You’re a pretty regular person, right? Special in your own ways, to be sure. But you’d likely refer to yourself as pretty normal. And that’s awesome! Because we all have our own intricate way we’re put together.
And in that web of what makes us unique, no matter how normal we may be, sits quite a few things that make us tick. Our earliest memories of grandma baking bread or falling and hurting our arm all generate a one-in-a-trillion kind of life that you get to lead.
But alongside those memories come some things that were likely out of our control. In a special, frustrating way, the things that make us hurt, no matter how badly, are often the things that make us the most “us”.
These traumas quite literally decide how we react to everything we see, conscious or not. Falling down and hurting our arm can evoke poor memories of sitting in treehouses as just one simple example, and the more complex the trauma the more complex the feelings about it.
So what does that mean for those of us responsible for putting images and words into the public eye? How can we tip our hat to the fact that people have all sorts of negative trauma without losing any oomph in our messaging?
What is Trauma-Informed Marketing?
Trauma-informed marketing is an approach that takes into account the potential impact of traumatic experiences on a customer’s behavior and purchasing decisions. You can call it a lot of things, including considerate and polite marketing.
It recognizes that individuals who have experienced trauma may have specific needs and preferences, such as a desire for safety, control, and validation. Trauma-informed marketing aims to create an environment that is supportive and understanding of these needs.
To achieve this, trauma-informed marketing strategies may involve the use of language and imagery that is sensitive to trauma survivors, avoiding triggers, and emphasizing the customer’s sense of agency and choice.
It may also involve creating safe spaces for customers to interact with the brand and providing opportunities for feedback and validation. Ultimately, trauma-informed marketing seeks to build trust and create positive experiences for all customers, especially for those who have experienced trauma in their lives.
Let’s look at five ways trauma-informed marketing can be beneficial to your strategy.
1. Recognizing Individual Needs
One way that trauma-informed marketing is better than traditional marketing is that it recognizes and respects the experiences and needs of individuals who have experienced trauma. Traditional marketing often relies on tactics such as fear-based messaging, shame, and manipulation to drive sales.
These approaches can be particularly harmful to individuals who have experienced trauma, as they may trigger feelings of anxiety, shame, or powerlessness.
In contrast, trauma-informed marketing approaches aim to create a safe and supportive environment for all customers. By acknowledging the potential impact of trauma on a customer’s behavior and needs, trauma-informed marketing can help build trust and foster positive relationships between brands and consumers.
Let’s say there’s a beauty brand – Beauty Brand A – that wants to adopt a trauma-informed marketing approach. They understand that traditional beauty marketing often relies on unrealistic beauty standards and can be triggering for individuals who have struggled with body image issues or low self-esteem. In response, the brand decides to celebrate diverse beauty and promote self-acceptance.
They create a marketing campaign featuring a range of models with different body types, skin tones, and ages. The messaging focuses on embracing individuality, self-love, and inner beauty rather than solely focusing on external appearances. The brand also partners with organizations that support trauma survivors, donating a portion of their profits to these causes.
To ensure ongoing engagement and feedback from customers, the brand establishes a platform where customers can share their personal stories of resilience and self-acceptance. They actively listen to their customers, incorporating their stories into future campaigns and product development. By doing so, the brand creates a safe and inclusive space where individuals who have experienced trauma feel seen, valued, and respected.
Beauty Brand A is then illustrating how trauma-informed marketing practices can be applied in the beauty industry to promote a positive body image and foster a sense of empowerment among trauma survivors. By challenging traditional beauty norms and actively engaging with their customers, the brand demonstrates a commitment to recognizing and respecting the experiences and needs of individuals who have experienced trauma.
2. Build Better Long-Term Relationships
Trauma-informed marketing is better than traditional marketing in that it can help brands build long-term relationships with customers. Trauma-informed marketing is rooted in the principles of empathy, compassion, and understanding, which can create a sense of trust and safety between the brand and the customer.
By prioritizing the customer’s sense of agency and choice, trauma-informed marketing strategies can also help build customer loyalty and advocacy. Customers who feel heard, validated, and understood by a brand are more likely to continue doing business with that brand and recommend it to others.
In contrast, traditional marketing approaches that rely on manipulative tactics and fear-based messaging can create a sense of distrust and disconnection between the brand and the customer. This can result in short-term gains but may ultimately lead to a loss of customers and damage to the brand’s reputation.
Imagine an online therapy platform that offers mental health services – not a hard thing to imagine as there are plenty, but conjure one up in your head. They recognize that individuals seeking therapy may have experienced trauma and are looking for a safe and supportive environment to address their mental health needs. The platform adopts a trauma-informed marketing approach to foster long-term relationships with its customers.
Firstly, they prioritize creating a website and app interface that is user-friendly, intuitive, and visually calming. This helps individuals feel at ease and reduces potential triggers. The platform also provides clear and transparent information about their therapists’ qualifications, specialties, and therapeutic approaches, allowing customers to make informed decisions based on their unique needs.
Additionally, the platform ensures that customers have control and agency in their therapeutic journey. They offer options for customers to choose their preferred therapist based on their profiles and provide flexibility in scheduling appointments. The platform encourages open communication and actively seeks feedback from customers, using it to continuously improve their services and user experience.
To build trust and foster long-term relationships, the platform offers personalized recommendations and resources based on customers’ specific concerns and goals. They provide a secure and confidential space for individuals to share their experiences, ask questions, and connect with a community of support. The platform also sends regular updates and educational content related to mental health and trauma recovery to nurture ongoing engagement and provide value beyond therapy sessions.
By adopting trauma-informed marketing practices, the online therapy platform demonstrates its commitment to understanding and meeting the unique needs of trauma survivors. Through a supportive and empowering approach, they build trust, foster long-term relationships, and establish themselves as a reliable and compassionate resource for individuals seeking mental health support.
3. Connect With More Customers
Another way that trauma-informed marketing is better than traditional marketing is that it can help brands tap into underserved markets. Trauma survivors of all shades and hues are often an overlooked and underserved group, and trauma-informed marketing can help brands connect with this demographic in a meaningful way.
By creating marketing campaigns that are sensitive to the needs and preferences of trauma survivors, brands can build relationships with a group of consumers who may have been previously alienated by traditional marketing approaches. This can open up new markets and opportunities for brands to grow their customer base.
Moreover, brands that adopt a trauma-informed marketing approach can set themselves apart from their competitors and establish themselves as socially responsible and empathetic organizations. This can enhance the brand’s reputation and create positive associations with the brand in the minds of consumers.
Let’s consider a fitness apparel brand that wants to expand its customer base and connect with individuals who have experienced trauma. They recognize that traditional fitness marketing often emphasizes intense workouts, body transformation, and competitiveness, which can be overwhelming or triggering for trauma survivors.
To connect with more customers, the brand adopts a trauma-informed marketing approach that focuses on holistic well-being and self-care. They create inclusive and empowering messaging that emphasizes the mental and emotional benefits of exercise rather than solely focusing on physical appearance.
The brand collaborates with fitness professionals who have expertise in trauma-informed exercise and incorporates their insights into their marketing campaigns. They provide resources and educational content about the importance of self-care, mindful movement, and exercise modifications to accommodate various fitness levels and individual needs.
Through these efforts and more, the fitness apparel brand can attract a broader range of customers, including individuals who have experienced trauma and may have previously felt excluded or discouraged by traditional fitness marketing. By recognizing and addressing their unique needs, the brand establishes itself as a trusted and inclusive fitness resource, connecting with more customers and expanding its reach.
In this example, trauma-informed marketing helps the brand connect to more customers by creating a welcoming and inclusive space in the fitness industry. By understanding the experiences and needs of trauma survivors, the brand opens doors for individuals who may have felt overlooked in traditional fitness marketing and builds a community that supports their well-being and fitness journey.
4. Generate Better Campaigns
One often overlooked component to building better campaigns are these underserved communities, meaning the campaigns lack authenticity. Trauma-informed marketing is instead focused on building relationships with customers based on empathy, compassion, and understanding, which requires a deep understanding of ALL of the customers’ experiences and needs.
This approach encourages brands to engage with customers in a more authentic and meaningful way, rather than relying on generic messaging and tactics that may not resonate with the customer. By taking the time to understand the customer’s experiences and perspectives, brands can create marketing campaigns that are tailored to the customer’s needs and preferences.
Moreover, trauma-informed marketing is often based on feedback and validation from customers, which can lead to a more collaborative and co-creative marketing process. This can result in marketing campaigns that are more engaging, memorable, and effective in building brand awareness and driving sales.
Imagine a skincare brand that wants to create authentic marketing campaigns that resonate with their audience. They adopt a trauma-informed marketing approach to ensure their campaigns are sensitive, empathetic, and reflective of their customers’ experiences.
Instead of relying on traditional beauty standards and exaggerated claims, the brand focuses on promoting self-care, self-acceptance, and inner beauty. They engage in meaningful conversations with their customers through social media, surveys, and focus groups to understand their needs and desires.
The brand collaborates with real customers, including trauma survivors, to co-create their campaigns. They invite customers to share their skincare journeys and personal stories of resilience and self-love. These stories become the heart of the brand’s marketing materials, including testimonials, images, and videos, showcasing the real experiences and transformations of their diverse customers.
To ensure authenticity, the brand avoids heavy retouching or airbrushing in their visuals, embracing natural beauty and imperfections. They use inclusive language and imagery that represents a wide range of ages, skin tones, and body types, challenging conventional beauty standards.
Through this trauma-informed marketing approach, the skincare brand generates campaigns that feel genuine, relatable, and empowering. By incorporating the stories and perspectives of their customers, they build an authentic connection, inspiring trust and loyalty. This approach not only resonates with trauma survivors but also attracts a wider audience seeking authenticity and representation in the beauty industry.
5. Be Something Bigger Than Before
One final way that trauma-informed marketing is better than traditional marketing is that it can help brands contribute to a more just and equitable society. Trauma-informed marketing is rooted in principles of social justice, equity, and inclusion, which can help brands promote these values in their marketing campaigns.
By acknowledging the experiences and needs of marginalized and underserved groups, trauma-informed marketing can help to promote social awareness and support movements for social justice and equity. This can create a more positive and inclusive marketing environment that reflects the values and beliefs of customers.
In contrast, traditional marketing approaches may reinforce harmful stereotypes, promote unrealistic beauty standards, or perpetuate harmful cultural norms. Trauma-informed marketing, on the other hand, encourages brands to challenge these norms and promote a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable society. This can have a positive impact not only on the brand’s reputation but also on the broader social and cultural landscape.
In your head, picture a clothing brand that embraces trauma-informed marketing to promote social justice and inclusivity. They recognize the impact of traditional fashion industry practices, such as exploitative labor, on marginalized communities. To contribute to a more just and equitable society, the brand takes several actions.
Firstly, they ensure transparency in their supply chain by partnering with ethically sourced and fair-trade manufacturers. They share information about their manufacturing processes and the fair wages and working conditions they provide to their workers. This commitment aligns with their trauma-informed approach, acknowledging the importance of social justice in the production of their clothing.
Additionally, the brand showcases diversity and representation in their marketing campaigns. They feature models of different races, body types, genders, and abilities to reflect the diverse identities of their customers. This representation goes beyond tokenism and actively challenges traditional beauty standards, promoting inclusivity and body positivity.
By incorporating trauma-informed marketing into their strategies, the clothing brand not only promotes ethical practices but also contributes to a more just and equitable society. They demonstrate their commitment to transparency, representation, and even supporting marginalized communities. By doing so, they encourage other brands to follow suit, driving positive change in the fashion industry and society as a whole.
So, my fellow normal-but-special person, trauma-informed marketing isn’t just about being considerate and polite – it’s about recognizing and respecting the diverse experiences and needs of individuals who have experienced trauma. By adopting this approach, brands can build better long-term relationships with customers, connect with more diverse audiences, generate more authentic campaigns, and contribute to a more just and equitable society.
Through understanding and addressing the potential impact of trauma on consumers’ behavior and preferences, brands can create safe and supportive spaces, prioritize individual needs, and foster trust. They can tap into underserved markets, build customer loyalty, and differentiate themselves from competitors. Trauma-informed marketing also encourages brands to engage in co-creation with their customers, resulting in campaigns that are more engaging and effective.
Most importantly, trauma-informed marketing allows brands to be something bigger than before. It empowers them to promote social justice, inclusivity, and equity. By challenging harmful norms and stereotypes, brands can help shape a more positive and accepting cultural landscape.
So remember, my wonderfully intricate friend, trauma-informed marketing is not just about selling products – it’s about building connections, embracing diversity, and making a meaningful impact. So let’s celebrate our uniqueness, be empathetic, and create marketing campaigns that truly resonate with all of us.