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Multi-Cultural Marketing (Tips on Localization)

Michele Kriegman
2003, 'Multi-Cultural Marketing: What Can I Do Without Hiring a Consultant?,' First presented as an insert for a seminar on Multi-Cultural Marketing,  Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Morristown, New Jersey, October 30, 2003.

Multi-Cultural Marketing:
What Can I Do Without Hiring a Consultant?

(written by a consultant)

  1. Show up. Participate in community-based organizations and events so people get a chance to know you face-to-face. These are often designed to bring different ethnic groups together, like Morristown One Community or the Interfaith Food Pantry. Associations serving a single ethnic community can also be great resources if they are open to you. Not all are business-oriented specifically, but they are a chance to network and learn.


  1. Check out the local ethnic newspapers on sale in your area. They are a wealth of knowledge in identifying other businesses run by and/or serving that community. Examples: The Irish Echo, The Jewish News, Ukrainian Weekly, and many more. You might eventually consider placing an ad.


  1. Remember the old boys’ network. Your college alma mater’s alumni association and career services office can often put you in touch with alums who are active in an identifiable ethnic community or foreign country. Many are often willing to share some advice with a fellow graduate. This is especially true if you ever studied abroad: many overseas universities even have alumni chapters in the New York area. The “old boys’ network” of my women’s college was worth gold: when I started in broadcasting, it allowed me to meet Lynn Sherr, Cokie Roberts, and Linda Werthheimer. The alumni of the school where I studied abroad have given me introductions to companies where I might not otherwise have been as readily received.


  1. Be easy to communicate with. Consider having at least the first page of your website offered in the target language. Consider creating a flier, or having an existing one, translated into your target language. As an example, here’s one organization’s welcome page in English: and in Japanese:


  1. Think globally, act locally: use the Internet.

A) Search engines like Google not only let you look for websites in a specific country (the U.S.) and in a specific language, they also provide free translations (into very weird sentences, as you'll see). If you give some thought to your searches, you can begin to research online news about your specific region and target audience.

B) Depending on your audience, having a website is the beginning to getting found if you know simple HTML, add meta tag descriptions and keywords yourself. This will be enough if yours is an unusual service or product. However, if you are in a very competitive field, consider hiring a specialist in SEO (search engine optimization). WARNING: Avoid spammers that promise to register you with “300,000” search engines. First of all, there aren’t that many search engines, and using this service may result in your site being blocked as a generator of spam by Internet “police” like Bigfoot.

C) Translating an entire website into a target language can be pricey (but may be worthwhile). Translating a single page is not. If you have at least one web page translated into a target language, you can then register that page with the corresponding version of Yahoo or Google, often for free. Example: Have your website translated into Spanish, register it with the Spanish version of these search engines that are linked from the English ones, and you can reach a Hispanic audience here and abroad.


  1. Know your market. The money spent on well-run focus groups may save you from costly mistakes later if you want to launch a major campaign. Professional market research into specific demographic trends is useful background for planning marketing strategy.


  1. Remember it’s okay to be American. There is such a thing as trying too hard. One American chef hoped to impress South East Asian clientele by offering deserts made with tropical fruits that were familiar to them like pineapple, mango and papaya. Despite his cultural sensitivity, he was a flop until one disappointed patron explained that they had come to his restaurant specifically in hopes of trying “exotic” American flavors like apples, pears and blueberries. Often it is your American expertise in a particular field that makes your company valuable to a given ethnic community.

* View more multi-ethnic marketing information and statistics at Multi-Ethnic Marketing Notes.


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