Avoiding cross-cultural mistakes isn’t as easy as the 5 D’s of Dodgeball, but here are some tips on how you can steer clear of marketing blunders.

Localize Marketing.

Advertisements that were really popular in one country, are rarely successful in other countries. While cross-border marketing campaigns are the most cost-effective method, they usually don’t work. When it comes to international marketing, companies should take a transnational (think-global, act-local) or a multi-domestic (think-local, act-local) approach to achieve local responsiveness to their marketing campaigns and advertisements.

Get the Name Right.

Language is the main point here. There have been many products that have failed in other countries, simply because their product name translated poorly. For example, American Motors launched a new car named  “Matador” in Puerto Rico in hopes that the name would represent confidence and strength. “Matador” ended up translating to “Killer” which wasn’t a very comforting name for a car that was introduced in an area with a lot of dangerous roads.  You can’t stress this part enough, translate, translate, translate!

Translate the SEO.

The Search Engine Optimization is an essential marketing tool. The SEO is used to get traffic from all over the world, but sometimes companies forget to that there are some keywords that do not translate across certain languages or cultures. Take the time use translate keywords to use this tool to its full capacity.

Provide Language Options

Multinational Corporations should go above and beyond to accommodate their international consumers by making their shopping experience as comfortable as possible. Adapting the products/services to cultural differences isn’t always enough. Technology has become a large factor in a consumer’s decision making process. Consumers go online to research information to help them make their decision. By providing consumers with product information in the mother tongue, they will feel as though the company is truly trying to serve and relate to their customers. Providing language options is also a way to prevent neglecting minorities who may not speak the native language of their country, but are still interested in a product/service that is available.

Know the Cultural Differences.

Cultural differences play a big role in marketing. Pay attention to the level of formality, tone of voice, website designs, and use of color, images and videos when creating advertisements or marketing campaigns. Also, look at the cultural differences in consumer behavior. Are consumers comfortable paying with credit cards on the internet? If not, consider taking payments through check or PayPal accounts.

Be Mobile Friendly.

As mentioned before, technology is playing a major role in a consumer’s decision-making process. When a company is mobile friendly, they are making their company’s products/services and information more accessible. In emerging markets, mobile internet connections are far more popular than fixed broadband connections which could help MNCs access new customers. By not have fully optimized sites for small screens, or having a site that doesn’t load properly on a mobile phone, companies can actually push customers away.

Understand the Political and Legal Environment.

Make sure that your marketing efforts are in compliance with local regulations. Make sure that digital marketing practices meet the standards and requirements that apply in each country, such as consumer privacy rights. Updating digital messages with specific cookies warnings and other privacy languages is important. Image usage in digital marketing requires the appropriate usage rights, which can differ from country to country. Do your research!


F. (2016, February 09). How to Avoid International Marketing Mistakes and Save $1 million Annually. Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://pica9.com/blog/five-common-pitfalls-of-international-marketing/

Arno, C. (2012, September 14). Seven Avoidable Mistakes in Global Marketing [Web log post]. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from https://econsultancy.com/blog/10699-seven-avoidable-mistakes-in-global-marketing/

Dodgeball [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://movieline.com/2013/04/22/dodgeball-a-true-underdog-story-sequel-lance-armstrong-cameo/