NovaXyon Digital Marketing How To To find and Come with Extra Underrepresented Voices in Your Content material

How To To find and Come with Extra Underrepresented Voices in Your Content material


When women make up so much of your target audience, why does your content marketing focus on quotes from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Richard Branson?

Effective content marketing connects your audience’s wants and needs with the education and insight your company wants to share. That connection is more impactful when your content also reflects your audience demographics.

It’s time for you to take a hard look at your marketing content to assess how well it incorporates women as well as other underrepresented communities.

White men aren’t the only great sources

Conference keynote speakers and webinar hosts love to include inspirational quotes. Last week, I saw a webinar use sayings from Albert Einstein on invention and Bill Gates on innovation in back-to-back slides.

A few years ago, I saw Steve Jobs quoted four times in four days across training classes, webinars, and virtual events. Why had all these content creators chosen quotes from Steve Jobs? Had all these people across diverse organizations really adored Steve Jobs? Did a page-a-day calendar feature Steve Jobs that week? Was it the top search result when they searched Google for a quote for their slide topic?

That was when I decided to teach content marketers the three steps to include more women’s voices in content. You can follow these steps to address any underrepresented voices in content marketing.

Glimpse your brand’s past

I hear you protest, thinking you have definitely, well probably, quoted women and other underrepresented voices in your content. But everyone can benefit from a brief check. Review the last 10 to 20 text-based content pieces published by your brand — long-form web content, e-books, infographics, customer case studies, industry reports, etc. Who is quoted in that content?

Next, look at your recent audio and video content – podcasts, webinars, recorded virtual events, conference recordings, and customer videos. Do they include diverse voices?

In most B2B organizations, women and other less-heard voices will not surface. It’s even harder to find content with these voices in industries like technology, finance, or manufacturing.

Now that you know where your brand stands, you can proceed with plans to create a more balanced representation.

Find underused sources

So, you recognize the opportunity to add different voices, but how do you find the people to quote?  You have options, but they may take a little work and creative thinking:  

  • Customer references: Look at your customer marketing database, community, or user group. Is there a great beta user who can speak about the benefits of your product or services? Is there a strong advocate in your customer community who could be quoted?

For a new product launch, I asked a female customer to speak at a conference. Her schedule didn’t permit her to travel to the event, but she agreed to be quoted in the text-based content.

  • Industry analysts: Look deeply into research from top firms like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, or Constellation to find underrepresented voices addressing your topic.

In a previous role, I often cited a brilliant European researcher whose global data was overlooked in the United States. She became a frequently cited source in our content, and when she came to a customer conference, people recognized her and wanted to learn more about her research.

  • Industry influencers: Many of the strongest voices from underrepresented communities write and speak about your industry. Follow them on social media, build relationships with them, and invite them to your events, content, and projects.

During a customer conference, our team reshared useful social media feedback from an early career tech influencer at the event. This visibility not only helped validate a new product’s position in the market but also helped build the influencer’s reputation as well. She is now a featured presenter at huge tech conferences.

  • Company executives: How diverse is your executive team? Which leaders can you cite in the content? Don’t forget up-and-coming leaders like product managers, product marketers, and technical engineers.

Build relationships inside your company to bring fresh and relevant voices to your content. Carefully evaluate who you can cite today and who may need development. I’ve led media training and presentation coaching sessions to develop more women as spokespeople in industries dominated by men.

  • Famous people: When you want to quote famous people, think outside the box.  I started keeping a list of powerful, accomplished women that could be cited in content, many of whom also belong to other underrepresented groups.

I’m always building this list and collecting more examples. Here are a few ideas of women you can quote in your content.

Subject Instead of Quoting … Try Quoting
Innovation Steve Jobs, Apple CEO and co-founder Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code
Business Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler CEO Ginni Rometty, former IBM CEO
Leadership Peter Drucker, management theorist Linda Hill, chair of the Harvard Business School Leadership Initiative
Firsts Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon Sian Proctor, first female commercial spaceship pilot
Storytelling Walt Disney, animation pioneer and entrepreneur Shonda Rhimes, first woman to create three television dramas that have achieved the 100-episode milestone
Endurance Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles, nine-time Olympic medalist
Teamwork Mike Krzyzewski, coach of five NCAA basketball champion teams Caitlin Clark, NCAA basketball all-time scoring leader
Creativity Pablo Picasso, world-famous artist Frida Kahlo, world-famous artist
Humility C.S. Lewis, author of books translated into over 30 languages Amy Tan, author of books translated into 35 languages

Sometimes, audiences aren’t familiar with the people on this suggested list — and that’s fantastic. The human brain is more likely to focus on what’s different, and the person will learn from the less likely sources. What’s more surprising to your audience — a quote from a 22-year-old basketball sensation who’s in the morning news headlines or yet another quote from Steve Jobs?

Showcasing a different voice takes your content from expected and boring to being interesting and memorable.

Continue learning about amazing people who deserve to be heard more

You should continue expanding your knowledge of underrepresented, innovative, and quotable sources and make sure they are seen and heard. To accomplish that:

  • Read lesser-known authors. If you have a goal to read a business book, consider one authored by a woman or other underrepresented community.  
  • Join events and listen to podcasts. Many diverse voices share important insights at virtual and live events. Attend one of their sessions on a topic that interests you to see what new perspective you can gain. If you’re hiring speakers, seek diverse points of view. Do the same for podcasts, whether you’re listening or scheduling guests.
  • Start the conversation. Ask your peers who they recommend for expert advice. Who should you know in their network who is a keynote speaker, author, or other expert? Share your best recommendations with others.
  • Engage customers. Your customer base includes underrepresented communities. Work with your customer reference team to find them so they can be featured in upcoming content.

Don’t stop there

Finally, consider these two more things.

If you see a webinar, event, or meeting featuring only white men, say something. Whether it’s a private chat with the event organizers or a polite ask in the meeting, you have the power to get people thinking about including other voices.

Second, recognize that people have unconscious biases and could still become allies in this conversation. Perhaps they never noticed that every leadership quote comes from Tom Peters and every innovation quote comes from Bill Gates. A gentle nudge may be all you need to add a diverse voice.

Register to attend Content Marketing World in San Diego. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100. Can’t attend in person this year? Check out the Digital Pass for access to on-demand session recordings from the live event through the end of the year.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute


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