As a global communications strategist, I can tell you that, off the bat, you need to consider culture from the very beginning. Why? Because it's in our make-up and it matters. How? Well...let's dial back and answer this simple question:
What is culture?
According to the American Sociological Association culture is:
"Sociology understands culture as the languages, customs, beliefs, rules, arts, knowledge, and collective identities and memories developed by members of all social groups that make their social environments meaningful. Sociologists study cultural meaning by exploring individual and group communication; meaningfulness is expressed in social narratives, ideologies, practices, tastes, values, and norms as well as in collective representations and social classifications."
I am confident that you know what culture is and how it applies to different groups of people. I'm sure in your personal life, you've learned about customs and behaviors from people you've met or countries you've visited. But until you can fully grasp the importance of implementing "cultural awareness" as a focus in your business, I am afraid that you will fall short in your communications efforts. That is, if you haven't already.
With this post, I want to help you know the steps you need to take to effectively communicate. Whether you want to reach an audience in the US or outside the US, I want to give you 4 practical questions to ask yourself and your team at your next strategy meeting, before the implementation phase of your next campaign. For the sake of bite-sized information, however, let's focus on your campaign reaching the US. (Next post, we'll cover the topic of reaching an international audience.)
Plainly, this process needs to be done in the preliminary stages, it needs to go into your audience and market research and then into your strategic planning. Basically, it's something you're always checking in on.
So, you're about to work on a campaign...
Here's how you start.
What's the goal of your campaign?
You identify the goal by identifying the problem you'd like to fix.
Who do you want to reach with your campaign?
You tend to know who you want to reach by understanding who has the problem that you're hoping to fix. Where exactly are they located?
How does your audience view the "topic" you want to highlight in your campaign?
You have your goal and you know who you want to reach. Now understand how this audience views this problem or deals with this problem. And remember that every person is different, but society and culture tends to dictate a lot of our attitude and behavior towards something. Discover what that is.
How will you communicate your campaign's message?
Depending on what you discovered about your audience, you'll know what communication efforts will be most effective to reach them, and when and where to implement.
These four questions fall under the Discovery stage. Everything matters in the discovery stage because discovery is just another word for learning (or uncovering). And if you're seeking out discovery via the appropriate means of information gathering (meaning: not simply Googling things), you'll learn for your benefit (which is always great) and learn for your company's benefit (which is equally as great).
If you don't yet have someone in your team that can help you uncover and understand the above, before you unleash your campaign...it's time to fix that.