Update on Amazon Books on the Topic: Cross-cultural Marketing and Selling

Let’s go to www.amazon.com and search for “cross-cultural marketing and selling” in Books (keeping in mind that the results may vary for any individual search depending on the time and position in the world).

There are 15 books, more than half of them are too old or aimed at a too specific topic which has nothing to do with international real estate marketing and selling.

Thus, we see not a lot of books on this very important issue: IF you want to successfully sell properties internationally to foreign buyers, you have to be aware of the fact that whatever you say in your marketing materials to the buyers abroad, most probably will be understood not the way you meant!

And the other way around: whatever the foreign buyers communicate to you, most probably you will understand not the way they meant!

Of course, each nation/culture you want to reach with your marketing message in their own language requires a specific approach.


Note: google “Olga Kellen + cross-cultural marketing selling” (or any similar formula), and you’ll be able to find many of my articles and books on the first page of this organic search – to help you with dealing with the foreign buyers in real estate in general and with Russian and Chinese buyers of international properties in particular.

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,

The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2020 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved


Tips on Real Estate Cross Cultural Selling

We’ve talked a lot in this blog about foreign languages in marketing and selling real estate to foreign buyers. The language issue is called the number one in all kinds of reports, guides, articles, etc. on the topic of international real estate sales, and I hope we’ve already discussed the ways to overcome the obstacle (see many previous posts tagged ‘foreign languages’ here).

We’ve talked about the cultural differences of the foreign buyers as well, but probably not enough, that’s why I’d like to put together some more general information. The cultural diversity is considered the number two issue by many professionals in the international real estate field.


Some practical tips on real estate cross cultural marketing and selling:

– First of all you may want to visit your local library, consult with a knowledgeable librarian to help you find one or two books on the cultural diversities in general – with the accent on business and selling to customers of a different culture. This way you’d have a feel of the issue and would learn what is important to take into consideration.

– Then you should decide for yourself exactly – the buyers of what culture or cultures you are going to attract to your properties for sale. This way you’d narrow the field to your own needs.

– Now you are ready to find out more about your chosen culture or cultures of the future international buyers. It’s not that huge task as you may think and it’s also fun to do – especially if you limit yourself to proper sources with the concentrated knowledge of the subject.

I can help you with all you need to know about selling to the Russians (personal experience) and Chinese (in-depth comprehensive research that summarizes many sources):

= How to Sell Real Estate to the Russians (E-Series: How to Beat Your Competition Selling Real Estate to Foreign Buyers, Book 3)

= How to Sell Real Estate to the Chinese: Overview (E-Series: How to Beat Your Competition Selling Real Estate to Foreign Buyers, Book 10)

Happy blog reading,
Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2019 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

3 Major Components of Exceptional Advertising to Foreign Buyers

Whether your property for sale is truly unique or on the other hand it is a typical one for your area, you would have some competition online anyway. How to stand out? This is really important – to stand out from the competition – to be successful in real estate sales!


We have already established that real estate advertising for the foreign buyers should be in their language, but there are many-many-many other real estate sellers and realtors who do this as well, so – how to make YOUR PROPERTY outstanding and thus preferable to the potential buyers?

Keeping in mind the portrait of your foreign buyer that we have created in the previous posts, now we have to attract his or her attention to your property more than to any other property that would appear in their search by doing the following:

1. Preparing full and detailed descriptions of the property and area

2. Mentioning specific features of the property and area that are especially interesting for the foreign buyers (immigration possibilities if any may be attached to the purchase of your property, financial benefits for investors, etc.)

3. Taking plenty of high quality photos of the property and views from all the windows and balconies, also creating a slideshow or video if possible.

Apart from using the foreign language of your potential buyer in your advertising, you will have more success taking cultural differences into consideration (remember the portrait of your foreign buyer?).

For example, the Russians love to swim and suntan on the beach, while the Chinese prefer to stay away from going into the water and being in the sun, but they love to look at the running water. Do you feel the difference that the targeted culture makes for your real estate marketing messages to the foreign buyers in Russian and Chinese?

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2019 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

Cross-Cultural Faux Pas – Watch out in Your Real Estate Marketing!

Real estate marketing to foreign buyers is a specific chapter of the art and science of international cross-cultural marketing, and the correct or incorrect using it can considerably impact your property sales. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

cultural faux pas

A Russian product in other countries

Once upon a time Russia started marketing a small Russian car, Zhiguli by the name, for export. The car was not the top product, but being rather cheap it was in some reasonable demand in many countries, but the name was a turn-off – nobody knew what the meaning of it was and moreover how to pronounce it. In Russian the name makes a perfect sense, as it’s the name of the picturesque forested mountains on river Volga near the city where the cars are manufactured.

When a difficult name Zhiguli was changed to a neutral and easy to pronounce and remember Lada, the international demand for the car grew up significantly.

An American product in Russia

EB-5 is an official name of an immigrant visa category of the U.S. which is simply an abbreviation of “Employment Based”. In Russian though the abbreviation sounds like the shortest bad Russian word (really bad!), and some very rude derivative of it means “being cheated”. Hmm… Although the visa program might be just suitable for Russian business people, not many have used it while at the same time Chinese folks get all these visas available. What’s in the name, you may ask?

A clever marketer wouldn’t use the official name of the visa promoting it in Russia, but say something like “investor’s visas” or simply “green cards for investors”.

Funny marketing faux pas

You may google cross-cultural faux pas and find a lot of funny examples on the internet on your own.

My favorite: In Swedish “Fartfull” means something like “High Speed” and Ikea has tried to offer a writing desk with such a name in the American market.

So, watch out how you do real estate marketing to the foreign buyers of various nationalities in their languages.

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

What Should You Know about Cultural Differences of Your Foreign Buyers (Part 2)

We continue the list of items to remember about your particular group of the foreign buyers that belong to the nation you have decided to target with your international real estate marketing. (In Part 1 of this post we have already discussed the influence of the foreign language, social norms and business etiquette on your success in selling to the foreign buyers.)

cultural differences foreign buyers

Values. This is a very broad and vital key topic as your success in selling internationally depends on your correct choice of a particular group of the foreign buyers to market to them, and the choice should depend on what exactly the buyers would see in your property and area for themselves according to their values as a nation.

Some examples: The Chinese value education for their children a lot, thus being located near a good school would be a great selling point for your property while marketing to the Chinese buyers; the Russians love to be near water, thus a beach property would be attractive to the Russian buyers, etc.

Laws. No doubt, your country laws governing real estate ownership and sales are different from the foreign buyers’ country laws. (In the U.S. even each state differs from another in terms of legal regulations.) There is no need for you to know the buyers’ country real estate laws at all (unless you are curious), but it will be your duty to explain your country rules to them.

One of the simplest concepts to start with, is how a buyer works with a realtor. In countries like China and Russia there is no MLS (each realtor has access to the same database of properties for sale), and buyers are used to run from one realtor to another to take advantage of their various properties. When they come to the U.S. to buy a property, for example, they tend to act the same way – running from one realtor to another which makes no sense here – and you have to clarify the issue from the very beginning.

Economic System. Again, you do not need to learn about your buyers’ economic system which is probably quite different from yours, but you should be really interested in their ability to transfer money to purchase a property the way your rules require.

Summary: We have discussed the major needs of overcoming the cultural differences between a seller (realtor, developer) and his foreign buyers. But how do you do this? Reading a book about the nation’s culture you target with your real estate marketing, hiring a coach/consultant/translator, or hiring a bilingual real estate associate with an appropriate background (with some education and business experience in the country of your interest).

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

What Should You Know about Cultural Differences of Your Foreign Buyers (Part 1)

In some previous posts we have already talked about the importance of knowing your potential foreign buyers’ cultural nuances to take into consideration in international real estate marketing. Of course, each nation has to be considered separately, but here we’ll discuss in detail the major common principles to apply to each nation of the foreign buyers.

cultural differences foreign buyers

Language. No doubt that everybody prefers to communicate and receive information in their own language, and any seller should conform to the buyer’s taste and deliver accordingly. Here is a question though: In your target nation, how many people really know English?

Sometimes you need to work harder and go deeper in the foreign language real estate marketing, if the target nation’s buyers aren’t really very knowledgeable in English as Chinese and Russians, for example. The Western Europeans, on the other hand, usually know several languages, English including (they do love English or do not, it’s a different problem with some of them).

Social Norms. This is an extremely important issue! Always, always, always keep in mind that your foreign buyers’ social norms may be quite different from your own. Without knowing the specifically targeted international buyers’ written and unwritten rules of behavior, you can easily offend them and that might bring your business with them to an unsuccessful ending. Mostly it’s about the stage of your personal communication with the prospective buyers, when your marketing efforts did bring the fruits (real leads-prospects) and you do not want to lose them.

Here is a real life example: A Russian buyer dropped an American realtor immediately after the buyer was sent on a tour to see properties accompanied by a low rank young employee. Russians prefer to deal with authoritative business persons who are ready to answer any question and solve any problem instead of being referred down to a low level of workers. Never try to save your time at the expense of a lost Russian client this way.

Business Etiquette. Yes, it’s more or less similar between the Western countries, but it differs (sometimes significantly) while dealing with the foreign buyers from the far away Eastern countries like China. Having said that, at the same time we find out that the most publications about cross-cultural selling emphasize just the business etiquette issue, and you will have no problem learning it for your target nation.

I have made my best effort to summarize a ton of available sources on the topic of the Chinese buyers in my latest compact e-book How to Sell Real Estate to the Chinese: Overview (E-Series: How to Beat Your Competition Selling Real Estate to Foreign Buyers Book 10) (it’s about the Chinese business etiquette and social norms and about other important issues of marketing to the Chinese buyers, including using the Chinese internet to your advantage without learning Chinese!)

(to be continued)

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

How to save on translation of marketing material and local communication help for foreign buyers (Part 2)

You will be very lucky if you can find a translator who would be willing to work together with you on your source marketing text to rework it for the foreign buyers liking first and only then to start translating. And as we have already mentioned the best foreign language providers for marketing real estate would be those who know real estate and write well in the target language.

It goes without discussion that the real estate marketing texts to be presented online need the highest quality “for publication” and also they require localization according to the cultural preferences of the foreign buyers in the country you target. Any good translators will definitely include localization in their work – changing measurements to the form appropriate in the target country, properly describing the cultural differences between the source and target countries and avoiding any misunderstanding and “lost in translation” items in this regard.

Do you remember the ill-famous case when the U.S. Secretary of States presented the Russian Foreign Minister a symbolic button with the word “Overwhelming” in Russian instead of “Resetting” as it was supposed to be to start the new era of relationships between the two countries? No good professionals working in the Foreign Department???

One more good thing that a good foreign language provider will do for you: If the translated text is for publishing on your website, it can happen that it does not fit into the format of some features (headlines, photos descriptions and the like) when your webmaster starts building a foreign webpage, then the translator will work with the webmaster to rewrite some pieces if required.

In any circumstances the last and final proofreading of any and all marketing material – online or ready for printing – should be done by the qualified translator, not anybody else even if they claim knowing the language, then the professional would be happy to sign his or her name under the text translated if appropriate.

The cost of a good translating job with localization is so low in comparison with the revenue you get even from a single property sale for the foreign buyers while the cost of a bad translating job is actually much higher – you spend some money, time and effort and get no sales.

As the American Translators Association states in its guide for consumers Translation. Getting It Right:  “There are hundreds of ways a project can go off track: Ridiculous deadlines, ambiguities in source text amplified by the provider not asking questions, misapplied MT (machine translating), no proofreading of typeset text by a native speaker, blissful unawareness of an over-confident provider operating in a vacuum, poor coordination of large projects, poor cheap freelancer, poor expensive freelancer, poor cheap translation company, poor expensive translation company, no client input, and on and on. By applying even half the tips in this guide, you will improve your chances of getting a translated text that works.”

Interpreting for your foreign buyers during their visit to see your property and possibly close the deal is an easier task, but anyway, it is also important not to lose the sale at this last stage. You can hire a bilingual person residing in your neighborhood to do interpreting.

A summary: Saving on translation is okay at the expense of rewriting and shortening the initial marketing text if required, but not okay at the expense of the quality of the translated text; real estate marketing texts for the foreign buyers are “for publication” and thus the most demanding.

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

How to save on translation of marketing material and local communication help for foreign buyers (Part 1)

How to save on translation of your marketing material for foreign buyers and do not sacrifice the quality of the translated texts at the same time of course? Earlier in this blog we talked about choosing a translation vendor in general and a translator in particular, and have come to the conclusion that it would be not wise to choose just the cheapest translator. The cost is important, but the quality is the first priority.

Look at your marketing texts and try to cut off some parts that might be not of any interest for your foreign buyers. Let’s say in a property brochure or website there is a page on recent mortgage interests, how they are favorable for buying right now in comparison with waiting any longer because of this and that act of the government of your country, or how to get a mortgage on your property or assume the existing balance, what to do for it and so on and so forth.

But what does it have to do with the foreign buyers who are cash buyers most of the time? Even if they need and can get a mortgage, the rules will be different for them anyway. So, you can easily omit this part, and thus there are fewer words to a translator to work with and the total cost of translation is lower.

On the other hand you might think of including some information that is specific for foreigners only – your country’s program for foreign investors if there is any and it is applicable to your property, for example.

Never cut the information that makes your property desirable of course – like the area attractions and the like.

Always provide for translating the text that is final in the source language as changes will cost you additionally. An important task while preparing your final text, is to check for and eliminate any words that deal with your own culture only, but may be not known in other countries at all and can only generate confusion for the translator and then for the readers of the translated text.

An example: An American seller says proudly that NN had a home in his neighborhood once and everybody in the U.S. should know that NN was a famous baseball player and thus would think very highly of the neighborhood. But baseball is practically unknown in other countries and the name NN says absolutely nothing to the foreign buyers. Feel free to choose some other celebrities who are internationally acknowledged to praise your neighborhood, or just change this fact for some statement that the U.S. famous sportsmen used to live here, or omit all together if no other good option comes to mind.

The same goes to any cultural thing specific to your own country only – better drop it from your description than send for translation to confuse the foreign buyers for your own money spent on unnecessary translation.

(To be continued)

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

Cross-Cultural Selling Real Estate to Foreign Buyers on Amazon

If we look at the subject of our proposed book from the point of view of cross-cultural selling, the picture is quite similar to the one in the previous post: For the term “Cross-cultural selling” there are about 100 books on Amazon, while for “Cross-cultural selling real estate” there is none.

amazon books selling foreign buyers

Some good promise for covering our subject, at least partially, shows the following book:


Cross-Cultural Selling for Dummies by M. S. Lee and R. R. Roberts (Wiley, 2008, paperback, $21.84), which is packed with everything one needs to know to tap into multicultural markets, from establishing solid relationships to adapting advertising to meeting the needs of the new clientele.


The thing is that being as good as possible and having good reviews, the book by Lee and Roberts is way too general, not about real estate sales, and has only 20 pages (out of almost 400) that are dedicated to some cultural differences, but only between such people as Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, Middle Easterners and Anglo-Americans (all being American in fact) – which does not cover our subject of the foreign buyers from completely different parts of the world at all.


This For Dummies edition on cross-cultural selling might be a good supplement to, but not a substitute for SECRETS OF SELLING REAL ESTATE TO FOREIGN BUYERS.



Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved

How to Use Free Online Translation in Real Estate Marketing (Part 1)

“Why do not we just use this wonderful free online translation tool into any language in our real estate marketing?” as real estate sellers and their realtors ask the author almost every week.

But anyway, let’s look closely at an imaginary case that you have translated your listings into a foreign language free of charge online. As you do not know the foreign language, you have no idea what your foreign readers will actually get, right?

Here is a real life example of a condo listing for sale in Moscow translated with a free online translation tool from Russian into English:

“2-x k.kv. M. Leninsky Prospekt Vernadskogo Pr d.98 k1 2 / 28 K / M 142/70, 3 / 18 rooms 18 +18 +35 dining author’s apartment with furniture repair 2 san.uzla ter.shikarny fenced gate, security, videonablyudenie.vozmozhna sale of the mortgage.”

The listing price for the condo is approximately $2,500,000 in the ruble equivalent.

You are probably thinking, “Hmmm… What is this? What the “furniture repair” has to do with you if you have two and a half million of dollars to spend?” Will you be interested in this condo as a foreign buyer? Right, you would better leave this stupid website for good…

Now, you have to know that the original listing in Russian makes perfect sense to a human translator who knows both languages and cultures. We have to admit though that the original listing uses some abbreviations, grammar irregularities and Russian real estate slang; that is why it is very hard on any free translation tools.

Apart from the abbreviations and slang, to translate the real estate listings correctly, one has to know many things like the following in this case: the Russians measure in square meters instead of square feet, they define the number of rooms and the area of a home or condo differently, etc.

And here we are with the correct human translation of the above Moscow condo listing for sale in comparison with the free online translation:

“2 beds, 2 baths, near the underground station “Prospect Vernadskogo”, in Leninskiy Prospect St. (the exact address follows), approx. 1,500 sq. ft., huge living room combined with dining room, 3rd floor of the 18-floor building, furnished, interior design of a well-known designer, gated community, beautiful hallway, security, video surveillance cameras, buying on a mortgage possible.”

See the difference now? No “furniture repair” anymore, but a designer’s interior perfection instead. There are still some rather strange things for you as a Western – what do they mean by that one can buy a condo with a mortgage? How is it possible to be any other way? Well, these are some Russian real estate market peculiarities that a foreign buyer has to learn not to get into any trouble over there.

The same advice is always important in relation to any other foreign markets. It is one more other chapter of the story, called “Cultural Differences”.

Let’s go back to the translation business now. Would you ever like your foreign prospects, buyers or partners to read about you and your services in their own language something like the machine translation you read in English in the above real life example?

So, you may use free online translation tools for getting a rough idea of an email or website and the like, but please do not compromise your business with free translations in real estate marketing to foreign buyers.

In the next post we will see the difference between how free online translation tools work vs. a human mind of a translator.

Copyright © 2016 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved