Culture is the biggest stumbling block. It isn’t language; language is only part of culture. A culture is a way of doing things and a belief system. The biggest mistake Americans in international Marketing make is in really not respecting or being interested in the culture they’re about to work in. And then, when they are interested, they often do something quite simple. For example, they will learn how a Japanese person hands out a business card, and feel, “Well, that’s cross- cultural training.” Is this really going to help a firm get into an international market?
When it comes to culture, what you’re trying to answer is: What are the norms? What are the values? What are the belief systems? How do these people make decisions? What do they regard as truth? Until you understand this, you’re really not going to effectively sell into these markets. The business Card Schtick is just that….it’s a schtick.