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5 Ways to Build a Powerful Global Marketing Strategy (+ 5 Examples)

A global marketing strategy creates a consolidated brand vision for your company across multiple countries. From PR to events, here’s everything you need to know, plus examples of some of the most successful brands, like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Airbnb.

5 Ways to Build a Powerful Global Marketing Strategy

The world is a global one.

Since 2015, eCommerce and trade regulations have led more and more brands to expand operations to 10 countries or more. These brands include consumer juggernauts like Nike to enterprise software companies like Dell and Salesforce. In fact, 68% of enterprise IT decision-makers plan to be active in more than ten countries, and 35% plan to be active in 50 or more.

That’s because non-U.S.markets pose significant revenue opportunities — they hold 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of the world’s economic growth, and 95% of the world’s customers.

As companies expand their reach, marketers today can’t just rely on the same strategies they used in their home country. You need a powerful global marketing strategy in order to be successful.

What is a global marketing strategy?

A global marketing strategy creates a consolidated brand vision for your company across multiple countries. It includes your messaging, PR, social media, and events and determines how you position your brand in foreign markets versus what stays true to your brand overall.

Your strategy will change based on your overall go-to-market strategy in each local market. Companies typically choose from four main international business strategies:

  • International: Exporting and importing goods and services while maintaining a home office. Your global marketing strategy with this operating model requires promoting the various products and services in other countries, plus coordinating other benefits like support and shipping internationally.
  • Transnational: Operating with a central office in one country that coordinates subsidiaries in international markets. This requires a global marketing strategy with a series of local marketing teams rolling up to a larger corporate brand.
  • Multi-domestic: Coordinating a set of smaller, country-specific brands (sometimes with completely different brand names) tailored to local tastes and customers. This might not even have a global marketing strategy but may include a set of dedicated local marketing strategies in different countries that all look different.
  • Global: Building one overarching brand with little to no changes for local markets. Your global marketing strategy is your marketing strategy.

Global marketing strategies aren’t too different from traditional marketing strategies. What changes is the degree of localization or globalization you choose and what that looks like across your various marketing tactics to increase awareness and demand for your products and services.

5 tips for your global marketing strategy

A thriving global marketing strategy gives your team the playbook they need to drive more traffic, leads, and sales regardless of where they are in the world. Whether you’ve set up your marketing organization to work with many smaller local experts or have one overarching global marketing team for your marketing efforts, here’s what you need to know to build a solid global marketing strategy:

1. Know your global audience

Marketing doesn’t need to be complicated, but you need to know why your products or services matter to your customers and what will resonate with them. You can’t be everything to everyone. Even as you expand into multiple international markets, you should know exactly who is purchasing from you and why you would matter to them through extensive market research.

You need to know:

  • Demographics: Location, age, gender, relationship status, job title, and language are just the basic information to have as you think about your audience. It’s vital to know the nuances between countries, even if the basic demographics are the same.
  • Interests: What do they like? What do they dislike? What hobbies do you have? Even if you’re a B2B company, you should know what your audience likes to do outside of work.
  • Job to Be Done: Your product or service should solve a problem for your customer. It can be a complicated solution like building a complete localization workflow (hi!) or a simple one like giving customers an easy, delicious meal. Either way, you should know your customers’ problems, how you solve them, and how different the pain points are in different markets.

The more you know, the easier it will be to define your marketing approach for each new market. As you answer these questions, you should find a maximum of 3-5 clusters or groups of people you serve. Otherwise, you’ll spread yourself too thin, especially as you expand.

2. Think local, act global

A major piece of any global marketing strategy is your localization strategy. The classic adage, “Think local, act global,” applies here, too. Your localization strategy is your plan to translate content on your website, application, or throughout your marketing materials from one language to another.

According to a NewsCred Insights poll:

  • 72.1% of consumers visit websites in their local language.
  • 72.4% said they would visit websites with local translation.
  • 56.2% of those surveyed said they might pay more to receive translated information about a product or service.

But localization goes beyond the act of translation. It makes your content feel like it was made for your local audience rather than in some corporate office far away. Understanding the nuances of each market (see #1) is just the beginning. Global marketing may seem complicated, but it’s a question of repeating your local strategy across multiple markets while adapting along the way for their demographics, interests, and pain points.

3. Messaging that matters

Can you explain what you do in one sentence? Three words? One word?

How about in multiple languages?

Creating a solid brand is a considerable part of any marketing strategy, and that requires clarity of purpose — why does your business exist, and who do you serve? Consolidating multiple product lines, services, and audiences into one tagline may seem impossible, but it’s essential as you expand globally to distill your value down to a single universal idea.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. From your local event managers to your email marketers, your entire marketing team should know why your business matters and the key messaging that resonates with your audience, whether it’s in English, Spanish, or Korean.

4. Design with translation in mind

A marketing campaign often has several moving parts, from nurture emails to TikTok and Instagram videos to blog posts and webinars. Your marketing mix may stay the same for each campaign you execute while tailoring your brand assets for the local market.

As your designers work on these campaigns, think about how images and colors look and feel different in your target market. Your global brand needs to include this, too — for example, avoiding symbols like a thumb’s up, which means “Great job!” or “Doing great!” in the U.S. but means something much less positive in countries like Greece or Italy.

A typical design process starts with the design brief, moves to the copywriter, and then gets handed off to development for final publishing. With translation, though, you want to get ahead of any localization challenges, like text expansion messing up the layout or right-to-left languages throwing off symmetry.

Keep your global marketing team running smoothly by incorporating translations directly into the design process, either through technology integrations with design tools through Smartling or engaging in pseudo-translation to understand how your translations will change your overall design.

5. Automate, automate, automate

What differentiates a good global marketing strategy from a great one? Scale.

The only way to achieve that scale is through standardization and automation, especially with multiple markets that have different localization requirements, personas, channels, or messaging. Investing in translation technology can give global marketers an ROI of up to 252%.

Don’t get stuck in spreadsheets for translating every blog post or email. Instead, automate the process with a tool like Smartling so you can scale quickly and efficiently and focus on what matters: Your prospects and customers.

5 examples of global marketing strategies

No global marketing strategy looks the same. But the most successful global marketing strategies strike a balance between building a consistent, well-recognized brand and creating local experiences that resonate with each market.

Take these five successful global marketing strategies:

  1. Coca-Cola: You can order a “Coke,” “Cola,” “Pop,” or “Coca” in over 200 countries, making Coca-Cola one of the most successful global marketing strategies ever created. Despite growing into a massive global industry with innumerable products, Coca-Cola has never strayed from its timeless and fundamental ideals of “selling happiness.” Each country’s offerings and pricing are customized to its local culture and language, including flavors and marketing campaigns like the “Share a Coke,” which featured popular names from every country printed on the bottle.

  2. Nike: One of the most popular apparel brands globally, Nike offers shoes and apparel in over 170 countries. Their celebrity endorsement model is now the standard across the industry, with an emphasis on local sports champions like tennis star Rafael Nadal (Spain), soccer phenom Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal), and the G.O.A.T gymnast Simone Biles (U.S.).

  3. Airbnb: The core of Airbnb’s product is about traveling, so it’s no surprise their global marketing strategy focuses on the one-of-a-kind local experiences their platform enables. Airbnb defines localization as “deliberately creating products and services that are culturally appropriate, locally relevant, and globally consistent at scale.” Operating in 191 countries, that’s exactly what you’ll find across their websites and marketing messaging, whether you log on in Bali or Bermuda.

  4. Starbucks: Starbucks, like international fan-favorite McDonald’s, changes their menu to adapt to local taste preferences of every country they enter. They partner with local coffee companies, so each blend truly does match what the local market expects. Take Japan, for example — a country not known for its coffee drinking. They hired local designers and employed traditional craftsmanship to build a store that fits the local culture, offering Japanese customers a chance to try the famous coffee chain their way. In 2019, their latest store opening in Meguro was so popular Starbucks had to create a lottery system for admission.

  5. Red Bull: Most Americans don’t even realize that Red Bull is an Austrian brand because of the company’s international marketing strategy. They pioneered an influencer-style marketing model that gave out free samples to well-known adrenaline junkies on the extreme sports circuit in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Now, the leading energy drink generates more than $2 billion in sales every year.

Build a successful global marketing strategy with Smartling

Done right, global marketing can be your competitive advantage. If you’re looking to expand your business globally to find new revenue opportunities, you’ll need a global marketing strategy that includes plans for content marketing, PR, and events.

Implementing a strategy like this requires a deep understanding of local markets and the ability to offer localized content at scale. Smartling is here to help you build that global marketing strategy—we’ll take care of everything from finding top-notch local translators to automating your entire localization workflow. Contact us today.