Do you own a small business/startup? Would you like to take your business beyond the shores of your state, perhaps even beyond the shores of your country or continent? Would you like to have global marketing strategy that can work anywhere in the world you take your business?
If you answered the questions above in the affirmative, then I am sure that you also appreciate the value of the work that must be put in to ensure that you get a wider audience.
Increasing the area of coverage/service is a herculean task – and often times, a nightmare – for the marketing department of any business. Many businesses have died, not because of bad business models or unhealthy corporate culture. But because they tried to expand their market coverage across countries and failed spectacularly. They put the cart before the horse by exploring these new and promising markets without first developing a good global marketing strategy.
This is not to deter any business owner from trying to expand and grow their business beyond their immediate environment. It should encourage you to look more carefully and tread more cautiously while planning to enter another market completely unrelated to your current one.
In the context of the 21st century business, the world truly is a global village, more so with the immense benefit that the internet affords us in facilitating business activities. But there are ideal, no, sacred global marketing strategies and principles that must not be overlooked if you must successfully penetrate new markets on a global scale.
Here are a few helpful tips to set you on your way to global marketing success.
- Gauge the international ‘need’ of your product/service
Because your product/service is doing well in your current market does not automatically give your business an international endorsement. Whenever a business fails in a new territory, sometimes it isn’t that the product/service was bad; it is that it was not needed.
It is common that in some situations your product/service will need to be adapted to suit the intended market. But do not go over the top on this one. If the market demands product modification to the point where it starts to disagree with your business objective, then it is best to look to other potential markets.
2. Expand within your means
It makes no sense to try to ‘spider-web’ the globe with your brand – unless you get a kick out of taking unnecessary risks, in which case it still makes no sense. Coming to terms with the fact that not every available market is a viable market is the first step to global marketing success.
Even when you have identified viable markets, you should not try to enter all of them at once, regardless of how confident you are of success – no smart business owner works like that.
You should tackle them one after the other to ensure that you have sufficient business resources to handle the entire process from start to finish. It is wise to start from the market that requires the least resource allocation. This will ensure that you can adequately and accurately promote your brand image in each of these territories. Do not make the mistake of spreading yourself too thin; no good can come of that. You do not want to start work on a new market and then run out of finance, personnel or anything else really.
3. Understand consumer behavior in new territories
When analyzing new markets, it is not enough to know what consumers shop, it is also important to know how they shop. It makes no sense to offer a product – no matter how good it is – in a way that does not suit the style of the intended customer.
This is evidenced in one of the epic fails of Walmart. In 2013, Barbara Kahn, in her book, Global Brand Power, talks about Walmart’s error in choosing locations in China that were close to industrial parks. Why is this an error you may ask? The ‘shopping culture’ in China shows that people prefer to shop closer to home and not near their places of work.
4. Think dialect, not language
It is dangerous to assume a one-size-fits-all marketing approach to a group of new markets on the basis of their common language. Do not assume for instance that translating all your marketing materials into French makes it understandable in all French-speaking countries.
You are marketing to a specific region, not a language. Two countries can have the same language but very different dialects and cultures. So while marketing, pay keen attention to the cultural and behavioral norms of the locality, their habits, holidays.
So yes, speak their language, but more importantly ‘speak’ their culture.
5. Make sure your business feels original to the locality
In your foreign territories, it is wise to apply business norms that the people of the locality can readily identify with. These can include using the local currency, applying the generally accepted working hours of the locality, using local phone numbers etc.
Take this further and employ as much qualified personnel as is expedient from the people of that region. Too many expatriate staff can make the people feel exploited. When developing adverts, use as much local talent as you can. This will help your message hit home with the people.
Generally, draw as much inspiration as you can from the local community.
6. Keep your SEO relevant
This is for your online presence. Any business that wants to do well in the 21st century must go beyond the traditional brick and mortar store approach and invest in SEO. There are times for instance, when it becomes necessary to build a new site for a foreign market, entirely different from your current one. The need for this usually arises when either or both of the two conditions are present:
- The new market speaks a completely different language and/or have an entirely different culture.
- Your product has to be altered/modified to effectively penetrate/establish your business in that market
Make in-depth research on the online search preferences and patterns of the people in that territory to find out the keywords/phrases that will likely make impact there. This will give you invaluable insight into how the people of that region think. Use helpful SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that the make the hit the right notes and make the most impact in the new market.
As I said earlier, that they speak the same language as you does not mean they speak it the same way. So applying the new phraseology/keywords to your SEO will make your site and the information contained within easier to find.
Are you coming up with insufficient information?
Find out if there is existing competition for what you sell in that region. If there is, check out their sites to help you discover which SEO methods are the best to employ in the target area.
7. Partner with local companies
There are times when you simply cannot do it all on your own. If you hit a brick wall or you run out of resources while trying to enter a new market, you will need to consider joining forces with local companies.
Make sure that whatever company you choose to collaborate with is reputable within the region and that they have the resources that you lack currently to help you move forward.
This can help you achieve a seamless – or at least a not so rough – entry and will make it easier for you to establish yourself once you have successfully penetrated the market.
8. Plan to stick around
Make sure that your DO NOT employ a hit-and-run marketing strategy; make a plan with some staying power. Every smart business owner always works towards not just market penetration but market establishment as well. This means that you can never rest on your laurels; there will always be a need to keep your business relevant within its industry.
Always keep your marketing efforts in your foreign markets relevant. Keep your website updated, your content fresh and your advertisements and promotions attractive. This will enable you to maintain a loyal following/customer base wherever you are.