If you’ve ever travelled or have family from another country, you’re well aware of the fact that communication is different in each country. Communication doesn’t just mean language, it’s also gestures, icons, and images as well. Now that the internet and social media have opened the world up to even the smallest business. Let’s talk briefly about why understanding where your marketing materials are going to be seen is important.

In the past there were different “markets” or different places to sell and it was based on country or a group of countries. Understanding these markets and how they communicate and buy things was part of the marketing and communication team’s job. It still is this for a lot of larger companies, but for the small companies out there the internet and social media opened them up to an international audience.

This pretty much means that they needed to be culturally sensitive overnight. That can be a tall order. I’ve been studying communications for a huge part of my adult life and sometimes I still get it wrong.

If you have access to your demographic statistics online, check those out and use them to help you determine which areas you need to tailor your message towards. This is especially true if you have a more universal offer or a wider niche that might appeal to different areas than just where you live in.

If you want to tailor advertisements and your marketing images and text to these other areas, The best tip I have is to be ready to do the research. Look up what is appropriate in the areas where you notice your work is picking up traction. Understand their language, their slang, and their common gestures and icons. Even how their economy, corporate world, and religious centers work. Some of this might be built-in if you or your family hails from the area in question. For the areas, you’re not familiar with put the time in to look things up.

I recommend looking things up because every culture works differently and it’s really hard to say “do this”, “don’t do that” and have it work every time. Some things to be on the lookout for are communication context, style of critique, and style of culture. Some cultures are very low context and they speak directly to avoid confusion, while others are high context, and listeners and readers would need to read between the lines to understand what the person wants.  The same goes for critique, some cultures are very blunt in their critique while others are more likely to mix positive and negative comments to avoid embarrassing people. The biggest one that I’ve had to look for is whether the culture is individualistic societies in which the individual’s wants and needs are most important versus collectivist societies where the well-being and desires of the group are more important. These help to quickly influence how the message is written and what images would perform better.

if you want to deep dive into the subject matter, you can also lookup online “International Communication” and “Cross-Cultural Communication”. There are a lot of great videos on YouTube that explain these concepts in depth.

Hopefully, this has inspired you to take a look at where your work is reaching and how it might be perceived outside of your native culture.



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