Marketing Lessons from Gay Pride and Ethnic Celebrations

In Chicago, a city with broad shoulders and broad minds, there are celebrations of ethnicity, history, and game fish (Musky Fest, anyone?). Even at 4:30 Sunday morning, the crowd was electrified wrapping up a hard night of reverie and gearing up for the Gay Pride Parade that would start in a few hours.

But there is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance.

Honestly, can we celebrate Gay Pride and still pressure celebrities to declare their same sex orientation?

History teaches us that periods of economic crisis are usually followed with periods of increased intolerance and hate. This time, let's recover without repressing.

We have come a long way.

In the 1920's, my grandfather had a cross burned in the yard of his rural Kentucky home because he was Catholic.

Within a generation, most major cities host a Gay Pride Parade without incident.

Now, that's progress.

So what's that got to do with small business marketing?

I thought you'd never ask.

Chicago, like many cities, has a Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Yellow Pages directory as well as several niche, neighborhood, and ethnic directories.

Does advertising in these directories make good business sense?

Well, it depends.

Advertising has to ring true for it to be effective.

Marketing to Gays, Hispanics, or Koreans makes sense ONLY if it is true to your business.

Your customers want respect, acceptance, and integrity.

Ask your Gay, Hispanic, or Korean customers two questions:

1. How does my business serve your needs better than my competitors?

2. Do you regularly refer your friends to me?

If both answers are positive, your niche directory ad will be a great investment because it will support the referrals you're already getting.

If either answer is negative, you need to fix your business for your niche directory ad to work.

Now go sell something.

Dick Larkin, the Small Business Commando, is fanatical about helping small business owners use ingenuity and intelligence to market and grow in sustainable, systematic ways. To learn how to market your business without breaking your bank, visit his website at

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