Are you a Canadian marketer? Me too! But to be completely honest, I’m getting annoyed at our bunch! Why? Because we suck at communicating with our Québec audiences… Yes, we do!
Throughout my marketing career and everywhere I previously worked, I constantly had to fight against the widely accepted idea that aside from speaking French, Quebecers are not any different from other consumers in Canada. Well, when it comes to marketing, Québec and the rest of Canada are two distinct markets. As such, needless to say: translating our English content to French simply won’t cut it. Sorry! It is about time we all learn a thing or two about our Québec audiences and how to better communicate with them.
Last week, I received one of the most ridiculous newsletters… Seriously! If you listen to Marketing Investigations, a podcast I co-host with my business partner, you might know that I’m not a fan of e-mail marketing. But that’s not the point! The e-mail in question was titled (in French): Smile and say Oh Canada!
Are these people for real? In this e-mail, the company introduces their Canada Day contest while promoting a number of their partner stores – but we will get to that later! I kid you not, upon reading the title of that very Canadian newsletter, I felt shivers running down my spine. I’m not exaggerating! Let me explain why it is so cringe-worthy.
This e-mail was sent as part of a targeted e-mail campaign for Québec residents. By now, every marketer in Canada should know that National Identity is one of the 3 most sensitive topics for Quebecers. Take it from a friend: National Identity, the use of English and money are all sensitive topics for the Québec market and should be avoided at all cost – that includes Canada Day. Regardless of how proud we might be of being Canadians, sending a Canada Day newsletter to our Québec audiences is not a good move. Point blank.
I already wrote a lot about these 3 sensitive topics so I won’t repeat myself. If you are interested in learning more about them, I invite you to read my short e-book titled “5 Marketing Tips to Conquer Québec”. As a matter of fact, “Avoid Taboo Subjects” is the first tip! You can read it for free here.
Anyways! Québec’s sovereignty movement might not be as strong as it once was. That said, Québec’s relationship with Canadian symbols will forever be tinted by its history – that of its two referendums. As marketers, our job is to understand our target audience. Unfortunately, by sending an e-mail titled Smile and say Oh Canada!, this company proved it lacks what it takes to market to Québec.
As if this wasn’t enough, a portion of the text was left in English. That’s Sensitive Topic #2, remember? On top of that, some of the stores featured in the e-mail don’t even operate nor ship to Québec due to unique provincial regulations. A simple Google search would have prevented that extra (not so extra) faux pas.
In short, this company sent their Québec audience a Canada Day newsletter (First Strike!) with some text in English (Second Strike!) and, featured stores that don’t even operate in Québec (Third Strike!).
Plot Twist: I worked for this company in the past. Yes… that’s right! During my time working for this company, I entirely redrafted their marketing strategy for the Québec Market. I ran in-depth market researches to help the marketing department improve its understanding of Québec consumers. We ran countless marketing campaigns that were successful because they were fully adapted and specially created for Quebecers.
Another Plot Twist: They didn’t learn a thing. And unfortunately, they are not the only ones… On a daily basis, I see campaigns intended for a Québec audience and I can tell you that an outrageous number of them are utterly rubbish. R-U-B-I-S-H. These types of marketing mistakes happen way too often in this country. Frankly, we can and should do better…
So what are we waiting for to get our shit together?