A global marketing initiative has to be based on a sound strategy that fully supports the business objectives. It’s planning has to be informed by market data that’s specific to each location. And it MUST have the right team collaborating and driving it forward. People matter, people.
Pulling together the right team
You may have the luxury of some dedicated heads, you may not. Either way, though, you’ll want to pick your helpers carefully. We’d always recommend choosing marketing talent over language skills. Yes, it’s tempting if someone speaks German to have them overseeing the German campaigns, but actually an outside pair of hands who can speak the lingo will give you the interpreting skills you need, when you need them; the marketing excellence is much harder to find.
Also choose those with a genuine thirst for global expansion. It’s up to you how you detect this, of course. Asking the question in an interview will elicit a set of standard responses; you’ll have to read between the lines. But someone who sees the role as a step in the right direction for their career (not necessarily with an increased salary) will work with enthusiasm and be keen to grow and develop into it.
Overcoming the language barriers
We’ve already touched on this above, and it seemed as though we didn’t rank it highly as something to tackle… but it is. It’s just about picking the right person for each role. To begin with, and this may change over time if you recruit from outside eventually, ensure your budget allows for some language-based external help from third parties. For example:
Local marketing agencies – Bearing in mind each country has its own culture, nuances, tastes, and micro-trends, it makes sense to use a local marketing agency per country. It may be tempting to tap into a large agency that has global reach, but unless they have offices ‘stationed’ in each area you wish to cover, it’s unlikely they have the detailed market knowledge you need. If one of your countries has more than one market you wish to access, by all means take this one step further and choose local agencies for each market!
Translation services – Content is king, as they say. That goes for here in the UK, and anywhere else in the world, really. If your company uses translators already for other tasks, find out how much knowledge they have of the market you’re aiming to engage. Being familiar with a language is one thing, but also having a good feel for the mind-set of the people you’re trying to reach is critical. If that’s not an option, go out and seek external help from a translation agency. Be specific with your requirements and don’t settle for second best. You’re going to need help with both the written word and the spoken word. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression…
Freelancers and contractors – If you’re testing the water initially, it might well pay to simply choose the right person for the work and offer them a retainer for a number of hours per week/month. This approach may seem expensive to begin with on an hourly rate, but the scalability and flexibility it presents are priceless.
Partner businesses and resellers – Involving existing partner organisations already based in the markets you’re planning to attack might be a good starting point for your plans. The costs of co-marketing can be shared. Plus you can tap into the existing contacts database they have. The win/win could put smiles on everyone’s faces.
Working with your stakeholders
Let us put a few questions to you on this.
- When you put your global marketing strategy together, which stakeholders did you identify as having an interest in your plans?
- How can they now be mobilised to support your efforts?
- Is there a bank of knowledge they have that will be useful?
- Are they prepared to roll up their sleeves and get actively involved?
- Are there regular reports and updates you can provide them with to keep that momentum going?
- Do they have any valuable contacts they can put you in touch with?
Any actions you can take to make people feel included will help. Conversations at the coffee machine. A chat over a sandwich. A quick catch up on the phone. It doesn’t have to all be formal. In fact, you’re more likely to engage with them on an emotional level if it doesn’t all seem sell, sell, sell, and you could really get some useful help this way.
Set up your communications channels from the start
We’re talking both internal and external communications here. Put things in place to share local successes with everyone across the globe. Make these things visible and show their importance to the business. This could be an internal newsletter, and external e-shot, or a monthly snappy bit of video broadcasting how things are working and keeping people in touch with each other.
Make sure the goals and objectives you set out overall, and locally, are shared, updated, noted, and commented on regularly. Monthly stats can really promote some friendly internal competition (when handled well) and cross-location cooperation too.
Hold regular meetings with key individuals to ensure goals and objectives stay aligned, and messaging remain brand consistent. Foster collaboration where you can, particularly between sales and marketing. And see where lessons can be learned that benefit all. If aspects of a campaign can be used across the board and not just locally that can be really useful and cost-effective.
Then, once you have your strategic plans in sight with a team that’s packed with the right talent, what’s next? You need to start assessing what processes can be put into place that ensure consistency whilst you scale things up. It all becomes a lot more real at this point!