Tag Archives: cultural differences

Old family photographs of holidays and special occasions. Circle-like camera lens reads Business Through the Lens

Business Through the Camera Lens

What do you feel when you look at old photos?

I’m talking about the pre-digital age photos. Those slightly fuzzy ones in muted colours your parents took on holidays, trips, and special occasions.

Realistically, you’re looking at a piece of shiny paper with smiling faces or a slightly wonky landscape. Nothing to write home about unless you recognise those faces. Unless that landscape is the scene of your family holiday in 1988 and that image transports you back to the beach. You can taste the salty sea air, hear the seagulls and relive how the wet seaweed felt under your bare feet as you clambered over the rocks to find crabs and mussels. You remember how proud you felt creating the biggest hole on the beach as you dug deep to try and get to Australia… er, maybe that was just me?

Even those black-and-white photos of your not-too-distant ancestors make you feel something though it becomes harder to forge a connection. I’ve got a photo of my great-great-grandmother dressed up in her Victorian finery. Though we never met, I can just about find a family likeness. I imagine little Flora (my Grandma) going to visit her grandmother and playing in the garden with her cousins. There’s a connection but you have to work harder to create the meaning.

Show my photos to someone else and they’ll see a bunch of semi-smiling strangers. There’s no connection there at all.

An image only delivers emotional impact if you know the stories and the people behind it. And don’t think you can rule out emotional impact in business. That’s the extra step most people don’t take that will bring you unsolicited business.

How to deliver emotional impact in your marketing   

It’s the stories you can tell. Most people know they have to make their marketing relatable. For instance, you’d do better talking about what a machine can do for your clients rather than its technical specifications.

If you know the people that work on that machinery though, you can forge an emotional connection. The connection becomes greater if you know the stories and feelings of those other clients. People like you who use that machinery, what they use it for, how relieved they were to find a solution, and how much time it saves them so they can go home and play with their children. Whatever it is that your clients want, if you can find examples of people who have achieved that directly as a result of working with you, and you use those stories as part of your marketing… click! Capture that on your marketing camera right away.

That’s how you create an emotional connection in business, through people and their concerns, hopes, and desires. Even if your business is chemical additives.

Look at what your products do, then look at how your clients use them. Why does your product or service help them achieve their goals and how do you make it easy?

Cultural considerations

This might be different for your British clients. People are people the world over but there are subtle differences related to culture and language that mean you need to adjust your marketing.

If a British person hears a German client talking about how his life is so much easier now, he even gets to squeeze in a game of handball after work, they will attach some positive meaning. It’s clear the product or service improves efficiency. However, because we don’t play handball in Britain, the message loses a tiny bit of impact. They might think well that’s good for them but it’s different for us. And it isn’t different but that’s their perception and they’re entitled to it.

One advantage of using a native speaker is that you get suggestions on what you’re saying as well as how you say it. If I think something won’t work for the British market, I’ll let you know and come up with an alternative.

I’ll take your memory-packed holiday snap and replicate it so it could happily slot into a British photo album and evoke the same feelings.

Your holiday may be over but we’ve got business memories to make!

It’s our differences that make us special

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I know this one, I know it … oh bugger, it’s not what I thought it was.

   Last night I indulged in my guilty pleasure, Masterchef Australia. This particular episode was about cakes, even better! The losing team were facing elimination and had to correctly identify the names of different cakes, the first three to get one wrong had to cook for their survival in the competition.

   Admittedly there were some mighty obscure cakes on that table but what struck me was how difficult some of the contestants found Battenberg, Black Forest gateau, and the Easter Simnel cake. Australia and the UK are so closely related, sharing the same queen and all, that we think the Aussies are just a more laid-back version of us. Except they have a crazy gene that compels them to live in a country where even plants can kill you, let alone the poisonous insects.

   So why didn’t they know these really well-known cakes? Because even though we share the same native language, there are differences in our culture and experiences.

   In Europe we are so lucky to have so many different cultures, there are more and more overlaps in the food we eat, the way we do things and places we visit. Yet there are still obvious differences. Language for one. Which is a huge barrier to many people and stops them experiencing life in the same way as native speakers when they visit another country.

   But even when we learn another language and get an insight into a different upbringing and way of life, it’s not the same as living and breathing the culture on a daily basis. I lived in Germany for a year and struggled to adjust when I got back home. Because although we’re all European, the subtle nuances of life, language and culture are ingrained into everything we do without us even realising.

   I had to rewrite an entire text for a client once because they kept referring to the Pfand (deposit) system where you return glass bottles and are refunded your deposit. It just does not exist here and my client had no idea. Had I kept to the original text word for word, English readers would have been baffled and felt alienated, not included. As a prospective client, you want to feel included and understood when reading about something that concerns you.

   This is why I launched my English Under the Microscope review service. For non-native speakers who may have written the English text themselves, or had someone else translate it but are not getting the results they were expecting. I take a look, send you a screencast video of my review and an action plan with suggestions on how to improve the parts I think aren’t working. I’ll be gentle but firm and give you an insider’s perspective on your text. You might be surprised at what I find.

   Take a look and book here.