Why Native Is Perfect for Non-Natives

How smart marketers and publishers can help brand virgins cross information deserts.
Non-Natives

David Landes.headshot.2017 copy

By David Landes
Head of Commercial Content, The Local Europe
Stockholm, Sweden
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There’s been plenty written touting the benefits of content marketing in general, and native advertising in particular, for reaching and engaging online audiences.

But there’s one growing audience segment for which native advertising is particularly well-suited but which is often overlooked amidst all the hype: non-natives.

Broadly speaking, a non-native is anyone living in a country where they weren’t born and raised: foreign students who never come back; economic migrants seeking work abroad; people who fall in love and move to their partner’s home country; refugees uprooted from their homeland; mid-career professionals on overseas assignments; even snowbirds with second homes in a warm, sunny place where they spend the winter.

 

At first glance, this group may appear to have little in common. But they are united in facing the challenges that come with moving and living someplace new with an outlook shaped elsewhere. This outsider perspective means they will always view things a bit differently from the native population of their new country.

This provides savvy marketers a golden opportunity to deploy native advertising to maximum effect.

Information deserts

Additionally, non-natives face an ‘information desert’ compared to locals when it comes to navigating life in what is to them a new country. They simply don’t know as much about how things work as the majority who was born and raised there.

The journey of ‘figuring life out’ abroad can vary in length, and be as rocky as it is rewarding – but it’s one that non-natives all embark on whether they realize it or not, and it’s one that provides savvy marketers a golden opportunity to deploy native advertising to maximum effect.

The two things that unite non-natives – an information desert and outsider perspective – can often doom them to failure in their quest to adjust to life in their new country.

RELATED: Native Advertising Challenge: Tell a Story That Will Improve People’s Lives

Moving abroad often brings with it a rather steep learning curve. As a result, non-natives are thirsting for information that will help them move along that curve as quickly and painlessly as possible.

At the same time, however, most available information – news, advertising, city websites, movie listings – was created for natives who (often) speak a different language and have a different cultural context.

While language is perhaps the most obvious obstacle facing many non-natives, true understanding goes beyond simply running a website through Google translate. Even a seemingly accurate translation can leave non-natives scratching their heads because they still lack the references, context, and cultural cues of the locals for which the information was created.

As a result we are both eager and vulnerable – eager to figure out which brand is the right fit for us, and impressionable when it comes to the brand story put in front of us.

Brand virgins

So, precisely when their information needs are perhaps at their highest point, non-natives face a daunting information desert. Most available information is, at worst, incomprehensible; at best, confusing. Few, if anyone, is delivering them that really speaks to THEM – that has their unique needs and perspective in mind.

Non-natives rarely have any insight into local brands or where to buy them. If you’re a Brazilian now living in Belgium who normally buys furniture Casas Bahia, where do you turn? Or how about the DIYer from Berlin now based in Boston who used to spend his weekends in Bauhaus?

RELATED: The 5 Steps to Find Out What Makes Your Content Great

Or what about me – an American in Sweden – how am I to decide if I should open an account at SEB, Handelsbanken or Swedbank?

To those of us living in a different country, none of the names, logos, or products associated with local brands mean anything. We are ‘brand virgins’, our hearts, minds – and wallets – untouched by the values, taglines, and stories that local brands have spent years cultivating for the local, native population.

As a result we are both eager and vulnerable – eager to figure out which brand is the right fit for us, and impressionable when it comes to the brand story put in front of us.

Investing in native allows brands to create content specific to non-natives and to demonstrably reach out a helping hand by placing it on the channels where non-natives already tend to congregate.

Going native

At this point some of you might be thinking, okay, I get it. If I want to reach non-natives, I probably need and English section of my website and some new content that touches on themes that are easier to grasp relative to the native population. Multi-cultural content marketing. Done.

However, this isn’t simply a question of ‘if you build it, they will come’. Even if you have a killer website with lots of great content tailored for non-natives – how will they learn about it if they don’t even know where to look?

This is where native advertising comes in.

Investing in native allows brands to create content specific to non-natives and to demonstrably reach out a helping hand by placing it on the channels where non-natives already tend to congregate.

RELATED: Why Visuals Are the Most Important Thing in Brand Storytelling

Communicating with non-natives also forces you to tell (or create) more of your own brand story – and native is a great means for doing so.

Non-natives – united as outsiders trying to break into a new culture – also have a higher tendency to share as there is a sense of responsibility to the community to do what you can to make things easier for the next guy. Thus, a smart, entertaining and useful piece of native advertising can quickly become the ‘online article of record’ for a demographic crying for help and guidance.

Native also allows brands to reach non-natives at a distance when they are still planning their relocation so that they hit the ground running with knowledge that can help make their transition easier.

By putting brands in the position of educator and guide – and allowing them to benefit from the credibility and trust of a respected publisher’s voice, native advertising can become an important lifeline that helps non-natives navigate the information deserts they face in their new countries, and allow brands to build unparalleled brand loyalty along the way.

Photo by Katerina Radvanska on Unsplash

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