A man throws his hands in the air under a rainbow flag.

As the LGBTQ community continues to become more mainstream, many brands have embraced advertising and marketing to LGBTQ consumers. In the last few years, we’ve watched Pride Month, celebrated every June, become a mainstream holiday with brands actively courting LGBTQ consumers, and their allies, with advertising and media that reflect the diversity and growing power of the community.

As more and more brands begin marketing to the LGBTQ community, it’s important to think of it as a year round opportunity that exists beyond a yearly show of support during Pride Month. In fact, a recent YouGov study found that “more than half (52%) wish they could see more ads with families like their own, versus 39% of the fellow public.”

Advertising to the LGBTQ community isn’t a right; it’s something that must be earned by listening and learning about the many facets of the community, being a brand upstander and inspiring everyone to be more accepting.

If your brand hasn’t yet engaged with LGBTQ audiences, here’s what you need to know.

Representation Matters: Like the rest of America, the LGBTQ community covers the full spectrum of society. It’s important to show the full range of LGBTQ diversity in your advertising, creative assets and social media outreach. Being inclusive shows that you’re genuinely interested in understanding the LGBTQ community and being an LGBTQ upstander.

Among other things, this means that you should show couples, friends, and family that reflect the full spectrum of races, genders, and orientations. It’s also important that your marketing creative and advertising reflect that the LGBTQ community doesn’t exist solely in the urban meccas of New York, San Francisco and Miami. 

Know Your Niche: When marketing to the LGBTQ community, it’s important that you know your audience. Just like you would turn to market segment specialists in the youth or multicultural market, you should turn to experts in LGBTQ marketing.

Doing your market research and due diligence is important because it can mitigate the possibility of creating a campaign that the community finds offensive, avoids stereotypes and helps you better understand, speak with and serve the growing needs of the LGBTQ community.

Inspire: Many brands have used the opportunity to open a dialogue with LGBTQ consumers through inspiring and uplifting advertising and creative campaigns.

From a pair of Star Wars obsessed dads in a Campbell Soup ad, to a transgender friendly H&M campaign or an AXE body ad featuring music nerds, brands are stepping up their efforts with poignant prosocial LGBTQ myth busting.

Be a Brand Upstander: While the LGBTQ community has made great strides in gaining acceptance, there’s still a ways to go. If your brand markets to LGBTQ consumers, you should have a social strategy plan to deal with the inevitable blowback from more conservative voices about your inclusion of LGBTQ communities.

For example, while the Campbell’s Soup Star Wars ad received an overwhelming enthusiastic support, there were still voices of dissent. Instead of caving to the pressure, Campbell’s Soup not only defended their support of the LGBTQ community, but also used it as an opportunity to position their brand as an upstander for all families.

An upstander is someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. Being a brand upstander also means that your company has workplace policies that are inclusive and supportive of all members of the LGBTQ community.

Being a brand upstander for the LGBTQ community also requires you to walk the talk and publicly speak up and out against legislation and laws that discriminate against any community. When a brand stands up for what is right, and do their best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt, they are being socially responsible.

When your brand commits to a year round marketing and social media strategy, you’re showing that you’re invested, inclusive and committed to the LGBTQ community for the long haul—not just during Pride Month, establishing your brand loyalty and credibility with LGBTQ consumers.

Sources: Business Insider, High Speed Internet, Marketing Charts, PBS, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Time Inc., Philly Voice

LGBTQ millennials are social natives