September 9, 2007

Cross-Cultural Selling

By Paul Bieber

Everyone in business wants this…an easy path to selling more of whatever we sell; probably glass if you are reading this blog. The United States is the world’s largest (and BEST) melting pot. We have hundreds of cultures living in peace and harmony. How you can tap into this cultural sales market…read on.

First a true story. My paternal Grandfather came here from Hungary about 1905. He saw the Statue of Liberty and New York City, and immediately traveled to Trenton, NJ, which had a small enclave of Hungarian immigrants. After all, you wanted to live and work with people you could understand and who might be a cousin, or a friend of a friend. And this is how blocks of a city became an enclave of people from one country.

Part of this is related to the point of entry, Europeans huddled on the east coast, and Asians on the west coast. Some groups traveled to the mid west, like the Polish community of Chicago. And recently, the American South and South West are experiencing a strong influx of Hispanics.

Now, the assumption is you are in business. Also, that business comes before politics. If you believe in English only, click through and go somewhere else on the web. If you want to sell your products or services in a multi-cultural environment…keep reading.

First, decide which culture you want to sell to. In many towns, there may be Spanish speakers, and a large Asian population. Pick one; don’t try to do more than one culture at a time. Make your decision on which culture’s economy needs your service. Are the residents young or old? Are they working in physical or intellectual work? Are they home-owners or renters? Don’t play politics…pick the one with the money to spend on glass and mirror work.

You may or may not have the language skills, but you don’t need them! Most advertising companies will translate an ad for you. The phone books companies will do this for free because most big cities offer dual language phone books.

Your chamber of commerce may offer free translations of fliers or sales literature. Contact the Spanish Department at your local high school. Ask if they do translations…many do for free! There are numerous agencies that do this for a fee, but with a little bit of homework, you will get this done for free.

There are hundreds of AM radio stations broadcasting in Spanish who all offer free translation and help with properly understanding the ethnic marketplace.

Look at your present workforce. Is anyone a member of the ethnic group you want to sell to? Talk to him/her, find out where they live, how they spend their money…in a Latino environment, or in the general environment. In studies I have read, most first and second generation immigrants prefer to spend money within their ethnic group, and most third generation families spend in the full local economy. Ask him/her what magazines they read? Is there a local newspaper that serves the community?

In advertising, put translated ads in posters or billboards in the community. Allow for differences in style. If you have had success with a picture of a large home that you have replaced glass in, consider that your new audience may live only in the inner city, and may be renovating smaller apartments. A home owner will want a bathroom wall mirrored, but an apartment owner will want framed mirrors they can take with them.

If the ethnic group you target own homes, read about what styles are popular in that group. Just type in ‘ethnic magazines’ or ‘Spanish magazines’ in Google, and hundreds of titles appear for you to brows through. Go the closest public library to the area you want to sell into. You will see local publications and advertising that will give you ideas.

This has been the easy part, next week we will discuss hiring practices that will work…and will ensure that you hire the correct employees for the marketplace.