I recently read a revealing interview with Netflix’s CEO in Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s biggest news magazines. The CEO said he was proud of the global success of their in-house productions like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. The journalist asked whether people from all around the world were interested in these same series. The CEO explained that yes, 80% of the world enjoyed them. He went on to say that local productions (e.g. French or Scandinavian productions) garnered only 20% of the market share, but that even this 20% was important. For that reason, they’d be shooting an upcoming series in Marseille, France.
So because of cultural differences, you have to treat the world and local markets differently.
This random interview gave me a sort of Eureka! moment.
The international dilemma
I can relate it to my own online business. About 80 percent of my clients are North American, and the rest are European. At the beginning of my digital career, I treated everyone like Americans, which worked well–spoiler alert–for dealing with Americans. But this approach often caused me a great deal of trouble when dealing with native speakers of my own language, German.
For example, Germans in general are more suspicious of online deals, especially when you and the client have never met in real life. There are two reasons I can think of that may explain this difference:
- When it comes to the internet, we’re still on the dark side of the moon. Germans prefer physical: we generally prefer print copies over ebooks, and face-to-face meetings with clients in cafes over virtual meetings.
- Germans are generally more cautious about spending money, compared to Americans. Heck, one of our most famous marketing slogans is “it’s alright to be stingy.”
Now I know that, because I’m German and deal with my people on a daily basis. To illuminate the issue, let me show you some of the questions my German soon-to-be-clients asked:
Client: How can I make sure you don’t just take my money and run away?
(How do you answer that question? You can’t. I will flee to my yacht in Monaco as soon as you Paypal me the money.)
or another German client classic:
Client: But can I really trust you? Do you have a guarantee?
To answer questions like these, I assure my German clients by creating a special contract, showing them my post address, or mention other German-speaking clients I’ve successfully worked with.
The fact is, treating a German client request like an American would either cost me the commission or at the very least lead to a massive misunderstanding.
And these are people I know! Clients from Asian countries expect an entirely different type of interaction, which often requires more tact.
So, should you adapt your approach based on your client’s nationality or not? I’ve created a little pro’s and cons list for dealing with international clients.
Of course you should adapt!
If you want to make more money and reach international clients beyond the Queen’s former colonies, you should learn the customs of each non-native speaker to possibly attract more of their kind.
As soon as I stopped treating German clients like Americans who happened to speak German, I attracted more German-speaking clients.
So when dealing with my countrymen, I began to use a more serious tone (business in Germany is no laughing matter!), and showed more proof of my expertise through testimonials and former client work. This allowed me to build up some trust with my clients. Word of mouth traveled all the way to Austria and Switzerland and increased my German-speaking client pool.
Of course you shouldn’t adapt!
It just takes tooooo much time. What, do I have to learn each culture’s customs just to conduct business with them? Forget it. Thanks to online globalization, we’re all becoming samey-samey anyway.
After all, the world speaks ‘merican now.
We Google Chrome, swipe on non-sentient Androids and iDentify with iPhones, go DareDevil on Netflix and laugh at the same informational videos (Dude, have you seen the cat that farts and burps at the same time?)
This is especially true in hipster breeding grounds like Berlin, where German entrepreneurs become more like their American counterparts through the influx of US online culture.
Different social media posts for international clients?
Working online means anyone in the world can become your client, but is it worth to learn about your customer’s culture to better deal with them?
Germans want extra trust.
Japanese dislike directness.
Americans only understand prices in Dollars.
If you have international clients, do you treat them all the same? Or do you reply differently according to a client’s culture? I’m curious.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Should You Create Different Social Media Posts for International Clients?
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