EP #54 Marketing with a Purpose: Navigating Intentional Inclusivity for Diverse Audiences

EP #54 Marketing with a Purpose: Navigating Intentional Inclusivity for Diverse Audiences

About this Podcast

In today’s episode of the ‘For The Love Of Emails’ podcast, we welcome Taryn Talley – Head of Marketing at Position² with host Matthew Vernhout – VP, Deliverability, Netcore. Taryn Talley is a distinguished marketing leader with over 20 years of experience in creating and executing impactful omni-channel campaigns. Notably, she has transformed Position²’s social media campaigns—amplifying their impressions and engagement. Her insights transcend industries and resonate with every marketer eager to embrace intentional inclusion in marketing narratives.

In this podcast, they discussed:
1. What is intentional inclusion in marketing, and what factors should brands consider when targeting diverse audiences?
2. What makes storytelling significant in marketing campaigns for brands extending beyond mere product promotion?
3. How should brands handle challenges and potential backlash when promoting diversity and inclusion in marketing campaigns?
4. How can brands effectively incorporate personalization to enhance the inclusivity of their campaigns?
5. What measures should brands implement to foster greater inclusivity?
6. Real-life examples of brands that have set the standard for inclusive marketing.
Episode Transcripts

Intro: (00:06)

You are listening to the ‘For The Love of Emails’ podcast, powered by Netcore, a weekly show dedicated to helping email marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and professionals of all walks engage, grow, and retain customers through reliable, smart, and effective email communication and engagement. Discover actionable ways to increase ROI and deliver value through email innovations, personalization, optimization, email deliverability, and email campaigns. No fluff. Tune in to hear best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners. Master your email communication now.


Matthew Vernhout: (00:39)

Hello and welcome to another episode of ‘For the Love of Emails,’ the podcast. I’ll be your host today, Matthew Vernhout. I am the Vice President of deliverability for Netcore Cloud. Before we begin, I have some exciting news to share. We’re set to launch an exciting new report on all things AMP email-based; get ready to unlock the secrets of email campaign success that achieve a staggering 1000% boost in ROI. This report is set to reveal the full potential of interactive AMP emails like never before. Netcore has taken the time to analyze more than 1 billion AMP emails, included insights from 25 industry experts, and explored more than 100 innovative use cases within this report. So, say goodbye to drop-off and friction and say hello to streamlined interactions that keep your customers engaged. I’m also thrilled to announce that the Netcore Unbxd team has been named a leader in the Forrester Wave Commerce Search and Product Discovery Q3, 2023 report.


Matthew Vernhout: (01:44)

Follow our LinkedIn page and stay updated with all of our latest achievements. On today’s episode, I am super happy to have my longtime friend come and talk to me about something she is very passionate about. I think more brands need to take some time and consider the efforts they put into inclusive marketing when it comes to their campaigns. I have with me today, Taryn Talley. Taryn is a distinguished marketing leader with over two decades of experience. She is currently the head of marketing at Position². I love the things you’re doing on social media, not only from a marketing perspective but from a personal branding perspective, and just the effort you are making to shine the light on some of the dirty little secrets in the industry. And I’m super happy that you’re here today, and we’re going to talk about intentional inclusion in marketing, what that means, and what brands should be doing more of. So welcome to the show.


Taryn Talley: (02:53)

Thanks so much. It’s great to be here. It’s good to be like, this is not going to be a video, but it’s so good to see you. It’s been years, so I’m glad we’ve reconnected after a little bit. It wasn’t because of us; it was because of a transition. So, I transitioned in between working with Matt with the ANA and doing a lot of good work there in the industry. So, happy to be here.


Matthew Vernhout: (03:19)

I’m excited to connect with you again as well. And you’re right. It’s been far too long since we got together, so we’ll have to work on that this year. But let’s start for the audience and set the level playing field here. When you think of intentional inclusion in marketing, what does that mean to you, and what should brands be thinking about when they come up with these marketing campaigns that they’re, you know, showing to a very diverse audience at this point?


Taryn Talley: (03:47)

Yeah, I think with any inclusion that you have with marketing, you’ve got to weigh impact and intention, right? And why do I always stress intentionality is doing things with purpose? And having your whole mind around it? So I don’t know if you all remember, but I’m an old enough marketer to remember when people were like, okay, photo shoots – we have to have one person like this, one person like this, one person like this, right? To capture that wider spread. Inclusion is much more than that, right? And inclusion is like how you treat your customers and how you reach out to your customers. But it’s also how you deal with your employees, too, right? So we were talking about an example of one company, and it’s like where, you know, I saw this amazing ad, which brought me to tears.


Taryn Talley: (04:39)

Because I’m like, it’s kind of the journey I was on. Like, that reminded me. It was like the tears were coming, like when I came out to my mom. And then I read something on social media where I’m like, oh my god, the same company is like, take down your pride decorations, don’t advertise. So, the inclusion needs to be throughout the cycle, right? It’s not just a singular campaign. I was inspired a couple of years ago even with, I know, it’s more of a serious product, but with HIV medicines. The inclusion of trans folks in there. I mean, that is important. That kind of representation is so important as we grow up. And I grew up in the eighties and graduated college in the early nineties, and we didn’t get to see people that looked like us. It was a little bit more homogenous. I mean, I can’t think of any. I mean, even from the indigenous perspective of actors or people in public that represented, and that kind of representation helps, right? When you see people like you, and it’s intentful, and it’s where people are focused and just really including and wrapping the whole thing around that, it makes you feel seen a little bit, right?


Taryn Talley: (06:03)

So it makes you just feel seen. And that’s so important and so powerful. I grew up feeling I was alone. Like, I didn’t know anybody, never saw anybody, and just was like, I don’t know what’s going on. Now there’s so much more information and data, and I love seeing the representation of every historically marginalized community because it’s so powerful.


Matthew Vernhout: (06:26)

And I think, like you said, it’s something as a brand you need to own when you’re moving forward. And we’ve seen some successes with this. I would say we’ve seen some drastic failures where a brand has come out with a campaign and the response from the vocal minority, maybe if we want to call them that, has put the brand on the back of their feet. They’re reeling, trying to figure out how to respond instead of just owning it. We saw it with Disney and the new Little Mermaid, right? Disney owned it and said, yeah, we’re doing a thing. And that’s it. And then, on the other hand, with Bud Light, we did a thing and then the backlash, and they said, well, okay, we’re not necessarily going to be as supportive here as we should.


Matthew Vernhout: (07:22)

You know, so you kind of get both ends of the spectrum. And then you had also alluded to, sort of, in your first conversation piece there was, like, a brand saying one thing publicly and maybe localized management or localized stores or whether it’s franchisees or whatever, it happens to be having an off-brand message for that same organization. So I think, you know, that certainly ownership from the top-down as opposed to pushing it from the bottom up is always going to be more successful. And I think, when marketers look at some of these successful examples, and maybe some of these failed examples, where should marketers be pushing the envelope more and maybe, do you think there’s a spot where they need to have a gentler touch?


Taryn Talley: (08:11)

Yeah. You don’t have to go out there waving the flags, right? But you can do subtle things, and to me, that inclusion, I mean, it could be video or images of multiple people of historically marginalized communities mixed with everybody. Like represent the, what is it, I think I’m going to say this wrong, but diaspora, whatever it is, of humanity, right? That is just a wide birth of beauty in humans, like, have that in your campaign, but also the message is like: everyone is valid. That, to me, is a stronger message than seeing a trans flag or a rainbow flag. Everyone is valid. Having a message like that is simple, it’s easy to do and quite frankly, it might even go past the vocal minority, right? Because it’s like, they’re not ones to pick up on nuance, but it’s like having that and talking about the validity of folks, right?


Taryn Talley: (09:08)

I see a rainbow flag and I always consider rainbow washing or pinkwashing. Because it’s like, most of the time, they don’t really do what they say they do. And when you tell me that I am valid or that I’m welcome here, and just the message could be so simple. I think what I’ve seen for brands in the past year, I think brands, if they’re going to weigh into this, they need to weigh what their intentions are and the impact they’re hoping to have, right? Is it to show that kind of like, everyone is welcome and this brand is bringing everyone together, or are you doing this for revenue? Where it’s just like: oh, it’s a month.


Taryn Talley: (09:53)

It’s like, kind of like, I think October is Indigenous People Month, right? So it’s like or Indigenous History Month, and it’s, like, are you doing it for that? Or you are doing it because you support the community, you support the creators, right? If you’re doing UGC (User Generated Content) in a consumer brand, you know, are you bringing people, those creators from the community?  When you’re hosting events, are you bringing, and maybe it’s related to, I don’t know, let’s say, like pride month. Make it simple. Are you bringing in those people from the community to help inform or educate or share? Like, how are you treating it? Like, for example, having Dylan Mulvaney, right? And it had a huge backlash. I mean, like, I looked at the campaign – as I saw it, I was like, hmm… Like, okay cool. I didn’t think anything would, because it’s a really big brand.


Taryn Talley: (10:40)

But I think the important lesson for brands is, if you’re going to weigh into this and you’re going to go with a campaign that might be more galvanizing or could be a potential InBev. The one thing I would recommend is you make sure you have a process for crisis communications, right? And how you handle that. Because I think as bad as that backlash was to that marketing campaign, I think the steps that InBev took after that were somewhat ham-handed and equally bad, right? I felt like, I mean, I don’t know if they were fired, but I heard like the marketer was removed that brought that up. I mean, I know marketing’s always a risky business, you know, we’re always the first to get laid off, but it’s like, I felt like they could have done a lot better, right?


Taryn Talley: (11:29)

Or make a stand like where Disney takes a stand, right? Because they’re dealing with consumers, they don’t want, like, nobody wants that label. I think that people also have to say, okay, what happens when we run into resistance? So, as much as the planning goes into the campaign, get your crisis plan, know how you’re going to do it, and know where you’re going to stop, right? And know how to respond to it. Like, I think that’s going to be, that to me, is as equally important as getting the word out or the message of the brand, the campaign.


Matthew Vernhout: (11:57)

And I think sometimes the response is equally enough to ignore and wait until the people go away, right? Like, yeah, we did a thing, and that’s it. That’s your answer. We did it. And let the people yell and scream. And then they’ll, in two days, they’ll find something else different to yell and scream about. Using Disney as the example – they’ve been, if you watch the news, their policies aren’t just in the shows they’re making. It’s actually in their locations too, right? It’s like they’ve had a huge stand in Florida where they have gone against policy time and time again. And that shows a different take on it for a brand in regards to forcing inclusion into the world consciously and, sort of pushing the envelope to tell people like, yes, this is normal. This is what you need to see.


Matthew Vernhout: (12:53)

And even recently, when we were, you know, before we started planning for this, before we came up with the whole idea for today’s conversation, you and I had traded some emails around the Canadian Internet Registry Authority. They had done an entire stock photo shoot that they’ve made available to the world done by an indigenous photographer with all indigenous models and all indigenous sort of artwork and theme work around them. And said, this is now free art for people to use to drive inclusivity and representation. You know, I think more brands need to think that way.


Taryn Talley: (13:35)

So, I think that’s important. Like I’m familiar with the company, I’m not sure what the status is now, like how far they’ve gotten in, but it was pocstock, right? So, I don’t necessarily look for these huge brands. We’re talking like the Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 that will save the day or get the message out. But what I’m encouraged with is small groups of people who are just, they are doing the work, they are taking that step forward, like you mentioned with the indigenous creators, right? It’s like, there are platforms that I’ve seen, like, I don’t know if you’ve ever used the shop app when you, like, shift or buy anything. I don’t know if that extends to Canada, but in the shop app, you can actually shop directly from Latina-owned brands, black-owned brands, women-owned brands, and queer-owned brands.


Taryn Talley: (14:26)

They have libraries where you can find different companies that are founded, run, and focused on those communities. So it’s like, we might not be saved by a target or an InBev, but when I always direct, and you’ve seen this on my social media, I direct people like: listen, get your pride merch from a trans-owned company. I buy gifts for my girls, from black-owned and queer-owned businesses. Because you support these, and we build that economic base up, right? So, if you expect a brand campaign from InBev to solve everything, but if we build this business base up and create these communities that are self-sustaining in a way, yeah? If we support these smaller brands, that is how we can help lift this up. And I think, fully influence it.


Matthew Vernhout: (15:15)

I’ve seen that locally here as well. There are, not really a co-op, but it is like a store in the mall that has multiple creators. There’s one in my local mall that is all black-owned business creators, small businesses that couldn’t afford a store on their own in the mall, right? But collectively, by renting space together and having their products together, they are lifting each other up and getting their products and services in front of an audience that’s not just on the web or running out of their own home or something. They have a physical location where you can go and see. I’m a tactile shopper. I can buy T-shirts online, but I’m not buying pants online, I can tell you that. So I need to go to the store and try them on.


Matthew Vernhout: (16:05)

So, there are certain things like that, where you can go to a store and see representation across, there is another store similar to that in another mall nearby for the indigenous community. So these types of things are, it’s not, like I said, a co-op, but it is sort of a cooperative solution to small businesses needing each other to help. Right? And I think that, if we see more of that, I think that’s good because it’s gonna get it out in front of people and in their faces and make it more normal. I use that as a loose term, but normal in regards to seeing it every day. Right? Yeah. Maybe that’s where some of the shock is – that people don’t see it daily. So when they see things, they’re like, what’s that all about?


Taryn Talley: (16:59)

I know. I mean, I think that’s the challenge for marketers. And that’s why I do what I do on social media, and it’s like, I’m going to elevate those brands. I’m going to elevate those creators right? And, bring some eyeballs on them. I follow both a queer Instagram and an indigenous Instagram. So, social media has really helped level the playing field, right? I came out first on social media in 2013, so, for me, like just building up those communities and even when I was on Twitter (now X) being involved with black Twitter too as well, it’s just like, it’s inspiring to me. And so I was shopping for a dress for a friend’s wedding in September. So, one of my favorite retailers is an indigenous retailer in Taos Pueblo, right?


Taryn Talley: (17:49)

And this is like designer gear developed and designed by native Americans and indigenous folk in New Mexico. And I’m like, I can’t wait to buy it, right? It’s a rocking dress. I’m going to rock it at the wedding. But it’s like supporting those businesses at that level. And the challenge for these businesses is going to be getting that exposure and marketing because it’s hard. It’s a crowded marketplace, right? I mean, on Instagram, you scroll through your feed, and depending on your profile or whatever you’re looking at, you’re going to see a ton of people just like, shop now! Shop now! Shop now! And what I end up doing is stumble on accounts, and then I find out, I’m like, oh, there’s a storefront. Okay, awesome. And then I stalk the storefront, waiting for my favorite stuff to pop up.


Taryn Talley: (18:33)

But that’s a challenge for marketers: how do we elevate these companies? How do we help build that face as marketers and find the right audience and push that forward? I think for me, like you said, they might not see somebody every day or know they’ve met a trans person. I’m six foot one, so I’m hard to miss. So they see me, they’ve seen a trans person. But I feel like it’s also being a trans ambassador, right? When I engage with people, I want them to know, like, I’m human, I bleed, like, I live a life. I just want to be happy and be loved, right? And that’s it. Like, I don’t care. I’m not taking your favorite beer away; I’m not waving flags on the street and screaming. It’s just, like, I’m just trying to exist, which is just.


Matthew Vernhout: (19:26)

One weekend a year


Taryn Talley: (19:29)

For me. It is. I grew up volunteering for Pride in San Francisco.


Matthew Vernhout: (19:33)

Oh, I’m teasing. It’s all good. But, yeah, one of my cousins is trans as well, so he has made the transition, and it’s been a really interesting experience to watch him evolve and, he grows a better beard than I do now, and I’m quite jealous.


Taryn Talley: (19:58)

You got a pretty good one.


Matthew Vernhout: (20:00)

Well. Thank you. So, going back to some of the brands we were discussing as we were planning, Starbucks in India had a commercial, somewhat recently, that had a mixed result in both the domestic Indian market and the domestic US market. We’ll link the video in the show notes; you can see it if you haven’t. It is the meeting of a trans woman with her parents after an extended period of time. And, the parents are maybe not as comfortable yet post-transition, or at least the father isn’t as comfortable. But it’s very heartwarming. You mentioned that when you saw it, you almost cried, or you did cry.


Matthew Vernhout: (20:54)

It’s a very heartwarming story, if you will. I think that’s what’s good about the branding of that message: it’s a story. It’s not just ‘buy our stuff’, like buy our stuff is mixed in, but it’s subtle, right? It’s a story of human interaction between a child and their parents, where things have changed in the family dynamics. And, it’s the ability to show acceptance in a, maybe for some people, a tough situation. Do you wanna talk, like, I know there are other stories like this as well as, are there other things that you would wanna talk about, like why it’s important for brands to show stories instead of just selling sometimes?


Taryn Talley: (21:38)

Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, I feel like for humans, right? And this is just kind of one of my crazy beliefs, but I think humans are just natural storytellers, right? Like, so if you think about the whole of human history, history’s only been written down for a couple thousand years, and we’re looking at 97,000 years of, not written down. So we’re natural storytellers, right? So it’s always a challenge for us, like when you have to put something on paper or you’re trying to accomplish a goal, right? And, trying to do that with a story, right? So, like for me, people always tell me I’m a natural storyteller. I don’t know if that means I’m a natural BSer or what, but when I share my story with people and they hear it, right, it’s impactful.


Taryn Talley: (22:24)

And because I’m telling them from my perspective and seeing it, and when I saw that ad, I can understand the mixed reaction, but when I saw it for me, it related to my story, right? So, like, when I came out to my mom, I mean, I was just ugly crying, right? Both of us, a lot of hugging and a lot of I love you, right? And when I saw that, and at the end of the commercial, when you all see it, you’ll get it. But the name of the person before they transition is one thing. And post-transition when they come out, they added an a, I believe it was an ‘A’ to the end of the name.


Matthew Vernhout: (23:05)

Yeah, I think you’re right.


Taryn Talley: (23:06)

So, added an ‘A’ kind of feminizing the name, right? So it’s like, it just was so real. And I mean, it’s like, because I do know, I mean, like for me, my name has nothing to do with the name I was assigned at birth. I chose something different. I think Matt, I think I shared that with you, right?


Matthew Vernhout: (23:23)

Yeah, we’ve had that conversation.


Taryn Talley: (23:25)

So it’s, but that was so subtle and so beautiful. The thing also you have to remember with India, and I had a mixed reaction with India for myself. I traveled there for the first time, trans, and I did not have a great experience in the airport. It was very scary, but I could relate to it, right? And I understood it from my perspective being in the States and understanding that Indian culture, right? Even though you have a hundred million people in that LGBTQIA umbrella like that’s I think the latest number, I mean, it’s a sizable population larger than some European countries, I think bigger than Canada, right? I mean a hundred million folks. So they’re making strides right now and doing a lot of work, but there’s still a lot of that traditional kind of mindset.


Taryn Talley: (24:13)

And I think that touches on that, right? So, I wasn’t familiar with the full backlash in India, but I could relate to the story, and I thought it was very beautiful. But then, on the other side of it, seeing some of the social posts coming up about localized Starbucks chains and how they were limiting things, like in terms of takedown pride decorations, and stuff like that. Unsubstantiated: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it substantiated, but I’m just going to go with what was reported and say this was shared on social media. So I see this amazing ad, but then I also hear these stories, right? Yeah. And the two cannot coexist, right? It is either this or that. It’s not like for the public somewhere, I’m going to put this, and then privately to our employees we will do this. So, I think consistency is also important.


Matthew Vernhout: (25:04)

So, following up on that, how would you recommend a brand beyond, as you said earlier, “I use the hashtag during pride month”, “I changed my logo to have an ally flag” or whatever the change for that month is. It could be any month: it could be Black History Month, it could be Indigenous Pride Month, it could be any of the months. How does the brand make that message genuine versus sound like you said, just waving the flag and moving on to the next month?


Taryn Talley: (25:43)

Well, they must think about why they’re doing it. Are these part of the values of the brand? Is this part of the promise of the brand? Like, everything has to be. You must answer those questions, like, why are you doing this? Are you just glomming on with everybody else? Are you doing something or are you intentionally doing things for a positive impact? And showing us that we are valid or that we belong. And no matter what historically marginalized community that means. They have to think through why they’re doing it, what they’re trying to accomplish, and what they’re trying to show. And once they answer some of those questions and figure that out, then I would say proceed. Don’t just change your logo over, like for me, so my company last year, they wanted to do a little change of that. I was like: no, we’re not Rainbow Washing here on my watch.


Taryn Talley: (26:34)

So, we either come out and make a statement. So, when I did my pride stuff, I did organic social last year. And I did it this year, too. So, I interviewed the CEO of the first queer bank, Neobank in the United States. I also did pride posts talking about shop.com. About how you can access these creators and businesses and various communities. I talked about how digital marketing empowers people. Gen Z is coming out with a very robust LGBTQIA profile in Two-Spirit. There’s more information now than there ever was that was public and accessible. And people are able to see that and understand and have role models or see themselves in the movement.


Taryn Talley: (27:26)

And for marketers, they’ve got to get a handle on this now because – I’m just going to generalize and say queer- but the queer community is increasing, right? So, in the United States, we are close to 30 million in total. And  3 to 4 million people are trans so far that they’ve surveyed and pulled, it’s around that. A couple million. And as people come into more acceptance because we do have states here, like I’m in a sanctuary state in California, right? So it’s safer for me here, so I moved to California for that opportunity. Marketers need to get ready and prepared for the new generation, right? Because Gen Z – right now they’re young; they’re in their teens and twenties, but they’re going to get older. And you need to be, you don’t want to be catching up with them. You want to see them where they are right now, right? And acknowledge that. I think you’re building your brand relationship with them right now, and it’s important, right? And, like, that’s what they need to start doing. And, like I said, you have to answer the right questions about why you’re doing it. Are you doing it to keep revenue steady as people mature and become bigger buyers?


Matthew Vernhout: (28:37)

We’ve talked about brands that may have done a few things well or failed at owning the message. When you think of brands doing this well, inclusivity well, and across the board. I have a couple that come to mind when I think about it. But in your opinion, who’s doing this well?


Taryn Talley: (29:03)

The first one that comes to mind is Disney. I mean, the stand that they took. Now, you also have to think about Disney in the past, right? Disney’s had a storied history. We’re talking back in the thirties, forties, fifties, right? all the way through to just the 90s, 2000s. They haven’t been perfect, right? But when they stood up, and they didn’t just stand up to, like, an angry minority, like, people yelling, they stood up to the government, right? The government of a state that they provide a heck of a lot of revenue to. And to me, that was inspiring. Like where you see Target, InBev, they waffled quickly, firing people, like walking back from things. Disney was like: hold my beer.


Taryn Talley: (29:56)

Just tie into the end of things. They were like; hold my beer. And they took it right back to the government of Florida, right? And you can see that they are losing revenue. The state itself is losing revenue by taking the position that they are. I don’t know if you’re still a member of the ANA, but there are ANA conferences that I want to go to but I can’t go to because they’re in Florida. And I could be arrested for using a women’s room, and like, I’m not risking that for a marketing conference, right? So I won’t go, right? So I may miss out on some opportunities, but Florida also misses out on bringing people in for tourism, which is a massive revenue for them. So I feel, like, for Disney, having the courage of their convictions, and standing up for what was right, and pushing back and fighting against it, that was huge. For other brands, I’ve seen some smaller things that were impressive. But I mean, to me, Disney was the most high-profile, right? Ford was another high-profile one, when they did the trucks, it was like there were some trucks with mud on them, and then they washed it off. It was like, that was cool. It was subtle and fun, but we got it. Yeah. They didn’t suffer nearly the backlash.


Matthew Vernhout: (31:14)

There are a few brands that come to mind for me as well. Cheerios in Canada, at least for a while, they were probably one of the first to come out with an obvious gay couple in their advertising having breakfast with their children, two men kinda thing. And I believe it was a white man and a black man in a relationship. I’ve seen some other banks coming out with same-sex couples. I think there’s probably been some trans actors that you don’t know. In some cases, as you said, sometimes people pass, and you have no idea that, oh, I’ve been surprised many times by someone I’ve met. And it’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t faze me at all. Right? But there are brands out there that are doing it well, and they’re doing it in a subtle way. And when there is a backlash, they do, they either can own it and say: yep, thanks for pointing it out, we did a thing. Or they ignore it, and it goes away because there’s going to be something else outrageous.


Taryn Talley: (32:27)

The outrage machine. Put something else out. Yeah, for sure.


Matthew Vernhout: (32:31)

Yeah, exactly. When people think about personalization in email, right? Is there a way of taking personalization and integrating it with inclusion in your mind? Or are these two separate thought processes that you would look at?


Taryn Talley: (32:54)

I mean, personalization is always sketchy, right? When it’s outside of details like first-party or zero-party data, right? Sure. If somebody tells you, like, maybe it’s a cosmetic brand, and they ask you something about gender, right? Or, are you a non-binary, female, male, and then you can maybe market to that in a way, right? Maybe it’s like if they’re non-binary, you could market from a cosmetic line. It could be a foundation, or a mascara or something, or some skincare product. But, generally, I don’t find that many firms have access to the right data or that their data is up-to-date or accurate. So, like personalization, even personalization when we like, if I go back to my previous company Chase, personalization, we could tell you like, oh yeah, Matt likes to get gas at Shell, and he does it like every week. So I will send him a little thing on getting an offer. For, like, shell, $5 off a gallon, $5 off a gallon only works in California because it’s six bucks a gallon.


Matthew Vernhout: (34:05)

If I were to do the conversion. I’m paying close to that here as well.


Taryn Talley: (34:09)

But that’s the thing. If you have that confidence in data, and it’s zero-party data, you can incorporate something like that. You don’t want to be overt, but you want to be suggestive. Be seen more as a helpful brand, use my air quotes, a helpful brand as opposed to one that’s like, oh, well, you’re this, so this will resonate, right? Like subtle messaging in the personalization.


Matthew Vernhout: (34:33)

Is it important for brands, though, to collect when they’re asking potentially gender for, like, male, female, non-binary, prefer not to ask? Is that, you know what I mean, like, is that stuff important these days? Or is it extra?


Taryn Talley: (34:50)

I use the example of cosmetics. Because, like, some cosmetic companies will, if they’re doing some personalized product layout for you, like, what do you want to see or what do you want to do? I could see something being asked like that. But, if you’re, I don’t know if you’re buying a microwave oven from Target, it doesn’t matter. But if you’re doing something that could be more gendered, like cosmetics, that might be important. I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t personally seen it, like most of that stuff isn’t included, unless the only time I see a company ask like gender, it is usually on the job application. But I could see something in the future happening – where you might want to like, I don’t know, I’m trying to think. Maybe even clothing, too. Even though clothing is genderless. Because anybody could wear anything they wanted if they fit, right?


Matthew Vernhout: (35:42)

I’ve been known to wear a dress a time or two.


Taryn Talley: (35:47)

Yeah. See the freedom of a skirt, why not?


Matthew Vernhout: (35:51)



Taryn Talley: (35:53)

So, I could see a clothing brand ask body type or something like that, and you could glean or infer something. But, as I said, it should be more helpful suggestions and less like, we know you so we’re going to do this. Right? It could be more like just showing support, being helpful, and being like: oh, well, you said this, so maybe this could help, this could be something for you. Right? And then listen to them when they say it’s not. Or maybe it’s: oh my God, that’s great, I want more.


Matthew Vernhout: (36:21)

I’ve seen brands change the imagery in an email if they know the recipient’s race. Maybe if someone has disclosed they’re Asian or European or African or whatever it happens to be, they change their image. So that, like you said, there’s that connectivity of this is somebody like me in the image, right? In a McDonald’s ad, somebody was running a comparison about the ad that ran in the US and the ad that ran in India. It was the exact same ad with different actors and the same storyline, but because they localized it, that was another piece. And it resonated with me when I saw it because we had already talked about planning this. And I was like, that’s actually, I should have sent it to you cause I thought you would have appreciated it. It’s like word for word the same ad, they had to subtitle the India one for me, not speaking Hindi, but basically, the exact same ad, the same actions by the actors, doing all the different pieces with the same net result of everyone happily going to lunch.


Taryn Talley: (37:31)

Yeah. It’s like the human experience, right? Like that, that ad is localized for the human experience, right? It’s changing our language and actors, right? For the localization. Localization probably would work better than personalization or hyper-personalization. And you could probably do hyper-personalization in certain fields, but it’s not for everything, right? Like, because most stuff you don’t need to. Any human can drive or buy that microwave oven, so it’s not needed.


Matthew Vernhout: (38:02)

So when you’re talking with clients and brands and even your own company, what efforts do you suggest to them, or elements do you suggest to them to become more inclusive? Again, that shift shouldn’t be like, today you’re one thing, tomorrow you’re something else. Well, it could be, but that sort of hard transition is much harder for people to accept when they’re, maybe, watching Ford commercials, and it’s always Ford-built tough back ridge outside, right? And then all of a sudden it’s like, but we also do this other thing over here with the LGBTQ community where the cars are, driving. They’re painted in rainbows and they’re doing these things, it’s a little more subtle maybe, what are you talking to brands in regards to how they can become more inclusive? And what sort of transition or even resistance do you get from some of your brands when you’re talking with them?


Taryn Talley: (38:56)

Well, I mean, that’s the thing. Like even at my own company, when I did that pride month last year, I’ll give this example. So I said, listen, pride month is here. I’d like to do some posts highlighting some things with the community. And like, what the pushback I got was that we are a growth marketing, digital marketing agency. I’m like, okay, well, good. So when I started, I was talking earlier about you know I am here so I know what we do. So when I was talking about doing pride posts, what I did was I came from a different perspective. I came into a perspective that tied into what we do as a company. So, I interviewed Rob Curtis from Daylight Bank, right? So they have since closed this year, unfortunately.


Taryn Talley: (39:39)

It’s tough to break through sometimes. But it’s the first LGBTQIA bank, and talking with him, it’s a neobank, so it’s all digital. So that hit the digital post. And then talking about shop.com and having on the shop app and how you have access to all these historically marginalized communities. I did a post on that, and I did a post about how when I was growing up, I had nothing, right? Like there was no information. The information did not reach me when I was in the eighties. And how the spread of information, the wealth of information, now helps people see themselves and understand what they’re experiencing what they’re going through, or their challenges. So I did something on that. So, I focused on the intersection of digital marketing in queerness.


Taryn Talley: (40:25)

And that’s how I tried to accomplish it. In terms of brands like I just did my first speaking engagement in June, where I talked with the out-in-tech folks. And they had some companies there, and we talked about how to make it more inclusive. So, for me, I think when we talked about the brands, and we talked about Starbucks, that is – that example with a great ad, but some stories of the press that were not very flattering, you have to get it done. It’s like, gotta go full cycle, right? Internally and externally, everything has to match up. Like you just can’t come out and, you’ll look insincere if people know that you, it’s like Chick-fil-A, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that brand.


Matthew Vernhout: (41:07)

We have a couple of them here. Yeah.


Taryn Talley: (41:09)

Okay. So they are famously anti-LGBTQIA, I mean, famously. Like I’ve done a few posts where I’m like, I like chicken, but not served with hate.


Taryn Talley: (41:23)

So they contribute to politicians that put these laws in the US that punish the community. That to me, that’s a no-fly zone, right? That’s a no. Are they living their values? They sure are. Will I ever buy from them? I never will until I see some actual change. So, for me, what I would say to a brand is, if you’re going to do it, make sure your house is in order and that you believe that at the employee level, and then you can go and do that. And for me, I’ve worked at companies where I had transphobic hate, right? That I dealt with. And then HR turns around and says, “oh, we have a non-binary employee. Can you talk to them about your experience here? I’m like, am I the best person? Because I just experienced something horrible, right?


Taryn Talley: (42:11)

It’s like the back of the house, and the front has to be on the same page. And it’s like if it doesn’t, it’s just insincere. And your efforts like that commercial could be amazing, right? And it was, but like to me, I’m still thinking about that other article I saw where they’re like, people are reporting X, that they did this or that. And it’s like, so it takes the shine away. Like that commercial becomes less effective to me. Because now I’m like, oh God, I’m like, so we’ve got this great commercial, and then I’m like, hmm and not-so-good corporate behavior. Even in the political donations for companies. I mean, if you’re donating to someone like Ron DeSantis, I’m sorry, but this guy made it illegal for me to use a bathroom. So I’m like, that doesn’t swing. And more consumers are getting wiser about this.


Matthew Vernhout: (43:05)

Well, they are, yes. I don’t disagree with that, but there’s a history of companies donating to both sides of the political spectrum just to say like, yes, we support whoever in the end. It’s not a decision. Everybody gets an equal amount or somewhat of a support just so they can later say, yes, we supported you when you were running for election.


Taryn Talley: (43:36)

So give us something. Yeah. Now I get the whole both sides argument, Matt, but it’s like, look at it like this. Like when you look at these highly visible stories like in Texas and South Dakota and Florida, like, supporting these people is literally going to kill people. So, I’m fine if somebody’s got a political committee and they’re donating to a whole bunch of candidates, but if you’ve got a Ron DeSantis fund, like, that’s a problem. And when that gets exposed, that will be a problem for you. But it’s part of living the thing. It’s like, it’s what people see and what they don’t see. Because people will eventually see what you think they don’t. So.


Matthew Vernhout: (44:19)

What’s that saying? When someone shows you who they are, believe them.


Taryn Talley: (44:23)

Yeah. I did a twist on that the other week. I was like, somebody shows you who they are: Run the hell away.


Matthew Vernhout: (44:30)

That’s a fair modernization of that quote.


Taryn Talley: (44:36)



Matthew Vernhout: (44:39)

Exactly. So, thank you for joining me on the show today. I always love talking with you and interacting on social media. I’ve learned a ton from you over the years and probably even more so over the last year and a half. I always try to strive to expand my own horizons, and I think more people need to do that in their own understanding. As people experience things, they come to understand them. And it’s a relatively small community. Like you’re talking, you say it’s 4 million people. That sounds like a large number, but 4 million out of 350 is really small. So there’s not that interaction that many people have.


Matthew Vernhout: (45:29)

And I go out of my way to interact with people of every race, creed, whatever it happens to be. I live in a community where I’m the minority, and I love it because we do a street barbecue, and I get to try all this food from all over the world that I’ve never had before. I learned that I love oxtail, I love beans and rice. There’s a whole bunch of things that I never knew I would enjoy in life, and experiencing it and traveling and getting to interact with different people in different places around the world really does expand your horizons. And I value our conversations because, like I said, I get to learn and understand and see the point of view of people from a different place and that’s an important piece of growing as an individual.


Taryn Talley: (46:24)

Exactly. No, I can’t add anything to that. That was perfect.


Matthew Vernhout: (46:29)

So, I want to thank you for joining us. If people want to reach out, follow along your social exploits, learn from you the way I am, and expand their knowledge around inclusivity and the trans community, what’s the best way for people to find you?


Taryn Talley: (46:48)

Yeah, no thanks. I’m taryn-talley1 on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Threads.


Matthew Vernhout: (46:54) 

We’ll put the links in the show notes so people can find you.


Taryn Talley: (46:58)

Awesome. Thanks so much for this opportunity, and like I said, I’ve missed talking with you and seeing you on a Zoom, so we’ll have to get together at a conference sometime. Not in Florida.


Matthew Vernhout: (47:09)

Not in Florida. Okay. Well, you know, I did try to have that moved, but unfortunately, it was a little late in the process, and, you know, once deposits are made, it’s significantly harder to move a floating ship that’s already sailed.


Taryn Talley: (47:23)

Definitely. Yeah. No, I understand. I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the ANA again, so the company I’m with is a member now.


Matthew Vernhout: (47:30)

Awesome. I hope to see you on the email council soon.


Taryn Talley: (47:35)

It’d be nice.


Matthew Vernhout: (47:37)

So thank you everyone and Taryn, thank you again for joining me. Lastly, stay curious. Educate yourself. Go out and understand inclusivity, especially intentional inclusivity. Push the limits with your brands. Make sure you understand what you’re doing. Do things intentionally, do things with care, and do things with the idea of expanding your horizons, your brand’s horizons and your viewer’s horizons. So, thank you for tuning in. If you’re not subscribed, hit the subscribe button. We’d love to have you on future episodes of the ‘For The Love of Email’ podcast. So, thanks again for joining us.


Taryn Talley: (48:17)

Thank you. Have a great day.


Matthew Vernhout: (48:18)

Bye. You too.


Outro: (48:19)

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