Monday, September 13, 2021

Writing Marketing Content for Regional or International Audiences

As usual, it's a hot, sunny day here in Texas, which of course means that it's time for a Coke. But if it were a hot, sunny day in Minnesota (yeah, I know, just humor me), it wouldn't be time for a Coke; it would be time for a pop. If you found yourself battling a mighty thirst in California or New York, you would find yourself asking for a soda. No, these aren't different beverages -- just different ways people in scattered parts of the U.S. tend to refer to the same beverage.

Confusing? It can be, especially when you're trying to aim your marketing content at a specific regional audience. As you might have noticed from the examples above, the terms and phrases used in different regions of the country can vary significantly. While you might still get your point across, the use of a term or phrase alien to your target market may either blunt the effectiveness of your message or call attention to you as being "not from around here," and therefore not truly attuned to the needs of a specific population.

Differences in style and tone can prove even more challenging when you seek to market your products or services to audiences in the UK, Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking countries. Simple differences, such as the addition of a "u" to words like "color" and "labor" represent just the tip of the linguistic iceberg. Other subtle differences include the use of "shall" instead of "will," "have got" versus "have gotten," and so on. Tone-wise, American marketing content almost always tends to take a more aggressive, in-your-face edge to it than, say, British marketing content, which employs a less direct, more polite approach to appeal to local audiences.

How do you manage to navigate through these potential pitfalls? Well, depending on your audience, you may not have to. If you're selling to the entire English-speaking world, your best bet is to create the most global, universal content possible. This strategy may produce uneven results, but it has the best chance of producing good results right out of the chute. You can then look at the areas where your approach isn't working and make tweaks, localizing the content to suit those individual markets.

What about those regional differences here in the U.S.? First and foremost, you or someone at your company needs to be in touch with a specific regions' colloquialisms. If you're selling to your own corner of the country, then you can focus on the particular vocabulary employed by your target demographic, whether it's down-home rural talk, slick cosmopolitan banter, or Middle American plain speech.

When in doubt, consult a professional copywriter who has experience and training writing for multiple regions and audiences. (My own early training as a playwright and screenwriter helped me learn how to listen to different dialects and regional turns of phrase, incorporating them into the speech of a variety of characters.) That way, you can focus on the core points of your marketing content while your skilled copywriter crafts those ideas into text your target market will love -- and respond to.