Marketing can be a genuinely transformative experience, especially international marketing, as you face new demands and take new approaches to problem solving. Planning marketing strategies for international markets early in your campaign can save you immeasurable time, money, and effort by setting you on a sure course from the very beginning. Read more about these strategies that can help your company to know itself better, to be deliberate with localization, to be infinitely scalable, and to solidify expert support.
Steps in Planning Marketing Strategies for International Markets
There is a lot to think about as you begin international marketing. It’s best to spend time on localized marketing strategy early on before you get caught up in an unnecessary cycle of problems and fixes. Here are some first steps we recommend to get you started successfully.
Take a Long Look Inward
Don’t move too quickly and assume that your product line is going to hold up in foreign markets. One of the first things you should do as you prepare to enter international scenes is to define your product line in each case. Your original lineup may contain items that are inappropriate for some markets for practical reasons, such as the case with seasonal clothing. Or items may be inappropriate for cultural reasons, such as food or drink that not all cultures embrace. Your product line may also be subject to local regulations and compliance issues, as is the case with medical instruments, for example.
You face an even bigger challenge when it comes to defining your company’s identity internationally. For instance, your company may have a quirky, idiosyncratic style and marketing message—relative to your home culture, that is. Don’t take for granted that that quirk will translate in a new language and cultural context and be just as likely to sell your product. Oftentimes, American companies are selling their Americanness, which may or may not work, depending on the local context. With successful localization, not only are you taking a good, long look at what makes your company uniquely valuable, but you are also taking a careful look into your target markets. You need to understand what they aspire to and be ready to answer those aspirations with your value as it relates.
With that insight, and some well-focused research, you may decide that your company should tone down or modify its presentation of itself, at least internationally. These concerns may guide your approach to translating as well. You may even turn to rewriting marketing content to convey the underlying message of your product more clearly in a local market than a direct translation is capable of. This process is known as transcreation.
Plan for Expansion
There are a lot of moving parts in an international marketing strategy. There are a lot of people handling a lot of files and tasks that need to keep up with an overall timeline. This can become even more complex when languages are added. If you’re localizing for several markets simultaneously, avoid chaos, delays, and brand damage with an organized system that is primed to expand with you.
The solution is centralization. A comprehensive localization tool will allow you to set up a scalable system to move things where they need to go easily and with constant tracking; in this way, you can assess the status of every project at a glance. Once the system is in place, it doesn’t matter how many languages you are translating—it will all flow through the centralized system. The sooner you set up your centralized platform, the less chance for problems you will have.
You do not have to start at zero in your international marketing strategy. The good news is that many of the routine tasks of localization—translator selection, quality management, routing files and assignments—can be centralized and automated, saving your human power for non-mechanical tasks. A localization partner will also host resources for your team, such as CAT tools, translation memory, term bases, style guides, and visual references. The best localization services also offer robust technical support for non-text files such as graphics files or videos. And if you don’t get set up to integrate your CMS via an API or command line interface, you will be behind the times and fall short of your own potential.
Choose Your Input Carefully
Localization can surpass your budget in a blink. That’s why it’s worth it to take a step back from the start and get clear on the priorities. You will likely find that not all of your material has to be translated for every market. Blogs, for example, may not be worth the localization spend. They represent an enormous amount of content that may not all be relevant to your global audiences. There is likely a better use of your resources. You want to find the right balance to maximize your localization ROI, and an expert in global content marketing can help point you in that direction.
Mixed media is a good example of a segment of localization that can quickly eat up your resources. Of course, it has the potential to be a major marketing boon, but you have to be strategic about your approach. At the very least, graphics and video files need to be handled differently than text files do in your localization system. And, at most, they may require a great deal more specialized attention to ready them for international markets. We’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t go there. But you need to have sufficient infrastructure and support in place to handle multimedia localization efficiently.
Get the Support You Need
A localization platform will provide a reliable source of truth for your brand and allow you to maintain control over your branding. But are you ready to take full control in an unfamiliar international market? You may operate in your home country largely on instinct. You know the local market, the local tastes, and culture, so you have a good chance of succeeding on your own. Now, consider your knowledge of the variety of markets you hope to break into. How will you apply the necessary instinct and cultural sensitivity in those cases?
A local PR or marketing firm is likely to be a valuable addition to your team. In-country partners can advise you on the local culture, on your branding, and on translation and localization issues—many of which you may not even begin to suspect. Believe it or not, these partners can also take advantage of the localization platform for best results.
Find the Right Localization Partner
As you can see, we are talking about steps early on in your international marketing push. You’re taking unnecessary risks if you move forward without full knowledge of local conditions or without a centralized platform. Your product, your budget, and even your brand are at stake.
Rather than trying to undo bad marketing decisions and redo poor-quality content, look for a localization service that will meet your needs better than you can even anticipate. A sure-footed start will save you time and money very quickly. And it’ll make your real potential possible.
Bureau Works is a content localization service that automates translation, quality management, and other services using the latest technology. Our platform allows you to use your human resources better by requiring less management oversight, and our engineers can help you localize a full range of media. Contact our team to see what the future of your company looks like with modern automated localization.
Written by Aaron Schliem
Aaron is the chief marketing officer for Bureau Works. He also loves to tickle the ivories and is a wiz at designing cocktails.