Lost In Translation

I received marketing collateral for an International trade show, held in Shanghai, China. The show appears to be hosted by a professional company with experience coordinating International events. However, a few humorous translation issues caught my eye…

Rich People. There are several mentions of Rich People in the brochure, as if they are a specific business or class of people. For example, one sentence reads, “China now hosts some of the world’s best companies and Rich People”. Another reads, “We propose China’s Richest People to experience the show.” I don’t mind grammatical errors from non-native speakers as much as I mind obvious translation errors. You can’t credibly market yourself and your show as an International event if you don’t fully understand the overall culture of the international business community. The brochure also breaks down the types of show attendees, with an official category titled “Business Tycoons”, described as “wealthy people who buy the product”. While you may be trying to attract “rich people” and “business tycoons”, you generally don’t want to put those explicit words on your official marketing material. Some developed countries try to reduce the appearance of “rich people”, so making them an official class at your event sends the wrong message.

Pricing in the CNY. Does anyone actually know what a CNY is, and how much it’s worth? The event is billed as an International show, and the marketing pieces are in English, yet the organizers include all the pricing information in the Chinese national currency. Why not use a more universal currency, such as the USD or Euro? You could even get away with using the British pound or the Japanese yen, but not the Chinese national currency. These prices come out to be over CNY 750,000… but how much is it really going to cost? You don’t want to make your busy “Business Tycoons” waste time trying to convert your currency into a more understandable format. This pricing scheme implies a lack of understanding of the business community that you’re trying to reach, a huge no-no in Marketing 101. Again, you gotta know your customers!

Vague descriptions. In an attempt to be clever by matching categories to the theme, the show organizers created categories to describe different levels of advertising available to exhibitors and sponsors. Similar to a “Lords and Ladies, Princes and Princesses, Kings and Queens” hierarchy, the advertising is more expensive and includes more features at each level. However, I was confused by the two upper levels titled, “Unreachable” and “Unreachable 2”. Wait… there are TWO Unreachable levels of advertising? That doesn’t make much sense. Why would you name the highest level the “mostest” of the “most” level directly below? Further, the added benefit of the highest “Unreachable” category is “a Giant Advertisement”. Umm… ok, how big is “giant”? And why is that “Giant Advertisement” better than whatever other vaguely-sized advertisements are available at the other levels? How do I know that this “Giant Advertisement” is proportionately larger in size for the money I’m paying? Again, if you’re targeting wealthy “Business Tycoons”, it’s likely that these people are very busy getting wealthy. They don’t have time to try to figure out if the “Giant Advertisement” is worth the money. They need short, clear information that tells them the bottom line on the value you provide.

Visually, the marketing piece for the Shanghai show is right on the mark. Contextually, the piece falls short. The show organizers need to more closely align the content to their target market, with fewer indications of the culture of the host country. To do business in the international arena, you have to play by the international rules by making your content, products, and procedures accessible to the world community. A few minor tweaks and this piece would garner respect and interest from its’ target market of “Rich People” and “Business Tycoons.”

Lexus Genius

My dad was telling me about this awesome deal that Lexus has made with the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Cowboys Stadium: all patrons who drive their Lexus to the event receive free, prime-location parking! Let’s talk for a minute about the genius Marketing person over at Lexus, shall we?

First, this is a multi-win situation for the event venue, Lexus, and patrons, which always means that a Marketing person has done their job. The event venue receives guaranteed revenue in the form of paid advertising and profits from the partnership contract. Lexus receives an added bonus for their potential customers by offering a unique package to offer those who might be on the fence between luxury brands. They also receive a captive audience for their advertising message.  Patrons receive the tangible perks of less walking and less “nickel-and-diming”, and the intangible perks of the prestige associated with driving a Lexus and parking in VIP.

Second, this unique advertising keeps Lexus “top of mind” for potential customers. Event tickets can be a pricey purchase, and those with season tickets should fall right into the Lexus target market. Each time they attend an event, they not only see the Lexus signage, but also the perks of driving a Lexus to the event. The next time they go to purchase a car, they’ll think of the cars they see being driven by their peers. Especially if these people are attending multiple events per week, Lexus has created a captive audience for their message.

Third, the word-of-mouth buzz is great! Can you imagine all the other people sitting in the box seats talking about their VIP parking because they drive a Lexus? Or the patrons insisting they take the Lexus to the event because of the parking benefits? It stands to reason that Lexus owners would be happy to spread the word about this perk to their peers, or daughters, in my case. It also gives the Lexus sales team another angle to pitch to potential customers, again separating them from other manufacturers.

When my dad told me about this “promotion”, I knew I had to post about it. I think this is a genius move on the part of Lexus and the event venues, and it’s a Marketing strategy that creates more value for the customer.

Getting the Message Out

I attended a night out on the town in downtown Ft. Worth this past weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere. My perception of Ft. Worth has always been stockyards and rodeos, and I would never consider hosting a night out in downtown Ft. Worth. I think Ft. Worth needs to get the message out to the public: we’re hip, we’re clean, we’re safe, we’ve got variety! I NEVER knew Ft. Worth had such a nice selection of nightlife and hotels, and without the prodding of my friends, I never would have checked out the scene. It seems that the city has gone to a lot of trouble to give themselves a new image, so it’s a little unfortunate that they haven’t gone to the trouble to tell people of their new image. Unless I’m just out of the loop, they haven’t done any advertising to showcase the new possibilities downtown. I mentioned the awesome experience to a friend who is planning a bachelorette party, and she also seemed surprised that I had such a great time. I told her to enjoy a date night with her husband to check out the area, in hopes of having the bachelorette party downtown. I’m also considering spending some date nights with my husband in downtown Ft. Worth. They’ve invested the money to make it a fun place for a night on the town… now they just need to invest the money to get the message out!

The lesson is that if you’re going to give yourself a new image, you have to be prepared to inform people. If you’ve had the same image for years, you’re going to have to spend some money on a campaign to champion your new look and feel.