Effective Multicultural Marketing

Marketing the same product in various countries can cause some issues. ‘Got milk?’ the American dairy industry’s wildly successful marketing campaign slogan doesn’t sound quite right to British ears. It sounded even odder when translated for Hispanics. The campaign was translated as “¿Tiene leche?” – which means “Do you have breast milk?”. Awkward.

These are the kind of problems we as marketers have to contend with when marketing the same product to people in vastly different cultures.

Amusing translations may work in your favour – they would definitely be shared across social media meaning greater recognition for your brand, but they could also damage your brand and alienate specific customers.

Smart marketers know that the key to a successful global marketing campaign lies in understanding what makes local cultures tick and creating content to tap into those markets.

Local targets

How do you market your product to a Brazilian engineer or a Saudi prince? Even if you’re aiming for the European market, how do you reach out to people within multiple countries and subcultures that make up this market?

The key is to combine global messages with local ideas. The internet is accessible across the whole world, but what really gets users going is local pages – pages in their language, websites for them, about them and sometimes by them. Speak to people about issues that interest them, in their language, and they’ll engage with you, and spread your message.

We also know that Google’s recent algorithm changes mean that those who produce original, local or topical content are rewarded, whereas those who copy or churn out irrelevant material are penalised. If your marketing strategy is fresh, with a local twist you’ll be enhancing your reputation with users and with search engines.

Local ideas

Top hotel brands like Sofitel and Four Seasons are investing heavily in getting the multicultural mix right. They are focused on getting the fusion of universal brand messages and local ideas correct.

First they focus on creating great quality and original content that reflects their brand identity; in Sofitel’s case this is French culture, luxury and art. They make sure their content tells a story whilst still being flexible enough for repurposing for different types of media.

Now comes the multicultural part; taking that content and twisting it so that it’s suitable for different cultures.

Poor translations are embarrassing and inaccurate. They harm your brand and say to your customers; ‘You are not important to us’. Effective content will not only have been translated correctly, but should feature things that interest and impact that culture. You need to ‘get’ what that culture is all about.

If Sofitel have content focused on French wine, for example, this may go down well in Europe, but in a predominantly Muslim country where drinking is not encouraged, you would isolate customers. A concentration on multicultural marketing would mean you’d change the content from wine to tea.

Big data

Now that the rush to get on social media has subsided, companies are analysing the return on investment of their content strategies. There are multiple ways to analyse how effective your campaign has been – you can track sales, conversions and customer preferences in real time, and react quickly to their behaviour.

Companies are getting excited by the sheer amount of information that is now available to them, otherwise known as big data, and are looking into different possibilities. When used wisely the information can help identify cultural clusters or markets with potential.

But all this data and information will never be enough to explain users’ actions and reactions to different content. It’s vital to pair insight gathered from data analysis with insight from real people – those who understand local culture, local search habits and social media.

The bottom line

Effective multicultural marketing is not easy, but it is valuable. It combines the old-fashioned concept of high quality content with innovative marketing techniques, big data, and on-the-ground knowledge of the cultures you are targeting.

Five truths about multicultural content marketing

1. Forget SEO. Focus on generating great content that your users will want to read and share. Your readers will reward you and so will Google.

2. Automatic translation does not work. Culture sensitive localisation does.

3. It’s not all about being multilingual – you need to be multicultural. Think about people and their values.

4. Use people to your advantage. Don’t spend lots of money on global advertising. Create quality content and users will spread your message for you.

5. Big data will help you target local cultures – but this needs to be used alongside on-the-ground knowledge.

Pic source: Einstein Diva

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