How to Transition to Global Marketing
Ready to go global? No, seriously, are you ready? There's a lot to think about and take into consideration before making a move like this, are you sure you haven't missed something?
Didn't mean to scare you with that intro. Did you mean to start your brain gears grinding? The world, and by extension the world market, has changed a LOT in the last ten years, five years, one year, heck month, and these changes are impacting how businesses market themselves on the international stage. Here are four areas to consider or integrate into your expansion strategy.
Not to sound like a broken record, but before you even consider expanding internationally, you will want to sink some good time, energy, and effort into a solid research program. Market dynamics operate on multiple levels, 3 for the sake of our piece today:
Primary - This is the corporate level; what competitors exist for you in your target market? How are they doing? Where are they based? What distribution channels are they using? What marketing tactics?
Secondary - This is the country-specific level; what regulations exist that will affect your business? What about rules regarding your widgets? How about any laws around what you can and can’t claim in your ads?
Tertiary - Here, you're looking at partner-specific concerns, distribution rules, and regulations, what ad agencies you can use, advertising-specific laws, etc.
As a solid example of something you might find in this research stage, let’s look at Germany. Did you know that German laws make it nearly impossible for companies to communicate via email? Even with existing clients who might want to hear from you, these laws were designed to stop what the German population saw as the scourge of spam emails.
Yet, at the same time, paper spam in the form of direct mailings is culturally acceptable in Germany. The lesson is to know your intended market backward and forwards, inside and out. How would you respond to finding out about this spam situation AFTER you expanded into Germany with a primary push via an aggressive email campaign?
Globalism is here, it's real, and you need to understand how it works.
This is both a strategy suggestion and a reinforcement of the above section on the importance of research. Once corporations would rely on a local office to handle marketing for each specific market, this is increasingly done centrally. Creating and using one global brand.
Rely on that research you did to tell you how to structure your brand and your marketing for this new whole-globe audience. Chances are your target audience in the country you're eyeing is already following your Facebook page, right?
The internet has pushed this trend into fast-forward. Think about it, that Facebook page has technically been global from the day you created it. It's been available to anyone with an internet connection, no matter where they are (with some exceptions where that site is banned). How do you want to be seen by this audience?
Take a regional approach.
This is a concrete strategy option. Expanding globally won’t work if you just jump in and say, “We're going global today!" You need to take it slowly, methodically, and growing regionally is one way to accomplish this.
This strategy is best used to expand into countries that share at least some initial similarities, be they language, regulations, business climate, economic structure, climate, culture, etc. You want some differences between the countries you operate in, but in the initial phase of a global expansion, at least having some similarities will ease the transition for you and your audience.
This strategy can be most effective in regions like continental Europe, where the EU sets regulatory standards. Or in places like SE Asia, where there are several cultural similarities to work with. At the same time, watch out for areas where many smaller countries are grouped very closely, as this can complicate matters when you appear in one but not the others.
Adopt a 'Glocal' approach.
As defined by Investopedia:
“Glocalization is a combination of the words "globalization" and "localization", used to describe a product or service that is developed and distributed globally, but is also adjusted to accommodate the user or consumer in a local market.”
So glocalization combines the best parts of what we discussed above regarding globalization with a solid understanding and grounding in the reality of the regional tactic.
Advertising without borders, with consideration given to local customs and traditions.
This approach has traditionally been viewed as something only the biggest players on the world stage could tackle, given the felt need to have experts on the ground in every country they wanted to expand into, people who could keep the brand's overall feel and aesthetic intact while simultaneously integrating with the local culture.
The internet has changed all that. The global approach can now be scaled to work well with any business size and nearly any international market. The key, once again, is to do your research.
You have powerful analytics tools within easy reach—study who is looking at your company's Facebook page. Check into where your company's homepage is being viewed from, you may be surprised by the diversity of countries represented, even just in these two data sets. Then look at your product branding and see what, if anything, you would need to alter to make it a fit in these cultures. At this point, you may need to call on consultants who are experts in the regions and countries you're looking at.
There are many strategy options for expanding into the global market, with the rapid rise of the internet pushing boundaries and exploding borders. This opens up the world market like never before; no matter the size of your company or your industry, you can take advantage of market conditions and grow in whatever direction you desire!