What has Bank of America, Comcast, Macy’s, Marriott, Target, American Airlines and a host of other Fortune 500 corporations learned over the past 20 years? That advertising in the multi-billion dollar LGBT market pays dividends. I’m sure you’ve notice how corporations this year are going all out: Lego is creating a rainbow village, Disney has a complete Gay Pride merchandise product line, Marvel Comics has introduced 6 LGBT Pride superhero’s comic covers. Even Kellogg’s has created an exclusive Cereal Pride box.
To reach the gay market, they go directly to the community by advertising their products or services in local LGBT newspapers and their web sites. They do this since they know that the LGBT community are regular, dedicated readers of their community newspapers. LGBT media gives them the health information they need, much of it provided by LGBT clinics such as Mazzoni in Philadelphia, which has a patient base of 12,000 in just one city. LGBT media gives them the information on community organizations like sports leagues, arts and cultural organizations. And LGBT media keeps them updated on all of the political turns and legislation that impacts their lives.
The LGBT population has been noted by such companies like Zillow, which now rates houses based on the number of LGBT non-discrimination laws in the area. Banks and wealth management advertise panel discussions to the LGBT community on managing their investments. A certain media giant ran a newspaper campaign to boost support of its work in the LGBT community and its new LGBT information and entertainment portal, a campaign which boosted several of its profit lines. Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America, said, “Gays lead, and the rest follow. They travel more and spend more when they travel. They’re the darlings of the travel industry when it comes to spending and dollars.”
And best of all, much of that spending by corporations can be put on their diversity and inclusion budgets. A recent article in USA Today on advertising in the LGBT market made these points:• Understand your opportunities and challenges and your brand’s strengths and weaknesses with this segment.• Prepare for a sustained effort and financial investment.• Hire an expert; don’t burden an LGBTQ colleague.• Apply marketing basics: Market the right product for the right segment at the right time.• Develop tailored content/social, communications strategies.• Advertise support of employees and the community during Pride in local LGBTQ publications (and support the media you want to cover your business), but focus most of your marketing the other 364 days of the year.• The market has become so large that there are several one-stop agencies’ that help steer corporations into that lucrative market, among them the oldest, Rivendell marketing.• Forbes described the LGBT market share and demographics as: “The $1 Trillion Blind Spot” since many advertisers don’t recognize the potential.
One last point: As the saying goes, jump in before your competitors grab that market share. Absolut Vodka did so 25 years ago, and they are still the number one Vodka in the LGBT market. Whether it’s financial services, retail, travel and hospitality or health and wellness, LGBT customers as Zoominfo has noted, is a 917 billion dollar market. Are you getting your share, or are you losing out?

About the Author

Mark Segal is founder and publisher of the award winning Philadelphia Gay News and often referred to as the dean of American gay journalism. As a pioneer of the local gay press, he was one of the founders and former president of both The National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. As a young gay activist, Segal understood the power of media. In 1973 Segal disrupted the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite, an event covered in newspapers across the country and viewed by 60% of American households, many seeing or hearing about homosexuality for the first time. Before the networks agreed to put a stop to censorship and bias in the news division, Segal went on to disrupt The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Barbara Walters on the Today show. The trade newspaper Variety claimed that Segal had cost the industry $750,000 in production, tape delays and lost advertising revenue. Aside from publishing, Segal has also reported on gay life from far reaching places as Lebanon, Cuba, and East Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall. He and Bob Ross, former publisher of San Francisco's Bar Area Reporter represented the gay press and lectured in Moscow and St. Petersburg at Russia's first openly gay conference, referred to as Russia's Stonewall. He recently coordinated a network of local gay publications nationally to celebrate October as gay history month, with a combined print run reaching over a half million readers. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com or 215-625-8501 ext. 204.

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