It was HOT in Sweden this week. And being from Texas, I don't use that word lightly. Now, before all my friends in Texas start hollerin' at me for complaining about Nordic temperatures: yes, of course, I realize it's not as hot here as it is in Texas. However, there's a big difference in how we experience warmer temperatures in Sweden.

After our bodies have acclimated to 8+ months of cold weather, it's a shock when the temperature suddenly rises. And here's the catch: we can't escape the heat. There is no indoor air conditioning here. There hasn't been much of a breeze, either. The sun is up until midnight, and our upstairs bedrooms act like little greenhouses — storing all the heat they can. And the office? Yikes! The computer monitors add to the heat, making concentration nearly impossible.

At 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (26-32 C), I've been more miserable than I was on most triple-digit days (40+ C) in Texas. Is it any wonder most Scandinavians take long summer vacations and spend countless hours at the beach? Growing up in Houston, I thought my family in Scandinavia didn't know what "real heat" was. How could they complain? Now, I understand.

Here's the point of my heat wave rant:

When marketing your products, services, or ideas, remember: your perspective is not their perspective — and their perspective is more important.

That seems basic, right? We know it's vital to connect with our audience, and we know many factors influence audience perspective: cultural norms, peer influences, available local resources, history, climate, languages and dialects, standard technology and equipment, etc.

Yet, it's still easy to fall into the trap of assuming some things are the same for everyone. Because of our own natural perceptions and life experiences, there are factors we wouldn't even think to consider. Things that seem innate, universal. After all, wouldn't many of us assume 80 degrees (26 C) feels the same for everyone?

The danger is if, when we become aware of differences, we ignore them or judge them.

People living in different parts of the world may experience and perceive your business, services, products, and website in some unexpected ways. Their problems, "pain points," likes and dislikes in these areas are real and serious. If their support is important to you, address their experiences properly.

P.S., To my family and friends in Scandinavia: thanks for not saying, "I told you so."

Happy summer! I'll be at the beach with my laptop if anyone needs me.

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0 # Jamie Lee Wallace 2010-07-23 15:48
Ann-Christin -
Great point. It IS so hard to get out of our own heads, sometimes ... step into someone else's shoes and look at the world from their perspective.

As someone who works a lot with small businesses and start-ups, I find that marketers are especially prone to seeing the whole world through their own filter. They sail glibly along - using way too many acronyms, talking about hashtags, and touting the benefits of Open Graph ... all to an audience that got left behind at the mention of "twitter."

No matter your area of expertise, it's important to consider not only factors like geography & culture, but also your audience's level of understanding and goals. Someone who just wants to set up a basic FB page, for instance, doesn't need to know all the inner workings of Open Graph ... yet. ;)

Great reminder. Thanks.
Hope you get to enjoy the beach!
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0 # Ann-Christin 2010-07-25 16:39
Fantastic comment -- thanks for sharing! Great point about being aware of your audience's level and goals. That's exactly what makes good marketing. (And yes, I've been basking at the beach. Thanks!)
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0 # Jamie Lee Wallace 2010-07-23 15:48
PS - Have you tried filling the bathtub with ice cubes? I saw it in a movie once.
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0 # Ann-Christin 2010-07-25 16:42
Great idea. Wonder where I can get a big sack of ice cubes here. It's not your typical "in demand" item here in Sweden. ;)
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