Going global with your B2b marketing and sales can be a great way to grow your company’s bottom line, however, there are many considerations before doing so.
An open mind:
Each new market is unique, with business practices that differ from companies in your own market. For example, time zones will impact working hours.
Is your company open to new ideas? How bureaucratic is your company? To implement marketing in a new market may require change management, organisational restructures, recruitment, and training. Senior managers should have international experience and knowledge (perhaps having worked or lived in an international market or worked directly with one). This is a core skill for future leadership in today’s global economy.
Cultural sensitivity and awareness is also critical to successful global business prosperity; lack of sensitivity and understanding can be hugely damaging to relationships and therefore the bottom line.
Think Globally, Act Glocally
Being a global firm involves adapting to local country trends— glocalizing. Localization is the process of adapting or creating a marketing campaign for a specific country or region. A successfully localized campaign will appear to have been developed within the local culture or with the local market in mind. Remember, localization is not translation! The aim is not to deliver a literal interpretation of your message in the community, but to communicate it within the cultural awareness of the country and culture.
When launching any marketing campaigns in a new country, you have to spend time on localization so your campaign will be understood by local customers and won’t offend local culture. You must not only focus on what you want to communicate but also how it will be received in the marketplace. You will be required to invest part of your budget and time in localization because misunderstanding of local cultures can cause reputation damage and poor return on marketing investment (ROMI). Your local sales force, partners, or local marketing agencies should review any written copy or artwork to ensure that it will be understood and that it won’t offend the target audience. If your business does not have local partners, you might want to invest time in researching reputable marketing agencies with a target region that will have considerable understanding and knowledge of the local market. You might involve them when conceptualizing the proposition, incentive, and campaign. While translation technology now exists, it provides only literal conversion and does not take into consideration audience or culture sensibilities.
Business-to-business (B2B) case studies show that it’s not necessary to change your business brand name (e.g., Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, HSBC, Boeing) to succeed in new markets. However, you might localize sub-brands, service names, products, and definitely marketing campaigns and communications. Various consumer marketers have ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ localised exceptionally well over the years, and we advise you to learn from them and follow and adopt best practices. In some cases, global brands carry more prestige with new markets because some local markets consider imports to be better than locally produced products/services, and they benefit from the “country of origin” effect. Failure to research local cultures can prove costly and may force a company to withdraw from a region.
Before entering any new market, you need to consider whether you go it alone or work with or though partners or channels; the latter may be a way to lower investment and risk.
Public relations is an important tool when entering global markets. It can help to introduce your firm and build a reputation. It’s important to understand how the media works and to build relationships with the media or with media buyers. If your company can also afford media sponsorship (i.e., to sponsor a program), this can also be an effective way to establish your brand.
Consider co-branding. This can be done with online or offline campaigns. A local partner may already be recognized and established, and joint marketing can be an effective way to quickly raise awareness of your brand and build trust at a low-cost. If the partner’s brand is new or unrecognized, but is designed with local cultural understanding and insight, it may also benefit your brand, making it stronger and more trusted by local businesses. It’s important to ensure the co-branding will strengthen your brand values and what your company stands for. Be careful which partners you choose and associate your brand with to ensure that they adhere to your brand guidelines. It’s an extremely good idea to approve any collateral that they may create and provide them with brand guidelines. Ensure they have a trusted brand, or are a trusted company, so that you don’t damage your own company’s reputation.
Going global can be extremely rewarding, however, considering the above points before doing so could improve your success rate and lower your risk/costs. To find out more about B2b marketing in global markets, you can read Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing an New York FT Press Publication.