Inclusive Marketing, Messaging, and Copywriting with Jackie Sunga

Image of Jackie Sunga, guest expert of the Talk Copy to Me podcast in an episode where we talk about inclusive marketing

How inclusive and accessible are the words that you write or the messaging that you share? While so many people want inclusive marketing assets, they often don’t know where to start or if they’re doing it “correctly.”

In this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, Jackie Sunga, a conversion copywriter and brand voice expert joins me to talk about how to write inclusive copy, create messaging that speaks to a diverse audience, and make sure your overall efforts follow inclusive marketing best practices.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Here is what Jackie and Erin want you to know about inclusive marketing

  • What inclusive marketing, messaging and copywriting actually is
  • How inclusive marketing isn’t just about the words that we use in our copy, but the visuals we share on our websites and other marketing assets
  • How Lizzo modeled taking immediate ownership and making swift changes when she was called our for using offensive language in one of her songs, and why this is something we should learn from as business owners
  • How following inclusive marketing best practices means that you need to be willing to make mistakes, but choose to work on it anyway
  • Why taking ownership of mistakes, instead of explaining the reasoning behind your misstep, is the best course of action
  • Why brand messaging is the first step in creating any inclusive marketing assets
  • The role research and voice of customer research plays in inclusive copywriting
  • How to write inclusive copy for your business
  • Why businesses are moving away from the PAS copywriting framework (and what they’re using instead)
  • How to make inclusive marketing efforts a permanent part of your content and copy creation

While you’re here, I invite you to check out these similar Talk Copy to Me podcast interviews about inclusivity and the changes in marketing in 2023

Other podcast episodes and resources mentioned in this episodes:

quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes about inclusive marketing from Jackie and Erin

copywriters erin ollila and jackie sunga discussing inclusive marketing on the Talk Copy to Me podcast
  • “…thinking about how we have these identities that we we maintain, and being really clear that if you want to be intentionally inclusive of people who are different than you, then that means being very aware of how the language you’ve been using. How has that unintentionally excluded people, and how can you make sure that you’re not intentionally doing that? It’s definitely a big conversation. And there’s lots of mistakes that people, including myself, make, but I think that the attitude and the intention, first and foremost, is that’s where everything can start — in conversations, good conversations, productive conversations, and not blaming conversations.” – Jackie Sunga

  • “What you can’t recognize, you can’t work past.” – Erin Ollila

  • “If we can remove the blame from this topic, like, that’s just gonna make it a lot easier for anyone to have these kinds of conversations.” – Jackie Sunga

  • “Even before we talk about like the technicalities of what to say ,how to research, and what the messaging should be, I think it’s really key to understand that you’re sharing a message as a business. And a lot of the times, you have to look at what that message is. Because just because you might know what you want a message to be, you don’t know how a message is always going to be received.” – Erin Ollila

  • “It’s so much more important to, instead of saying like, “Oh, let me create this laundry list of things that I really feel like I should do to atone for all the sins that I have made in this area,” or like, “On behalf of all the people who look like me that aren’t as inclusive, I’m gonna bear the weight of doing all the things”…one percent growth is all that that you need. Perfectionism can be really a trap when it comes to inclusivity…but just that 1% growth, I think you can be proud of that. And as long as you’re continuing to make it sustainable for yourself. That’s where progress can actually last long term, and you can affect more than just yourself.” – Jackie Sunga

  • So there’s really two factors: there’s the business voice and there’s the audience and how they’re receiving the message. So I think when I say inclusive copy and research, we have to do our research on our clients [and also understand what voice we’re using for our business marketing.]” – Erin Ollila

  • “The work is essentially trying to understand somebody else’s emotional experience, and to speak to those emotions without manipulating them.” – Jackie Sunga

  • “I think people think copywriters just tap away at keyboards all day. And I will say that the writing is the smallest amount of work that I do. It’s all research and editing. This conversation about [inclusive marketing] really just shows how much work goes into writing that…has to do with keyboards and pens.” – Erin Ollila

Prep yourself, friend, because there’s more than one homework assignment for you from this episode. While I don’t normally hand out homework assignments, early in the episode we talked about how important it is to surround yourself with people who are different than you at all times — not just when there’s a major event in the world that brings light to a diversity, accessibility, or inclusion issue.

Which encouraged me to challenge my listeners to go out there and make sure your social media feeds featured people who were different from you in all forms — age, race, culture, ability, experience, etc.

I said, “I challenge everyone, regardless of who you are, to go right now to Instagram, LinkedIn, wherever you use social media, and follow people who do not look like you or do not come from the same circumstances as you…follow people who are a little more advanced as you are career wise, that do not look like you or do not come from the same background, and just absorb their content. That’s key to [beginning to understand things] outside of your own circumstances.”

And then later, I did ask Jackie, like I ask all guests, for her own homework assignment, and she wants you to get out there and find the brands that you love and take notes on how they are approaching inclusive marketing.

Jackie says, “What is it about them that you like? What is it that you do not like? And what do you want to take from that [research] for yourself? Obviously, you have your own brand, and you don’t want to copy somebody else’s. But seeing really good examples can be helpful.”

Meet this episodes guest expert on Talk Coy to Me

Jackie Sunga is a conversion copywriter and brand voice expert specializing in website copy. She helps impact-driven brands bridge the gap between their expertise and their audience with customer-first messaging. Whether she’s teaching emerging entrepreneurs or writing for 7- to 9-figure brands, Jackie loves helping clients find the words that attract perfect-fit people and sell with integrity. When she’s not helping clients with strategic sales copy, you can find her grabbing boba with her husband or playing with her two dogs.

You can subscribe to Jackie’s weekly notes on empathy-led sales copywriting and growing a stress-free online business here. Or, visit her website and connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:

Here’s the transcript for episode 075 on inclusive marketing and messaging with guest expert Jackie Sunga

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. SUMMARY KEYWORDS inclusive, inclusive marketing, inclusive copywriting, inclusive messaging, people, writing, brand, copywriter, copy, research, clients, work, values, conversation, feel, living, mother teresa, mistakes, talk, business, type, assessing, important SPEAKERS Erin Ollila, Jackie Sunga Erin Ollila 00:04 Hey friends, welcome to the Top coffee Timmy podcast. Here we empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk coffee. Hello friends today I am here with Jackie Sangha. And we’re going to be talking all about inclusive copywriting. So you all might know Jackie, as someone who is a great copywriter and awesome with brand messaging and development. But what you might not know about her is that her sister was actually a copywriter before she became a copywriter, which is how she learned all about copywriting and online businesses in the first place. I have two questions. What was that like? And is your sister still a copywriter? Jackie Sunga 00:57 Good question. So my sister, oh my gosh, this is probably like, I don’t know, 2016 2017 or something that I like started watching her. It was just I mean, I didn’t even know what copywriting was at the time. But you know, she was really person. She valued email copywriting a lot, and like really convinced me that email and email marketing and copywriting is so much more revenue revenue generating for our business than like social media marketing. And so I was like, Okay, you sold me. So then I, that really just kind of like started planting the seeds for me as far as just the online business world in general. And starting with emails, and adding more to that I almost like didn’t want to call myself a copywriter because I was like, I don’t want to do what my sister’s doing, I have to be different, I have to play a different instrument than my sister. But you know, it wasn’t until I really started to see like the ROI for my clients that I was like, Okay, I really want to specialize in this. My sister does not write copy anymore. She is a stay at home mom, Erin Ollila 02:02 sibling rivalry sibling wanting to be different, but like still following the same path. And I love that. That’s awesome. So before we get started talking about the idea of inclusive copy, I think it would be really great to kind of have I’m going to throw some air quotes around this, but like a definition of sorts on what we’re talking about when we have this conversation. How would you define inclusive copy or inclusive copywriting to a online business owner or a service provider? Someone who is either writing their own copy, or wants to make sure that when they hire out the copy that’s created for them is as accessible and inclusive as possible? Jackie Sunga 02:44 Oh, for sure, yeah. So let me give some context to like how I became really interested in this topic in the first place. So when I had first started out, I actually started writing for a lot of therapists, because I was in grad school to be a therapist. And those were just business owners that I was networking with at the time that were like they were building their, like second businesses online, like education businesses, and they needed help with like, Okay, how do we sell to an online audience and you know, many therapists were very, they had to follow, they have to follow ethical guidelines. And you know, many of them have these online brands and presence, the presence that they create is inherently very inclusive. And so I started paying attention to like, what was the difference between, you know, what does the therapist really value and like, the way that sales can still be done really well, when you are upholding the values that you personally hold? And then also the, you know, just considerations that someone needs to take when when they’re writing for a niche that is, like, there’s a lot of conversations that have to be had when it comes to ethics. So I knew I really already had to think in a different way, as far as how do you persuade? How do you still come across as like, using like, the whole, like, attract and repel, like the right people, the wrong people, but then also like, how do I differentiate different clients because they’re all they probably all have the same degrees and then like certifications, and things like that, and so, and then on top of that, I started, I started really getting interested in writing for the diversity, equity and inclusion or diversity, inclusion and belonging, service providers, so not just like the therapy, the people in therapy, or people who are therapists. What a lot of that has really taught me as far as like, how do we define inclusive copywriting and feel free to anyone who is listening like this is not like, you know, the web stir definition, this is really my interpretation based on who I’ve been working with as my clients. And what they have taught me essentially, the world of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging it, I mean, they all have different definitions, right. But essentially, being inclusive honors the fact that like, there are other people who are different than you. And that you are willing to learn more about how someone who has a different identity than yours may not resonate with language that is typically used. And so you know, whether that is a marginalized identity, and that can be lots of different things, right, that can be under the umbrella of race, right, excluding people, you know, some brands, like they aren’t even aware that the majority of the photos on their website are like just people who have white skin, right? Race. Gender, obviously, is really a big topic right now. And sexuality, religion, all of these different things, right? But just thinking about how like, we have these identities that we we maintain, and being really clear that if you want to be intentionally inclusive of people who are different than you, then that means being very aware of how the language you’ve been used to using, how has that unintentionally excluded people? And how can you make sure that you’re not unintentionally doing that? And it’s definitely a big conversation. And there’s lots of like, mistakes that people, including myself make, but I think that the attitude and the intention, first and foremost, is that that’s where everything can start in conversations, good conversations, productive conversations, and not blaming conversations can be had. So okay, that was a long answer. Yeah, no, that Erin Ollila 06:50 was, that was really good. One thing it really made me think of when you’re talking in conversations that I’ve had with other people, whether it’s about copy or just something else in the space of diversity, and inclusion is the idea that for a lot of people, they cannot necessarily see outside of their own circumstance, right. So some people may be coming to their business and their marketing thinking like, well, of course, I’m inclusive, right, as if inclusive, equaled, like non prejudiced or anything to that effect, right? Because they want to be a business that invites all in, but yet they are, they’ve grown up in their own bubbles, right. So I love the I love the example that you brought about stock photography, because that’s literally one of my biggest pet peeves is people do not consider the idea of what they’re using in their images is very much making a case for what they stand for, who they work with, and things like that. I had a client that I worked with who was a photographer, and they really wanted to make it clear that they, you know, were extremely inclusive and who they wanted to take pictures of. Now, they had a portfolio that had different couples, but they weren’t necessarily using those images on their website pages. So you know, my standpoint on that was okay, so let’s say you have a couple who comes to your page, and all that they see is white heterosexual couples, they’re not going to think that you serve them, right. So like, it’s easy. I give this as an example. Because I feel like it’s that bubble thing, right? Like, what you can’t recognize you can’t work past. So I think it’s really important to think of like the idea that messaging and marketing as a whole is not really just the copy. While that’s mostly what we’re talking about today. But it’s also about all all, all of these choices, where we place things on the website, what images we use, and obviously like what words we’re using, and the ways that we’re talking to people, you know, when when you mentioned things like race and culture, like you know, there’s different word choices that people of different cultures use. I’m not going to only remember what the word was. And obviously, that’s not what we would talk about on this podcast. But remember, like Lizzo somebody, like people in Europe were like, Hey, that’s a slang here. And she wasn’t using it as if it were a sling, but she was quick to correct herself, which I think is awesome. Because she was called out that it was an like, not a great word choice. Yeah, but she that’s her bubble, right? Like she she didn’t grow up in Europe, or I’m totally gonna mess up this whole story because I’m like, Wait, what did what did? What did you do? Where’s it from? Jackie Sunga 09:35 I think I’m actually familiar with a story because one of my clients was telling me, she’s, her whole brand is about self compassion and creativity. And she had this. She actually mentioned to me about how Lizzo I don’t know if this is the same exact Lizzo story, but she was saying how like people had called out Lizzo I think because she was saying something about the disabled community and that was she didn’t realize that she that, you know, the language that she was using was, uh, was offensive and the way that lizard just just just took ownership like really fast like she, she apologized and just the way that she handled things was so graceful. And then like everybody moved on after that, and that’s how it should be right where it’s like, and I could like go on and on and on about like this as far as like the trail I could keep on going on. But as far as like how these conversations can be had, you know, a lot of people feel really angry, right. And it’s understandable if they’ve had, or they’ve been living in a marginalized identity. It’s understandable when people feel that way. But I think that like just the way that that whole interaction was where it’s like, okay, person says that they’re offended person who made the offense takes ownership, apologizes, fixes the mistake, and then everybody together, like continues to live without feeling wounded. So I think that was a really beautiful example of how like, even if you do make mistakes in this topic, which all of us will make mistakes, right, and, and even people who teach it for a living, right, but just the way that like how we can, if we can remove the blame from this topic, like, that’s just gonna make it a lot easier for anyone to have these kinds of conversations, whether that’s, you know, if you’re the person who is calling out somebody else, or if you are a person that’s made the mistake, because it holding people accountable for you know, what they say that they believe in, in the values that they uphold is important, right? including ourselves. So anyways, yeah, I’m really glad that you brought that up, because that was such a good role model of someone publicly being called out. Erin Ollila 11:45 Yeah. Because I think people, at least what I see online, is like people’s first reaction is to explain, and it’s like, that’s not what the best course of action is, right? Like, whatever, whether it was intentional, like the way that you, you know, weren’t inclusive, whatever the case is, it’s like, you don’t need to explain what you need to do is take ownership. And I think that’s key. Because, you know, even before we talk about like the technicalities of like what to say how to research what the messaging should be, like, I think it’s really key to understand that, like, you’re sharing a message as a business. And a lot of the times you have to look at what that message is, because just because you might know what you want a message to be, you don’t know how a message is always going to be received. So I think when we talk about mistakes, like you said, I loved that you brought that up, because you aren’t going to make mistakes like 100%, you’re going to make tiny little mistakes, you might make a big mistake. But if we look at this, as we’re all going to try to do our best to be as inclusive as possible, we’re going to own any mistakes that we do make and make swift correction of those mistakes. It’s going to go swimmingly for so many people, right for the communities that are now being included, hopefully, for the people who are trying their hardest to be as inclusive as possible. It’s kind of like, in a sense, like, don’t stress on what we’re about to tell you next, so long as you are actually being willing to like make, do the work, make the mistakes, and then take ownership of them. If they are, you know, they need you need to in the case of be making a mistake. Jackie Sunga 13:25 Yeah, for sure. I also want to say like on this note, like as far as like anyone who I want to say this because this is something that my amazing diversity, inclusion and belonging consultant clients taught me where, you know, I was actually running some user testing sessions on her website, just to see like, how are people actually perceiving her website, you know, before I started writing, rewriting it, and strategizing everything. And you know, one of the people who participated in the user test was a white man and an older white man. And, you know, he viewed her website and saw it didn’t see himself actually in it. And what I thought was really interesting was that how like, my client, you know, she doesn’t want anyone to think that like, the white man or white people are the enemy, she always wants them to even also feel like their opinions are still included. Because there gets to be a point in this whole conversation where like, the white man, the white, white, white, heterosexual man is like the enemy and then they ended up like being feeling like the bad guy. But that’s not necessarily like the, that’s not necessarily the idea that we want to communicate either as far as like, the whole conversation of inclusive inclusivity but rather like is everyone really doing their best to step outside of themselves and really understand the perspective that is not their own by having a relationship with somebody else that’s different than from who they are really, truly like. I think that like, the best kind of fruit from have these conversations can come from like, the, the relationship that you have, that you’re open to having having and maintaining with people who are different than you. I think that’s really where it needs to begin. I don’t know if you remember, like when the whole like George Floyd, murder had happened in 2020. Like, there are all these people who are coming, or like asking for help business help and groups, they were like, oh my goodness, how do I do this? And this and this and support black people? And I was like, Well, do you have any black friends? And do you know, any black people like ask them, you know what I mean? And so it’s like, that’s the the relationships that we have with people who are different from us, is really where, like, so much learning and beauty can like, I can give you all the tips, right? That I’ve learned from my own, like experiences and people that I’ve grown to know and love, but there’s nothing that honestly beats like the push the challenging moments that you encourage yourself to pursue when you’re like, Hmm, I actually am in a bubble. And I actually, I actually am surrounded only by people who look like me, or who believe the same things, I believe. Yeah. I can’t remember the exact tie of why I said that. But Erin Ollila 16:24 no, no, I can I can go on that for a second. No, no, that’s okay. This is this is good. Because, you know, I mentioned the bubble before, right. Because like, that’s what I think literally is happening, like people just, you know, they grew up in their circumstances, like geographically where also we can all be so culturally different point is, is you can’t stay in a bubble, right? Like, that’s not going to serve you at all, we always do a homework assignment at the end of this, but I’m gonna will make to this episode, because I’m gonna give everyone a homework assignment who’s listening? Right now, there’s one thing to say when something huge and dramatic and serious happens like the George Floyd murder, like that. They want to help marginalized communities. But there’s another thing of doing it when there’s not a traumatic, like major thing that has happened. So I challenge everyone to like, regardless of who you are, go right now on Instagram, LinkedIn, wherever you use social media and follow people who do not look like you or do not come from the same circumstances as you. I, I am, I’m very, very lucky that I grew up in an area that had a lot of different cultures around me. So I was, at least culturally, I had really just had a lot of significant experiences in my life. That all being said, when George Floyd was killed, I looked at my Instagram, and I’m like, there’s a lot of white people on here, like, that’s all I could see is just white people in my feed. And it really made me think it’s like, oh, Erin, like you like in your head. You walk around thinking like how unprejudiced you are, and like, how inclusive you are. But like, day after day, when you look at your feed, all that you are seeing is people who look exactly like you like, that’s, like that is not being inclusive. So I think that like right now, hopefully, when this episode goes live, things could be a little more even keel, going to act as if like, this is an equitable world that we live in, because it it’s not, but but in the sense of like, don’t wait for the traumatic event to happen, like, take a second, right? Right now and follow people in your field, follow people who, like are a little more advanced for as you are career wise, that do not look like you or do not come from the same background, and just absorb that content. That’s key to understanding the outside of your own. But yeah, Jackie Sunga 18:47 yeah. And just to add to that, something that what, again, my amazing D IB consulting client taught me, she just gives so much grace. And I think that, you know, it’s so much more important to take, instead of having like, Oh, let me create this laundry list of things that I really feel like I should do to atone for all the sins that I have you made in this area, or like, on behalf of all the people who look like me that aren’t as inclusive, I’m gonna, like, bear the weight of like, you know, doing all the things 1% growth is all that that you need. Like everyday, perfectionism can be really a trap when it comes to inclusivity and just this whole area, right, but I think that we can’t be all or nothing, and we can’t like, just ignore it for the rest of the year. And then like when something terrible happens, like just allow that to be the push, and then like make up quote, unquote, for all the time that you didn’t spend carrying the rest of the year or, you know, however long it was, but just that 1% growth, I think you can be proud of that. And as long as you’re continuing to make it sustainable for yourself. That’s where progress This can actually last long term, and you can affect more than just yourself. Because you know, if you’re like the only person in your circle, who cares about this, right, and then like, you start talking about, you know, wildly different conversations and like the people that are used to you or that are around, you’re used to having, like, they might lose that train of thought. And so the more sustainable we can make it for ourselves to really keep acting in favor of including more people, then the easier again, that it will be, it will be long term change in progress. Um, so I know it was like a lot of like background and Erin Ollila 20:43 everyone, like pause the episode, go take a drink of water, or go to the bathroom if you need to, and then come back and join us in a couple minutes when you’re ready, because we just threw a lot like, I guess is that like a podcast? Episode One, I don’t know, I tend to talk for a while. But that was a lot. That was great, though. I think that it really set some incredible like groundwork for the idea of like, we are imperfect humans, but imperfect people who take any type of action is still better than not taking action. And you know, being willing to do the work, give yourself some grace, put in the effort and adjust as necessary is kind of like the key to making this successful. Let’s shift a little bit to talk about how to do this work. You know, one thing that I think is key to understand is inclusive copy does not really start when you sit down and you like take a pen to paper or like start typing within a Google doc inclusive copy is in many phases, right? It’s in I, when we talked about this, before the recording I had mentioned like research, you have to factor research into being inclusive. And you had said, well, even before that, like we have to think about like the branding and the messaging that go into the business. Can you maybe talk about that for a second, like what people should consider when it comes to their brand messaging, if they weren’t to be an exclusive business? Who puts in the practice of having an inclusive copy? In their website on their sales pages, however they communicate? Jackie Sunga 22:13 Oh, for sure. So I think the first step is exactly where you mentioned, as far as assessing the type of business that you want to be and the positioning that you want to take in the market. Because this is going to be huge as far as what words you’re going to use to attract your ideal client. And I’m a firm believer that we have to decide on positioning before we write copy, right? So what does that mean? Essentially, you know, when we decide on who we are going to be selling to who our ideal target market is, and what problems they are experiencing, that involves a sense a set of of worldviews, beliefs, values, that those people are all they already hold, right. But then also the values that you as the founder or business owner are like, actually, we haven’t been living up to our values that we said that we want to uphold and have throughout the entire company, not just in marketing. I was, first of all, assess your values. Where along the inclusivity spectrum, do you want to fall? Right? Do you want to be the type of brand that really is that really leads the industry? As far as making really big strides in this area? Where do you want to be a brand where like, maybe this isn’t going to be our primary positioning factor. But this is still going to be really important to us. And this is how we are going to like this is our strategic plan of action, or we’re moving towards a strategic plan of action for how this is going to play out. Right. So we can’t write anything unless these high level decisions are made. And after having assessed, you know, where are we as far as where we want to be as far as positioning and where we how much more work we have in front of us. And I can give you some examples of this too, as far as client work. So one of my clients clients, actually they had hired this is the same diversity inclusion belonging client, they had hired her because they were like, oh, you know, what, we actually haven’t been living in, in, in alignment with our values. So we’re gonna pay six figures to this consultant to help us make sure we’re actually we’re actually living this out and every facet of the business, not just HR, right, but just but every department and then in another aspect, one of my clients who is creating a new brand, that is an education company, a personal development company, because she was going through A rebrand, it really gave her the space. Or she really had to pause and think about like, okay, like, how do I want these values to be conveyed to prospects to our paying customers and within our organization, right, because if we’re really living out inclusivity, it should not just be in our marketing, but it needs to be felt. And we need to be accountable for it throughout the business. So starting with assessing, and then being really honest with ourselves, as far as like, yes, I’ve decided that this is, these are the values that we want to live out as a company, not just on paper. And this is how it’s going to look when we are speaking to all the people who interact with our brand. Because from there, then it’ll be really easy to decide on like, this is the tone that we’re going to use in our communications. And this is the type of vocabulary that we’re going to use. So it’s really like this, I envision like this pyramid, essentially, if of like the order of things. And you know, as before we get to things like tone and vocabulary. And the more technical, that technical phase of writing, those high level things need to be decided upon first, and so like brand imagery, as we were saying to. So if that’s clear, right, then you can move on to the more tactical and technical implementation and execution of that strategy. Erin Ollila 26:39 I do want to go to the tactical part in one second, which I think kind of falls into both research what I meant, at least for research, and then the actual copy work. Because one of the things I was thinking of that we have to be careful as copywriters for when we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible in our copy is phrasing is tone. That’s not something we can magically do. And I think that, for me, at least, it’s something that I put a lot of effort in, because it’s kind of more like, you know, maybe my client won’t even see the end result of it. But I have to play a little bit with the words to make sure that they’re said in the way that matches those brand guidelines, right? Or the you know, they’re meeting the tone, especially for like a smaller business. It’s like the meeting the the, the tone and the voice of the face of the business while talking to that audience, the diverse audience that they’re trying to speak to, right. So there’s really two factors, there’s the business voice, there’s the audience and how they’re receiving the message. So I think when I say, inclusive copy, and research, I think we have to do our research on our clients, which is key. And I think everyone knows that, you know, especially if you listen to the show, I talk about client research a lot. But when you’re doing client research, because I have had a lot of listeners say things like, I loved your episode on voice of customer research with Melissa paid, it was so great. But what do I say, on these, these calls? And I’m like, we talked about it guys, like there’s no like specific views or the words that you say in the exact questions like, Sure, some are standard, but everyone’s industry or, you know, again, their values, like you’re talking about, like the positioning does play a role in how we understand our clients. So when it comes to researching your audience, do you have any advice on how to keep top of mind the idea of includes being inclusive, when you’re actually doing the interviews when you’re doing the social listening and things like that? Oh, my Jackie Sunga 28:46 goodness, I love researching. So I’m really glad you asked this question. Yay. So just to clarify your question, my understanding is top of mind things to remember when doing research? Is that Is that your question? Yeah. Erin Ollila 28:59 Because, you know, like, I think people get the basics of things like voice of customer research, but what but when you have a brand or a business that really does care about being inclusive, you have to do a little bit extra during this research part, to make sure you’re speaking to the communities, right, because again, we talked about bubbles, you know, like I’m a heterosexual white woman, right? So it’s like, if I’m writing for a, let’s say, I’m writing for a completely different cultural group than me. I can’t guess that’s like I don’t I don’t have that lived experience. I don’t have all of the everyday experiences and the nuance and the struggles and the desires that they have. So I really have to say to myself, like my perspective, is not their client’s perspective, let’s say or their voice of the business. So I, I cognitively, you know, again, though, I’m a copywriter here so I know these things, but like, I like go out and purposefully look for things or if I’m doing some like social listening, let’s say or I ask specific questions. is based on the client’s need. So I guess, yes, the answer to your question of clarifying that, what I’m saying is, is yes, but I just don’t know if the explanation is any help more helpful to you to kind of talk about it? Well, let Jackie Sunga 30:13 me share it, just the things that come to mind. So like during the research process, some of the most important work when you are researching is how you analyze what you are researching and writing for a group that is very different than yours, right? It’s going to feel really uncomfortable, first of all, but then like, realizing that it’s, if you are a copywriter yourself, like your job is to be the chameleon, essentially, and like take on, like, learn how to slip in and out of different identities that and voices that are not your own. And so what that requires is honestly like this, well, we’ve already talked about like being aware of what your own possible, like prejudices are, or your own biases are right, but but I think my favorite part of the research process is reading between the lines of how an emotional experience is actually trying to get the breadth and depth of a real emotional experience. And so my favorite research type is customer interviews, because you really just cannot get the same again, breadth and depth of of someone’s true emotional experience from a survey, when we are conducting customer interviews, highly recommend them if you don’t do them. I know that can be uncomfortable, but I promise it’s worth it. Really reading between the lines of like, some because someone’s emotional experience may be heightened or maybe completely different than yours, it’s very important to start to analyze things like, where is this person possibly feeling? Afraid? where might they be feeling ashamed? where might they be feeling hopeful? Or like looking towards what they desire? Where are they concerned about the things that they’ve already tried, and they may be failed at? And then is there something that they feel angry about? And so our capacity as researchers and people who write you know, either our own copy or somebody else’s copy, that requires a lot of energy and emotion and emotional space for us to hold? I think that like, it’s really important to not underestimate like that it is work, right to really understand this. And then realize, because again, your experience is something maybe completely different, whatever the copy is that we’re trying to write and sell people on, right? Because there might be, for example, like I was writing copy for a speech pathologist. And I had no idea like, right, like what these parents that she was marketing to what they were really feeling, right. And I didn’t realize that my copy didn’t have as much compassion as these parents actually needed until I got feedback from somebody else. And so it’s like, it really, really requires you, when you are doing it. Right. The signs that you’re writing, you’re making a lot of progress towards being more inclusive is like if you feel emotionally tired. Yeah, that like you have, because you have stretched yourself to feel emotions that you have not felt before. And that because you’ve not experienced it yourself, right? You’re essentially work. The work is essentially like trying to understand somebody else’s emotional experience, speak to those emotions without manipulating them. Right? And really stepping out of yourself to have this lens of Oh, yeah, like, because I’ve really understood this person’s feelings, I can agree that this makes sense as far as this needs to be a hair more compassionate, or this needs to like, tone down a little bit on the sassiness. Right, if that’s the voice of the brand, and they’re sassy, cool, but like, that’s a fine line, as you were saying as far as like voice of brand and voice of customer. So I think like you’re right, like it really it’s this marriage between like researching the brand that you’re writing for, if you’re a copywriter yourself or researching yourself, and researching, like how your customers are actually feeling so that this empathy piece of writing the copy, it can never be divorced from the work, right. And again, just going back to the sign of like, it’s not just getting the words on the paper. And knowing that like, if you are emotionally spent, you can feel proud that you’ve done done hard work. But that’s not again, I’m not minimizing anything, but it’s just like sometimes sometimes that is just the indicator for me in terms of like I did the best that I could, but I wasn’t actually in tune with my emotions, right? I wasn’t actually in tune with the customer’s emotions here. But now that I’ve listened a little bit more now I am Yeah, I think like just emotional analysis of the research that we do on customers is a cannot be overlooked. I think not a lot of people talk about how just flexing your empathy muscle even more is, is a huge part of it, whether that’s, again, you’re telling somebody how to write for you, or you are writing for yourself, you’re writing Erin Ollila 35:21 for an audience that you’re not familiar with, consider bringing in a sensitivity reader. That isn’t something that gets talked about very often. And I especially want to like kind of make what that is clear to the DIY errs, who are listening, a sensitivity reader is just basically someone, especially the key here is like this is volunteered, not in the sense of not payment, sensitivity readers should be paid, but volunteered in the sense of like, you don’t just go to someone you know, with the same like identity and be like, can read this and tell me what you think. Right? So you go to someone and have them review what you’ve done to make sure again, that it is not offensive, that you’re not saying anything that would not be right in that community that you don’t need to amp up a message or dial back things. You know, I don’t want you to hear this and be like, wait, I have to do this for every copy I have to do is when I do a sales page, I just wanted to launch this program, you don’t. But if there is something you are actually concerned about, or you’re not sure if your research has really given you enough information, that is a possibility for you to onboard someone as a contractor quickly to review the content you’ve created and give you the feedback on what what adjustments really mean. Jackie Sunga 36:30 Can I just like, oh, this is so important, because you turn people away if a message that you intended did not actually get received in the way that you actually intended. So, so important to define the scope of your brand messaging and brand voice because if you want to say something to like, you know, your best friend, like what’s on brand and what’s off brand, right? Like what that needs to be defined in advance so that you’re not unintentionally communicating something that you know, people perceive as like completely different than what you actually want your brand to be how you want people to remember and perceive your brand long term. So I cannot emphasize that enough. I honestly wish like it for anyone who’s a newer a newer business owner who’s DIY, one of the first hires, I honestly think everyone should make is an editor or a spa or a sensitivity reader. But again, if you have the type of brand or relationship with your existing audience that is, you know, consistent and that and it’s obvious when someone is not writing as you than one time occurrences, like people, people usually forgive those things, right. But if it’s not, if it’s consistently inconsistent with your intentions, then like, hire that editor yesterday. Erin Ollila 37:48 Which is why like when we talk about like copy in general, like any form of copy any type of communication you have with your audience, you know, you hear people say like build trust, nurture relationships, like, that’s why that’s so important. So that way, the missteps, that accidental mistakes that you make people they already trust you so they’re like, oh, okay, you know, like that. They don’t mean harm here. And they’re, they’re taking action to collect state, but they had said something incorrectly, and you know, that they’re learning from it or whatever, right? So it’s like, the people are so much more forgiving when they already trust you because you’ve done the work in so many different ways. Before we end let’s, let’s jump into like, this is going to be the hard question and feel free to it depends it and give an explanation. But we’ve gotten all the way to the end of the episode now. So someone has that pen and their paper their Google doc open? How do they write inclusive copy? Jackie Sunga 38:43 What do they do? Okay, if I was just if I want to summarize everything that I just said in this view, first step is assess where you want to be as far as how inclusive Do you want your brand to be going forward? Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Secondly, do the research on your customers? And do they align with those values? Or are you shifting? And do you want to attract people with new values than the old ones that you previously served? Do that research, analyze the themes that come through? And then also don’t forget to analyze yourself as well right? Because if you are previously going from I don’t want to be or like you know that you have a lot of work cut out for you or you know, you have a lot of work that you want to do then analyze brands that are aligned with the same values that you have, right what are they doing well, what do you want to keep for yourself? What do you not necessarily want to implement as well? So research, researching your customer researching yourself and what brand values that you want to add execute. Next step is actually just start. And this is jumping ahead of things. But just for those of us who want to like get to it, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and just start crafting, whatever it is that you’re crafting. So whether it’s a sales page, a sales, email, your website, anything, a social media, post a blog post, and then get someone to give you feedback on it, that’s probably like, again, I cannot overestimate that. Get someone to give you feedback on it, whether that’s a sensitivity reader, whether that’s an editor, whether that’s a team member, who you expressed your brand values to, that can be powerful. That’s like a really small step. But that can be really powerful, as well. And follow up, just keep following that cycle. Because once you put it in front of customers, that’s also feedback that you’re getting as well. So it just continues back as far as a cycle of just like assessing, researching, writing, editing, testing. Yeah, no, Erin Ollila 41:07 it really is, like, circular like that. Because the key to is like writing is not the end. So the feedback that you get from people, whether it’s silly as like, this was such a great blog post, or I felt so heard or whatever, like pay attention to that, because those are the keys to tell you what to do more of and less of when you restart that site. I will say Jackie Sunga 41:29 though, really quick, as far as like a another tactical thing when it comes to writing that I’ve found as far as inclusivity a lot of people are like tired of the pain, agitation solution copywriting framework. So consider using a framework like desire obstacle solution, or Aida, attention, interest, desire action, right? Consider using that type of or exercising your copywriting skills with those frameworks and see how that feels right, like did that does that resonate with your audience? Does that resonate with you to write in that style? As opposed to you know, the typical PHS problem agitate solution. So Erin Ollila 42:14 get the words out there. Like I think sometimes like self editing while writing and like worrying about how inclusive are your tone while you’re doing the actual brain purge of copying content is really hold, like holds people back. So it’s like, get the work out there. Self edit, once it’s complete, bring someone else on and then look at the like, well, I guess in the beginning and the end, when you’re writing, look at the frameworks and consider them and as the approach but then when you’re editing again, look at how you’ve done it and think to yourself, like, Am I coming across compassionate, using your former clients example? Like, do I address these pain points? Like, is there anything missing? But when you’re doing the actual writing, just get the words out and adjust them? Yeah, Jackie Sunga 43:03 editing is probably like, where I spend the most of my time to be on it. Oh, like researching and editing. What I Erin Ollila 43:09 think is the funniest about this conversation is, I mean, some of this will obviously get edited out because we’re talking for a long time now. But we have had a conversation for 53 minutes, as of as of the recording right now. And how how long did we spend talking about actually writing 212 minutes of that. But I think, to me, I really want to point that out because like, you know, I think people think copywriters just tap away at keyboards all day. And I will say that the writing is the smallest amount of work that I do. It’s all research and editing. You know, it really is. So I think just the conversation about this really just shows how much work goes into writing that is not related to anything that has to do with keyboards and pen. Jackie Sunga 43:56 Yeah, yeah. And thinking to write like, Erin Ollila 44:01 rumination it takes Jackie Sunga 44:04 the thinking about the research and then the thinking about the angles or the the way that something needs to be edited. And is it on brand? And is it like how, you know, do we use voice of customer here? Or do we use voice brand here, right? It’s like so many decisions that need to be made. And I think that’s too funny comment, like we live Erin Ollila 44:25 in now we’re jumping into my final questions. If you could give a teeny tiny homework assignment, just something that can you know, actionable and quick that people can do after they listen to this long episode. What would you give them to do for homework? Jackie Sunga 44:39 Number one, find a brand that you really love that really aligns with the inclusivity aspect that you are the the values of inclusivity that you love, right. Um, and going back to what I was saying earlier, like what is it about them that you like, what is it that you do Not like and what do you want to take from that for yourself, obviously, you have your own brand, and you don’t want to copy somebody else’s. But seeing really good examples can be helpful, especially because this is still a relatively new topic. So find, find a brand that you think does really, really well and allow that to be your jumping off point as far as researching your brand, and how you want to be coming. How you want to convey the same value. Yeah, find one brand that you like. Yeah, Erin Ollila 45:29 I think that’s great as you looked like you were coming from our homework, and I was like, let’s just let’s just, well, we’ll let them off off of a class right now. Come back to class tomorrow, and we’ll talk about it. Absolute final question here. Just for fun if you could meet anyone, whether for business pleasure, someone who lives someone dead, I don’t care who it is, who would you like to meet and why. Jackie Sunga 45:51 And I would like to meet Mother Teresa, because I love the work that she did like, and like, I need to be a more compassionate person. And she was like a Erin Ollila 46:09 real Mother Teresa is like the Saint of All Saints. Like, I know, it’s like we this is gonna be so silly. I’m probably gonna edit this out. But you know, it’s like, we keep hearing about these things. Like the awful things people did in the past are like, Yeah, you’re a bad person. Like, if anyone ever said any trash about Mother Teresa. Like I think all of my hopes and spirits would be just like, crushed. Like I grew up. I grew up in the church. I’m not religious anymore, but it’s like you know, I grew up in a Catholic church went to Catholic school Mother Teresa was like my home girl right? I mean, she like she was touted for being like the kindest most wonderful person as she was. So I think you know anyone says anything negative about Mother Teresa, I would just probably like have my hopes crushed Well, I Jackie Sunga 46:57 also just came up with that right now that hasn’t been like I have you like I because I think I honestly think I need to be nicer and I think just goes along with what soggy about so I’m not perfect everybody I just like Erin Ollila 47:16 oh my god, I love that you’re in here. I think I’d want to be Mother Teresa because I’m I need to work at being a little nicer and she was pretty nice. And I will put all the ways to contact you and learn from you in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here today. This was a fun conversation. And I’m glad that we took the time that we did to kind of explain this to our listeners Jackie Sunga 47:41 need to thank you so much for having me and thanks so much for this really well needed Convo. Erin Ollila 47:50 Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Top copy to me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today. I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation. Head on over to Instagram and follow me at Erin Ollila. Until next time friends

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