Customer Stories with Katrina Conrad
April is National Diversity Month, which means it’s a great chance for every business out there to look into diverse ideas, attract diverse audiences, and practice inclusivity in their marketing efforts.
This is exactly what Katrina Conrad of Conrad Builds keeps in mind in her own marketing strategy. As the owner of her own diversity-compliant firm, Katrina works hard to ensure that her community is well-represented in the construction industry and that there are fair options out there for everyone.
We sat with Katrina to talk about how she practices diversity and inclusion in her marketing efforts, and this is what she had to say:
Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
We are a diversity-compliant consulting firm. We mostly work with construction or in the building trades, assisting contractors and aligning them with resources to stay relevant in the building trades, particularly with identifying a pool of work–ready individuals.
Over the years, we have expanded our workforce development to also include other industries, but we have our roots in construction.
Right now, we have a team of five; an event designer, a general contractor, a specialist, and more. We’ve rooted ourselves in one community, in the city of Boston, where there is a diverse population. Our job is to be representative of that diverse population and help them find jobs, connect them with the right companies, and help them tap the right resources. Through our marketing efforts, we’ve assisted over 200 companies.
1) Build a connection with physical marketing
What offline and online marketing efforts do you use?
Well, we use a lot of offline marketing. The first thing we like to do is take advantage of pedestrian areas with high footfall for flyer distribution. And when you’re handing out flyers, you need to make sure they’re engaging enough for people to read.
We create a lot of flyers for companies that we work with, events we host, and more and hand them out on the streets. This works pretty well for us, particularly when we take advantage of public transportation areas like the local bus and train depot. We give them a flyer, and they can use the QR code on it to go right to our website to learn more about us.
It’s important to have useful information on the flyer and accessible ways for your client to learn more about you. The flyers are just enough to introduce you, but during that commute, while they’re on the train or on the bus, they can learn more about our services, events, and more. And that in itself is enough to retain them as a future client.
Do you use any online marketing methods?
Yes, we primarily use social media. In some instances we use LinkedIn a lot. But we don’t like to restrict ourselves to a particular type of audience, so we use Instagram and Facebook as well. This is especially easy when you can resize the graphic you’re creating to fit the platform you’re using.
We also send out email blasts, using the same graphics we post on social media. This is how we’re able to spread the word about our services, particularly when it comes to drawing in the general public to take advantage of training, or the connections that we’re able to offer them.
2) Build a diverse team
Can you tell me more about the efforts it takes to formulate a diverse marketing strategy, as a diversity-compliant firm?
Firstly, It’s all about building your network. You have to step out of your comfort zone and be able to identify like-minded peers, who represent diverse backgrounds. It takes a village trying to spread your word and encourage others to think more positively and be more optimistic. And in the industry that we represent, such as construction, for so long, it’s been such a white male-dominated industry. Everyone deserves a fair share in this field, so the only way that you can ensure that is by building people’s trust in knowing that it’s possible.
To start with, you need to bring in people that look like the diverse communities you’re targeting. People who can relate, who have walked in their shoes, who understand their background and can identify with them. This is how you start building trust.
That’s what we try to do at Conrad Builds; we try to bring people options in knowing that you’re not pigeonholed into one industry because of your race or community. We encourage them to go challenge themselves.
3) Include your team in the creative process
Do you have any techniques for creating diverse and inclusive flyers and graphics?
Well, the first thing about creating an inclusive design is that you’re never sure if it’s truly inclusive unless you include other people in the process. This is why I bring my team in and have what I call a devil’s advocate team meeting. I get positive and negative feedback, or the pros and cons about anything that we’re trying to push out as far as our marketing campaigns, because everything doesn’t appeal to everyone.
Because we have a diverse team, we get different opinions on what diversity may look like. So feedback is a key essential when it comes to creating inclusive marketing material.
4) Always take feedback into consideration
Can you give an example of any such feedback you’ve incorporated into your marketing?
Sometimes, it can be something as simple as deciding on which social media platform to post on. I might think posting on LinkedIn is the correct way, but if I’m trying to draw in a younger crowd, I might want to post it on Instagram as well, and only a younger member of my team can tell me if that’s a good approach.
Similarly, if I’m creating a graphic and I want to make sure that it’s not loud with a lot of colors, I need to ask my team first so they can tell me if the loud colors work better for the communities we’re targeting.
5) Create accessible channels through community-wide networking events
You mentioned some events earlier. Can you tell me what events you host and market?
We host a lot of job fairs where we help individuals connect with possible opportunities. We’ve gotten quite a good response at these events, both in person and online.
I am a First Aid CPR instructor, so we also host Occupational Safety and Hazard training sessions. We host informational sessions and workshops. One of my favorites has been working with a young lady who offers a mansplaining workshop, which is something that a lot of women encounter in the construction industry.
We also host a bimonthly resume clinic, where we provide people with help with their resumes and help them apply for jobs.
We host a number of events that allow individuals to tap into their professional and personal development skills and allow them to comfortably challenge themselves to go over the next hurdle in life.
The main way to market these events is, again, to make sure you’re doing it through people who can relate to those communities. This way, our attendees feel comfortable attending our events and tapping into our services.
6) Establish a trustworthy outreach team
Do you face any challenges when trying to incorporate more diversity into recruitment? And how do you overcome these challenges?
Yes, the biggest challenge is pushing yourself to go out there and connect with diverse audiences. Sometimes you lean into your community partners to assist in spreading the word. But in some instances, you may have pushback simply because you just really can’t build relationships through a third party. That’s the whole reason why we learned that we needed to establish our own street outreach team, to have boots on the ground, to promote our services, and build that rapport.
Because nowadays, it’s hard to just go out and instantly give someone your trust. And with everything going on, so many communities are very vulnerable right now. So we try again to build those relationships and use word of mouth to allow us to tap into those populations that maybe we have yet to speak to.
7) Keep your community up-to-date on your efforts through email newsletters
You also mentioned email when talking about your marketing strategy. Do you use email regularly?
Yes, we found that creating email newsletters has worked well for us. Creating a month’s worth of content, and sharing it in advance has proved to give us better attendance numbers and drives more traffic to our website, and related event marketing channels.
Although we create flyers for the actual events, we try our best to stage a newsletter, at least 30 days in advance, to all of our past attendees, our foot traffic, past clients, and again, community partners, in hopes that we can ensure our events are well attended.
8) Be open to all demographics
Have you managed to reach a diverse clientele through all these efforts?
Yes, my youngest student has been 13. And my oldest student is 73. Not to mention we’ve had a greater influx of non-white clients in the construction industry, which has always been dominated by white people. I don’t have a preferred audience, so I’m always open to finding new people from new cultures, races, age groups, and industry backgrounds so we can provide them with options in knowing that they can explore several different careers and not be pigeonholed. We also provide them with options in knowing that we offer opportunities for them to try on for size.
A lot of times, people are looking for an advocate. And that’s what we do. We advocate for all of our clients, whether they’re the contractors, the employers, or the job seekers.
9) Maintain an active online presence
How often do you use your website and what role does it play in bringing in more people?
We try to cross-reference our marketing efforts through several outlets. to include our website. In a lot of instances, our marketing material only provides a snapshot of what we offer. So it’s important to us that our website is constantly updated, because the world evolves, and sometimes the things that we offer under our umbrella evolve as well.
I challenge my team to tap into a new certification at least once a year. Simply because I want them to know that they have options. And more importantly, I want them to always stay relevant. There are so many things that change in the world. And I need all of us to be up to speed on the different advancements that have taken place in every industry as much as possible.
Because there’s no way that we can bring this knowledge that’s necessary to the masses if we’re not up to date. We try our best to keep all of our social media presence and our website as up-to-date as possible, simply because we want to always stay relevant and be involved.
What do you plan for the future?
I would love to expand more to the East Coast and to Southeast Asia. I also want to expand into other markets including administration and Human Services, and solar and wind power.
There are just a lot of opportunities coming up. With the younger generation that we’re attracting, it only makes sense that we identify areas that interest them in their areas. So we can keep their interest and more importantly, show them how they can turn it into a lifelong career.
That sounds great! Thank you for joining us, Katrina! We wish you the best of luck!
Take a page out of Katrina’s book and practice diversity in your marketing practices today.
Senior editor at PosterMyWall.