ORLANDO – How do you extend your message to as many different populations as possible all while remaining authentic to both your mission and to the cultures you are aiming to reach? According to Aetna CMO David Edelman, the first step is to hold up the mirror to your own company.

“We’ve launched a pretty major multicultural marketing initiative over the past couple of years and there are several components to that,” says Edelman in an interview with Beet.TV at the CMO Growth Council. “One of which is cultural competency training.”

This in-house strategy includes launching a speaker series at Aetna to discuss issues of bias in marketing and to explore the most effective ways to connect with different communities. It also includes mobilizing Aetna’s own employees by forming resource groups that represent many different populations across the company. These employee panels can then work with marketers to preview advertising and give feedback, which marketers can “use to adjust and really tune what we’re doing to make sure we’re connecting appropriately with those communities,” says Edelman.

These dialogue groups and employee training initiatives have led to greater insight on how to reach different communities in the most direct way. For Aetna, this means thinking beyond TV and digital marketing.

“We’ve actually found that one terrific way to reach a lot of populations is on the ground through local events,” says Edelman. “By being present in those communities and showing our connection to them, we can help build brand affinity, and frankly, also learn more about that local market and the people in that community and what they need so that we can better serve them.”

For Edelman, it’s important not only to discuss multicultural marketing as a company, but to experiment and find ways to directly implement this research into their strategy.

“You have to understand the populations where they are locally and then you have to build the supportive infrastructure underneath so that people can really do their best work to connect with those communities,” says Edelman. “We’ve done a lot with training, we’ve tapped into the rich base of employees we have, and we compare notes and share best practices, and it’s all in the same spirit of helping everybody in their path to better health.”

This video is was produced in Orlando at the CMO Growth Council. The series is sponsored by iSpot.tv. For more videos from the event, please visit this page.

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