Market Focus: Gays and Lesbians
Prospecting names also can come from up to 18 different magazine subscriber lists and the donor files of some 20 different civil rights and legal organizations, as well as travel-related and adult product lists.
When marketing to the gay and lesbian consumer, it’s essential to be for the community and of the community, both in your pitch and creative. “Gay men and women prefer to see themselves in advertising, and response rates improve when messaging is tailored for the gay audience,” says Shawn Thomson. “Marketers must always be very careful to approach gay men and women with the utmost sincerity,” he adds. “In other words, ‘Don’t just market to me, but also support the causes that are important to me.’”
David Rosen, editor in chief of InsightOut, a gay and lesbian book club launched in 2001, agrees. “From day one, we felt it was very important to give back to the community, to help sponsor author readings and events whenever we can. That has helped us gain credibility and really get a share of the heart, as well as the wallet.”
The look of any direct marketing effort also should reflect an understanding of the community. Rosen notes InsightOut, “wanted to project a lively, vibrant, fun, witty and upscale look, because we feel the book market is very savvy and responds to quality.”
Vincent Andaloro, CEO of Rainbow-Pak, an agency that offers FSI, door hanger and cooperative direct mail programs, agrees. “We’re looking to be colorful with a softer tone to the message that says, ‘This is for you. This is about you.’”
Marketers targeting the gay and lesbian market also must strike the right creative balance of another sort. A package must be engaging, but it also must maintain the privacy of its customers. Rosen notes that’s always a challenge; “How far can we literally push the envelope, and what kind of images can we have that will be shorthand to tell everyone, ‘Hey, this is for you,’ without ‘outing’ them?” InsightOut’s latest envelope creative features a striking male profile looking into the words “intense,” “mesmerizing” and “powerful.” Jon Pogact, head of Brewster, N.Y.-based Metamorphics Media, a division of Mal Dunn and Associates that specializes in list brokerage and management for the gay market, says, “Mailers should keep their outer envelopes branded to keep open rates steady; however, without mention to sexual preference or implication.”