Xing and Nicole: Language is more than the words we speak..A campaign success story!

30 06 2011
The language barrier is one of the biggest challenges in our day-to-day work here in Guatemala. In regions like Todo Santos and Salquil Grande where the people are more comfortable with indigenous Mayan languages than Spanish, it is extremely difficult for any sort of valuable conversations and communication to occur between potential clients and student interns who have only a basic understanding of Spanish. These factors, combined with a generally basic level of education in these regions, make alternative forms of communication necessary in order to properly explain the functions and benefits of our products. We found that the best way to express ideas across language barriers is through visual aides that can express a product’s potential to improve current living conditions, correctly display a product’s value, and to help people act on their perceived and felt needs.
We found the water purifier to be an ideal product with which to use visual aides. The product has an amazing social impact, but because you cannot directly see the transition between clean and dirty water and because the product is relatively expensive, sales have been low and the product has much untapped potential. The display that we came up with is still a work in progress, but it currently includes cross-sections of the purifier and of the candela and a price comparison between the purifier and another common but more expensive pure water system in the form of a bar graph.
The true test of the effectiveness of the visual aide was to see if more filters than usual were sold at two campaigns in aldeas outside of Nebaj. The poster served to facilitate more conversation about health benefits, future savings, and indeed helped people see how the filter could increase the well-being of their families. Even though our campaigns were in relatively poor and rural aldeas, our group was able to sell two filters through actively talking to potential clients through the visual aide . This difference in numbers of filters sold, increase in revenue for the asesoras, and improved health of the families who purchased filters speaks to the necessity for visual aides and their usefulness in overcoming communication barriers.
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