Marketing globally is no longer theory, it's a reality. The companies that succeed in this bold new world are the ones recognizing that many factors, both macro and micro, need to be part of the international game plan. Here are a few of the strategies and concerns you'll want to keep in mind.
Simply deciding to expand sales overseas is not enough. When vague, oversimplified plans are made to tackle large regions such as Europe or Asia, for example, organizations will discover numerous obstacles in their path because of the complex, crazy quilt nature of international commerce. As Harvard Business Review points out, each individual country has its own special nuances, including political and cultural differences, legal traditions, payment and currency systems as well as distinctive business practices that domestic companies are not even aware of.
For that reason, you need to be as specific as possible in developing marketing programs. This means diving into local market research, creating individualized sales goals, allocating budgets and staffing, along with uncovering both problems and opportunities at the grass roots level. You'll need to target your efforts as tightly as possible, rather than employing a one-size-fits-all approach that might be based on prior experience with more homogeneous markets like the U.S. or the U.K.
Large economies such as those of the U.S., Europe and China are more closely linked and dependent upon each other than ever before. The rise and fall of stock market prices and other indicators cannot be underestimated.
Experts like William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, continually warn of the dangers of protectionism, when countries attempt to make heavy-handed adjustments through tariffs, trade barriers and similar measures. If your marketing plan doesn't have a way to quickly respond to unexpected government interference and diplomatic volleys, millions of dollars in business could be lost in the crossfire. You need to have contingency plans in place to address whatever unpredictable events transpire in a volatile world economy.
Your brand strategy and tactics should always take into account cultural and language differences. A corporate theme or product slogan that works in one western country could backfire spectacularly in an Asian market. Translations that are based more broadly on key ideas and local context rather than a literal, word-for-word approach are a must for international marketers.
Not only that, Harvard Business Review advises adapting sales and marketing channels to fit local conditions. For example, the Review cites nations such as Japan that place higher priority on relationships, where establishing relationships with local partners would be far more effective than attempting direct sales. On the other hand, some markets respond better to high tech approaches. Plus, social media preferences can vary by country as well. Product features and pricing may also need to be adapted to cater to regional circumstances.
The American Marketing Association underscores the importance of knowing what your competition is doing on the ground in far-flung areas where your company does not have direct knowledge of local companies, market conditions, customs and product preferences. For example, how do you handle rivals you're not even aware of? Do you try to go head-to-head with them, merge with them, or cultivate them as partners? And how do you stay abreast of changing demands, trends and competitive developments in a dynamic world economy? It usually helps to join forces with companies like Jagged Peak that have intimate, in-depth experience with the specific markets you're entering.
Even as tech advances cross international boundaries, there are still differences to contend with, including cultural comfort levels with products or services. There are even instances of limited compatibility, such as software that doesn't come with the languages you need for your target markets, or the absence of certain local currencies on the checkout page of your website. Technology does have its challenges, but it also offers tremendous prospects for profitable new revenue streams, especially when you consider the constantly evolving eCommerce marketplace that lets you add new markets almost as easily as opening a new browser window.
When your company ventures into new, uncharted international opportunities, you'll want to consult specialists like Jagged Peak, which can provide in-depth knowledge of local markets as well as technological resources to make your job easier.