Because information technology—particularly the internet—has shrunk the world, marketers can now effectively reach audiences worldwide. International campaigns usually originate in the home market where the client’s central team and lead agency are based. To be effective globally from the home market, several factors should be considered.
1. Target the right audience
A global company must be prepared to develop multiple profiles for each of the different regions it markets to. The ideal customer profile (ICP) that is appropriate for the U.S. market might be wildly different in other regions, or at a minimum will likely need some tweaking for each region. For example, while it’s a consumer brand, Coca-Cola tastes virtually the same in all markets, yet the size, shape, and labeling differ by region. They have changed their marketing to adapt to the local culture and we all must do the same in global B2B marketing.
2. Establish methods and team size
Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, strive to create an experience that caters to the target audience and the specific local culture. While standardization and scalability are important, it’s critical to remember that in some regions and countries, the size of marketing and sales teams and their established methods can vary greatly. Team size can be substantially smaller or larger, and business can get done in a very different manner than we might be used to in the states. By establishing a strong relationship with the in-country sales and marketing teams, you can ensure you are rolling out effective campaigns that are most likely to be carried from marketing through to sales.
3. Don’t get lost in translations
When marketing globally, your digital assets should be available in as many languages as possible to cover the regions you are marketing in. However, you have to weigh the available options for translation and the cost of translation. You may want to take the most prominent language in an area first and add other languages as you see success.
There are a variety of different options when it comes to translation. Some global companies have an internal translation team, though they are often backlogged. You can also use a third-party translation service. There are a number of affordable options available that can perform translation services quickly and accurately. Regardless of the option chosen, it’s always helpful to have a native speaker in each region review the translation to ensure it’s as accurate as possible. We’ve also seen some clients simply use Google translate. While I love Google for many things, I would not rely on them for translation accuracy for any digital assets.
Another factor to keep in mind when designing creative assets is to create white space on the asset that allows appropriate room for translation. Many phrases don’t translate word-for-word or require longer explanations in another language. So rather than having to spend time and money redesigning the asset post-translation, be sure to keep this in mind and plan accordingly when designing.
4. Consider cultural differences
Cultural differences must come into consideration when marketing globally. Every country has its own cultural idiosyncrasies. You must consider cultural differences, including the timeline or method by which business gets done, the frequency of communication, the available and appropriate channels, holidays and calendar alignment, pop-culture references, etc. This is why extensive research and/or consulting with someone already familiar with the country and region is very important. If you don’t have someone on your team with this knowledge—and even if you do—it’s crucial you align with a regional marketing manager who can be part of your editorial approval process. No one wants to create or distribute content that doesn’t resonate (or worse, is offensive).
When planning creative, ensure voice selection, images, photography, and colors are not insensitive to cultural needs. Also keep in mind the cultural differences that surround humor, idioms, metaphors, regulatory issues, and cultural norms.
Planning for global implementation from the onset is critical to success rather than retrofitting. Once you have a good understanding of the culture, you can move on to content development, and in-country sales teams can approach potential customers and clients by utilizing your target account list (TAL).
5. Set expectations
Don’t try to reach every country or region at once. Start with just one or two with the greatest total available market (TAM) and align your entire team on the key performance indicators (KPIs) of success. Make sure to invest the necessary resources in research prior to the content creation and launch. When you plan for global B2B marketing from the beginning you’ll save time and money, your messaging and creatives will resonate, and you’ll see better results.