Tag Archives: culture

Typically British – International Tea Day

Typically British – International Tea Day

How do you like yours? Mine’s top right: strong, black tea with milk, hold the sugar

At times of crisis, Britons put the kettle on. It’s no surprise then, that sales of tea have increased sharply since lockdown. And today, 21 May 2020, we’re celebrating International Tea Day!

Tea is used to soothe nerves, enjoy with a biscuit or cake, gossip over with a friend. It’s the first beverage you offer a visitor.

Britain is second only to Ireland in its tea-drinking habits, and that’s going some. We drink an estimated 100 million cups of tea a day compared with 70 million cups of coffee.

Although fruit and herbal teas are available and increasingly popular, black tea (with milk mostly) makes up 85 % of our tea consumption. You can see why a recent translation citing lemon as Europe’s most popular tea tested my British roots.

And why my family looked on aghast when I returned from a year in Germany with ‘fancy ideas’, suggesting an alternative to our standard cuppa.

Keeping the Workforce Going

Standard everyday tea is what our nation is built on. Literally. It’s called Builder’s Brew partly because 90 % of tradesmen rely on access to a kettle and a constant supply of tea while they work.  

Despite being a southerner, my favourite is the northern Yorkshire tea. Pop in a mug, add fresh boiling water and let brew for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of milk (you know you want to) and a little sugar if you like it sweet.

If you really can’t stand the idea of milk, I’ll allow you a slice of lemon and honey as my friend Agata prefers.

Fortunately for us tea lovers, black tea is said to have a raft of health benefits, including the antioxidants it contains that help fight inflammation. Any excuse to put the kettle on I say. Here’s to International Tea Day, cheers!

For more fun facts and a bit of the history behind our humble cuppa, head here: https://www.tea.co.uk/tea-facts

Image of hops with the text “Why business is like beer”

Why Business is Like Beer

How many ingredients are there in your business?

Restricted by the German purity law, German brewers can only use four ingredients – malt, hops, yeast, and water. There are only so many combinations and yet there are thousands of different beers, so how do they do it?

A line-up of craft beers in a bar
Just a few craft beers

Brewers are considered to be great chefs. As with all chefs, they take great care in selecting the perfect blend of materials, the precise variety of hops from a preferred region that delivers the flavour they want to achieve. A specific yeast that’s been cultivated from a centuries-old wild variety rediscovered in an old oak tree. Then you come to the brewing technique, which is equally important as the ingredients and sometimes the main reason the beer stands out.

Beer by the river

Which means that along with carefully selecting the mix of ingredients, brewers need to analyse the production methods. The huge variety of beer stands testament to how successful this is.

Each beer is unique and now you know that it’s down to slight variations in the ingredients and process, you realise how much effort must have gone into brewing your favourite tipple. Let’s raise a glass to that, Prost!

What makes you different?

When it comes to your business, how different are your ingredients to your competitors?

Perhaps not much, if you’re honest. But as we all know, it’s what you do with them that counts and the subtle changes are exactly what will generate different results.

Two companies could deliver the exact same product at a similar price point and yet one is wildly more popular than the other because their clients love the sustainable packaging and extra attention to detail. Or the fact they receive a hand-written note and free sample with each order. Maybe it’s just because they know they can reach a living, breathing human at the end of an email or phone call rather than be pushed around an automated system that makes them want to scream in frustration.

And to consider another factor. When you invent new beer formulations using different types of yeast, you face new challenges. Process steps need adjusting, there are new microbiological risks.

Just the same as when you launch a new product or service, it may need tweaking to suit your clients’ requirements. If it doesn’t work straight away, you don’t throw away all that hard work and preparation, you see what else you can do to make it work.

Try an experiment

Think of your business as an experiment. A very hard-working, successful experiment of course.

Let’s say you consider little tweaks and adaptations to be part of the experimental design. You measure the results and conclude whether you took the best course of action or if you can spot any scope for improvement. Thinking about your marketing campaigns and product launches in this way makes you a lot less attached to the outcome.

And if you’re less attached to the outcome, you’ll be more open to improvements and new ideas, which can only get you and your customers better results.

Sometimes when you’re dealing with different cultures (and I’m talking about humans now not yeasts), you make assumptions. A problem a client has in Germany might not be focus of your client in Croatia or Britain, which means your marketing might be slightly off if you try to appeal to both domestic and international clients. Your perspective isn’t wrong, you’re just not talking about their biggest concern so you’re not capturing their attention. Get some input from your target market and adjust accordingly, try a new angle to get a better outcome.

How about trying something new today? Send me some English marketing that you’ve put out in public but doesn’t seem to be striking the right note, and I’ll suggest some tweaks  to generate more leads. I’m not going to suggest a wildly different approach (unless you want me to that is). Usually a subtle change of focus from the perspective of a native speaker and a few different word choices can make the difference between a reader wanting more or moving on to a different brand. Once the figures come in, then we can toast to your success!

Closeup of Cinema seats

Stop Your Kopfkino in its Tracks

Kopfkino – my new favourite word.

Such a precise and clear definition of something we all do.

Kopfkino describes those moments when you play out an entire scenario in your head. If you don’t speak German it literally translates as ‘head cinema’.

You and I both do that, more than we’d like to admit.

There’s the nice version, for instance, imagining your boss is going to award you a promotion because of a major deal you’re about to pull off.

The real story: you’ve not even picked up the phone or identified the opportunity yet so that’s just a pleasant dream.

You might also attach meaning to something negative: say, you didn’t get a reply from that prospective client you met last week. Jeez, you went all the way to Cologne to that trade show, they seemed really enthusiastic and now they’ve disappeared off the face of the earth. Well, that’s a dead end, no point wasting time on them anymore. If they’re all like that, no point going there again or sales are going to plummet…

The real story: the week after a trade show is as busy as the week before as you frantically try to keep all the promises you made on the exhibition floor. You know that, but sometimes your brain likes to spice things up a little, add a bit of drama to make things interesting.

When you’re dealing with another culture, say your prospects are British, this is when your mind can play tricks on you. Kopfkino can really come into its own.

Understanding a subtle distinction where both sides mean something slightly different can have a huge impact on the outcome. Stop your Kopfkino in its tracks by running through these three points:

1. Instead of taking things at face value when you’re dealing with the British, consider our love of humour and sarcasm. Ask for further explanation if necessary.

2. Consider that the British are masters of understatement. The British pilot Eric Moody was flying from Britain to New Zealand in 1982 when Mount Galunggung erupted and volcanic ash caused all four engines to fail. This is what he said: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”  Technology may have improved since the 80s (though volcanic ash would probably still cause a fair bit of disruption), but our communication style is deeply ingrained.

3. Consider also that we are generally non-confrontational. We would rather hoover up after a visitor has left than ask them to take their muddy shoes off before they walk all over a cream carpet. Applied to business, your British colleague may not want to criticise or confront you directly so will soften the criticism. Listen to the underlying message carefully, it might be sandwiched between more positive information.

And if you’re starting to think this is all too much bother, Brexit is real, and how on earth do we Brits get any business done at all, fear not. My insider’s guide to doing business with the British and increasing your profit margin is just what you need.

Burrow into the British mind, explore international marketing issues, discover why your clever concept may fail outside of your domestic market… and how to avoid that happening in the first place. And much more!

Order Small Island Big Business directly from me if you’d like a signed copy and a little gift or find it on Amazon.