Notre accent nous nuit-il?

En lisant le billet quotidien du gourou marketing Seth Godin, j’ai eu un petit malaise ce matin. Il traite des accents. Comme dans cet extrait, il décrit ce qu’il entend par accent qu’il soit parlé ou écrit.

Not only the way you speak—but the way you write and act. More than geography, accents now represent a choice of attitude.

Let’s define an accent as the way someone speaks (writes, acts) that’s different from the way I do it. So, if I’m from Liverpool and you’re from Texas, you have an accent, I don’t.

Occasionally, an accent is a marketing advantage. Sounding like Sean Connery might be seen as charming in a New York singles’ bar, or sounding like a Harvard man might help a neurologist in Miami Beach.

Je comprends très bien qu’il parle des accents « marketing » ou des différents angles que nous pouvons donner à nos messages pour créer une différence mais, je ne peux m’empêcher de penser aux accents « québécois » dans le paysage d’affaires nord américain. Le passage qui m’a fait titiller est celui-ci:

Generally, though, if I think you’ve got an accent, it’s more difficult to trust you.

Seth Godin ne fait aucunement référence à l’accent québécois dans son billet et c’est ce qui le rend si percutant à mes yeux. En gros son discours se résume à ceci:

  • Perception d’un accent= exotique=différence= crédibilité+ confiance affectés négativement

Il décrit un comportement humain tout à fait naturel. La différence est souvent difficile à supporter. Imaginez, le New Yorkais trouve que le Texan a un accent et ils sont tous deux citoyens américains. Le trust factor du New Yorkais face au Texan est affecté et vice versa à cause de cela. Le québécois a l’air tout droit sorti d’un autre continent dans ce contexte! (j’exagère à peine.)

Après avoir oeuvré pendant plus de 12 ans au sein de PMEs ayant pour marché l’Amérique du Nord, force est d’admettre que Seth Godin est assez représentatif de l’homme d’affaires nord-américain moyen.

Même s’il y a des milliers d’entrepreneurs québécois et dirigeants de PMEs baragouinant l’anglais qui ont réussi à faire leur place aux USA, il en demeure pas moins que beaucoup d’entre eux sont partis désavantagés par rapport à leurs concurrents qui « sonnaient » mieux au oreilles des prospects américains ou anglo-canadiens. C’est tout à leur honneur car ils ont surmonté cet obstacle.

Même si nos propos sont tout à fait rationnels et remplis de bon sens, que notre offre produits est concurrentielle, que notre service est supérieur à la moyenne, notre accent québécois, lorsque nous parlons anglais, vient affecter le niveau de confiance que les gens nous accorde. Je sais que ce n’est pas rationnel et que c’est ridicule mais je l’ai expérimenté de nombreuses fois. Ce n’est pas que mon accent soit si épouvantable mais que voulez-vous, les francophones qui ont appris l’anglais ailleurs qu’à la maison via les cours d’anglais du Ministère de l’Éducation ont souvent un accent. Une faible minorité ont cette capacité à switcher de l’anglais au francais ou du francais à l’anglais sans que ca paraisse.

Heureusement, plus souvent qu’autrement, j’ai l’impression que le côté européen ou exotique de la langue francaise dans notre bilinguisme nord-américain nous permet de nous distinguer et de créer un élément distinctif qui laisse sa marque et fait oublier les aspects agacants d’un accent franco pour un anglo.

Et vous, dans votre pratique, votre accent vous nuit-il?

 

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Smaller=better

It is not in every aspect of my life that I think that Smaller is better but marketing-wise, I believe smaller organizations will be in a better position to face the challenges of the post-recession economy.

Let’s face it, I love Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).  I always liked the entrepreneurial culture that often emerge from them. It ignites me. However, as a marketer, I went through many frustrations in the past because most SME cannot afford the old School marketing tools (TV Advertising on TV, major promotional campaigns, billboards, big sponsorships and so on). This stuff was meant for Big National brands… Although the cost of traditional marketing is expected to go down, I do not think that lower costs should drive SME to use more the aforementioned traditional tactics to build their brand and be successful.

I am not the only one to advocate that small is beautiful,  Peter Brugman on his Harvard Business Review blog said « Small is the new big. Sustainable is the new growth. Trust is the new competitive advantage. » 

Seth Godin, recently did also a nice post about The Right Size of organizations. He gave numerous examples that show that bigger is often worse. He advocates that companies should not aim to get bigger. 

And that is the whole point, we use to hear the bigger, the better? (it is sometime part of corporate mission statements) Yah right. I think this era is about to end. The post recession-era will greatly favor the Small and Medium Sized organizations. Why? It is plain and bold common sense. Let me give you just a few arguments

  • The new economy requires more flexibility than ever. Organizations must be able to adapt their business model to the new reality.
  • Post recession consumers will be seeking for « trustable » brands. Big corporations will have to re-build that link with their consumer base and one-way traditional marketing campaigns will not be enough. (And that should start with the big financial corporations…)
  • The era of conversational marketing has begun and small companies will be better equipped to leverage the new 2-way marketing communication tools (blogs, social media, etc). Why? Because of their human scale and their true authenticity. Also, the very affordable nature of the new tools make them awfully attractive to SME.
  • Post-recession consumers will buy more locally. To encourage the smaller local manufacturers and to show a greener attitude.
  • Smaller companies, because of their size, are more capable to adapt their business model to serve The Long Tail.
  • Small companies are usually more agile in their market-based decisions. Therefore, they are less liklely to be stucked in the « paralysis by analysis » syndrome that often affect larger organizations.
  • They are also more willing to take risks, I mean calculated risks. In that sense, the new marketing tools represent very low risk alternatives to traditional marketing media.

So those are the few top-of-mind-reasons why I think smaller organizations will succeed in the post-recession era. As a SME marketer, I can tell you that we are presently sowing all the seeds required to harvest market success when the economic storm will be behind us. What about you? Are you busy managing the status quo or preparing the ground to build your future growth?

Trust

Successful marketing is based on a premise of mutual trust between 2 parties.  Buyer needs to trust the seller. Basic principle. Without a minimal level of trust, you cannot market a product, an idea, a service, a foundation, a candidate, etc..

The US economy has reached historical low levels. Canadian economy is also hurted by the economic downturns that affect our friends south of the border. No big news here.

In order to reconstruct the US economy (and indirectly improve Canadian economy), President Obama needs to rethink and rebuild the US financial system.  Its repair is fundamental to stop the meltdown we all witnessed over the past 18-24 months and to re-inject confidence at the consumer level.

Last Wednesday, AIG executives accepted to receive  bonuses that will be paid with the $700 billion bailout money provided by US government or, if you prefer, US taxpayers. To me, it is a complete non-sense.

Dear AIG executives, yes, these bonuses were in your contract. Yes, you negotiated it. Yes, legally, this money is yours. But, we are not talking about money here. We are not even talking about you. What is happening right now goes far beyond a bunch of lucky executives. Stop being egocentric and refuse that money. Refuse it to help your financial system. Refuse it to help President Obama. Refuse it to help your country. Refuse it to help the reconstruction of confidence in the US economy. Refuse it to help you. Refuse it to help your kids, our kids.

This country can be repaired. And it starts with you. Put back trust in the system and this could be a new beginning

Authenticity is the beginning of trust and trust is required to reinforce any relationship whether it is between 2 individuals or 2 groups of individuals.

Be authentic. Be trustworthy.