Given the digital nature of today’s marketing, you could argue that all marketing is “global.” Well, that is true –to a point. This is especially true if you want your marketing efforts to trigger sales and transactions. Just because they can access your information does not mean that your messaging will activate an international buyer to buy. So how do you adjust your marketing to help you activate global marketing opportunities? We could spent days discussing this, but here are some key areas to get you started:
Market Research: Often companies, when conducting a SWOT analysis for example, just focus on “the main” competitors (regardless of location) versus looking into the local dynamics at play. Unless you are a highly specialized company, there are often competitors in the market you are considering. Furthermore, if you have distributors and/or channel partners within a market, who are THEIR competitors? What market dynamics are at play for them?
Recommendation: Ensure that your market research is looking at primary (high level/corporate), secondary (country-specific) and tertiary (partner-specific) dynamics at play. Your goal is to develop marketing materials that help all groups selling your product/service.
Messaging and Positioning: Simple and impactful is critical here – both visually and verbally. Going global for many companies means uncluttering and targeting their messaging, like never before, in order to get traction with different audiences involved in the decision-making process. Market research, that has all the dimensions discussed in the point above, will help focus your re-messaging and re-positioning efforts. In fact, given the verbal, visual and strategic re-alignment needed when expanding globally, many companies utilize the opportunity to rebrand their organization. Rebranding efforts often jumpstarts an organization across all their markets.
Recommendation: Take a hard look at your messaging and positioning and ask yourself, does this really convey the new company we have become? Can it be understood universally no matter what language they speak? Is it helping to open doors for our sales team and partners?
Culture & Communications: As you can imagine, understanding the cultural dynamics at play are critical not just to make your marketing efforts impactful, but in order to successfully build relationships and recruit distributors, partners, and any other groups that can help you penetrate the market through your communication efforts.
For example, did you know that Germany has such a distaste for email marketing efforts that they have recently tightened up the laws that make it difficult for companies to even communicate with their own customers in this manner? So, “nurture email campaigns” don’t work, and in fact may hurt, when working within this market. So, asking your distributor in Germany to send out an email campaign exposes your lack of cultural understanding. By contrast, direct marketing is perfectly acceptable in that market –a practice that is less effective in the U.S. market.
When communicating, you also need to pay special attention to the specific words being utilized. Words can mean different things in different markets. Did you know that the word “toto” in the U.S. and Mexico is associated with a children’s movie called the Wizard of Oz. However, that same word is considered vulgar in the Dominican Republic –even though they speak the same language as Mexico!
Recommendation: Incorporating global marketing into your organization means inserting cultural and localization consciousness into your communications efforts. Work with global marketing organizations that understand this to help transition you efforts.
Remember, the goal of any marketing program needs to be to align verbal, visual and corporate objectives into a set of activities that helps grow the company. When expanding internationally, there are multiple dimensions to consider, and are absolutely critical, to ensure your expansion into a new market turns into the right investment rather than a painful loss.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but I hope this piece help you think of what it takes to expand and build traction globally. Should you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for listening.