At DataDab, we believe in the power of words. Words can be powerful, but it takes a little finesse to make your voice work for you in different contexts. That's why we're so excited to talk about how you can make your messaging work across geographies!
Things like culture, language, and even local news can impact how your message is received. You can't always predict what will resonate with a new audience, but there are some ways to prepare yourself and set yourself up for success.
Be open to feedback, as understanding the nuances of a particular region and its culture may help you localize your message.
There are many ways to get feedback when creating messaging across geographies. If you have an existing relationship with someone in the country where you’re marketing, reach out to them and ask their input. Get feedback from colleagues who are familiar with other countries or cultures. You can even ask colleagues from non-related countries for their perspectives.
You can also ask people who live in the country where your message will be shown to share their opinions and how they feel about it. You might want to check in with professional translators, too—they often know a lot about different countries and languages.
Use visuals related to your target cultures, such as metaphors or analogies.
Using visuals that relate to your target culture is an excellent way to make your message more resonant. Metaphors and analogies that will make sense to people in the region you are targeting are key.
For example, if you were communicating with a group of Russian farmers, they might not catch on to an analogy relating to American football. It’s probably better to use an example related to soccer.
Remain consistent in your tone, but work on tweaking your messaging to be more direct or to the point for certain regions.
A general rule of thumb is to keep your messaging and tone consistent but to adjust the language you use to make it more direct or specific. For example, Americans are very straightforward in their communications, so they will probably prefer a message that gets right to the point and doesn't beat around the bush. However, this approach won't work everywhere. In some cases, you will need to be more careful with your words and use a softer tone that shows respect to your audience. This may feel forced at first, but you mustn't come across as disrespectful by using the wrong tone. Once you get into the habit of being mindful about how you write for different audiences, it'll get easier! The main thing is just not too pushy (unless of course pushing people away is what you want).
Many other factors can influence how certain groups respond to a message: age group, gender (in some countries), education level, and occupation are just some of them. But if you're writing an ad copy or anything similar where there's no time for detailed market research into all these variables, simply tweaking content using common sense should do just fine!
Keep in mind various cultural symbols and icons to use them effectively in your messaging.
You want to make sure that you're using suitable images when you're creating your messaging. For example, please do not use a picture of a person with their hands on their hips. This is a universal sign of aggression and will cause the text around it to be interpreted as aggressive. Do not use images of people with arms crossed. This is a universal sign of defensiveness and should be avoided in messaging campaigns. Please do not use pictures of people pointing their fingers or pointing at other people. Pointing is also considered rude and can undermine your messaging efforts. We often see marketing pieces that use red and green together, and this combination can evoke certain religious connotations, so be very careful about how you combine colors in your messaging.
Keep things simple in your messaging, and be clear about what you are trying to get across to reach audiences globally.
The best messaging is clear and straightforward. Avoid jargon and words unfamiliar to your audience; focus on communicating the most critical information in the clearest way possible. Remember, shorter messages are more digestible by audiences.
Keep sentences short and focused, use active voice in your messaging (for example, "I will play a game" rather than "A game will be played by me") and use visuals to support your messaging when possible—simple charts or images can make it easier for people to understand what you’re trying to get across, especially if they have difficulty reading or don’t speak the language in which you’re communicating.
Find out what works across cultures by doing research.
Research and testing are your best tools for ensuring that a message you've developed for one culture translates well to another. Seeing the results of messaging tests conducted on other cultures can help you understand what does or does not translate. You can also run your own research and testing, either by looking at customer feedback or gathering direct input from customers through surveys.
In short, there's no single rule for making messaging work across different cultures—but by putting in some extra effort, you can ensure that your messages will be heard around the world as clearly as they were at home.