How to Effectively Communicate Your Sales Message to an International Audience

The internet has made enormous strides in making the world seem like a smaller place. Doing business internationally is now accomplished with a simple click of a button, and companies enjoy their products and services reaching bigger audiences and gaining customers all over the world.

But only if they can communicate effectively.

Here are some tips to help shape your marketing message so international customers understand and respond to it.

Research cultural taboos before moving into a marketplace

Your logo or slogan may be adorably creative in the United States, and highly offensive in other countries. Conduct research before moving into international marketing, and if any of your marketing messages touch on topics that are offensive to other cultures, revise your international initiative. A slightly delayed campaign is better than an insulting one.

Show respect to the customer

Cheeky ads or internet pictures evoke humor and are highly effective in the United States and some European countries. In other areas of the world, they will fall flat. Take a country’s primary religious beliefs into account when creating an international marketing initiative. Follow this rule of thumb: when in doubt, leave content out.

Be concise and specific

When producing communication pieces for your intended market, you need to do your research so that your messaging comes across accurately and meaningfully.  Make sure your language is concise and specific, as so often meaning is lost as a result of poor translation or trying to be too clever with the messaging.  You should also avoid colourful language and word devices such as allegories or alliteration, which more often than not do not translate well into other languages and lose cultural meaning.

Focus on the literal meaning of words and discount their tone.  Be forthcoming with suggestions for language nuances in ad creative.  Use plenty of graphics and visual elements that are familiar to your audience.  If you are using video as a way to present your message, subtitles are always a good way to engage and connect with your audience.

Translation considerations

Since your website is at this point your calling card, consider translating your current website. If budget prevents you from translating all of your website content, select the most important pages and information. Also, a good tip to remember is to ensure your website can accommodate a machine translation. For example, avoiding text in graphics will help.

Incorporating social media can also be a useful tool in your toolkit. Creating various accounts in the languages you service is an easy way to stay connected with your audience.

Understand how your message translates

American slang may tell a great story to English speakers, but be completely inappropriate when translated into other languages. Coors beer is an example. Their “turn it loose” campaign was introduced in Spain. Unfortunately, the tagline translated into a saying that meant “suffer from diarrhea.” Companies must take measures to ensure the message still properly promotes their product or service once it is translated.

Marketing a product or service Internationally brings great rewards to a company that does it thoughtfully, and can be a financial and public relations disaster to the ones that do it wrong. By planning ahead, conducting research, and designing campaigns respectfully, businesses can effectively communicate their sales message to an international audience.

About the Author:

Martina Iring is the Content Marketing Strategist for eBridge.  She handles all forms of copywriting, including website content, blog posts and press releases. She has worked in marketing communications for a variety of industries since 2005. Martina speaks four languages and is an avid traveller (having visited 30+ countries and counting) who gets out on the road whenever she can.

Posted October 21, 2015
Categories: Blog

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