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How to Create Culture-Specific Advertisements

When creating business advertisements targeted to a particular cultural group, you need to design your ads with images and messages that appeal to that culture. Here are some ways to attract the attention of people within a specific cultural group:

  • Put people in your advertising photos who are in the same ethnic group (not sort of the same) as the people you’re targeting. By including people of their race or culture, you give prospective customers the feeling that they belong with the product or service you’re selling.

  • Keep in mind the different definitions of what constitutes a family. For the African American community, you may have different photos of both a male and female head of household and several children, along with a godparent or two. A Hispanic family may be comprised of a father, mother, several children, cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts.

  • Images (not just pictures of people) can evoke strong emotions, some of which may be culturally influenced. Be careful to include culturally appropriate images. Some images can be downright offensive to some groups.

One basic step in adjusting your marketing materials for ethnic markets is to convert everything into the target language and create ads in the consumer’s native tongue:

  • Retool your translated message in a way that makes your audience more receptive to it. You must translate not only words but also culture. Start from scratch to craft a message that’s likely to appeal to prospective customers on both an informational and emotional level.

    A translator or interpreter who has experience with the culture can assist you in composing an appropriate and appealing message, and avoiding any potentially offensive words or phrases.

  • Make sure you know exactly which group you’re targeting. You’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah, duh!” but this happens more often than you may think.

Converting one language into another is a skill that few people in the United States have mastered, so finding the right person for the job is often a tremendous challenge.

  • Look for someone whose first language is the one you don’t know — the language you need to convert to. Also, look for someone who has experience in your industry or area of need, such as legal, business, or medical; this person is going to have a better grasp of special words and concepts.

  • Being bilingual doesn’t qualify a person to interpret, especially if you’re in an industry that uses highly specialized vocabulary. If you’re selling houses or cars, most bilingual people can probably handle the interpretation. If you’re selling pharmaceuticals or computer networking equipment, however, look for an interpreter who has some experience in the field.

You can find a translator or interpreter in your area by searching at the American Translators Association Web site.

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