My article 6 big multicultural marketing fails was originally published at Fresh Business Thinking
Multicultural marketing… what is it? Well, according to Forbes, by 2042 there will be no dominant ethnic group and we will be an increasingly integrated community. Great right? Sure, but is your marketing keeping up? With the awesome developments in demographic targeting via social media and email marketing we can now put out hundreds of different messages to specific audiences … the possibilities are exciting and endless. Brands now need to understand how to embrace multiculturalism and make it shine through their marketing but here are 6 multicultural marketing fails you might be making without even knowing it.
Fail #1 Not hiring multicultural people
So what, I need to pick people from every culture? No you don’t but you do need to pick people who are open to and interested in learning about different cultures. Having an English speaking team which has no interest in learning about other cultures is not going to help you to grow globally. If you need to target the GCC market then of course it is helpful to have an Arabic speaker on the team for overseeing your digital marketing efforts. Without a diverse and open minded team you could be missing out on amazing opportunities. Remember that in marketing terms, multicultural also factors in gender, sexuality, age and ethnicity.
Fail #2 Not conducting research
Do you know your target audience or you just think you know them? Even if you have a member of your team from that demographic group you need to understand that this is just one person and one person’s opinion. Conduct proper market research on social media or by using a third party before you begin your marketing campaigns. Understanding the needs, desires and motivations of your target client will make the difference when it comes to your success. Most importantly, if the research data you receive doesn’t fit with your campaign… change your campaign!
Fail #3 Not localising images
It’s great to localise text for different regions (NOT using Google Translate!) because you are changing the tone, phrase and reference to fit with your demographic so that your message resonates. So you’re localizing your content which is awesome but what about everything else? Your images and videos need to be localized too otherwise it’s clear that you have gone for a quick fix without any real thought.
This can be labour intensive because one campaign might have 10 different landing pages, 100 different images and a wide selection of videos to accompany it. Some brands simply add captions to YouTube videos but really your YouTube channel needs to have localised playlists to reflect its viewers. By the way on the subject of translating really- don’t use direct translations. The popular “Got Milk?” campaign launched in Mexico with the direct translation “¿Tiene(s) leche?” which actually translated to “are you lactating?”
Fail #4 Losing your brand voice
How can you localise your message whilst keeping your brand voice? It can be a tough one for marketers. Take a look at Coca Cola which plans to spend $4.3 billion in global branding this year. CocaCola’s images change from country to country, as does their text and marketing videos but their message remains the same… “Enjoy Coke with Friends” “Coke sponsors sporting events” “Drinking Coke is a happy experience”. If you were to watch a Coke video in another language it is likely that you would still understand the message and gain the same emotional response. Keep your brand message and campaigns simple so that they translate easily around the world. Never lose your brand identity to market to a particular group… your brand needs to retain its strength whilst also being locally relevant.
Fail #5 Stereotyping
We all know that stereotyping is inaccurate but we still do it a little bit when it comes to marketing. A client of mine once requested a high level campaign for Asia because “All Asians are super smart” meanwhile another told me that “all British people love the Queen”. I’m British and not a royalist so that one’s debunked straight away! Positive stereotyping can be just as insulting for the recipient and ultimately means that your message will not connect with your target audience. Do your research, even if it’s time consuming and avoid clichés and stereotypes just because they fit with your campaign idea.
Fail #6 Being too afraid
Managing marketing in a multicultural world can sometimes induce great feelings of fear and responsibility for marketers. Should I wish my followers “Happy Christmas”, “Happy Ramadan” “Happy Chinese New Year”? Will I offend people if I do? Of course you are not going to be weighing in on religious debates on behalf of your brand but there is no harm in politely observing the celebrations of demographics on your page. If you are really worried then you can target language specific messages to your followers but don’t be so afraid- In my 10 years managing high profile pages it has never caused me any problems.
So let’s celebrate diversity not only in our hearts but also in our marketing efforts. Enjoy the experience of learning and experimenting with new techniques and you will soon see an increase in your global marketing success. How do you manage your global marketing? Tweet me @Charli_Says and let me know.