A marketing tip from my Italian grandma: Speak in your native tongue

No doubt you look at my last name and say Italian?  But rest assured, on my mom’s side I’m your amico!  Like all Italians, I had an Italian grandma.  And like all Italian grandmas, she had an opinion about everything and wasn’t afraid to share it or the life lessons she had collected along her colorful life. 

What she didn’t realize is that she also taught me some great marketing tips that in her honor, I’d like to share with you.

Granny3 When I got under my grandma’s skin (which I must admit, I did on purpose now and again) she would give me "the look" (as illustrated to the right) and then she’d wave her hand in the air and mutter "oh Madonne" which roughly translates to "a prayer of patience to the Virgin Mary or "Madonna dell’Oh di mine."  (If that’s not quite right, blame me and the online translator!)

In fact, you knew she was completely in her zone (happy, mad, sad etc.) when the Italian came out.

When she wasn’t being cautious or conscious about how she sounded or was in a peak state –she slipped into her family’s native tongue.

It was when there was no doubt about how she was feeling.  Complete authenticity.

That’s a lesson that as marketers we should embrace as well. 

The community, our customers and prospects can tell when we are speaking in our native tongue and when we’re trying to spin doctor something.  When you are completely in your zone — talking to a client or your internal team, you are probably talking very naturally, without a lot of jargon or hype. 

Now look at your website, brochures, and ads.  Do they have that same authenticity or are they filled with ad speak?  Maybe it’s time to switch to your native tongue?

Here’s the entire Marketing Tips from My Italian Grandma series, for your enjoyment:

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6 comments on “A marketing tip from my Italian grandma: Speak in your native tongue

  1. Becky McCray says:

    Drew, this is the best explanation I’ve read of “authentic voice”. Thanks!

  2. Becky,

    Thanks very much. My grandma is probably swearing at me in Italian for this series…but it’s been fun to think about her habits/quirks and find the marketing messages in there!


  3. Karin H. says:

    LOL Drew

    Bit late to the party, I know 😉

    Do you know I really – without realising first – throw in Dutch words sometimes when I’m talking to clients? Over the phone or in the shop?

    Good fun though, because most English especially in the South East know Dutch people and some Dutch, so never any harm done – but if that’s not authentic speaking your native language, I don’t know what is!

    Karin H.

  4. Eamon says:

    Great posts (or series of posts) as ever ..
    If we want to create a brand and have an interesting brand story – sauce .. – then we have to go beyond metrics (essential as they are).

    I liked the bit about the stockings. Just staying on my brand / brand story theme, and to add to what you were saying here – brands have to be different, anyway – and different not just in terms of usefulness but, also, in being interesting (obviously a difference in emphasis between some brand categories i.e utility versus entertainment) – and ‘idiosyncrasy’ (stockings ..) being an important part in this.

    ‘Authenticity’ – I remember working on an Irish brand once which had over 200 years of history behind it, and a fascinating history / location (Dublin) around i, and the brand chose to ignore all of that and go for a ‘trendy’ ad campaign (could have been advertising some brand that had been created in a boardroom). They totally ignored the authentic (as if the history part was boring or something – with a bit of flair they could have blended the history part with the contemporary world etc ..). waffling here a bit now (apologies ..).

    OK, that’s enough ..

  5. Karin,

    Well, that is particularly appropriate for you, considering the whole Dutch thing is also part of your brand.

    So your native language is not a metaphor in your case!


  6. Eamon,

    How many times have we seen companies shy away from their authentic brand because it wasn’t shiny or new enough?

    That’s why I think such a big part of our job is actually that of a teacher. But the pupil has to be willing to learn.


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