How Culture Impacts WHAT We Say – Part 2
As stated in our previous post What is Culture and How Does It Impact Presenting? culture impacts everything we do, and giving a presentation is no exception. People from different cultures have varying expectations and preferences for both HOW a presentation is given and WHAT is presented.
In this post, I’m going to discuss a second cultural preference that impacts the WHAT. It has to do with the degree to which members of culture need or like to be sold a product or service (think “hard sell”) or not. This cultural difference is referred to as Product Focus vs. Market Focus.
Let’s start with Product Focus. Some cultures believe that if a product is of sufficient quality, little selling has to be done. It’s the “build it, and they will come” mentality. A product succeeds or fails based on its perceived usefulness, quality, or beauty. In these cultures, it is believed that people will intuitively see the product’s value based on the merits of its features.
Product-Focused cultures include Germany, Italy, and Mexico.
Other cultures believe that products and ideas don’t sell themselves. These cultures believe that a product must be sold to succeed. A great deal of effort and money must be invested in presenting both the features and benefits, explicitly and compellingly. In these cultures, audiences expect the “hard sell.” They want to know what the product or service will do for them. Without this information, they will not understand that the product or service is worth considering.
Market-Focused Cultures include the United States, India, and Russia.
Some tips for presenting to both types of cultures.
When making a presentation to a Product-Focused audience:
- Give plenty of details about the product so the audience can make their own decision about its value.
- Avoid the “hard sell.” The hard sell turns off Product-Focused audiences. They feel that if you have to push your product or service to that extent, there must be something wrong with it, and they will not trust the product or the presenter.
- Don’t mention the competition. Explicitly comparing your product or service with the competition is considered in bad taste.
When presenting to Market-Focused cultures:
- Clearly communicate the features AND benefits of your product or service.
- State what the product or service will do for the audience members, how it will enhance or improve their lives.
- Explicitly differentiate your product or service from the competition.
You can imagine how different a presentation would look and sound for a Product or Market-Focused audience. Knowing this cultural difference can help you correctly structure and deliver your presentation to make the right impression.