Don’t patronise me!
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Don’t patronise me!

Nobody likes to be talked down to or treated like a fool. At the risk of patronising you, here are five ways to avoid accidentally insulting your audience.

  1. When marketing to certain groups in society, it’s easy to patronise them accidentally – be aware if you are targeting one of these groups. For example, mums are often talked down to by companies that treat them as if changing nappies is the meaning of their entire life. According to a FanFinder survey, 32% of mums still believe that marketing aimed at them is patronising, while 35% feel ‘pigeonholed’ by brands.
  2. Avoid this trap by remembering that everyone you’re selling to is a complete and individual human being like you, not just a member of one particular target demographic. They will have other aspirations that you can call upon to create a more rounded campaign – so get to know them better.
  3. If possible, include somebody from the target demographic in your team. They are more likely to understand the cultural nuances of the group they are part of.
  4. If that isn’t possible, there’s another solution. When you are encouraging people to engage with your brand, make sure it’s a two-way conversation. If you listen to consumers – or even test their reactions via social media – it’s easier to avoid patronising them in the first place and to correct mistakes.
  5. Sometimes you just have to put up with the accusations. Campaigns that focus on a social issue are easy to criticise, (‘You’re only in it for the money!’), but that shouldn’t necessarily stop you getting involved if you think it’s an important cause. 

If you treat people as people, and talk to them on their own level, you can not only avoid patronising them – you will make a genuine connection.

Sammy Todd Former Marketing Manager CIM
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