Multinational companies have landed themselves in hot soup with wrong messaging when advertising in new territory. Most of these ads fall into the category of cautionary tales, but the impact is almost always the same; it’s offensive.
Cultural Mistakes in Marketing
There is no shortage of cases illustrating the hits and misses of cross-cultural marketing. If you don’t want to join the ranks, consider heeding the below advice before running an ad in a foreign country.
Copy and paste won’t cut it
Having a keen awareness that not everyone thinks like you should help you understand the importance of this first point. Even within our families, we all have different worldviews on matters ranging from how much sugar is too much to division of debt in divorce. Now picture this on a larger scale. In a culture that’s not your own, though there might be similarities such as language, underestimating how unlike you are in aspects such as norms, mannerism, and social standards can make for a marketing disaster. Taking time to understand their way of life will aid in coining context appropriate marketing collateral.
Use research-based information
We’ve all had moments where something we once thought was a fantastic idea ended up not going well with the intended audience. Using data to drive your decisions shouldn’t stop with multicultural marketing. Gathering data might require spending time in the context observing and talking to a native. Better still, partner with a reputable organization or a professional that will expound on why certain things happen and not others. Using this research, you can develop mindful messaging that will resonate.
English isn’t the same everywhere
A prime example is a difference in English between England and the US. Though the language is the same, spelling, tone, pronunciations, use of symbols and even slang differ. Canadians are considered to be polite and therefore, if marketing there, the tone needs to adjust to what the general population uses. In a country where English is their official language, take time to note the patterns of usage before coining content.
Hire a local marketing firm
To tie in the above points, hiring locals is the best way to ensure that you don’t make blunders. Even with research, it is possible to have blind spots if you don’t know what you’re looking for. A mistake companies make is establishing a branch overseas and transferring their staff. The problem comes in when the ratio of foreign to local managers is mismatched. It is worth taking special care in the recruitment process to ensure that you employ competent natives to avoid operating in a bubble and making the very mistakes you’re trying to avoid.