I Have You Like!

When I learned German, I learned that direct translation does not work well.

If you wanted to tell someone you liked them, you could say, “Ich habe dich gern.” Translated word-for-word and not contextually or with meaning, it literally means, “I have you like.” That phrase would leave your listener wondering, “You have me like what?”

I have you like bread has yeast. Like Sonny has Cher? What do you have me like?

What I mean is, “I like you, I really do.” But translation, just like good social marketing, has to be culturally competent and adapted to the audience. A lesson learned in California recently.

Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, has come under fire lately for its outreach to Latinos. Complaints include that Covered California directly translated ads from English to Spanish, that benefits which don’t resonate with the Latino community are being promoted and more.

To avoid similar mistakes, here is a reminder of important marketing considerations, regardless of your audience:

  • Consider your audience, message and channel.
  • What drives your audience?
  • What’s important to them?
  • Where do they get information about your subject matter?
  • How do they get their information?

And don’t forget, you also need to test out your message and channel with your key audiences to see if your ideas resonate or if you need to go back to the drawing board (or iPad, as the case may be.)