The French Funnel

The French Funnel

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Édouard Milot, Alliance Française Halifax

“Please press 2 for service in French” 

How many times have you skipped this option on a phone call? Perhaps dozens of times, if not more. It’s understandable. English might be your first language — or at least the one you use every day in your business. However, many people in Nova Scotia and Canada are thrilled when they hear this option. They know they can be provided with a service in their first language and, therefore, feel included.

What about French-speakers looking for business recommendations via social media? A business that can communicate with clients in French may be more likely to secure a transaction. It may also reap the benefits of positive publicity within the French-speaking community. Word travels fast in the community, and you can’t beat free publicity. 

The ability to serve clients in French gives businesses a competitive edge in capturing a market share of the francophone population in Nova Scotia. Such businesses are also on track to gain customer loyalty in a niche market, where good business is about relationships. We call this the “French Funnel” — a way of guiding a niche market to your business.

A purchasing decision can be viewed as a reaction in three acts. The first act involves emotions: a buyer desires a product or service. The second act involves trust: the buyer evaluates the credibility of the product or service. The third act involves logic: the buyer uses reasoning to validate a purchasing decision and seal a deal. 

A business capable of serving a French-speaking client in their preferred language is in a strong position to guide — or funnel — the client from the initial emotional phase to the critical trust phase. French-speakers appreciate the feeling of comfort that comes from being served in their first language, even if they can speak and understand English. Moving to the third phase is about meeting the client's rational needs and expectations regarding the specific product or service.

You might ask: What about the training costs to businesses for employees to learn French? Being able to serve a clientele in their preferred language should be regarded as a long-term investment that can be put to good use as a marketing tool. Professional development is part and parcel of any business that wants to keep up with market and technological developments. Why not view language training the same way? We suggest starting with the low hanging fruit: graduates from immersion or French schools who have a solid language base. While many languages are spoken in the Halifax Regional Municipality, why not start with French — Canada’s other official language?

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