Translation is a significant component of a complete global marketing plan, but often, project managers jump into it a bit too early. One of the most critical success factors to international expansion is understanding how the approach into the U.S. market will change as you enter other markets. Some marketing content may adapt quickly, but other content may need more tweaking to ensure a consistent message.
It can be challenging to manage this task cost-effectively, especially if your regional manager wants to create brand new campaigns for the various markets, which is a venture that can cause even more challenges in the form of brand voice inconsistencies. Avoiding some of the more common global marketing plan points of failure is vital to preserving a strong translation return on investment (ROI).
Common Failures in the Global Marketing Plan
The four scenarios below are common points of failure in global marketing plans:
- Failing to align regional managers: Whoever you hire to manage the local marketing strategy must adapt to your brand, not the other way around. The marketing manager should be able to provide feedback on ways to tweak existing marketing material to make it fit into the new segments. However, any significant issues, like consumers in specific markets being uninterested in your product, should be sorted out well before you ever assign a regional manager. These hired regional managers are not the solution to a brand-market mismatch; they are the facilitators of existing marketing plans and provide feedback on how to make them more effective.
- Using difficult-to-translate content: Language with a high degree of slang or idioms may seem trendy on a local level, but it falls apart when you enter new, larger markets. A good example comes from Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 1980s. The brand tried to carry over its “finger-lickin’ good” slogan into Asian markets without understanding how it would translate. The resulting slogan was a nonsensical “you’ll eat your fingers off”—hardly an appealing prospect to consumers. The moral of the story: be careful with your slang and idioms. Taglines should generally be in plain language to facilitate translation.
- Overlooking the holistic costs: Your holistic cost centers on measuring the opportunity versus the cost of implementation. Consider Brazil: it’s the ninth-largest economic market in the world, with a population of more than 200 million. The opportunity is there, which makes it a frequent target for brand growth—until leaders delve a bit deeper. Brazil is also extremely bureaucratic. There are hundreds of regulations and restrictions to navigate, and the profit taxes for foreign companies can go as high as 40%. If one was considering the holistic cost of expanding in Brazil, they would compare the implementation and opportunity together. In most cases, they’d see it likely wasn’t an ideal market unless the brand already had a significant following there or didn’t offer physical products. A smaller market with less red tape may provide a better overall growth opportunity.
- Overestimating the brand’s reputation: Most major companies look at Coca-Cola when they consider global brand expansion because they represent the best-case scenario. The brand is available everywhere and enjoyed worldwide. The company can enter virtually any market knowing they will receive a positive reception. However, it’s important to note that Coca-Cola is the exception to the norm, not the rule. One only needs to look at the failures of other major national companies like Walmart, McDonald’s, and Burger King to see that no brand is too big to fail. In order to successfully approach foreign markets in modern times, a company needs to start by reviewing the consumer preferences of the country and adapting itself to those desires, rather than resting on name recognition.
These four oversights are especially crippling to a brand trying to enter a new market because the campaign is usually already underway by the time they are noticed, making them even more of a challenge to fix. It’s crucial to choose markets based on empirical—not theoretical—evidence to reduce risk.
Testing Success for New Markets
There is oftentimes a disconnect between market research and reality. Market research limits consumers’ options to a few different outcomes, which often skews the results. It may also overlook granular issues, which can make all the difference when it comes to sales. The only accurate way to evaluate a new market is to enter it. Pilot programs and soft launches give brands a lot more evidence they can use to choose the right opportunities. Specifically, these studies can help them discover markets that are:
- Workable: Is there an opportunity?
- Manageable: What barriers exist that would make managing that market a challenge?
- Sustainable: Is long term success possible after the initial novelty of the market entry wears off?
- Scalable: Can the marketing campaign—or the product itself—quickly change to meet the needs of consumers?
A localization management platform is often a data-rich source that managers can use to measure the potential effectiveness of their global marketing plan. With one, they can see how consumers in specific locations are currently reacting to their content and get an accurate reading of where the strong demand lies. As managers roll out their content to new markets, that platform continues to act as a repository for the data they need to ensure success.
Bureau Works helps companies discover the potential for their global marketing plan by providing an end-to-end translation solution that generates reports and makes project ROI easy to measure. For more details, contact our team.