Last week I witnessed another clash between American marketing methods and common French perception. At first I simply turned away. After living in France for over 20 years, this did not surprise me.
But when thinking about the incident, I realized that I had noticed the continued sophistication of North American marketing methods while sitting here in Europe.
Of course the French marketing methods can be sophisticated too. But they are not the same style of marketing methods.
The American marketing methods have reached a level of sophistication that is indeed impressive.
And there are some very interesting insults that can start flying when the two worlds meet through people that are unfamiliar with… well… marketing.
As an international sales specialist, I spend much of my cross-cultural adaptation in simplifying the sales process to its most basic form. You see, when you sell to different cultures, you need to do this in order to:
- Find the right way to offer your product to your international client.
- Make the offer as your international client wants it.
- Ask for the sale in the way your international client wants to be asked.
If you come in with any assumptions you open yourself to risk. Risk in getting your most basic sales elements wrong.
Sometimes your assumptions can appear to be right, but they are slightly off key and can cost you potential sales. This is a common scenario in international sales. It is hard to realize your offer is not perfect if it still brings in sales.
Established sophisticated marketing methods can get in the way. Some can call it a cultural clash. As I did in the incident that I witnessed last week.
Overall market sophistication also appears comes into play in cultural clashes with country specific sophisticated marketing practices.
If the person who reacted badly had more marketing experience and an international business background I do not think there would have been so many insults and bad attitudes.
Here is another example.
Last year I approached a North American company I liked with a joint venture offer. This was a much juicier opportunity for the company I approached. But I would have found it fun to do.
The senior executive was very interested, but she wanted to bring her marketing manager in the loop.
A 7 a.m. meeting where I listened to sophisticated marketing gobbledygook for an hour.
The only 7 a.m. meetings I have had were with Americans, and in North America. This is actually interesting, because the only business phone calls I have had after 10 p.m. were also from Americans.
Did the person just come out of school? I don’t know. But I evaluated that it would take too much of my time to bring this person’s marketing to a level of simplicity that would be easy to work with for European development.
Do you really need sophisticated marketing methods to support your international sales team?
And if you want your international marketing to actually make sales for you, do you want to have marketing methods that appear sophisticated… and, well, foreign to your international clients?
I definitely see the advantage of sophisticated international web marketing methods. But only if you start from square one and build upwards.
- You run the risk of getting your international offer wrong.
- You could run into a few cultural clashes.
If getting back to very basic sales practices is the best way to approach new international markets, then what about getting back to very basic marketing practices? And building up from a solid base of international business intelligence for your business?
Something else happened a couple of weeks ago.
I received feedback that others around me here in France had caught on to the value of information products. They call them “web products” and not information products.
When I attended the Ebusiness exhibition in Paris in the autumn of 2007, no one had a clue what I was talking about.
And no one had any idea of the value behind copywriting for an e-business.
At the time I estimated the French would take 12 months to understand the value in web copy. And another 12 months for a more general audience.
It looks like my predictions were right on target.
And another piece of good news. One of the French subscribers to my basic copywriting course in French was interviewed for a large copywriting assignment. But not with a French company… with another European company.
It will be interesting to watch for changes in web marketing once French companies see the value of copywriting through improved sales. Yes, even if they have different marketing practices, the basics of good marketing remain the same.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: cross-cultural marketing
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