Best Practices & Marketing Strategies

Identifying Needs:

  • Families experiencing autism know best what they want and need.
  • Products and services can meet (or be developed to meet) those needs.
  • Businesses should check with families, involving them in decision-making processes, rather than making assumptions.

An Underserved Market Segment:

  • People with autism have the same fundamental/ functional needs as customers without disabilities.
  • All consumers look for quality products and services that meet their needs, are reliable, and competitively priced.
  • As the needs of this underserved market are met, these customers become loyal users and advertisers for the businesses they enjoy.

Avoiding the Issue?

Mainstream businesses have not focused on building relationships with people and families challenged with developmental disabilities.

Many businesses have:

  • disregarded this market concerned they would offend or act inappropriately
  • mistakenly assumed that including this population would “classify” their business or reduce their prominence
  • avoided local marketing because they…
    • feel it is an uncomfortable topic
    • are unsure of the approach
    • are unaware of significance of market presence
    • assume this population is not interested
    • lack of awareness/sensitivity

Marketing Considerations:

There has been limited business-related information about autism. As a result, many companies may have been insensitive to consumers and employees with the disorder. This population looks for businesses that make good-hearted efforts toward meeting their needs. When targeting your mainstream market, consider the additional needs of this underserved market segment. As a result, you may find an additional niche for your business.

Approachability:

Community businesses and organizations become stronger and more vital when they welcome and include all members of the community. A business’ Welcome Statement makes an important first and lasting impression to customers.

Have a written policy statement welcoming patrons with disabilities.

Prominently display your welcome statement and print it in business and marketing materials.

Provide information on ways of adapting services, programs, and venues.

Sample Welcome Statement

Name of Companyis committed to diversity and ensuring that all customers and employees are treated equitably, free from discrimination. We work to make our facilities accessible to all patrons. We strive to provide a welcome environment and offer the necessary services and resources to meet the individual needs of our customers. Name of Company is dedicated to our responsibility to attract, assist, and employ qualified individuals, regardless of disability, by supporting skills, interests, and talents which will foster the community. For information and assistance on accessibility and inclusion, contact Name of Company.

Marketing Communications:

  • Inclusion of this market segment needs to be supported at all levels of the organization.
  • Clear communication begins at the management level through front-end operations.
  • Integrate traditional marketing messages that include people with autism.
  • Avoid communication that separates, disrespects, or demeans this or any other population.
  • Distribute communications to area agencies that serve people with developmental disabilities.
  • Send press releases and announcements to media that target people with disabilities.
  • Create marketing materials that point out accessibility and inclusion. Provide a contact to receive requests for special needs.

Appropriate Terminology:

When talking to or writing about someone with autism, use person-first language.

  • A person on the spectrum
  • People with autism
  • A boy with Asperger’s Syndrome
  • An individual with special needs
  • A family member with Rett Syndrome

Use the link below to print a PDF version of this information to share with others.

For more information about this program contact: KohlsAutismAwareness@childrens-specialized.org

Download PDF

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