Effective marketing requires more than just identifying your target audience; it requires building a genuine connection with them. For healthcare marketers targeting the LGBTQ2S+ community, that connection goes beyond just demographics—it’s all about building trust.
Despite increasing visibility in the last few years, the LGBTQ2S+ community still faces higher rates of discrimination and lower-quality care compared to non-LGBTQ2S+ individuals. In a recent survey, 23% of respondents delayed or avoided receiving necessary treatment due to disrespect or discrimination from a medical professional as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is understandable why this can lead to a deep mistrust of the overall healthcare industry.
As one of Canada’s top online PrEP clinics, Freddie was created to provide lifesaving healthcare to a community that traditionally has been stigmatized and underserved. It is their mission to make HIV prevention more accessible for queer and trans communities—and in order to reach those communities, the marketing team behind the brand knows the important role trust plays in their approach.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of tailoring healthcare services and outreach to meet the specific needs of the LGBTQ2S+ community, Freddie’s efforts toward providing more inclusive healthcare for their patients, and how other brands within the space can do the same.
Let’s dive in.
PrEP 💊= 99% protection against HIV. Most Freddie patients pay $0 for their PrEP + delivery. Book a free phone appointment now at GoFreddie.com♬ original sound – GoFreddie.com
Despite multiple medical and societal advances in healthcare, such as HIV treatment, prevention, and harm reduction efforts (to name a few), access to healthcare remains inequitable. Communities at the margins, like Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, disabled communities, and LGBTQ2S+ folks, still face a poorer healthcare experience than their counterparts.
Research suggests that less than half of the primary care providers in Canada are comfortable prescribing PrEP and treating and diagnosing STIs. Many patients still disclose harmful treatment in healthcare settings, like the refusal of providers to refer to their patients by their names and pronouns.
At large, queer and trans communities still face barriers that cisgender and heterosexual people do not, such as stigma when disclosing one’s sexual and/or gender identity. Until LGBTQ2S+ communities can access relevant health services affirmingly, barriers to care will continue to exclude and deny our fundamental right to healthcare.
While the representation of queer and trans communities in the media and marketing has grown significantly in the past two decades, it begs the question: Who has it been working for?
More often than not, representations of LGBTQ2S+ communities have focused exclusively on the ‘G’—and only a specific portion of this group. Visual portrayals of queerness and transness have become a monolith, a depiction of a singular experience far from our reality. Representation usually means we have to settle for gay, cisgender, masculine, able-bodied, and often white folks as the narrative of queerness.
Healthcare marketing does not steer too much from this pattern. When profit drives the mission, many healthcare services will perceive underserved communities, like LGBTQ2S+ folks, as a ‘market opportunity.’ This profit-first mentality can drive companies to do whatever it takes to get as many clicks and patients as possible—often leaning into outdated and harmful representations.
In short, while the representation of LGBTQ2S+ people in healthcare marketing has become more visible, it largely still defaults to an exclusionary narrative—portraying single narratives at the cost of our diverse experiences. However, we have a responsibility to ensure representation is responsible and uplifting all segments of our community; that’s why Freddie is committed to representing a multitude of bodies and expressions.
Healthcare marketing has multiple challenges that distinguish it from marketing in other industries. The three that come to mind are sensitivity to data privacy, regulatory oversight in advertising, and the need to educate patients on complex topics.
Patients are rightfully concerned about how businesses use their health data to target them in advertising. While there’s sensitivity to data privacy for all sectors, healthcare marketing falls on the higher level of that scale. Marketers will need to make sure they’re following the law and leveraging data in a consensual manner.
Data usage is one of many things that undergo legal scrutiny; how you communicate your service and offerings also needs to fall under regulatory compliance. For example, these limitations may cause you to be unable to clearly name the pharmaceutical drug or its use case. Marketers will need to get creative in framing their message to consumers.
It’s not enough to just be creative, though. Marketers need to adequately communicate complex topics to patients surrounding health needs, care options, the patient journey, and financial costs. As an example for Freddie, our team needs to be able to clearly educate on topics like what PrEP is, its effectiveness, potential side effects, the prescription cost, and how patients navigate the PrEP process online.
Consumers are increasingly skeptical (as they should be) of brands incorporating queer-coded visuals in their marketing without any substance. If you think you only need to wave a Pride flag around to boost your growth efforts during Pride season, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Read more about how to avoid rainbow washing in marketing on our blog.
When crafting an LGBTQ2S+ campaign, ensure that someone in the queer community is consulted or involved in the creation. Involving those in the group you’re trying to speak to will help increase the relevancy of your messaging and reduce the likelihood of negative reception. It’s really the bare minimum if you’re going to market to the community. Also, make sure to credit and compensate these creators fairly.
Reaching the LGBTQ2S+ community members in advertising has become increasingly difficult due to recent changes in Meta and Apple’s policies to prevent discriminatory targeting. To ensure your advertising spend is cost-effective, you’d likely benefit from allocating a portion of your promotional spend to channels that queer community members are known to frequent. This includes partnering with LGBTQ2S+ influencers, events, brands, etc. Examples that work well for us are queer-focused dating and hookup apps.
To preface, Freddie is one of the multiple options Canadians have for getting PrEP. Since every patient’s circumstances are unique, the PrEP provider that is best for them can vary.
Freddie’s mission is to make HIV prevention as accessible as possible, which mandates we champion patients to seek care that’s best for them, even if it’s not through us.
With that in mind, multiple groups in the PrEP market find our service beneficial:
Our consultations are 100% free and are not billed to the patient’s insurance.
Freddie is currently available for patients with public and private insurance in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Around 90% of these patients get their PrEP and discreet delivery for $0.
Due to provincial regulations and financial constraints, Freddie can only serve patients with private insurance in British Columbia and Quebec at this time. Around 80% of these patients get their PrEP for free.
Freddie makes HIV prevention affordable. 90% of our patients pay $0 for their PrEP. Get started now at gofreddie.com♬ Reduce Your Expectations to 0 – 💙🪐Lucy🪐💙
As marketing professionals, we know how important it is to connect with the audiences we’re targeting. Why should marketing to LGBTQ2S+ folks be any different?
Making genuine and meaningful connections with the LGBTQ2S+ community through healthcare marketing is a delicate process that requires a sensitive touch. As a result of an industry that has historically marginalized and stigmatized queer and trans folks, marketers targeting this community need to put authenticity at the center of this approach. Without it, marketing efforts will likely fall flat.
By looking at brands that are leading the way with authentic and inclusive healthcare marketing like Freddie, we’ll learn how to go above and beyond to establish trust and create a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ2S+ community5