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Traveling Like a Local

August 23, 2017

On Sunday, I arrived in Germany with my family. This is my fourth trip to Germany, including a 3-month internship in 1991 (while I was still in college). I speak enough German to get by and am familiar with the culture and interactions.

 

While I don’t turn down anyone who offers to speak to me in English, I generally try to blend in and act like a local. This is in complete contrast to our trip to Taiwan in 2015. There, I was stuck being a tourist -- I did not speak or read the language, and much of the way things were done was

 

foreign to me. I could neither act nor look like a local.

 

When you are creating a marketing campaign, you want to make sure you sound like a “local” to your target audience. Evolutionarily, humans developed a distrust for others who are different than ourselves and that still impacts people, often at an unconscious level. When you speak the language of your prospects, you build trust.

 

For example, if you are speaking to CEOs of midsize companies or larger, you can talk about ROI and EBITA, because these are terms they are thinking about and they sound familiar. You should not use these terms if your prospects are dentists, because they would sound foreign. You can still talk about getting a good return on the money invested (same concept, different words for ROI), you just need to put it in a language that feels familiar to them.

 

If you have worked in the industry you are targeting, then you should already be comfortable with the language used. If the industry is new to you, then spend some time learning it or hire a guide.

 

And if you are selling to consumers, be sure to not use the language of your industry. Put it in non-industry specific terms they can understand. I have experienced this when talking with financial planners (and I have a business degree). They assume I know the terms they are using when I do not. That certainly does not make me feel comfortable with them.

 

So, always try to market like a local. And if you get the chance, do some international travel to feel what it is like to be a tourist. It will help you empathize with those prospects who do not speak your industry language.

 

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