If you have ever felt like the marketing messages, you were putting into the world were falling on deaf ears your marketing might need to be culturally validated.
It is becoming more important than ever for businesses to recognize that their audiences might not be coming from the same place as them culturally.
Marketing textbooks are full of examples of marketing bungles where companies entered a market with a culturally deaf strategy that catastrophically failed. While you may not face catastrophes of that scale with your businesses, culture will still affect you. It may be as subtle as you and your clients having different motivators. If you have ever felt like the messages you were putting out there were falling on deaf ears, this might help explain why. I want to give you some tools to create messages that resonate across cultural divides.
How do we do that?
In this article, we will explore how to identify the problem your customer is facing and articulate it in a culturally agile way. Then we will examine how to position your solution and the transformation that comes from it in a way that will resonate with your audience regardless of their culture.
But first, it is important to recognize that no amount of intercultural intelligence can fix marketing that:
Doesn’t focus on a real problem that your customers are experiencing.
Puts your company at the center of the story instead of the customer.
Identify the Core Problem
Start by taking your message and boiling it down to the core external issue that you are solving for your audience. Is it a career coaching course that equips them to find a fulfilling job or a healthcare clinic that helps sick people get the care they need? Either way, boil it down to that core issue.
Once you have that core problem, you can begin applying intercultural intelligence. My favorite tool for this stage is KnowledgeWorkx’ Three Colors of Worldview. This is based on the three fundamental cultural motivators that mix together to drive every culture in the world.
Now explore the internal emotions created by that external problem your customer is experiencing. Do they feel a lack of purpose because of their unfulfilling job? Do they feel shame because of health struggles they have been dealing with? Are they afraid that they won’t be able to get another job if they leave the one they have? Whatever those internal problems are, brainstorm them and write them down.
Now take a step back and look at the internal problems that you wrote down:
It will help you to have at least six different ones. The three worldview drivers are innocence-guilt, honor-shame, and power-fear. Now categorize the internal problems you wrote down into each of those drivers. You should be pulling out problems where people feel some or all three of those. If you find one driver is weighted more heavily than the others that might mean that is your primary driver. However, that doesn’t mean it is your customer’s primary driver. Try to get one solid internal problem for each one. Are your customers experiencing shame, guilt, or fear because of the problems they are facing?
Culturally Validating the Solution
Next, work on the solution. Since you are helping them solve the problem they are facing, they don’t have to feel that shame, guilt, and fear. Instead, they can be empowered, honored, positioned in the right by your solution. Brainstorm the ways that your solution places your clients in greater control of their situation. Think about how it will bring them honor in their community. How will it make it easier for them to do the right thing?
Bringing It Together
Now that you have done the background work, you can bring it all together to craft your interculturally intelligent message. Combine the best internal problem from each driver to create an interculturally validated motivator. Now place that into the broader messaging framework.
In this message, your customer should be at the center of the story, and you should clearly explain the external problem and emotions that they are facing. Then offer them your product as the solution and explain the transformation that occurs. In the end, the message should be one that empowers, does right by, and honors your customers.
Since you don’t know who will be reading your work make sure that your piece appeals culturally to as many readers as possible:
That is why it is essential to write in such a way that it will resonate with them because it speaks to their cultural motivators. You need to communicate how your product does right by them and helps them do right by others. Your message should make whoever is reading it feel honored. Your copy should make your audience feel empowered because of the solution you offer.
With those messages embedded in your communication, you will find that your messages are going to resonate across cultures.
If you are still struggling to reach across cultures with your messaging schedule a call to get customized solutions to your challenges.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.