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How to Use Intercultural Marketing and Communication

We’ve already discussed the importance of intercultural copywriting in a previous blog post. However, there’s an even bigger way to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. Enter: intercultural marketing.

By ensuring that you’re working on a more inclusive approach to your marketing and communication strategy, it’ll be a lot easier to find more long-term and sustainable ways to attract new clients, appeal to their needs, and continue to grow your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about the magic of intercultural marketing and communication, this blog is for you!

Let’s dig in…

The role of intercultural communication

There’s no doubt that the world is becoming more interconnected, diverse, and expansive.

While this means that businesses – especially online and digital businesses – have a much better chance of connecting with a larger audience, it also means that they need to be very careful about the ways they communicate and present themselves.

After all, what someone might consider an appropriate way to communicate might actually be the opposite in someone else’s eyes.

That’s where intercultural communication comes in.

Intercultu-what?

Intercultural communication is when you create a shared meaning with folx across different cultures. This doesn’t only refer to nationalities, languages, etc, – culture IS everywhere!

To put it simply, it’s essential that businesses learn how to communicate and connect with people from diverse cultures. This, if they really want to continue growing outside of their own community.

A few ways in which businesses can do this are:

  • Using language that isn’t triggering or offensive
  • Avoiding stereotypes
  • Keeping your language simple
  • Staying up-to-date with how language is evolving
  • Staying away from discriminatory language
  • Not using idioms or sayings that might be misinterpreted
  • And so many more!

Through close attention to detail and an intercultural communication strategy, businesses can move forward to focus on the bigger picture. And what’s that? An all-encompassing marketing strategy.

One that takes into account important things like…

  • Their values, mission, and vision
  • Their brand message 
  • The type of content they create

The many aspects of intercultural marketing

At the end of the day, marketing is all about relationships and trust. 

And, without a solid base of communication and mutual understanding (literally and figuratively), achieving this would be practically impossible.

But intercultural marketing goes far beyond the words you use. It also lives within the ideals you represent, the causes you champion, and more.

“Marketing for people, not at them”

Let’s rewind a little bit to get into the context of things.

When it comes to intercultural – or multicultural – marketing, there’s an understanding that, within your community, there are a ton of different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs, languages, geographic locations, etc.

This means that your marketing efforts shouldn’t be geared toward *one* specific person or one particular community of people. They should be working to remain inclusive of everyone – no matter the differences or the distance.

NOTE: While you might be thinking it’s impossible to “please everyone”, it’s important to remember that it’s not about that! Your marketing strategy isn’t about pleasing, but about encouraging and welcoming people into this unique space (aka business) you’ve created.

DOUBLE NOTE: We know it sounds counter-intuitive to say markting efforts shouldn’t be geared towards *one* specific person or community. The saying goes “if you market to everyone, you really market to no one.” What we want to present here is a different way to look at your ideal clients, besides just their demographics.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should get out there and start making assumptions or replicating harmful stereotypes for the sake of seeming more “open to all”. 

The importance of intercultural marketing lies in working to understand the real essence of different cultures and the diversity that lives within them. It’s an ongoing process of researching, learning, asking questions, getting feedback, and adapting to make sure that you’re not just being “performative” in your acceptance. People want to see that you’re genuine about wanting to help everyone feel included and welcome.

After all, consumers and audiences today are much more likely to smell out when you’re pretending to be inclusive. And they’re also very quick to call out brands that simply co-opt multiculturalism as a way to get ahead…

3 things to help you create an intercultural marketing strategy

By now, you’re probably thinking: “Yeah, all that sounds great…but how do I actually put it into practice?”

And to that, we say: “You know we gotchu!”

If you want to get started with intercultural marketing, here are three ways to set your plan in motion.

1. Engage with your community

When in doubt, just ask!

If you’re unsure about the nuances that live within your community, the best way to understand and get to know them is…asking people directly about them!

Whether you run a quick survey, schedule out market research calls, or use analytics to understand the “numbers” side of your specific situation, engaging with your community directly is a great way to know what they’re about.

Once you’ve done this, you can start planning more specific campaigns, pieces of content, and events that actually speak to them and will appeal to them on a more personal level.

2. Avoid tokenizing people or cultures

This is a BIG one! A lot of brands fall into the trap of generalizing their audience based on empty – and oftentimes inaccurate – assumptions about certain cultures.

This, in turn, leads to a marketing strategy that’s based more on tokenizing – or stereotyping – and leaves audiences with a giant ICK! that they can’t shake off. Another one is when brands create “blanket marketing campaigns” that look at communities as a monolith.

One way to make sure that you’re not replicating these harmful ideas is by partnering with a “local” influencer or consultant – or group of influencers/consultants. They can help you understand things on a more personal level, stay the course when you’re veering off into “offensive territory”, and even share insights of their own.

This is especially great nowadays when influencers have become such powerful voices within digital communities – and their own communities, too! – for the way they represent brands and businesses through a more refreshing approach. 

3. Analyze, adapt, and repeat

One of the most important parts of any marketing strategy is when the time comes to analyze results, adapt what isn’t performing well, and re-launch with these changes in action.

This process is especially important in terms of intercultural marketing. 

Life, like language, and like culture, is ever-evolving:

  • A word that means something today might mean something entirely different tomorrow
  • An image that represents something specific today might be the opposite tomorrow
  • An event that happens today can change the course of how people relate to each other in the future

Because of this, brands and businesses need to stay on top of their game when it comes to the content they’re releasing and the way they’re speaking to their community.

Staying the same – or refusing to acknowledge the changes that might occur – can make the difference between a forgotten brand and one that transcends different generations.

The low-down on intercultural marketing

At the end of the day, an intercultural marketing strategy is a great way to work towards being more inclusive. It’s also great for preventing any potential discrimination or bias.

Let’s face it: if you’re actively working to be more inclusive and welcoming, chances are that people – as in, potential clients – are going to notice and like it.

Three of our favorite ways to work towards creating an intercultural marketing strategy are:
1. Engage with your community
2. Avoid tokenizing people or cultures
3. Analyze, adapt, and repeat

Audiences crave authenticity and connection. Through intercultural marketing and communication, you’re a lot more likely to find and engage with the “right people” that will continue to help your business grow and evolve.


Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too!
3 Tips for Website Copy Accessibility
What is Liberatory and Culturally Competent Marketing?
Is All Copywriting Manipulative?
5 Reasons to Use Human-Centered Marketing for Your Business

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