When it comes to localized marketing strategies, it’s important to remember the purpose of your translation. You’re not just translating words. You’re announcing your intent. One great example of how this can go wrong is the famous marketing gaffe made by KFC when the brand tried to enter the Chinese market in the 1980s with their existing slogan: “finger-lickin’ good.” Unfortunately, when that was translated verbatim for the new Chinese market, it came across as: “We’ll eat your fingers off.” Needless to say, the confusion seriously impeded KFC’s global momentum.
Of course, with today’s globalized society, it would be difficult to make such a grave error. Instead, the more significant risk is in the subtle nuances in language that can create segmented branding across messages. We don’t just want to translate the words in a localization strategy. We want to convey a central message—one that resonates among diverse consumers. That means integrating all of our communication channels to one lexicon that transcends language.
Why the Localized Marketing Strategy Must Be Integrated
Chaos breeds scope creep. That’s the primary reason you must integrate your localized marketing strategy. A simple copy-paste translation strategy is going to result in some very different results across marketing segments.
Consider keyword-driven search engine optimization or pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. The keywords you target in English aren’t always going to be identical to the ones you’d use in another market because that’s not what those consumers search. Instead of just matching the phrases, you want to match types. For example, the “elevator parts” phrase that’s targeted by an American company would need reconsideration for other foreign markets where the word “lift” or a version of it is common instead. However, if someone simply tried to copy/paste their keyword strategy into a new one, that context may be missing, resulting in an ineffective PPC or SEO campaign.
A brand may try to fix something like that by hiring different vendors and translators to manage each arm of the business. However, here is where scope creep develops. You may continue to pay money, having the same common words and phrases translated over and over again as your localization efforts are divided among departments. After a while, hundreds of different writers, translators, and editors are all attempting to follow disparate systems, and that leads to a lot of unnecessary work and wasted resources. It’s essential to build a localized marketing strategy that aligns all business units to one common goal to avoid the waste and hassle.
Four Tips for Integrating Your Localization Strategy
Communication is vital in establishing a localization strategy. If you’re working on this type of initiative, it’s important to:
- Get content teams on a single platform: When we take a copy-and-paste approach to translation, we wind up using a lot of disparate systems that create different results. If you have an existing localization management platform, it’s vital to get all teams on the same page in using it. If you don’t, then you’ll likely need to step up and be the leader who demands comprehensive translation workflow systems.
- Align your vendors with your message: It’s not good enough that the linguists you use for translation know the language you’re targeting and your company name. Good translator services also understand the purpose of your product and your brand identity. As you were creating the product, you had to develop briefs and documentation. This should be the first thing they read and translate so they can thoroughly understand not just your company, but also your brand identity.
- Leverage in-country teams: It’s a lot more common in sales and operations to add in-country teams and then let the information filter into the marketing department after the fact. It’s a mistaken routine. You want marketing reps in the country because they’re the ones who are responsible for building your brand there. They need to understand the local market, which includes regional opinions and knowledge of your brand, as well as local slang and customs. The marketing team is the one introducing the product so it’s essential they have firsthand knowledge of the area.
- Build a brand-specific translation memory: The translation memory is the brain of your entire translation project. By building a memory with a company and brand-specific lexicon, you can increase keyword and translation accuracy while ensuring you minimize unnecessary work. With a well-established TM, you can create a cohesive brand across all marketing communications.
Immersion in a market, communication across all teams, and a standard lexicon are the three components that make it possible to integrate your localized marketing strategy. Planning to share details across all channels may seem involved and challenging at first, but in the long run, it saves everyone a lot of time and money. It’s a way to streamline efforts and ensure a consistent brand message as you enter a new market.