Why Global Marketing Teams Can Benefit From Cultural Competency Training
Training can help marketing teams gain a deeper understanding of cultural sensitivities and differing worldviews, allowing them to craft more authentic messaging.
During the pandemic, Rodneikka Scott, CAE, vice president of member and state engagement at the National Society of Professional Engineers, had the chance to attend a virtual conference hosted by one of NSPE’s Middle East partners.
One of things that stood out to her was the avatars that attendees could select from: Many were wearing traditional Middle Eastern clothing.
“Representation matters deeply,” Scott said. “Everyone wants avatars that not only look like them but also dress like them. We need to ensure that our marketing materials reflect the rich diversity of the professionals we serve.”
To develop successful global marketing campaigns that better reflect international audiences, Scott recommends associations offer cultural competency training to their marketing staff.
“It’s not just about embracing diversity,” she said. “It’s about understanding the unique perspectives, values, and experiences that different cultures bring to the table.”
Cultural Awareness and Context
According to Corinium Language Associates, intercultural training will allow staff “to develop a more global mindset through cultural self-awareness, openness, and understanding of other cultures, and the ability to integrate different values and practices in the workplace.”
“Marketing teams are the ones sending the messages out, and often have the least exposure to global audiences and sometimes can be the most homogenous groups in the organization,” Scott said. “So, you need to be very intentional about training [this team] in cultural competency.”
In addition to training, Scott said another area to focus on is historical context.
“Historical context serves as a lens through which we comprehend the evolution of knowledge, ethics, and societal values,” she said.
Understanding historical context can help staff avoid unintentional cultural insensitivities or misusing symbols that could inadvertently offend or isolate audiences.
“For example, the word ‘clan’ can refer to people who are all part of a close-knit community, but for many groups, especially for people of African descent, that word can be very triggering,” Scott said.
By keeping historical context in mind, organizations will ultimately foster a sense of connection with their members, which is necessary to build trust and credibility.
Training Needs and Goals
As you plan your cultural competency training, Scott suggests starting with a needs assessment to understand where knowledge gaps exist in the marketing team. It’s also a good idea to tailor the training to the specific industry or profession that your association serves.
“Creating interactive workshops is key,” Scott said. “Case studies and role-playing scenarios can immerse our teams in the shoes of different cultural personas, helping them understand how context shapes messaging.”
Taking time to learn about the history of other cultures shows an investment in your relationship with global audiences. According to Scott, that commitment can set an association apart from competitors and demonstrate a dedication to growth through understanding.
She added that these efforts should be measurable. Setting clear metrics will help associations evaluate the effectiveness of the training and refine their approach.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand how training in cultural competence and historical context empowers marketing teams,” Scott said. “It empowers them to create campaigns that are not just visually diverse but also rooted in genuine understanding. It bridges gaps, prevents missteps, and elevates our association’s reputation as an entity committed to knowledge and respect.”