My former colleague at Lionbridge posted a link to a fascinating post titled: “Hello World!, There is no Europe!” on what it’s like to market globally from the Europeans perspective. I can’t possibly do it justice so I will let you read it in full here.
When I was there we actually wrote a paper called “you can’t speak European.” Although it turned out we thought we could. We quickly were reminded of an extremely important lesson: get some folks on the ground to test your messages early enough in the beta stage to be able to make a change if you get it wrong.
And with all of the great and practical advice given in the blog post, one of the best bits of advice came from the comments. I can loosely paraphrase it thusly:
“Get your ass out of your chair, and get on the ground in-country. ”
I couldn’t agree more. As a marketer I can certainly design a program around solid objectives, strategies, outcomes and metrics and it will be rock solid on paper. But if you are going to deploy that in country, you had better have a sense for how that market works or you are going to be destined for failure. Surely you may not be in a position to go to every country, that is when you rely on your in-country teams to give you a clue. They don’t have to be marketing people, they just need to have a perspective on what works.
There is hardly any area at all that I can think of not touched by cultural nuance. When redesigning ness.com we got some interesting feedback when testing the final design. The question came up more than once “how does this look on a mobile device? We are always checking a site on our phone before popping into a meeting…”
While not quite stunned into silence this was quite a revelation for us. because even though the iPhone has changed the way we think about the mobile web here in the US, it’s still a “new” thing. However in most parts of Europe, mobile and web, smart and phone have gone together almost to the beginning of advanced 3G networks many years ago.
The list is surely endless. Point is, don’t ever lose sight of this fact. Your customers, whether external or Internal will surely make you pay if you get it wrong.
And the next time someone tries to tell you that “the US is just like Europe we just have states instead of Countries” just ask them how many times Massachusetts went to war with New Hampshire in the last 200 years.