When developing your international business, one of your first challenges will be creating trust with your foreign prospects. You may not recognize this as a challenge. You probably do a great job in creating trust with your current customers.
But there is a big difference. Your definition of trust will be different to your prospect's definition of trust if he lives in a different country.
I had a very inspiring conversation with Liz Strauss on the use and misuse of translation online. Liz is the best person I know capable of inspiring interaction on her blog. She also knows a thing or two on the differences in the interpretation of the meaning of trust.
One of the things you are confronted with when you live in different countries, is different interpretation for a few common words. You may be able to translate them, but they have totally different guide books on how to apply them in different cultures. Nothing you can learn in a book can teach you everything.
Some of the words are always a challenge to apply and identify an accurate meaning:
Every time you change country the interpretation for these words changes. If you stay in a foreign country long enough you will pick up the new definition.
But one of these words, trust, is an essential part of developing your business.
So what do you do if you want to create an international business but cannot learn by traveling yet?
This is a question you need to ask yourself right from the start. In international business developing trust is critical to your success.
Luckily trust is often easier to create than you think.
Primary Factors In Creating Trust
To build trust in different cultures you need optimize two things:
This is simple enough. The hitch is that you must do both of these throughout absolutely everything you do.
Strive for clarity and consistency in all your communications and all your actions. And then review everything. Is there anything that is not clear and consistent?
A lack in these two factors is the first place where you lose trust. You will often lose trust from lack of clarity and consistency immediately and without any tell-tale sign. This means you may not even be aware of losing trust.
Other Trust Tools
I've just finished a two and a half month long series of cross-cultural communication web tools on Get International Clients. This series identifies specific cultural preferences for dozens of web tools.
For example, how you highlight your guarantee depends on the culture you are targeting. With so many North American internet marketers it is easy to see the type of guarantee that stimulates trust in these cultures.
But a French marketer would not use the same type of guarantee in the same way. Of course French people also need to have certain buttons pushed to incite trust. It's just that the buttons are just slightly different, placed differently, and highlighted differently. The priority of how to hit all the emotional buttons is also different.
The way you communicate with your prospects can also create trust. Here are some things you can provide to help build trust:
- International Case Studies, or Success Stories
- Regular and consistent communication: newsletters, ezines or blogs
The Perfect Trust Tool
There is no perfect trust tool you can learn about and use in all situations. The cross-cultural web tools are based on the five different recognized cultural behaviors. Countries can be rated or compared in these different scales.
Unfortunately my experience does not prove that you can use a cookie cutter tool for effective cross-cultural communication. This is why I do not advise you to sit down and compare ratings per cultural behavior and simply put all of the tools in place on your website.
You need to adapt these web tools with your specific and unique market. The web tools are a good guideline. But your market might have other overriding cultural differences, barriers or opportunities.
Find The Right Definition For Trust
Creating trust is often a very delicate balance. Especially when you are trying to create trust between two different cultures.
Here is how you I think you should go about finding trust-building web communication for different cultures:
- Concentrate primarily on clarity and consistency in your communication and your actions
- Get to know your international clients, go out of your way to communicate with them
- Then slowly tweak how you highlight the different web tools appropriate for the country you are targeting
- Consistently reach out to your international audience and evaluate your communications
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Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural eMarketer & International Sales Specialist, aligning businesses with different cultures. She has over 25 years field experience in international business development.