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    5 steps for taking your regional Marketing strategy global

    by Leo Fornasari

    In the digital world, we are no longer bound by distance or location - the global market is accessible for any business with a highly-creative strategy and a good understanding of world markets. Global Marketing is the ability to adapt your Marketing strategy for other regions, markets, or countries, by offering products/services focused on fulfilling the needs of potential global buyers. 

    Is your business looking to expand? Do you have opportunities in new areas that you want to explore? Take the leap! By taking your regional Marketing strategy global, you have the opportunity to increase your brand awareness, gain a wider customer base, and open up new pathways of profit for your business. So how do you start with Global Marketing? We share 5 steps to making it happen:


    1. Research new markets & go "glocal"

    felipe-furtado-2zDXqgTzEFE-unsplashThe first thing to do before going global is perform market research on the countries where you want to launch your business. It’s extremely important to understand not only the market forces at work, competitors, costs, and viability, but also the different approaches that you may need to take towards your products, services, and target audience.

    This is called a "Glocal" approach. Basically, it means seeing which Marketing strategies work globally vs. only locally. Start by thinking about your current strategy. Which elements of your local, regional, or national campaign could be expanded to a more generic, global market? Which elements need to be fine-tuned for specific countries? Consider these questions:

    • Will you be targeting the same Buyer Personas?
    • Will you use the same language globally or adapt it for different regions?
    • What changes to your website and blog would you need to implement?
    • How will you handle the influx of new leads on your sales and service pipelines? 

    Before going global, you first must segment and define your strategy, the assets you have that can be adapted, and the missing parts that you need to implement before launch. Remember, a successful Marketing strategy or campaign in one market can easily fall apart elsewhere.

    Each new market should be looked upon with fresh eyes and local insight. For instance, you may want to consider consulting regionally-based experts that have a deeper knowledge about the overall market situation that will provide you with daily assessments of what's happening in real-time. Of course, the essence of your brand should remain the same, but every element in your Inbound Marketing strategy should be analyzed, from product offerings to keyword research.


    2. Comply with local rules and regulations

    Make sure you're respecting the legal procedures that apply to your target markets. It is essential to research and resolve legal issues before launching your business or campaigns in any given country. This will help you avoid expensive legal problems or wasted time/resources redesigning your strategy. 

    Marketing expert Neil Patel notes the "three main legal areas you need to consider are privacy and data collection, intellectual property issues, and rules and regulations of the FTC and other consumer protection bodies." You'll also want to consider aspects like political stability, censorship, financial reporting, and trade policies/sanctions. 

    For example, in Europe, GDPR regulations heavily influence the data you can store and use on your customers. If you rely on restricted customer information in your Marketing or Sales funnel, you'd need to rethink your funnel or reconsider whether the market will be beneficial for your company. If you're going to rely heavily on advertising, you will need to have your ads "cleared" by local advertising authorities. You may also need to take "substantiation" into account, in other words, you need reasonable evidence to back up the claims of your products/services. 


    3. Establish communication methods between markets and teams

    mimi-thian--VHQ0cw2euA-unsplashCommunication can mean the difference between a successful global expansion and a total failure. Oftentimes there is friction between local teams and teams in new markets or at "headquarters". Whether it be implementing new processes, balancing workloads, or even changing the internal hierarchy, adapting your strategy will inevitably mean adjusting your current methods of communication.

    You can take cues from Marketing and Sales Alignment to help you in this process, such as enacting SLAs, assigning responsibility, scheduling consistent meetings, and doing training. You can also ask yourself these questions: 

    • Which stakeholders have a say in Marketing campaigns, ideas, and decisions?
    • Are decisions made from the top down or are local Marketing teams being heard? 
    • Which players, teams, or departments need to work together? 
    • Are we listening to the feedback from our sales and service departments? 

    Remember that while a global strategy may influence high-level decision-making, local teams and lower-level players like sales and customer service associates will need to be consulted to provide insights on customers, feedback, local cultures and markets. Broken communication will result in unhappy or overworked teams, wasted time and resources, inefficient campaigns, a lack of brand consistency, etc. 


    4. Be culturally relevant and visually appropriate

    It is important to carry out an extensive in-market cultural consultation before launching your brand in a new market. Concepts, words, and images meant to provoke a certain reaction in your target audience may not be perceived in the same way between every country or region. Factors such as history, politics, religion, humor, gender balance, and social codes determine what is creatively acceptable and adequate. Think twice before launching a business idea or Marketing campaign that could be considered offensive or inappropriate. 

    Take as an example this Mr. Clean advertisement for Mother’s Day:

    mr clean regional marketing strategy global mistake

    This problematic ad from 2011 implies that the real work of a woman is cleaning the house. This terrible idea was released not only in print campaigns but ended up all over social media, creating negative publicity for the brand and outrage/shock from their customers and potential buyers. Remember, a brand's reputation is slowly built up, but quickly destroyed.   

    With this in mind, that's not to say that your business and Marketing plans should not be creative, innovative, and challenge perceptions. You simply need to have a "why" behind each action that you take and make sure that you test out ideas on your target audience. Nevertheless, keep in mind that some ideas, especially in terms of visuals, may not be appropriate in certain areas, such as: 

    • Tattoos can be perceived negatively in many markets (ex: Japan).
    • Women with bare skin is unacceptable in some Muslim countries.
    • Colors can have different meanings depending on the culture.
    • Animals might have a holy or sacrilegious meanings (ex. cows in India).


    5. Use the correct language, even within the "same" language

    Translating your messages into a different language or adjusting them for different regions or cultures may seem like an obvious thing to do, but you'd be surprised at the amount of Marketing campaigns that fail globally due to this matter. 

    Let's take a look at a failed campaign due to mistranslation: When Parker marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to read “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. Instead, the company mistranslated the word “embarazar” as "embarrass", when it really means “pregnant”. So the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”. Not only is this an embarrassing albeit humorous slip up, it's costly for the business and will affect their brand for years to come. 

    lan-deng-quddu_dZKkQ-unsplashThis doesn't just happen when translating from one language to another. This can happen in the same language, too. Let's look at an example of American vs. British English. In American English, "pants" are worn on your bottom half as an external layer. Common types are jeans, khakis, etc. In British English, "pants" go under your clothes and would be called "underwear" by Americans. Now, imagine you're a clothing brand and you make that mistake... Talk about a cultural misunderstanding!

    Failures like these are easy to miss, especially when you're unfamiliar with a new market. That's why you should always invest in expert copywriters and translators. The right person should be able to write and edit effectively, interpret and localize messages, and create high-quality content for your brand. Keep in mind these suggestions:

    • Use native or bilingual speakers. Do not rely on online translators like Google Translator to provide a high-quality translation. 
    • Be aware of variations of languages, like Brazilian vs. Portuguese, and regional dialects, like Galician or Valencian in Spain. 
    • Facilitate the core strategy/message to your writers, so that they have a clear understanding of its implications on the campaign, market, and language. 
    • Implement a review process for editing and approving translations.  
    • Do a small launch or test so that you know your messages are 100% understood by the market in the way you intended.  


    When you want to take your business a step further and take your regional marketing strategy global, these are the first 5 steps you need to consider. If you have a clear understanding of these elements, then you are ready to get started! Above all, remember that your "glocal" Marketing campaigns must always include a deep understanding of the people, values, cultures, and overall market situation where you're planning to expand your business. 

    Did you know mbudo operated globally? We have experience running successful Marketing projects throughout Europe, North and South America, and the Middle East. Get in touch with us today to assess your needs. 

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    Leo Fornasari

    Leo Fornasari

    Leo is a graduated student on Business Management collaborating with mbudo on Inbound content and campaigns. He learns more about Inbound each day by gaining more HubSpot certifications. Leo is passionate about different cultures and he prides himself on his language skills, which are important for foreign business relations.