Ask Jana: Unleashing the Power of Country-Neutral and Culturally-Sensitive External Marketing

Jul 14, 2023



In this episode of Ask Jana, we cover the nuances of external marketing across different cultures. External marketing plays a vital role in FBA success, and this complexity magnifies when expanding your brand globally. It is crucial to avoid developing marketing strategies that cater solely to one culture. Instead, seek a country-neutral approach that encompasses cultural sensitivity—a delicate balance that ensures successful localization across diverse markets. Maintain brand recall and global resonance by crafting a country-neutral, culturally-sensitive brand identity.

Why is External Marketing Important?

SellerRocket lays out the benefits of a solid external marketing plan:

  1. External marketing increases conversions significantly.
    1. First of all, you are engaging customers that your competition may not be. We’re talking about the people that follow you on social, that discover your landing page, or click on your ad.
    2. Secondly, you’ll nurture leads off-Amazon, meaning the leads will be relatively warm by the time they hit your product detail page.
    3. Thirdly, external marketing allows you to improve brand awareness in the long run–and of course, the more visible your brand and products are, the higher the likelihood that they’ll get sold.
  2. External marketing helps you build your own customer base.
    1. SellerRocket said it perfectly: Amazon customers are not your customers–they are Amazon’s. It’s helpful to have your own loyal customer base away from Amazon’s–you can manage customer data off the platform, and grow an email list for future marketing campaigns.
  3. External marketing improves rank.
    1. Funneling traffic to your Amazon listing actually helps you rank better! Amazon benefits from the boost in traffic, so the algorithm rewards sellers who bring people into the Amazon marketplace. Just take the Brand Referral Bonus program. Furthermore, sending traffic to Amazon could mean that your listings get prioritized when potential Amazon shoppers look for products on Bing or Google.
  4. External marketing is cheaper than paid advertising.
    1. This is a no-brainer. Having a solid social media marketing strategy, an informative and value-filled blog, and a robust email marketing strategy is so much cheaper than spending all your marketing budget on PPC.

But, when you’re selling in different cultures, it starts getting more complicated. Do you localize your external marketing efforts? (In a word, YES.)

Here’s how to retain your brand identity when localizing your external marketing efforts.

Embrace Country-Neutral Strategies and Cultural Sensitivity

Most marketing strategies cater to a single culture, and this ends up inadvertently alienating other cultures. For example, bathroom accessories–many lifestyle images will portray the product in a large, American-style bathroom, where the shower head is attached to the ceiling. If you’re selling those same bathroom accessories in France, there’s a big chance your French audience won’t be able to relate; French bathrooms are typically small in size, and many of them have bidets. Furthermore, the shower heads are usually the hose type, and not affixed to the bathroom walls or ceiling. Perhaps marketing your bathroom hooks or towel rings in a US setting won’t negatively affect conversions, but it won’t boost them either, if your market doesn’t feel like you understand their specific living conditions.

Avoid Gender Stereotypes

According to the World Population Review, Iceland has the most gender equality in all the world (89.2% gender equality index in 2021) followed by Finland (86.1%) and Norway (84.9%). Other notable countries include New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, and Switzerland. On the opposite side of the scale are Saudi Arabia (60.3%), Iran (58.2%), and Afghanistan (44.4%). Let’s say you’re selling bed linens for babies. It’s quite common to see pink pillowcases with ruffles for girls and blue blankets with ducks and teddy bears for boys. If you’re selling to a Nordic demographic, they’re not likely to resonate with these gender stereotypes, given they espouse equality as a top cultural value. It’s best to stay neutral, so your Middle Eastern customer and your Swiss customer both enjoy your products.

Be Careful of Inappropriate Colloquialisms and Slang

This one’s quite famous in the world of localization. When KFC expanded to China, it translated its very American slogan, finger lickin’ good, into Chinese, with disastrous consequences. The translation actually read as We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off. You see, as much as the English slogan rang true with its home country, with all the goodness of Southern fried chicken, the brand didn’t translate well into a global scenario. KFC ended up redoing its slogan to So Good in China. In short, accurate translations and cultural understanding is a non-negotiable in marketing. Don’t develop a marketing strategy around a country-specific idea; there’s a big chance that the idea won’t translate into other cultures, especially if you use slang, idiomatic expressions, or colloquialisms that are particular to a certain culture. Inappropriate colloquialisms or idioms could lead to unintended offense or confusion when translated, so it’s best to stick to country-neutral communications.

Take Fenty Beauty, for Example.

Rhianna is a QUEEN. Not only is she a talented musician, she’s a savvy business person as well. According to the website of Fenty Beauty, “Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty & Fenty Skin after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty—and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones.” The idea of Fenty Beauty is that “people everywhere would be included.” In other words, Fenty is for everyone, regardless of age, lifestyle, sexual orientation, gender, etc. That would explain why Fenty is present in 150+ countries–everywhere from Denmark and Sweden, to the Middle East (remember what we said about gender equality? Fenty’s an example of a brand that appeals to every woman–regardless of lifestyle). Fenty’s slogan, “beauty for all,” translates beautifully into every culture, with respect for its customers across the globe. Cultivate a brand identity that transcends borders, and don’t forget to translate all text on packaging and inserts, so your customers understand your brand identity no matter where on the globe they may live.

External Marketing – the More Affordable, and Extremely Effective, Way to Boost Conversions

…especially if it’s done right. We hope you enjoyed this week’s Ask Jana! Remember, if you’re confused about your external marketing strategies, and if they’ll resonate with your audience across the globe, YLT’s seasoned translators are all native speakers themselves. They can provide you with valuable insights to make sure your external marketing is culturally sensitive, country-neutral, and as effective as possible given cultural nuances. Contact us today and embark on a transformative journey toward global success!

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