Don’t Let International Marketing Be an Afterthought for Your Brand

Your brand has decided to expand internationally, so now what? The global marketplace appears ripe for the picking, right? According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power now resides outside of the US. So there is a lot of money to be made – with a little international marketing – so why do so many international expansions by US companies fail?

One reason is that many organizations fail to embrace the idea of becoming a global brand until it’s too late. But brands, especially ambitious ones, should anticipate going global almost from inception, and then bake those ideas into their go-to-market strategies from the outset. Let’s be honest, in this day and age, any company with a website can be considered a global brand. But what separates the victors from the vanquished is how they market and message to those customers.

If your brand wants to truly succeed on a global scale, it can’t apply a lift and drop mentality where you translate a few key websites and maybe some documentation in important markets, but keep the rest of your messaging the same. You need to create personalized experiences across the globe.

To help you get started, here are three building blocks to lay the foundation for your global marketing strategy going forward:

Write it down

It might seem silly to tell ‘business professionals’ that they need to document their international marketing strategy, but you would be surprised. According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute only 37 percent of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, and that number is worse for B2B marketers, where only 32 percent indicated they had a documented content marketing plan in place.

Documenting your strategy will hold you and your team accountable to management and the organization as a whole. It will also help you more readily identify which strategies worked and which ones didn’t, better enabling your brand to learn and grow from both its successes and failures. As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Offer personalized brand experiences

When expanding internationally, translating your content is a good place to start, but it shouldn’t be the be-all-and-end-all of your global marketing strategy. To succeed on a global scale – and to create messages that resonate with your customers in any language, all cultures, and every market – brands need to focus on creating personalized messaging.

While it’s true that a vast majority of the messages you create will be universal in any market you choose to do business, the ones that aren’t universal could hurt you in the long run if you aren’t taking the time to adjust your messages to regional and cultural preferences. Offering personalized brand experiences will show your customers you care, while creating loyal advocates for your brand who will purchase more and evangelize your products to their friends.

Hire local professionals

Market research can only take you so far. There is only so much you as an outsider can learn about the various markets you choose to do business in. That’s why it is imperative to hire local marketers to help you localize brand messages. These individuals shouldn’t just be localization managers who focus on translating content. They should be trained marketers who have a keen understanding of the culture, local customs, and regional dialects. You want your messages to feel like they were created by someone native to a given location, and what better way to do that than by having someone actually native to the location to help create your local messaging.

Learn more

Visit Smartling’s Resources page to gain further insights into how Smartling’s Technology can help your brand accelerate the translation and localization process, while learning about best practices for translation processes, tools, technology, management, how to select the best translation software, and more.