Categorized | Business Authors

How to Market to People Not Like You: Know It or Blow It Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers

Kelly McDonald

Author Bio:

Kelly McDonald is a marketing and advertising expert with more than 20 years of ad agency experience. She worked in top positions for several global ad agencies before starting her own marketing firm. Her company, McDonald Marketing, has won 7 Telly awards, the television industry’s award for creative excellence.

Her client experience includes brands such as Toyota, Kimberly-Clark, MillerCoors, Harley-Davidson, Sherwin-Williams, Ace Hardware, Mattel and Nike. She has deep experience in marketing to different generations, values, lifestyles, races and ethnicities. No matter how different people can be from one another, Kelly knows how to craft marketing messages that will resonate with them and turn them into customers for life.

Kelly has been named #1 on the list of “26 Hot Speakers” by Successful Meetings Magazine.

Advertising Age has twice named her company one of the top ad agencies in the U.S.

Inc Magazine twice named her company one of the fastest-growing, independently owned companies in the United States.

Kelly has been featured on CNBC, in BusinessWeek, on and on Sirius/XM Radio.

Book synopsis:

The world is more diverse than ever and you need to tap into new markets to grow business. This book teaches, step-by-step, 7 specific strategies for growing business by marketing to people not like you. Diversity is not about race, ethnicity, gender or age: what makes you different is your values and priorities. Tap into people’s values and you’ll win their wallets. Hundreds of examples from companies of all sizes and do’s & don’ts are illustrated. Ditch the demographics – learn how to market to people’s values and watch your sales and profits soar.

Why readers should buy the book and what they’ll get out of it after reading it:

Reach new customers by understanding their values. Learn how to:

  • market to women, immigrants, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, gays & lesbians, different generations, political views, sexuality, hobbies, rural vs. metro, military vs. civilian, vegetarians vs. omnivores, and more
  • tweak your product/service for a new customer
  • be operationally ready & operationally friendly

Why I wrote this book:

As a marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience, I realized that when people talk about diversity marketing, they tend to think of “diversity” in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. While that’s important, I believe that diversity is much broader than that. My definition of diversity” is any way in which you are different from me. People make brand and product decisions based upon what matters to them and how those products fit into their lives and meet their needs. Connecting with diverse consumers is less about the color of your skin or your age or what zip code you live in and more about what you care about, what matters to you and what you value. If you have children and I don’t, we are going to be very different. We’ll have different priorities and pressures and consequently, we’ll make purchase decisions very differently. The same is true if you’re a vegetarian and I’m not. I wrote this book to help anyone who is responsible for marketing their business or company to reach the customers they’re not getting, but should be. When you learn how to market to someone’s values, you are connecting with them on a deep level. And that’s going to bring you more customers – and loyal ones – than any demographic definition will ever will.

Background and Other Thoughts

Marketing to people not like you is a popular speaking topic. I speak at approximately 80 conventions and conferences each year and audiences really respond to this expanded view of “diversity”. Everyone can relate to it because everyone agrees that what makes them unique and special is their values. When I speak on this topic, I give specific examples of companies that have grown their business by reaching new customers. I show audiences great business examples as well as examples of “blowing it” – making horrible blunders that cost you business. I teach key strategies and tactics of exactly how to market to a new and different customer segment and go over do’s and don’ts in detail. “How to Market to People Not Like You” is my most popular session, but it’s not the only topic I speak on. Other popular topics I offer are:

  • “Customer Service: How to Keep Customers Rushing Back for More”
  • “Come Together: Generational Differences & How to Work with Someone Much Older or Younger than You”
  • “Relating, Not Translating: How to Market to U.S. Latinos”
  • Social Media & Marketing: How to Use it to Build Business in a Low-Cost, No-Cost Manner”
  • “Diversity in America: The Growing Impact on Work, Organizations & Consumers”
  • “How to Connect with Others Regardless of Age, Wage or Lifestage”

All of my speaking topics can be found on my website at:

My company is a full-service advertising and marketing company and we currently have 7 employees. I started my business 8 years ago, just working out of my house and trying to build a client base. By our third year, we had 10 employees and by our 5th year, we had 19. The recession hit us hard though, at the end of 2008. Our largest client, Toyota, eliminated their diversity marketing budget entirely and we had to lay off a number of employees. The one thing that I did right through the next two years (2008 – 2010) was I kept our expenses in line with revenue. It’s tough, because when business is soft, you keep hoping that it will get better soon and you strive to maintain your infrastructure that will support more business. In my case, that meant talented people who can do the work and the projects that come our way. But what I realized is that I can’t carry those talented people when the revenue isn’t there. As hard as it is to let someone go, your first responsibility is to the health of the company. I knew if we could maintain a healthy company that the jobs would be there in the future. But for now, we’re smaller and we’re leaner. But we’re also stable. And I think that’s a better position to be in than stretching and spending money that really isn’t there. And I sleep better because of it.

Something important I have learned along the way: network and keep your contacts close to you and help whoever you can, whenever you can. Giving and kindness beget more of the same. There have been so many people who have helped me by giving advice, steering me to others who can help or by working with me on a low-budget project. I don’t forget those things or take them for granted and I try to give back and help others whenever I can. It’s not easy, because there are only so many hours in a day. But what I’ve learned is that helping others always comes back to you. Paths cross, doors open and opportunity springs from the least likely places. No matter how busy you are, keep helping others. It pays dividends.

I use social media tools to stay connected with people: I’m on Twitter at

and on Facebook at!/pages/Marketing-to-People-Not-Like-You/189779437709145

Kelly McDonald, Author: “How to Market to People Not Like You: Know It or Blow It Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers”


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