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Insight50: How to Make International Marketing Less Complex

June 10th, 2019 Andrew Warren-Payne

Each month, the team at ON24 puts together Insight50 – where we provide fellow Webinerds with 50 minutes of expert insight and answer the questions that are important to you.

This time, the theme was taking your marketing global. Thanks to innovations in technology, our world has shrunk making it possible and necessary to think globally in marketing but how do marketers go about making the seemingly complex task of marketing to other countries simpler?

The below is just a brief wrap up of insights from Paula Morris at Pi Marketing Solutions, Michael Meinhardt at Cloudwords and Peter Bell at Marketo – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, view it on-demand here.

International marketing can sometimes be complex and challenging. In fact, when webinar attendees were asked what level of complexity they are finding with their international marketing campaigns, the majority (65.6%) said they were finding it ‘somewhat complex.’

While we live in an era where the world seems much smaller and technology has made us more connected, there are still cultural differences to consider, along with obstacles such as language that only adds to the complexity. So, how do we go about addressing these differences and overcoming the obstacles in order to see success in our international marketing strategy?

Here are a few insights from the webinar that can help those companies already engaging in international marketing and those who are getting ready to go global:

Why Make the Effort?

For many organisations, whether to go international isn’t really an option. As Paula Morris explained, with the growing use of marketing channels like social media, there isn’t much of a choice.

“Marketing has to be global now. The world is a lot smaller as people become more connected. So, I think if a company isn’t looking at international marketing, then they won’t drive consistency. I think more and more, you have to think globally and then look at those local nuances for different markets, rather than the other way around. It should be global first, and then start to tailor your campaigns thereafter with a local feel. Then you’ll see the impact of what global campaigns can drive for an organisation.”

Michael Meinhart agrees with Paula about organisations adopting a ‘think globally and act locally’ mentality and believes many organisations have already started. At the same time, Peter Bell believes that international marketing isn’t so much an option as just how things are now and, because of that, performance needs to be addressed accordingly.

“Once you’re in that world, then you really start to focus on the things that matter. ‘Why is that campaign not performing as it should in France? What is it?’ Dig into it to find out what it is because otherwise, quite simply, you’re going to be called to account. And it’s not like any of us have the option to elect which countries we market into. For the most part, markets are global and therefore performance is expected to be global, too.”

Why is international marketing so complex?

None of the webinar speakers were at all surprised by the audience’s response to how complex they are finding international marketing, but they did offer some insight as to why that is and where marketers needed to focus to alleviate some of the complications regarding their international marketing strategy. 

First off, Peter brought up the point that there is a difference between translation and localisation. Marketing to a different country doesn’t just involve getting the language right. Although that can be an obstacle, it goes beyond that.

“You need not just to have that the local market knowledge, but to listen to it. And listening to it makes life harder. It means you have to change things. That means you don’t have one size fits all. And fundamentally, that means it does create complexity but it’s a good complexity – because if you can master it and overcome it, then you’re going to see the results.”

Acknowledging the importance of localisation versus translation, Michael noted that organisations often overlook the strategy behind entering global markets. He believes that what organisations struggle with is having a business process behind going to market in specific regions. What kind of strategies has he seen?

“We see really two different ends of the spectrum, one in which there is a centralised model, where you have a team that is responsible for the content and for pushing content forward out to the different markets. And then you have a decentralised model, where the markets themselves are responsible for developing that material, and ultimately, the overall strategy. It really depends on the kind of the organisation, the kind of the maturity of those organisations and how they’ve kind of been structured historically.”

What are some quick wins for going global?

The panellists offered some quick wins and parting words of advice to help organisations going global progress smoothly.

Michael, again, emphasised the need for an international marketing strategy and finding out which regions are most important to you. Also, he suggested that when it comes to language, it may not be as overwhelming as you think.

“You really don’t need to address all that many languages to capture 90% of the business speaking market. You’re really looking at 10 languages…those languages are English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Portuguese.”

One of Paula’s main wins was regional enablement and giving your regional team the tools they need to be successful.

“Whether it’s local marketing resource or sales resource in a country, you should be enabling them, whether that’s from a marketing perspective or a sales perspective. You need to be giving them the tools to go out and market.”

Peter expanded on this by suggesting organisations hire locally. Not only that, he advises being open to what those local colleagues have to say.

“If you won’t listen to your colleagues who are foreign or different from you, do listen to the campaign results because they will speak for themselves. They will probably tell you to listen to your colleagues who have been telling you this for some time.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on this Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand to learn more about simplifying international marketing.