When relocating to a foreign country, trust is at the heart of building successful business relationships and relationship building requires slightly different approaches for different cultures.
These approaches manifest as different attitudes towards:
- Time (punctuality, deadlines, response times)
- Hierarchy, status and attitudes to risk (affecting decision-making, influencing and management and leadership styles)
- The individual or group (affecting the dynamics of communication in business as well as having implications for marketing and advertising).
Understanding and responding to cultural differences enables employees who find themselves in an unfamiliar environment to achieve mutual understanding, leading to improved efficiency and profitability.
There are several cultural models that help us understand the complexities of culture and how to adapt our communication style for different cultural contexts. One of the simplest of these models refers to low and high context cultures.
A low context culture, like the UK, USA, Germany and Switzerland is characterised by decision making and communication that is based on logic, facts and figures and business is a transactional process.
In contrast, high context cultures such as those of Japan, China and many parts of The Middle East are concerned with long term relationship-building before decisions are reached and business is done.
Understanding this allows you to prepare, manage expectations (your own and those of your buyers) and can ease some of the frustrations associated with relocating and doing business internationally. You may also wish to consider variations in attitudes to time.
Trust in communications and marketing relationships
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”.
Seth Godin, Marketing Expert
Building an international brand involves building trust through all of your marketing and communications relationships and interactions.
When planning your export communications and marketing strategy it is useful to consider every communication touch point, be it online, face-to-face, over the phone and through your written interactions.
Developing understanding about the nuances of culture and how to respond to them through your marketing and communications will help your international business to flourish.