These days, it’s not uncommon for organizations and businesses to market their products and services globally, rather than focusing on a specific region. Email and social media allow us to bridge cultural and geographic divides, engaging with people all over the world who might be interested in our products, services, and ideas.
As you expand your global reach, it’s crucial to develop your marketing strategy with local market audiences in mind. Here’s how to best engage your target audience when working on a global scale:
1. Conduct Cultural Research
When you’re looking to expand into new geographical regions, it’s important that you get to know your audience. Having a basic understanding of a culture and its norms can make a huge difference in your audience’s perception of you and your brand, while helping you to avoid coming off as being ethnocentric or detached. For example, Procter & Gamble once released a TV commercial in Japan that had been popular in Europe. In the commercial, a man walked into the bathroom when a woman was in the bathtub, and touched her on the shoulder. In Japan, this action was perceived as being extremely chauvinistic and ill-mannered, and the commercial was off-putting to most. With a little research, P&G could have easily avoided this cultural blunder.
The better you understand cultural norms, the more effective you can be in localizing your brand’s message. You can gather this information by reading about it, or, even better, by conducting market research of your target audience. And of course, the best possible way to ensure that you understand the cultural norms of a geographic region is to recruit a team member from the target region, or place someone from your team on the ground. Working directly with someone who has a deeper understanding of cultural norms is the best way to avoid making generalizations and truly appeal to a particular group of people.
2. Build Relationships with Local Influencers
When marketing to a new region, do not underestimate the importance of connecting with local influencers. These individuals can help you foster a sense of trust between you and the local audience, help you engage with those who will be excited about your products and services, and provide you with helpful information for tailoring your message.
Look for people and organizations that are talking about your industry, and that have a relatively large following on various platforms – a blog, Facebook, or Twitter, for example. If you’re able to engage these influencers and get them interested in what you’re doing, they can act as invaluable brand ambassadors to your target audience.
3. Tailor Your Content & Pay Attention to Language
When expanding globally, take the time to tailor your messaging to your new target markets. Detached messaging from an irrelevant third party will do nothing to build your credibility in new communities, so it’s essential that your content sounds like it is actually coming from the market you’re targeting. This means finding out what features are most relevant to your new audience, being aware of local and regional events and holidays, and using the knowledge you’ve gained from your cultural research to localize your message.
Once you’ve determined the type of content that you want to include in your marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider the language you use to convey it. If you’re targeting a market that largely speaks a different language, you will of course need to consider translation. If you’re able, opt for professional translation in order to avoid mistakes that will decrease your credibility. If you’re targeting a market that speaks the same language, be careful about idioms and colloquialisms – certain words and phrases are only used in certain areas, and you need to be aware of them when crafting your messaging. For example, the phrase “pulling someone’s leg” is an American idiom that would likely confuse a British audience.
4. Develop a Global-Friendly Website & Consider SEO
Your website can be accessed by almost anyone with an Internet connection almost anywhere in the world, and may act as the first point of contact between you and new members of your audience. To make sure that your website best represents your brand, there are a few key ways that you can optimize your website for the global market. To make your website global-friendly, you’ll want to reduce the use of text in images, as it cannot be translated, and make sure that the rest of your text can be machine-translated. If you’re selling a product, double check that your shopping cart is internationally-friendly. And if you’re designing your website from scratch, you may even want to consider the connotations of different colors. For example, in the United States, green often represents eco-friendliness, whereas elsewhere it signals greed. In China, green can even indicate infidelity!
As you’re adapting your website, don’t forget to consider search engine optimization. Once you’ve figured out which aspects of your product or service appeal to a particular market, you’ll need to optimize your website for specific keywords and phrases. You should also consider preferred search engines, as they may vary according to region. Google isn’t the dominant search engine everywhere; in Russia, for example, it’s Yandex.
5. Stay Up-to-Date on Global Trends & Events
Once you’ve launched your marketing strategy, don’t forget to stay current when it comes to global trends. Even the most perfectly crafted content can quickly become irrelevant in light of new global developments. Think of your strategy as a work in progress, and be ready to make adjustments as events occur and new trends develop.
There are many aspects of your marketing strategy that you’ll need to consider to most effectively engage global audiences, but taking these steps will be well worth it when you’re able to bridge cultural barriers and connect with people across geographic divides.