A Marketing Lesson From Canada
by Chris Peer on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 08:30
Having just returned from Toronto, Ontario, it struck me how ethnically diverse the Toronto area is compared to many other cities in the United States. I’ve lived in suburbs across the USA, including Dallas, Cleveland, Washington D.C. and New York. I have been fortunate enough to travel to China, Europe and even Russia, but Toronto left me with a completely different perspective. Toronto is not just ethnically diverse, but very accepting of diversity. In Toronto they encourage immigrants to retain their heritage, speak their native language and contribute to the community. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto has a vibrance and excitement, and it got me thinking about marketing.
In the United States we often look at our culture and expect immigrants to adjust to our way of life. Our natural tendency is to want others to be like us, speak the same language, fit in and do things the way we do things. I don’t know if this is a bad thing or a good thing, but I see it and feel it. Whether it be on the evening news or in conversations with others, Americans don’t seem to be as accepting to other cultures as Toronto is. My big question is not to determine the truth in these statements, but how our approach to culture affects our success in marketing and sales.
In today’s multicultural society, the buyer of any product or service is quite diverse. People with buying power and decision making authority can be incredibly different. Your target buyer at "Customer A" may be a 50-year-old Catholic female from middle America, while your target buyer at "Company B" may be a 28-year-old Hindu male from India. Both buyers hold the same title at the same size manufacturing company. Both have the same budgets and same decision making power. So, how do you market and sell to them uniquely? Aside from their job function and job responsibility, how do you become relevant to the multi-cultural buyer?
Today, marketing and sales is a grey area. We blur the lines between ethnicities, cultures and races so as not to offend anyone. We attempt to find a middle ground of complacency to ensure we are politically correct. Marketing no longer has an opinion. Your company no longer has an opinion for fear of being on the nightly news and being outcast for having a different view on a topic. We stick to the facts and vie for a connection with our consumers on an emotional level that is so very difficult to do. Personally, I agree with grey. I don’t believe any one person’s views on a religion, race or culture should be part of a marketing or sales campaign. At least not with the companies we work with. However, there is an often overlooked and critical facet to any go-to-market strategy: the corporate vision.
Do you know the vision of your employer? If you own a company do you have a corporate vision? A corporate vision is so much more than delivering goods or services on time and on budget. A strong vision that your buyers resonate with can be a critical difference in marketing and sales success. A strong vision provides guidance to you, your employees and your customers about where you see value and what’s important.
I recently had the opportunity to hear Jodi Berg, CEO of Vitamix, present on her company’s success. If you are not familiar with Vitamix, they are a third generation company that manufactures blenders. Not just any blenders, but some of them sell for over $600.00. This is quite a feat for a business-to-consumer product company in a pretty unexciting field of blenders. So what is it that makes Vitamix stand apart? Sure, these are high quality, lightening fast, powerful blending machines that can turn an apple into a smoothie in seconds, but it's more than the blender. Vitamix is about helping people live longer by providing a tool that allows people to eat great tasting whole foods in a way that we rarely do: blended.
The Vitamix Vision: Improving the vitality of people’s lives and liberating the world from conventional food and beverage preparation boundaries.
You see the people that purchase a Vitamix blender are part of a tribe of folks from different cultures and ethnicities that all share a common bond in living longer, healthier lives. And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that helps people and provides value? As Jodi Berg stated in her presentation, it is the corporate vision that people resonate with, it's what Vitamix stands for, it's the glue that brings it all together and differentiates them from the competition.
Thank you Toronto for a great weekend. Now I need to revisit SyncShow’s corporate vision!