Global marketing is crucial to growth and expansion into new markets. Major companies such as Netflix and Nike attribute much of their success to global growth.
Nonetheless, global marketing also presents challenges. Companies must reach their targeted customers in regions that may speak another language, have different political, religious, and cultural viewpoints and a completely different mindset when making purchasing decisions.
As a result, your company can’t rely on a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. It must do business at the country level. Here are just a few points to consider when developing your global marketing strategy.
Don’t Generalize Your Global Marketing Strategy
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when marketing abroad is generalization. Don’t create a marketing plan for Asia – it includes 48 countries with unique laws, audiences, cultures, currencies and business practices.
Break up broad geographic markets into individual regions and set separate lead generation and revenue goals. This makes it easier to prioritize funds, staff and other resources.
Conduct Cultural Research
Marketing is all about knowing your audience. Consequently, a thorough understanding of your new territories culture and norms can have a huge impact on your audience’s perception of your brand, products and services. What works well in one region may not work well in another and ill-conceived marketing messages may even offend the audience.
Multinationals can attest to the importance of cultural research after botched campaigns. For instance, Coors once released a “Turn it loose” campaign in Spain, but no one checked how the tagline translated into Spanish. It turned out it was a commonly used expression meaning “suffer from diarrhea.”
Procter & Gamble once released a popular European TV commercial in Japan which actually offended the audience. A man walked into the bathroom and touched a woman on her bare shoulder. This was seen as ill-mannered and highly inappropriate.
Clearly, cultural norms and language are very important. The first step towards successful global marketing is cultural market research. Recruiting someone who works in the target region is often the best way to fully understand these nuances. Otherwise, marketing efforts may miss the mark, leave a poor impression or negatively impact your brand.
Understand Regional Laws
Every region has specific regulations governing advertising, sales, products, services and data protection.
While the U.S. tolerates comparative advertising between brands using words such as “best” and “better”, countries such as France, Belgium, and Germany use exacting principles. Others may not permit comparative marketing at all.
Equally, sales tactics such as offer a buy one, get one free or contests may be closely regulated or disallowed. Selling products abroad often involves very specific laws regarding labeling, packaging, materials, and data protection.
Working with an expert within the country is the best way to understand regional requirements. They can provide you with targeted advice and connect you with local professionals too.
SEO, Native Keywords, & Local Content
Marketing is all about reaching your target audience and search engine optimization remains a vital element. Your marketing materials, website and social media platforms must rely on country-specific SEO and keywords.
Work with a native search engine optimization expert to find appropriate regional keywords and phrases for your website and marketing materials. Keywords are often influenced by culture, so translation isn’t the solution.
Search engine popularity varies by region as well. Choose the most appropriate for the area instead of relying on those used at home. For instance, the top search engine in China is Baidu. Yandex has almost as many users as Google in Russia.
If you publish content, it should also be localized too. Hire a regional writer that understands the wants, needs and challenges of your targeted audience. Sometimes it is just a matter of tweaking existing materials to suit the new audience.
A local representative may also be an influencer in the region with regional partners, vendors, consultants and customers. This can make it easier for your business to establish trust and they can act as your brand ambassador abroad.
Tweak Global Marketing Materials
Audiences also have unique standards and preferences regarding how they expect companies to present their information. Some countries want detailed, technical information while others may find it off-putting. Some audiences expect punchy, slick marketing materials, while others consider it insincere or inappropriate.
Designing appropriate marketing materials involves more than translating campaigns into the local language. It must resonate with the audience and adapt to their needs and preferences, yet retain your brand’s marketing message. This may include a rewrite and/or a new layout of existing materials.
Why go to all this trouble? Design elements such as color are often deeply ingrained in culture. As an example, in most European countries and North America white is generally associated with cleanliness and purity. However, Japan, China and parts of Africa consider it the traditional color of mourning. Green may indicate eco-friendly in North America, but in China it indicates infidelity.
The same can be said of symbols. In North America “thumbs up” means everything’s good, but in Greece, Russia and West Africa it may be considered an insult.
The point is people create and interpret the meaning of symbols through shared cultural understanding. You can only communicate with people if you know to interpret and use their shared set of symbols.
Once again, an in-country representative is your best resource for a marketing material review. They speak the language and operate in the region, so they’re aware of words, phrases, colors and symbols you should avoid.
Adapt Sales & Global Marketing Channels
Brand consistency is important, but companies can’t rely on the same tactics that brought them domestic success. They may need to explore alternative marketing approaches to reach their new audiences.
For example, some countries like Japan prefer to buy through local partners rather than through direct sales. Others such as Sweden may prefer online, automated processes over a brick and mortar approach.
Marketers also need to choose channels that best reach their audience. For instance, Brazil has the greatest number of Facebook users in Latin America so it could be the best way to connect with a new audience in that market.
In Singapore, Whatsapp, YouTube and Facebook all rank highly. In China, WeChat and Sina Weibo top the list for most-used social media platforms.
Detailed market research through local, in-country experts in advance can help guide your marketing.
New Market – New Outlook
Companies can’t expect to market an identical product or service to a new market when they’re dealing with different customers. They may need to introduce a basic version to the market first to build brand awareness and trust or beef up their products and services to outdo the competition.
Pricing and payment methods may also vary between markets. Consequently, marketers may need to develop new strategies. Some countries are credit-oriented while others predominantly rely on cash.
Rely on local expertise and leverage the relationship whenever making strategic decisions. They can provide credible insights and advice into what the local market expects, wants and needs.
Find Trustworthy Partners
Clearly, obtaining detailed in-country information and a trustworthy partner is the key to global marketing success.
Blueback Global offers international expansion services and can connect you with one of our regional professionals with the knowledge and business savvy your business needs. We’re well-positioned, highly-experienced, and can jump start your global marketing efforts. Contact us for a free consultation.