Many MSPs are able to serve a global market due to the nature of the cloud, but influencing buyer behavior of diverse markets around the globe takes careful planning, research and translation. If not done properly, it can cause some problems or weaknesses in other markets. This is why it’s crucially important to thoroughly research and understand the differences in cultural expectations and language when creating MSP marketing materials.
Remember These Marketing Blunders?
None of us are strangers to the blunders companies sometimes can make when influencing buyer behavior upon entering a new market. Remember some of these blunders?
- Ford entered Belgium and wanted its slogan to say “Every car has a high-quality body.” Yet once translated, it came out as “Every car has a high-quality corpse.”
- The American Dairy Association’s idea to enter Mexico with it’s “Got Milk?” campaign, resulted in a translation that said “Are you lactating?”
- Colgate launched a new toothpaste in France called “Cue,” but was apparently unaware that there was a pornographic magazine by the same name.
- Gerber brought its baby food to the market in Africa and used the same packaging depicting a cute baby on the label. They didn’t know that labels there depict what’s in the jar.
- Pepsodent entered Southeast Asia and tried to sell its toothpaste using “it whitens your teeth.” They hadn’t learned that locals there chewed nuts to stain their teeth black, which they thought attractive.
We might laugh at these stories, but each is a failed strategy — a strategy that impacted the companies’ bottom lines. Each costly gaffe is a sign that a marketing team failed to research and understand the differences in cultural and linguistic expectations in a market different from its own.
What This Means for MSPs Influencing Buyer Behavior
You may think that these types of mistakes don’t extend to the B2B market, especially with a product as seemingly straightforward as cloud hosting, but that simply isn’t true.
Remember, you’re not just selling a technical product, but an array of business benefits, such as:
- Freeing up a company’s IT staff so it can concentrate on business rather than maintenance
- Greater scalability
- Predictable monthly costs
- Higher levels of security
- 24/7 availability
But, how prospective customers perceive these benefits will depend on their needs and expectations. And the pain points you emphasize in your country of business may be quite different from what those in other cultures experience. So how do we determine the differences?
We need to understand the cultural norms of different markets.
When You’re Influencing Buyer Behavior, Consider Cultural Expectations
When you want to influence someone to buy your service or product, you need to have a good sense of who they are. When you’re entering a new market, you need to keep that culture’s norms and expectations in mind. Here are a few ways to help you do this.
Individualism or Collectivism?
Does the market you want to enter have a tendency towards cultural individualism or collectivism when making decisions? In other words, do the people in that region prefer to give priority to the collective group or do they believe that each individual should be able to act in accordance with his own judgement?
Research from the Columbia Business School indicates “a good deal of research demonstrates that people have broad, culture-specific cognitive dispositions, like individualism or collectivism, which can guide consumer behavior.”
Here’s an Example
Often in North America we market to the pain points of a specific individual, but this tactic may not appeal to cultures that put more value on collectivism and a broader benefit may have more appeal.
For example, some North American companies value a work/life balance and so limit required overtime and provide tools to save the employee time while working. However, in Japan’s “salaryman culture of overwork,” many employees take pride in spending as much time as possible at work so trying to sell something to save time wouldn’t really fly in this market because of that cultural precedent.
Relationships or Research?
You also need to consider the importance of relationships in your target market. For example, the building of a good relationship with sales staff is much more important to Chinese businesses than it is to North American buyers, many of whom are bypassing the sales team in favor of doing their own research from provided content.
What This Means
As a result of this cultural difference, the MSP sales process and funnels and marketing content would look pretty different in each of these markets, even though the product remains the same. To begin with, content marketing would not be nearly as effective in the Chinese market as they might view it as “lazy” relationship building. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create any content at all, but it would look more technical and straightforward, while the bulk of the selling and storytelling would happen face to face.
Technological readiness in the market influences how well your audience will understand technological terminology. The new market might find great benefits from the technology, but could need additional help understanding it. The Global Information Technology Report 2015, produced by The World Economic Forum, helps to explain some of these technological gaps, including the:
- Standard of existing infrastructure in the country
- Business and innovation environment
- Skills of the population.
Consider the Implications
The report ranks Finland 2nd in networked readiness among 143 countries, based on its highly skilled population and the cultural openness to innovation and technology in government agencies. On the other hand, in previous reports, the United Arab Emirates didn’t score very well and would have needed additional help understanding certain benefits that your services could provide. Interestingly, in this most recent report, the UAE has increased its score substantially, indicating a market that is eager to advance technologically.
As an MSP influencing buyer behavior, your marketing language and terminology needs to normalize the technology being sold. You can do this by explaining what the technology will do for the business.
Depending on the culture your prospective buyers are accustomed to, you could focus on:
- Saving time
- Better security
- An enhanced bottom line
- Streamlining processes
- Reducing workload on certain employees
- Being at the forefront of new technology
MSP marketing materials are also often laden with jargon and acronyms that your market may not understand, so you’ll need to find ways to normalize those terms for them by educating prospects and explaining how those terms relate to your chosen pain points. For example, pointing out that your company uses an advanced encryption method is not as impactful if you do not point out why organizations need that encryption.
At Total Product Marketing, we’re used to working with companies and individuals across the globe. We’ve got a handle on cultural differences and the importance of language. So, when you’re thinking about entering a new market, give us a call at 855-646-8662. We’d be glad to lend a hand.