How to use cultural adaptation to expand your business
To tap into new markets, you’ll need much more than a thorough market research and effective promotion. Your products, services and processes will have to be adapted to the local requirements, expectations and customs. Targeting customers abroad – who may share different cultural background or use different methods when choosing their business partners – can be a challenging task. One way to prepare for the expansion into a new market is to find out how cultural differences between you and your prospects can influence the process of communication, sales and marketing. Once you’re ready to invest time and effort to break into a new market, you can follow these steps to adapt to the target culture and increase your local presence:
1. Know your customer context
Your products and services won’t go a long way if your customers can’t understand your message. You won’t only need to speak the language of your customer, which is used in communication, product packaging or marketing campaigns, but you’ll also have to understand the context of your prospects. Where do they live and what are their cultural values that can influence the perception of your product? How do they search for your products and browse your website? What do they need? How do they make their purchase decisions? And most importantly, what is their “why”: why would they buy your products or trust your brand? To understand the context of your prospects, you need to know what is their cultural background, as this is usually the basis for any other decisions and behaviours. Ideally, your products and services have to be seamlessly adapted to the culture of your target group. Then, with context marketing, you can tweak your message to provide more relevant and personalised content targeted at your customer’s needs.
2. Make your communication clear
To expand your business and break into a foreign market, you’ll have to make sure that your customers can find your details and contact you easily. From local presence to social media, apps and websites – there are many ways to reach to your prospects. Whether online or offline, your message has to be clear. Make your website and social profiles available in the language of your customers and go far beyond translation. Research your target market in terms of communication patterns. Are you selling to prospects from a high-context or low-context culture? Is simple and direct language enough to sell your products or will you need to use metaphors and implicit style? Think about types of images and marketing messages that your customers prefer and modify your content accordingly. Chances are you’ll need a new website layout to make your online presence more effective on the foreign market. The same goes for your social media updates and personal communication. To negotiate with your business partners abroad you’ll need to be aware of the cultural differences and adjust your strategy accordingly.
3. Be present on the local market
It’s difficult to make business and sell your products on the new market without the local presence. A local representative or business partner who can understand the market will help you promote your products and gain more insight into the local practices. Local presence will also help to increase the trust of your customers and facilitate communication. It might be challenging to resist the temptation of talking and reaching to your customers via online platforms only. However, merging the offline and online presence is the best way to promote your business and interact with your prospects. Consider attending local events or fairs where you can show that your brand isn’t foreign at all and can understand the local market and blend into the local culture.
To expand your business and break into new markets, you’ll need be aware of cultural differences and similarities. Once you understand the purchase behaviour of your target customers and adapt your communication style to the cultural and personal context you’ll be able to seize the new opportunities and increase your potential for growth.
About the author: Dorota Pawlak
Dorota helps businesses, organisations and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is an entrepreneur and a qualified translator specialising in IT and localisation of websites, games and software.