Mark Zuckerberg surprised a lot of people last year when he addressed a packed Q&A session in Beijing, in Chinese.
The audience members were impressed – as well they should’ve been. No one knew he spoke Chinese and it’s a difficult language to learn.
Mr Zuckerberg said he learned the language so he could talk to his mother-in-law, as she doesn’t speak English.
But his mother-in-law wasn’t in the audience. He also speaks better English than he does Chinese – and the audience members spoke English too.
So why did he speak in Chinese?
He did it because of the way it was perceived by his audience.
While the content of Mr Zuckerberg’s answers was likely unchanged, the way they were received was different.
It was more positive and his words were given even greater weight than they would’ve been in English, despite the fact he’s already a leader in his field.
Such is marketing.
There are many different ways to say any one thing, and some will have more impact than others.
Especially in a world where brands are all trying to say the same thing.
That’s why they hire marketing agencies – and we in turn analyse, conduct tests and employ Art Directors and Copywriters. To make sure we convey the message in a way that will truly resonate with the audience.
Because what you say matters, but the way you say it matters more.
The late, great Nelson Mandela summed it up perfectly:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language – that goes to his heart.”
And while our heads make us think, it’s our hearts that make us act.
This post was originally published on the BURN blog.