Building a global marketing strategy for multinational organizations requires a combination of a global mindset and local expertise.
The key to building a comprehensive global marketing strategy? Localization.
When you think about localization, you’re probably thinking on a tactical level — translating your website and product copy or building content in other languages, for example. That’s certainly a part of the process, but localization is more than that.
It’s about creating a distinct marketing approach for each potential new market — considering the cultural nuances, customer preferences, and go-to-market opportunities for each.
What is a global marketing strategy?
A global marketing strategy expands your organization’s marketing efforts to multiple markets, building awareness, demand, and leads on a global level. There are two types of global marketing strategies:
- Global standardization strategies use the same images, messaging, and campaigns across every global market. This can be effective if research reveals no differences in how potential customers view your product or service across multiple markets or if your company is already a global player and looking to save costs.Apple’s products and packaging, for example, are standard across every country, with only very slight changes in keyboards or power sources. Social media software like Facebook is also standard in every country.
- Global localization strategies consider each market’s language, culture, and social norms to determine the best expression of your brand in each market. This can be adjusting everything from brand names to packaging and pricing. Spotify, for example, may have the same music, but changes playlists, genres, and messaging based on the market to match local preferences.
The best global marketing strategies don’t fall squarely in one camp or the other. It may make sense from a cost-perspective to standardize your colors, product, or packaging, for example, but you’ll still need to localize certain elements of your brand, messaging, and positioning in order to stand out from the competition.
5 components of a successful global marketing strategy
A successful global marketing strategy will tell you what messages to deliver at what time to which target audience, and how to deliver those messages. When it comes to creating global marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive more traffic, leads, and sales, consider these five components:
1. Localizing your goals and objectives
Any strategic efforts should start with why.
Which target markets are you expanding into, and why? What are you trying to achieve with your marketing strategy? Of course, you want to grow your business. But what does that mean in practice for your organization?
Your go-to-market team — including marketing, customer success, and sales — should be aligned with your revenue target. Once you have that target number, work backward and break it up by each market and funnel stage to determine how many leads you must generate, how much traffic that requires, and what kind of resources you need to execute your marketing campaigns.
This should be done for each specific market. While it can be tempting to choose “Asia” as your expansion target, generalizing multiple cultures and countries (Japan, Korea, and China are all radically different, for example) into one overarching expansion can make it difficult to measure success.
This is also where you should determine your measurement of success on a market and global level, at each level of the funnel from traffic to your website to customer satisfaction and retention.
2. Localizing your personas and market research
Rule number one in any marketing rulebook? Know your audience. This is true whether it’s your home market or your global target markets. To create a global marketing strategy, you must understand your global audience. Your market research should answer:
- Who needs your product or service, and what pain points does your product or service solve?
- What do those people care about? What are their interests? Are they different across multiple markets?
- What cultural differences (values, religion, social currency) exist across international markets?
- Are they already using a similar product, or is yours something completely new?
Red Bull, for example, expanded its operations to Europe in the 1980s, slowly but steadily capturing the youth market without turning to traditional advertising. Unlike many global beverage brands, it hasn’t adjusted their product or formula; instead, it’s determined the best way to reach their target audience by market.
Pioneering grassroots marketing tactics, Red Bull distributed the energy drink at universities for free, produced a variety of video and music content based on each market, created extreme sports competitions, and sponsored local athletes to drive buzz.
This approach is a very localized one, replicated in each market they entered — and now it’s a top global brand with an estimated $20 billion value.
3. Localizing your distribution channels and marketing mix
Your market research should reveal your customer preferences by market, not only around your products but also around how they want to learn about them. 4.5 billion people around the globe have internet access, and 3.8 billion people use social media in one form or another.
In today’s digital world, there are countless possible channels to reach your audience, from email to advertising to social media. Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Baidu are the most visited websites on the Internet, with Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger the most-used social platforms, according to Hootsuite.
Dig deeper by market, and you’ll find that, while Facebook may be popular everywhere, Instagram is most popular in Brazil and Indonesia, and Snapchat is more popular in France and Mexico.
Even within local markets like the United States, preferences for social media channels vary among age groups, gender, and location, so it’s best to thoroughly research your ideal customer experience.
Whether you’re looking at offline or online distribution channels, if you want to drive market share – you’ll need to meet your potential customers where they are.
Nike, for example, embraced social media and e-commerce in global markets from the get-go, outcompeting brands like Adidas. With separate pages for each of its distinct product categories, Nike focuses its marketing on sponsored athletes, building a network of inspirational people by market as the face of the brand (and on social media.)
4. Localizing your pricing and go-to-market
Pricing is the greatest expression of the market’s perception of the value your company offers. Depending on your supply chain and larger operational model, you may have limitations on the prices you can set; however, determining your pricing and go-to-market execution should be tailored to your target market. Consider:
- The level of demand in a market
- Cost-of-living or cost of doing business in a given market
- Prices of complementary and competitive goods
- The general competitiveness of a market
You may not have to change your entire pricing structure and model, but you should take into account the specific market needs. Take McDonald’s, for example. The company operates with a hybrid “glocal” marketing strategy, keeping some elements the same while adapting others.
They adjust their product offerings to better fit different countries’ cultural preferences. While the company name and familiar golden arches may be the same in every country, the menus and pricing vary wildly based on cultural preference, from a “McRaclette” in Switzerland to a “McAloo Tikki” burger in India.
Prices, even for the same products, also vary. A Big Mac in Switzerland cost $6.63 in 2019, while in India it cost $2.53. Economists actually use Big Macs as an indicator of currency valuation — called the “Big Mac Index” — because McDonald’s pricing model is so precise.
5. Localizing your branding and messaging
A key part of any marketing strategy is how you will position your products and services in a target market. This goes beyond translation of your message from your domestic market to a foreign market — by making your customers or prospects around the globe feel as if you’re directly connecting with them in a personal, relatable, and natural way as if your business were a local business.
These messages, distributed through your website, application, social media, or any marketing campaigns, can better resonate with customers and prospects — wherever they may be.
- Your brand name
- Your slogan and mission statement
- Your marketing campaigns and advertising
- Your image choices, colors, and logo
Coca-Cola, one of the oldest global brands, operates in more than 200 countries. You can order a “Coke,” a “Coca,” or a “Cola” depending on where you are. Every local market has slightly different messaging that works best in their country, using local experts and native speakers and workers to expand their business.
However, Coca-Cola keeps their slogans simple and personalized, with a focus on universal words like “Enjoy,” “Happiness,” and “Sharing.” This combination of universal appeal (standardization) with local flavor (localization) is what drives more market share than any other soft drink around the world.
Use Lokalise to simplify your localization process
Entering new markets isn’t easy. It takes everyone on your team, beyond marketing to product, engineering, strategy, and sales, to embrace a localized model of global marketing.
To successfully launch your product on a global level, you’ll need to align your developers, product and marketing managers, copywriters, translators, and designers so that you can build a consistent brand no matter what language your messaging is in.
All team members need to work like a well-oiled machine.
Product and marketing managers provide the strategy and messaging, executed by copywriters in your native language.
Designers take that copy and create localized materials, whether it’s web pages or brochures.
Translators deliver localized versions of the copy, and developers finalize the code with native and translated copy, for web pages, or designers finalize multiple versions of the materials, for other content.
That’s a lot of people to coordinate.
With Lokalise, access powerful localization workflow management tools that allow your team to collaborate, manage and review translations in a productive, flexible and efficient way. Take Lokalise’s customer GoCrypto for example. This company struggled with the technical issues as they localized their content for target markets.
”It was technically difficult to add new languages, and you had to pay a considerable amount of money to upgrade whilst taking the risk that the translators who you work with do not even have the same software,” Urška Daly, Content Writer at GoCrypto explained.
Switching to Lokalise helped them significantly:
”Lokalise brings mindfulness into the process and it also carries the heavy load of the localization process. The infrastructure and the architecture of the tool are really good. We can simply create tasks and then the translators do the rest. Also, the whole process of project management is simplified quite a lot.”
Lokalise is designed with marketers, product managers, and developers in mind to help companies seamlessly expand their international operations. We make it easy to automate the localization process and design for market expansion so that you can effortlessly execute your localization strategy — all in one place.