We’ve all got issues to deal with
There’s a saying where I come from: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
I was reminded of it when my friend John returned from a Saudi Arabian business trip.
As a guy who chronically crosses his legs, he was challenged by the cultural taboo of showing the bottom of one’s feet (it’s an insult). This made me consider the difficulties of adapting to other cultures when doing business. It also made me realize I must be more patient, since conservative cultures may not be able to envision my view of the world.
Every culture has unique characteristics that present marketing issues. If speaking to Lo Win of Hong Kong, for example, you would call him Mr. Lo, NOT Mr. Win. Calling him Mr. Win would be the equivalent of calling me Mr. Rob.
Another example might come from Japan, where culture typically provides for little individuality. If I’m doing publicity for an event there, I will closely coordinate my message with reporters and editors and take responsibility for all facets of any communications effort.
Compare this to American media professionals, more independent by nature, who typically hustle for their own angle on a story.
But what of the Japanese executive working in America and unused to our wild west attitude? Don’t assume he’ll adapt to us, as he might be unable to envision independent thinking media representatives. Even if someone steeped in western culture tries to guide him, he may be unable to envision this country’s media realities.
With the marketplace becoming increasingly integrated, it stands to reason you’ll find yourself in another town or country sometime soon and need to adjust your style to suit their pace. Being in a small town, this may mean slowing down. Go to LA and you suddenly need to speed up.
Should business take you to another country, I recommend you acquire a copy of the book “Do’s and Taboos Around The World.” It’s well-written, a quick read, and could save face for you and your associates.
Knowing the protocol in various scenarios can be critical for your success, and doing a spot of research might be all you need to prevent you putting the bottom of your foot in your mouth.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
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