your friend group, you look at the people that you hang out with, the people that you learned from. A lot of times, they are the same. Um, they've had, they look like you, they have the same experiences as you, the same background, the same education, all of that stuff.

When you do that, it becomes much of an echo chamber. So if you're not intentionally working to expose yourself to different points of view, different ways of being people whose life experiences are for whatever reason are different from you. Then you get much of an appreciation. My mom, who doesn't have a gluten free diet appreciates being gluten free now because she's exposed to people who have to follow that lifestyle. Right? So if you work to make sure that you are diversifying the people that you learn from the people that you talk to, your friends group, your gurus. Whatever it is that you are listening to different types of voices, um, even your entertainment level, right? What is it that you're watching on TV?

The podcasts that you listen to that gives you a broader view of the world. Um, it helps give you a greater degree of empathy. That allows you to put yourself in somebody else's shoes to think about what their plight is and then to come think about. And that allows you to then look at your business differently to figure out how can you serve a broader group of people who don't, whose life experiences are different than yours. Because you're much more aware that because you've got a bigger, a broader circle.


And you're right. It's not until something. Like what's happened recently has happened that you start to look at it and go, because I think before then, if someone said to me, you know, how diverse is your, is your group? Yeah, of course it is. Yeah. And then when you actually look, and it's not that, you know, and I guess this sounds like an excuse, but it's not that it was ever intended to be that way. But like you said, we just go after someone very similar to us. And when I looked at what books I read, what podcasts I listened to, who I watch on telly or who, you know, who I follow, who I hang around and deal my friends. And actually, like you said, there is a huge chunk of those people that are pretty much the same as me in terms of, you know, ethnicity and background and all that sort of thing.

So yeah, I think. And I think you're right rather than just going well, no, you know, I am open to anybody. We've got to almost actively go and seek that out. Haven't we?

Yeah, you do so very simple step. If you want to get started with this and look at who you follow on Instagram or social media. Um, are there different voices that you can specifically look to reach out, to, to follow, to find out how they're doing things?

Um, so just kind of change your world, change the inputs that you have in terms of the way you see things. And then once you do that over time, it would be great if he could build a relationship with them because those associations will help you as you get to a deeper level, develop a deeper degree of intimacy that will help you understand what's behind some of those differences.

Yeah. And for me, I mean, I joke that I'm just really nosy, but I'm genuinely really interested in understanding. You know, I was just saying that my name is a Ghanaian. And, and they've been over here in the UK for probably three, four years and I was fascinated. You know, and I would sit there and be like, tell me how this is.

Can I use this? And what what's that like? And, you know, because it was genuinely so interesting to me. That how, you know, we have a common interest of living next door to each other and we'd get on really well. And, and they're lovely people, but yet we come from such diverse backgrounds and that is fascinating. You know, well, it's built us both to be who we are today type thing.

So, yeah, I think that's a great one to go with. Okay. Number two, reevaluate your customer, your customer avatar, your perfect customer.

Right. So going back to what we were talking about before, let's say you want to serve women. Um, and women can be so broad, but your, your avatar course it drives so many of your decisions that you're making in your business, it impacts your photography.

It impacts the products that you are creating and impacts um, uh, the words that you're using all across. It impacts so many things, but if you limit and define your avatar as a woman, Um, who was very much like you, for instance. Then you can be leaving out some women who are very differen. Um, who still have the same psychological need.

They've got the problem that your business solves, but, um, for whatever reason, um, your avatar kind of leaves them out. And so a great example I use for this is if you were to Google nude stockings, what would come up is a picture of um, several pictures and number of pictures of women with all kinds of new stockings, but most of those women are going to be white.

Right? Or all of them are going to be white. Um, nude that follows a singular definition of nude. But for me as a black woman and for other women of color who have darker skin, that version of nude for a white woman doesn't work. So it's not just on Google, if you, if I were to go into, um, a department store and look for new stockings.

I would have to settle for stockings that don't match my skin color and I've had to do this and it's been a hot mess. And it's just been awful because the marketers have had this sort of singular definition. Now there are other businesses, there's actually one in the UK. It's called Nubian skin where they specifically cater for hosiery, lingerie for women of color.

It's brown, it's beautiful. But it, it fits in that was born out of a frustration of not being able to have, find something that fit your definition of nude. Um, and there are plenty of other examples for makeup, and it's not just for skin color. It's just thinking about how are the people, who were the people who have the problem that your business solves that might not be just like you, or they might have a need that's slightly different. Um, and so if you're looking at your ideal customer avatar or your buyer personas in a way, you've written them. The way that you think you should go about this is to think about who were all the types of people who have the problem that your business solves. And then figure out who is it that you want to exclude, like with the resources that you have or whatever it is, the values that you have, you are not going to serve these people. And then, then make a circle around who are the people and what are the different types of things that are of people that you will serve. So, I got married last year and I was on the David's bridal website.

And, um, if you go on the website who needs, um, there's like all kinds of people that you'll see represented. You'll see, um, black couples you'll see white couples you'll see same sex couples. You'll see couples who have special needs. Um, you'll see the gamut. Um, you'll see interracial couples. Why are you going to see that?

Because David's bridal. Looked at their avatars or their buyer personas. And they made us, they made a choice. These are all the different types of people who have the problem that our business solves. So we're going to make sure that we include them in our marketing, but it started with a choice of making sure that their avatars were representative

of those different types of people.

It's such a good point, isn't it? And like I said, it shouldn't be a case that we haven't thought about it, it's horrendous that we haven't. But, but you're right. So many people wouldn't think about taking it, that, that kind of step where you're going actually am I, I know it's a woman between this age and this age, and she might be a mom and she has her own business and whatever, but actually within that.

What do those women look like? Or what, where might they be in their lives? Or, you know what I mean? There's so much more into isn't that? Brilliant! Okay. So number three, commits to representation.


Representation matters. Like just always keep that top of mind. Representation matters and what it is is your customers need to see themselves or who they aspire to be in your marketing. And that does, it goes actually beyond marketing and it goes to even your business. So there've been a number of times where you look at the leadership. Um, people are starting to more and more businesses are putting their leadership team or their employees on their website. And if you look at all the photos, sometimes you're like, I don't see anybody who looks like me remotely.

And you're

like, this is fine.

So it's more than just in your marketing. It's also in either the team and your business. So it kind of goes across the board. People need to see themselves or who they aspire to being in marketing. So I was on Instagram a while back and I, there's an influencer that I follow.

And she, um, was talking about this like super cool, comfortable workout clothes. Um, and I was in a shopping mood and I was like, I need some not workout clothes. It was probable, it was travel, travel clothes. Um, that looks nice. Like, it didn't look like you were wearing sweat pants on an airplane. Like it looked like, you know, super nice.

Sounds like I need some of that. That sounds


So I pulled out my credit card and I clicked through to the, um, Instagram, um, A profile or page of this, this ad that she was talking about, this company that she representing in her posts. And I got there and after the second one or two, I saw in the photos that nobody looked like me.

So then I got, yeah, kind of frustrated. And I went through the entire account, looking for somebody who looked like me in the photos of people modeling these clothes. And nobody did. I'm not even remotely close. And my feelings were hurt. I put my credit card away. I actually sent them a note and just said, I don't know if you know this or aware, but like I was ready to buy, um, your marketing work.

Uh, your funnel works, but because I didn't see myself reflected. You lost a sale and you lost a potential great customer or a loyal customer that I could have been. Um, and that happens all the time. You, you work hard, you get your marketing to get people in the door or to get people on your website or to get people wherever it is that you're trying to get them to go.

But whenever they don't see themselves reflected, it's, it's, it's a stop it's in everything else. Nothing else matters. Um, so whether it's on your sales page or whatever it is, You need to make sure that along your customer journey, the people that you decide that you want to serve, going back to your customer, avatar, see themselves.

Visually reflected in your business. Um, so that can be like you have a podcast, are the podcast guests that you're featuring, um, reflective of the customers that you wanna serve. And there's a number of different ways that you can do that. But remember representation matters. And when people see themselves and they can see themselves or who they aspire to be in your business, then they can have a feeling that, okay, I do belong here.

Whenever they don't, everything else is kind of stops and then go off in search of somebody who does, um, show them and represent them.

Yeah, I guess I've never thought about that. I've never thought about, because obviously I've not been, I've not experienced that same feeling of going somewhere and not thinking this isn't for me.

Um, And you're right. People are going to look at what they're presented with and look for something that attracts them more or they can resonate with, or that, that goes, “Oh, I'm in the right place.” And it's like you said, you do all this work on your avatar to make sure that they feel they're in the right place.

And like you said, you know, you were absolutely their customer, but they didn't show you at the very last minute. Like, yes, you are our customer because they haven't thought about that. They haven't thought,


Like you said, they've thought about who the person was as in, you know, they're female, they travel, they want to look smart.

They blah, blah, blah. But they didn't think about how. Well, you know, what are the differences these women could have and do we represent all those differences? So, yeah, that's so interesting. Isn't it? It's so


It is! I was talking to, um, someone and I was advising her. I was coaching her. She had a, um, a handmade, uh, leather shoes.

Right. And she was telling me that she has a combination of slow fashion and she was just telling me out of all the different types of people who appreciate. Um, the way her shoes are made. And she said her customer group was either 50 and older or they were, you know, kind of in the younger sort of category.

And, um, none of her models were in the fifty year older group. And so that was a bit of an issue. And I remember somebody commented after I was talking about this whole thing and she, this woman commented on, on Facebook and she's like, I'm over 50 and I never see myself in photos and it really does kind of hurt my feelings.

So it's the same type of thing. People across the board. It's not just about, you know, race or like, it's not just,

Any differences.

Yeah. Yeah.

I did this recently, actually I was doing some testimonials for, I was creating a new sales page for my Academy, and often I attract a lot of women. A lot of my audience are women, lots of people in the Academy of women, but it's not that I don't just deal with women.

And it was really interesting because I did it from a male-female perspective. I looked at my Academy and I was like, Oh, he is a brilliant Academy member. I'm going to contact him and say, can I have a testimonial? Because I wanted that, that male presence. In preparation for today's interview. I've been thinking obviously lots about this, and I have black members of the Academy and I don't have a testimonial from them, not for any reason.

And this is the thing like it's, you feel like your you're having to justify that? You know, you've actually, that's a good thing, I guess. Cause it means I'm now thinking about it and thinking actually that's not right. Because I have black people in the Academy. I have black people on the 90 day program.

And if you looked at my stuff right now, as I speak, I would put money on, that there is no one black or of color on those pages other than


White people and not for any real reason, but because I guess I didn't think of it. And that's the problem I should be thinking about it.

That's the thing, like, that's why it needs to become a priority for you or you need to commit to it.

So whenever you do find that your numbers aren't quite in, it's not about quotas or anything like that, but when you find that you're not. Um, you don't have the representation that you want. Um, it just, whenever you're able to see it that way, it makes it more top of mind for you to make sure that you're going out and you put the mechanisms in place, um, to allow you to make sure that you've got that representation that you want, that you just


Yeah absolutely, and for me, that's where I would see that I would do that because obviously the podcast is another great place with things when it comes like my Instagram and some, it is me, I it's predominantly my photos and that sort of thing. So for me, it would be in places like sales pages, testimonials, who I'm working for, the events I speak at, which again, you know, is never not out to speak anywhere and, and, you know, be involved with any event.

But it's just making sure that I show that representation rather than knowing I, you know, I've got it, but I'm just not putting it out there being proactive about it. So, yeah. That's awesome. Okay. We're on to number four. Aren't we make cultural intelligence a priority.

Yes. Um, so I was thinking about this the other day.

So like I said, I, I live in Argentina. My husband is Argentine. Um, he speaks Spanish. He speaks very little English at the moment. So um whenever we started dating, I asked, I said something to him. I asked him for some pictures that we had taken when we had gone to dinner and the way that I said it. And we were saying this over WhatsApp, over his text messages.

Um, I thought the phrase that I use to ask for the photos that he took was perfectly fine. He received it likes in, I was kind of saying it in a nastier kind of way. I thought the phrase meant one thing. He knew that it meant another because this was his culture and this is the way he lives with every day. So I mentioned the next thing we were together, and I was like, did I offend you in some way?

And again, my Spanish is imperfect. Right. But, um, we were able to communicate and he was explaining to me that. This doesn't mean the same. It doesn't mean the same thing that I thought it meant. And that was a big aha moment. I remember talking to one of my other ex friends about this same phrase, and she said that she said it to someone and we think it's fine because it's something that we hear in the US all the time.

But here, she said the friend said it doesn't mean what you think it means. And so that is a cultural intelligence fail, right? Where you're interacting with people, even people that we love and people that we care about. Um, and it could be the customers that you want to serve. But at some point, if you don't have a full understanding of their culture, or an appreciation for it.

It can be very easy for you to say something that is offensive, um, that completely misses the mark. That just isn't, um, doesn't land the way you want it to. So the goal here is to make sure and going back to we were talking about this customer intimacy. The more, the closer you get to the people that you want to serve, um, the better you have an appreciation for.

What works well, what doesn't, what's taboo, what is offensive? What isn't defensive. Um, and this is an ongoing journey, right? Um, and it's an ongoing journey to make sure that you're immersing yourself in whatever particular culture it is so that you know, what, what works well and what doesn't. Um, and the better relationship you have with that person if you make a mistake, Uh, which is inevitable, right? As you're learning. Um, the easier it becomes for people to forgive you. To know that you're trying to know that you didn't mean any, any harm. But you have to make sure that you're committing to making cultural intelligence a priority in your business. So that you minimize over time, those mistakes that you're going to be making, but, um, that you're taking the time to educate yourself.

There've been so many brands over the past couple of years, who've had to pull products, whole marketing campaigns because they did something that just, the, in their apology statements, which they bought issued. We missed the mark. We didn't realize we didn't, we didn't know. And they didn't know as they didn't have cultural intelligence as a competency.

Um, as it related to the people that they were trying to serve.

Yeah. And do you think that can only be got from like, it's almost like we beat either like you have a glossary of terms or, you know what I mean? Like, it's almost like, is there a handbook or you'd need one for every possible outcome if everybody doesn't because again, having a brother with special needs, having disabilities.


You know, the things that people say, you literally want to smack them in the face sometimes quite honestly. Yeah. But, um, but you get it cause they don't, and they don't know that that isn't appropriate. And you need to tell them that that's not the way you would say something, you should say it like this.


But I think obviously that's half the problem that everyone is so scared of getting it wrong and upsetting or offending or appearing a certain way, which they don't feel they were. That they just don't say anything at all, or they just don't try and understand it at all. Whereas like you said, I think we have to, and when I say we, you know from a black lives matter, you know, for a white person, to think I'm going to, I'm going to mess up at some point. You know, there is a chance that I am going to say, I think that isn't quite right.

Or isn't but the sheer fact that I'm trying has got to be, it's going to outweigh that. Hasn't it? Because what's the alternative?

Right. And people appreciate whenever we're trying. So like I said, I speak Spanish imperfectly. Um, but one of the things that I had to be very clear about when I started to learn was that I'm going to mess up.

I'm going to make mistakes, but the people that I'm interacting with appreciate that I'm trying. They appreciate that I want to have the conversation that I want to speak to them in their language. And they helped me. Um, and that has been the key to me, being able to get to this point to where I'm imperfectly fluent, it's that you understand that it's okay if you make mistakes, but as long as you're committing to the education and you're committing to learning and trying and getting it and being in the middle of it. Um, then it's, it's okay. And people can recognize the growth, and this is actually something I'm working on. Um, I'll be launching very soon and inclusive marketing and cultural intelligence hub, which is designed to provide this type of information. Cause like you said there's a gamut of different things that people should know and things are changing and evolving.

And that is the other thing in terms of, you know, some of the differences in this world, when I was over in the States, I was talking about the number of recognized genders that we have here in the UK and the number escapes me now. But it was, it's a really high number. It's something like, I'm sure it's like 50 something.

I feel really ignorant now, not knowing it off the top of my head. But I was talking to the friends in the States about it and they were like. They didn't experience that. They didn't know that. And it's like, but that's how fast it's moving right now. So it's no surprise in one way that. That it's hard for us to keep up because otherwise, because it's changing and if we're not in that world, you know, then it must be really tricky for us to make sure that we're always where we need to be.

And like that. I think that's why so many people hide and just think, Oh, just let's not pretend. Let's pretend that's not even going on, because I don't want to take the risk and step into it. But yeah, imagining it like a language is a perfect way. Because you, know, this is new. I've never spoke this language for how on earth can I get it right?


Off the back. I can't but until I keep using it and being corrected and using it and being corrected, I'm never going to get to that point. Am I? So yeah. For me that's makes me feel a lot better to think about it that way, so. Awesome. Okay. So final points audit your customer experience,


So think about all the things that we talked about, all the previous four steps. Um, making sure that you're expanding your circle of influence. You revisit your, your ideal customer avatar. You think about representation and what you want to your representation. It look like in your business and you think about cultural intelligence specifically, and then you figure out, go through your entire customer journey and evaluate what are the signals that you want to send?

Who do you want to send them to? And is your customer journey reflective of those previous four steps? Is your customer journey representative? Are you speaking directly to the ideal customer that you want to reach based upon your expanded view of who that is? Um, is it culturally intelligent? Are the words and the phrases you're using attracting groups of people? Um, are the visuals are the things that you're saying. Um, you know, letting them know that you get them and you see them on their journey and it lets it and know that you are not just, you know, here for a moment.

Right. Um, so that your journey is reflective of the values of what it is that you're say that you're doing. And that the journey is sending the right signals for the people that you want to reach.


If you're not, if you're not looking at all the steps in the journey, you could be missing some areas that you had no idea or sitting the signals that you don't actually want to send.

So as you're making these adjustments, you want to make sure that the journey reflects what it is that you want it to.

That's so awesome. And, and for me, the, the key thing, I think. That I I'm taking from all of this, is that this isn't just for now. This isn't just a, okay, everybody we're talking about it now because it's really precedent and it's really, you know, it's in the press and we're hearing about it all the time.

And actually that was one of the reasons because when, when the, it was on a Tuesday, wasn't it? That everybody put up the black square and that was kind where it's kind of hit in a social media peak anyway. And then obviously I watch lots of people and I watch what they do and what they say. And I'm watching all these people suddenly jumping onto it with gusto. And I personally, I wanted to be very gentle with myself about it and do my own private staff and speak to my own friends, watch things, read things. And I was really cautious to not rush, to get someone's come and talk about it. To not suddenly just get someone on the podcast to go, “Oh look, yeah, I'm doing the same as everybody else.” Because I wanted it to be a much longer, you know, this is a forever thing.

This isn't just a, we're talking about it right now. And for me, I. I was very nervous about getting it right. And I wanted to bring someone on who could talk about this in a way that. And very selfishly I guess, made me feel better in the fact that I wasn't going to be nervous talking about it for fear of getting it wrong.

And I heard you speak and I, I looked at your stuff and I was like, you're perfect. And you have been perfect. I love the way that you've, you've explained things in, in so many different ways that not only make us think and understands the importance of being inclusive from black lives matter points of view. But also from an everybody point of view from a in actually we're not just talking about the color of someone's skin or their race or talking about the disability, we're talking about, you know, that sort of sexual preference or gender or whatever it might be that actually, if we represent these people, we need to show these people we represent them. You know, and actually we need to look at our stuff and. And be really honest with ourselves and go, do you know what I haven't? And I'm really sorry about that. Am I should have done it, but I've learned now and I will. And I will make sure this isn't just a ticking exercise. This isn't just a, “okay, look, I've put my square up.

I'm all good. I said something.” that this is a, no, this is, this is always, now this is coming forward and, and this is just how we are. So thank you. So, so very much, I honestly, I appreciate you so much coming on. And because you're still on maternity leave, which is just insane that you're doing all this and managing. And now you're going to have to get back to work very soon with a teeny tiny baby.

So you are going to have your hands full aren't you?

I will, I will, but thank you so much. It's been a joy chatting with you. It's been super fun.

I've loved it. Thank you so much, Sonia. And that I will put it in the show notes, everything about how you can find out about her and go and check her out. She's wonderful.

Oh, you know what? I loved that conversation. It was so good. She was so lovely and I loved the way she put it and, and the different ways she enabled us to understand how that might be. I was just listening to listening back to it and obviously reminding myself of the conversation and the humiliating bit of having to admit, I had to ask for a seatbelt extender, which I'm still a little bit embarrassed I mentioned. But just even things like that, just really kind of made me go. That's what that feels like. That's what that means. Um, and also the, the kind of forgiveness in terms of you're going to make a mistake, but you've got to try. So honestly, I took so much from that episode. I am taking on board, everything she said. I'm going to be working harder in my business.

I hope that helped you if you are keen to, to make more strides in your business. And yeah, I just, I was really pleased with how the episode went and like I said, I got off that interview and I said to her, thank you so much because I was so nervous to mess this up. You know, that I didn't want to mess this up and, and to make sure that it was right. And it was right for you guys. So, so yeah, it was a great episode. I loved it now, obviously, as always, I am going to hook up to everything in the show notes. Uh, so do go and check that out. She also has a fab freebie as well, which I'll put the link to as well. So yeah. Do go check her out.

Like I said, I was so, so grateful to, I thought it was a fab episode. Can't wait to hear what you think. Okay. I'm going to leave you to it, until next week. Next week I am back with a solo episode and I will see you then. Take care.