Do all of your customers speak the same language as you do? If not, you’ll need to be sure you’re communicating clearly if you want their business.
Obviously if you’re speaking English and your customer Spanish, there will be some communication gaps. When you know your customer base will speak different languages, plan ahead:
- Hire bilingual employees
- Globalize your website by offering content in multiple languages
- Provide language options in your automated phone tree menu
- Include other languages side by side on your product labels and packaging
Just because you both speak Spanish doesn’t mean you’ll completely understand each other. I became fluent in Spanish during two years in Chile. However, I still can’t understand some Cubans. We’re speaking the same “language” but the manner of speaking is very different.
When dialect presents a problem, be patient and try to leverage local or regional employees or resources to your advantage.
Vocabulary is one of the biggest dialect challenges. During my time in Chile, I fell in love with a sweet caramel spread called “manjar” that was served on bread and pastries. Upon returning to the United States, I couldn’t find anything like manjar.
After I moved to Texas, I found out that manjar was known as “dulce de leche.” Different name, but the same product. Regional Spanish variants called manjar a handful of other names. Food manufacturer Nestle recognized this vocabulary issue and incorporated a solution into their product packaging. Notice the multiple names under the main “Dulce de Leche” title:
Be sure that you are using the right vocabulary with your customers. Otherwise they may be looking right at your product and not know it is what they need.
A specific type of vocabulary is jargon. Every industry tends to have its own specialized language for describing its processes, products, or services. When dealing with customers, talk in plain, simple terms until you’ve established that the customer has a base understanding of your industry. Then you can venture into using technical jargon.
Try to supplement your marketing copy and communications with pictures, drawings, photographs, etc. Any visual aid that can accompany your message will help bridge language barriers. When taking advantage of gratuitous use of stock photography, be sure your picture truly matches your message. Unchecked use may be inappropriate unless it really matches what is being communicated.
When you tailor your marketing, sales, or corporate communications to the audience’s language needs, you’re guaranteed that they’re one step closer to understanding your message. In addition, they will appreciate that you acknowledge them and their specific needs. If you can meet their language needs, surely you have a product that will solve their problem.