Imagine a farmer.  

What Traveling has Taught Me and Why It’s Relevant to Marketers

This farmer sells corn locally in a cornbread loving town, so when he markets his crop, he uses the slogan, “the perfect corn for your buttery cornbread.”  He becomes so successful that he decides to expand his business to a neighboring town that he has never been to. The same ads for his corn go up and he spreads the same slogan about cornbread.  His business plummets and he gets very little profit from introducing his product to this new town. Little does he know, this town doesn’t have the same passion for cornbread. In fact, they rarely eat it.  Instead, they love some roasted corn on the cob and therefore, the farmer’s corn has little interest to them. If he had only visited the place to understand how it differs from his own town, he would have been able to have a better strategy for marketing to this other town.  

Don’t be like this farmer. Travel.  Understand other cultures and learn from them.  

From a very young age, my parents saw a huge importance in travel and I’m lucky enough to have seen some amazing places in my first 18 years of being alive.  Travel might be the best gift my parents have given me because it has constantly given me a glimpse of what others love, challenged me to change my perspective, and showed me the world through new eyes.  

Glimpse of What Others Love
If there is one thing that Norwegians love, it’s being outdoors.  In Norway, they live by this word, “friluftsliv,” that speaks to Norwegian’s affinity with the outdoors.  Not a single person would be caught dead without a pair of hiking boots or fishing pole.  Their time outside is extremely valuable to them and we were able to not only see, but also experience that passion by doing many of the outdoor activities that Norwegians spend their weekends doing.  Hiking through the fjords, kayaking on the docile waters, dog sledding between rocky hills, bouldering over rocks (even though it was raining), or just sitting and taking in the glory of the country.

If a company has a target customer of Norwegians, they would need to understand "friluftsliv" fully.  Traveling to Norway and experiencing their love for the outdoors can give marketers a strong understanding of what grabs their attention.

Changing my perspective
You don’t even need to go too far to introduce yourself to a new culture. For example, the farmer just had to go a town over.  
For two summers, I have worked on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota at a daycamp for Sioux youth.  My history classes back in New Jersey taught me about the mistreatments of our Native Americans in the past, but during my time on the reservation, I learned a tremendous amount about their continuing struggle.  I saw what remains of their beautiful culture when I was invited to both a Pow-wow, where I saw their traditional song & dance, and a sweat lodge where I got to experience a typical religious ceremony. This experience is constantly on my mind and has not only given me a broader perspective on the USA’s historic and present day treatment of natives, but also shown me the importance of understanding who is living in my country and how they fit in. As a marketer, you must understand peoples’ state of life, as it varies in all parts of a country or region.  It’s easy to be blindsided and ignore a whole group of people, and therefore, it is vital to make an effort to understand the different complexities and cultures of the land to correctly pull in the diverse customer base.

Seeing the world through new eyes
Rome is a fascinating city.  This historic locations fit together with the modern day buildings like puzzle pieces.  The famous colosseum sits smack in the middle of bustling streets and busy restaurants. As mentioned above, the history of a place is always important to understand their present.  We must not neglect the past, but rather let it push its way into modern relevance as the ancient structures of Italy do. However, we must not dwell on the past as time is rapidly moving us forward.  The past must be weaved into future plans. For marketers, traveling and understanding what remains from the past can tell them so much about the current culture of a place and what things are timelessly important to their customers. It’s ironic that history will allow marketers to look at the world through new eyes, as each new drop of learnt history gives a person an even clearer view of the world and the people who live in it.  

Traveling will constantly push someone’s comfort zone, show them things they have never seen, and force them to interact with very different people.  This interaction and comprehension of another place provides anyone with a fresh mind full of new ideas that stemmed from their new experience. Marketers must travel when and as they can in order to learn about others and see how different people live.  This will only strengthen their ability to reach their marketing arms far and wide. Unlike the farmer.

New blog coming soon,
Annika Goldman

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