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The Importance of Cultural Sensitivities

As we move to a world where marketing is much more one to one than one to many, we have the opportunity to start building stronger, deeper relationships with our prospects and customers.

Ramadan Kareem

The old adage people buy from people is well known and personal relationships count for a great deal, particularly in a world where customer service is increasingly important.

But what happens when you are working with international clients or campaigns? Are you aware of how your cultural knowledge and biases are affecting your campaign or personal performance?

A good example of this is with our b2b marketing agency. We are currently working with a very smart and innovative client from Dubai. They regularly travel to meet with us in London to discuss progress and keep things moving along. The value of this face-to-face contact cannot be stressed highly enough.

However on meeting with the two clients recently I neglected to consider Ramadan. The two clients are both Muslims which means they are currently fasting during the hours of daylight. My offer of tea, coffee etc was not only wasted but culturally insensitive. My mother would probably say clumsy.

This got me to thinking how easily I had made that mistake. What other errors have I been making over the years with international clients or on campaigns that traverse borders?

There are many examples of marketing that has got this wrong over the years. With brand names that are offensive across borders, or badly timed communications. This is the territory of big branding projects, but what about at a field marketing level? Where marketers are in the trenches looking for sales leads.

My suggestion is we all need to get to know our prospects and customers much better. Build relationships on a more personal, one-to-one level. We use a CRM tool called Nimble to help us with this as we believe the closer we get to our customer and our audiences the better. This not only makes sales and marketing more closely integrated but it just makes good business sense too.

To all my friends, colleagues and clients who are fasting, may you have a blessed and peaceful Ramadan.