Over the years, I’ve heard many preconceptions about businesses entering global markets. Yes, the road to market expansion may be paved with uncertainty more often than not, but this shouldn’t always be the case if you tailor your product offerings to the needs of your new market of choice.
At Lionbridge, we recently published a study comparing the differences between best-in-class companies and those that are still maturing, including their approaches to multi-market strategy-building, translation, localization, and budget distribution. The study looks at how brands manage global customer engagement and provides an analysis of the main differences in global marketing approaches between brands in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France. This encouraged thinking around how some brands differentiate themselves from others.
Many businesses do a great job of putting together their growth plan. First of all, it takes an objective approach to assess your business and decide if it’s ready for expansion. Once the growth plan is mapped out, the next step is amending the initial business plan to reflect the new ambitions of the company. These steps seem to be straightforward enough. Just last summer, figures showed that the UK alone has grown at a record pace, as businesses have expanded into new territories more quickly than other global rivals for the first time in 10 years.
The question, however, is what happens once the first few stages of the expansion are complete. How do you ensure that all your efforts translate into sales and your messaging is communicated effectively? It is the result of achieving these major stages that can really make a difference between a long-lasting and successful expansion and a temporary win.
With that in mind, I thought I’d list a few principles that I consider vital, yet can be easily overlooked. These are aspects that might not take center stage at first, but can affect how your brand engages with your customers across borders and languages if applied correctly.
Use a hub-and-spoke model
One of the most important principles to bear in mind is to create content locally, taking into account local nuances and adding local flavor to your messaging. Placing emphasis on central governance, with local control over execution, is key. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the balance between communicating on a global level and providing relevance to each local market.
Manage your technology and processes
Maintaining global standards in brand management, media asset use, and measurement depends on how well you manage your company’s existing technology and processes. It didn’t surprise me to see that 70% of the leading companies we surveyed describe their systems and processes as “fully consistent” across the stakeholders involved, compared to 4% of non-leading ones.
Be ready to use external partners
The same survey revealed that most companies in both samples use outside vendors to support their international marketing efforts—but how they deploy them is markedly different.
The non-leading brands, however, were less likely to use translation or localization services than leading companies. And while the leaders used specialists, they maintained internal expertise in producing and distributing content. Leaders put themselves in a position to lead and manage the process, taking advantage of specialists without relying too heavily on them for strategy and creative execution.
Although some of these principles might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, it’s important to realize that success is all in the details—and that subtle changes may well dictate the success of your expansion.
Get more info in our whitepaper, Lessons in Global Marketing.