How to Make Your Marketing Messages Culturally Relevant

Aug 8, 2018 by

Today it is extremely important for all brands to be culturally relevant, not only those that are trying to expand into global markets. The diversity of customers has increased in every country around the world, and you will have to make sure that you are able to appeal to people from all walks of lives. As an example, a fashion ad that only featured white, slim, blonde women will make you miss out on the market that doesn’t fit in the criteria. Before you can start designing effective marketing messages for the niches you are targeting, however, it is also crucial that you focus on their beliefs, values, and personal aspirations, as well as their unique characteristics and problems. Below you will find a few tips on how to keep your marketing messages relevant in a multicultural world.

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Study the Culture

It is important that you expand your cultural horizons, so you can create messages that are appealing for various groups and don’t offend or exclude others. Before you start this process, you will have to study the demographics of the market, interview people, and make sure that you are able to engage with them on a personal level. There are plenty of resources that will help you with learning about Pakistan or other diverse cultures.  If you would like to appeal to certain customer groups, you might want to create studies or read white papers that give you an insight into their personal preferences and buying decisions.

Make Your Company Inclusive

Being culturally relevant starts with your company. You need to embrace different cultures, and make sure that all your employees are treated equally. If you have a bad reputation for not being able to communicate with your culturally diverse employees, or you are accused of discrimination, your minority customers and buyers will turn their backs on you. On the other hand, culturally diverse employees will be able to help you tailor the messages to the needs of different customers, and communicate with them better.

Create a Democratic Leadership Strategy

It is important that you embrace various ideas, independent of where they came from. Involve all your employees in the decision making process, so they can help you reach out to various groups. You need to remember that they all have various life experiences, and they can have insider information about markets that will benefit your company. Set up a suggestion box in the office where your employees can post their ideas, and hold brainstorming sessions to engage better with culturally diverse customers.

Embrace Diversity

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Instead of trying to establish set rules, values, and behaviors, you will have to accept and embrace diversity in the workplace. This means that you have to be willing to learn about new cultures and encourage your employees to do the same. While some behavior standards need to be set in stone, you will have to make sure that people are treating their colleagues and customers with respect. Create a diversity policy that will help your staff understand the benefits of engaging with people from different walks of life.

Understand Your Customers

Instead of simplifying the issue and treating every customer from the same culture or demographics the same way, you will have to understand the individual differences. As an example, a second or third generation Indian customer will have different beliefs and preferences than someone who’s only lived in the country for ten years. Don’t judge every person the same way, and try to engage with them. When it comes to creating marketing messages, you have to use a focus group that represents your customers’ demographics.

Be Careful with Cultural Issues

Many companies have damaged their reputation and lost profits because they were not aware of sensitive cultural issues. When choosing brand names, you have to check the translation, so you are not excluding customers from non-English native language. As an example, Nokia brought out Lumia not knowing that the word means “prostitute” in Spanish slang. Given the number of native Spanish speakers around the world, it is likely that the company has created  a negative brand association and lost important markets.

Define the Culture

Before starting any marketing plan, it is important that you focus on defining the culture and the group you are looking to reach out to. There are several online and worldwide initiatives that help people and companies understand various views and cultures, traditions, and beliefs. As an example, there is an Islamic school, the Abrar Academy that helps boys understand the views of the “other side”, Israel. However, there are plenty of government research studies available, as well, if you would like to know how the value system of your customer group looks like.

Employ a Culture Specialist

In some cases, running your business will not allow you to do the research and study various diverse groups in detail. This is when you have to talk to a culture specialist who can help you craft marketing messages that will appeal to various groups. Outsourcing this process, including market research and research will save you a lot of time, and help you establish your brand in diverse markets without having to risk marketing blunders and reputation loss.

Immerse Yourself In the Culture

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People will tell you that you can only fully understand a market if you embrace it and experience it first hand. If you get the chance to meet people in their own homes, travel the world, experience the traditions, celebrations, family life, and other aspects of the culture, you will have a much deeper understanding of the diverse customer’s background. Try the food, check out the attractions, study the history, and you can craft your marketing messages better.

Acknowledge the Core Values of the Culture

When creating targeted brand messages that are aimed at a culturally diverse group, you will have to start by acknowledging the core values of your customer. Whether it is hard work, giving children the best shot in life, or looking after the elderly, you will have to talk about issues that are focal for your clients. This way, you will be able to engage with them on a personal and emotional level, and stay relevant to their values.

Don’t Get Lost in Translation

Don’t rely on Google Translator or other cheap services when trying to translate your marketing messages to other languages. Often the real substance of the campaign will get lost in translation, and you might say something offensive unintentionally. Even large companies have made a mess of their translations, and this cost them a huge proportion of their market share. KFC translated the famous “finger-licking good” slogan to Japanese wrong, and told their customers to “eat your fingers off”.

Find Common Values

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If you don’t want to target only one diverse group, but different demographics, it is important that you find common values of humanity you can build your messages on. As an example, every parent around the world wants the best education for their kids. Most children love sweets, but Asian kids are less likely to eat junk food. Therefore, healthy sweets and snacks can appeal to various markets, given that they are carefully communicated. Business owners around the world want to improve their efficiency, but they have various preferred approaches you need to be mindful of.

Create a Multicultural Marketing Strategy

While you have to be careful with not spreading yourself too thin when creating marketing messages, you can create variants for various geographical locations or even markets. If you are engaged in location-based marketing, you can put out a different poster near a college campus or a shopping center. Before you try to impress everyone, you will have to ask yourself whether the standard message will get you the best results. If this is not the case, you might want to try to customize them to each market, making sure that the core message of the brand remains unchanged.

Say No to Stereotyping

One of the most common mistakes companies make is that they assume every customer from the same cultural background is the same. The cultural values and personal aspirations of a customer will make their approach and preferences unique. Stereotyping marketing messages are likely to get the opposite reaction from diverse markets, and they can bury the brand for a long time. Avoid depicting a “standard” family or person, and try not to confirm negative stereotypes. Be careful with the use of accents or colloquialisms in adverts, as this can be offensive to some potential customers.

Getting your marketing messages right can be challenging, especially if you are trying to appeal to various culturally diverse groups. Start with researching your market and its demographics, and make sure that you embrace diversity in the workplace and take advantage of the shared organizational knowledge. Be careful with stereotyping and find out about the values and sensitive issues of the culture, so you don’t end up with a marketing blunder that will cost you your market share.

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