I recently spoke to a prospect who shared that his company was interested in targeting customers with disabilities. Sounds simple enough, right? He shared elements of the marketing plan with me and it was clear they were throwing everything on the wall to see what would stick. As we continued the conversation it was clear his enthusiasm didn’t match his understanding of the market. Unfortunately, this conversation is common for many brands exploring disability inclusive messaging and marketing.
Recognizing consumers are bombarded with hundreds of ads each day it is not only important to understand the key drivers, behaviors and perspective of consumers with disabilities, but it’s essential to understand how to breakthrough the noise and stand out – credibly and authentically.
Let’s start with the Rule of 7. Essentially, the Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states: prospects need to come across an offer at least 7 times before they really notice it and start to take action. Consumers with disabilities, their families and influencers can be exposed to an offer significantly more than 7 times, but need to see an offer at least 7 times; this helps them take note of your company’s offer amidst the marketing and information overwhelm that exists today, which positions your company to get better results from its disability marketing efforts.
The Rule of 7 is rooted in psychology is linked to a phenomenon called “mere-exposure effect” or the “familiarity principle.” Essentially, the more people are exposed to something, the more likely they are to take note of it and develop a preference for it. Companies, government agencies and non-profits that have a handle on blending an understanding of what consumers with disabilities want, need and prefer with the Rule of 7, rise above the competition.
Here are a few things to consider:
Sell the Challenge Your Product Solves, Not the Product
People with disabilities are looking for products, services and/or experiences that are life-enhancing, seamless and address a barrier they may encounter.
For families with autistic children, vacations can be a challenge. After listening to guests and travel agents Royal Caribbean designed a solution. Known as the “autism friendly cruise line”, Royal Caribbean created a guest experience that integrates specific services to provide an exceptional experience for families with an autistic member. Their services include, but aren’t limited to:
- Priority check-in, boarding and departure
- Adventure Ocean flexible grouping by ability for children 3 to 11 years old
- Pagers/phones for parents of children in Adventure Ocean program while signed into the care of Royal Caribbean staff.
- “Staffed Cruises” catering to families with children, teens and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, which include: Extra professionally trained staff in caring for individuals with developmental disabilities (provided at one staff member for every two-three special needs guests); specialized respite sessions; and private activities and sessions.
Do you think families who have autistic children can enjoy themselves and actually have a vacation on a Royal Caribbean Cruise? Absolutely.
Expand Marketing Channels
Do not restrict your marketing to just one channel. Channels to consider when targeting consumers with disabilities include:
- Partnerships with national disability organizations
- Ads on Social Media
- Leverage Social Media Influencers
- Ads in The Mighty, New Mobility, Arthritis Today or Disability Scoop (to name a few)
- Email Marketing
The best way to let consumers with disabilities know your company gets them is by using words in a variety of formats they love to hear. I suggest blogging, video (with captions and audio description), podcasts, and user-generated content.
Too often I’ve seen brands use a one-shot approach when targeting the disability market. It usually is a blog or corporate statement of commitment for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or during National Disability Employment Awareness Month. That’s not enough.
A critical part of the Rule of 7 is consistency. I recommend reaching consumers multiple times, through multiple channels. Data from HubSpot shows that companies that blog around 16 times or more per month get 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than businesses that blog less than 4 times a month. No matter what your disability marketing strategy consists of, the importance of frequency cannot be overstated.