Going global, or even just expanding business internationally, can be one of the most exciting moments in your career. But it can also be daunting. As the founder and CEO of an agency that has grown to a global presence over time, there are many lessons to learn in fully adopting a global marketing strategy.
It’s important to consider why you want to expand, whether internationally or globally, and what benefit it brings you as a business. It’s easy to think that the whole world wants your product or service and that going global means more money and opportunity to sell. But global reach without the right setup and support will see your money going out rather than in… so it’s crucial to clarify your why and how before taking the plunge.
Once you are ready to grow your business, look at this five-point roadmap for managing a global marketing strategy.
1. Clearly define your marketing approach
Recognition and success established in your own country under your current marketing efforts are a good benchmark for your global outreach.
The best way to develop a marketing strategy that will work for you in other markets is to expand your local strategy first and run it as though there were no borders.
From here, adjust for cultural and language differences in each region, analyze the different engagement levels and needs as a global whole and per country, and observe where and how performance differs when compared to your local.
It’s critical to adapt your messaging to fit each local market’s language, cultural nuances, and values. Adjust and tailor your full digital and physical outreach and your products and services if and where needed to meet local requirements. Create your longer-term strategy based on your collected data and remember to keep learning and adjusting always.
- Global Marketing: The whole world is your market, and your products/services are the same, with minor variations in language and culture.
- International Marketing: Targets a specific country and marketing your products/services may be unique to that country.
2. Have a local presence
In today’s world, there are multiple ways to expand globally, and not all require you to have a physical presence in each of the different countries you are serving.
With a strong online digital footprint, it’s much easier for a start-up business to move into the global marketplace and be seen. Not having a fully remote or overseas team is no longer a roadblock for start-ups with the right product and service.
However, this doesn’t replace the huge benefit of local knowledge and presence, even just in the form of bringing a single native from each location into your team.
3. Rule your online space
Running a global marketing strategy may require you to develop and establish multiple online profiles instead of just one. Like having several GMB profiles for different physical locations, your business must expand to be local and global in your new markets.
This might mean joining and mastering an entirely foreign social media platform to what you’re used to. The right online space doesn’t just help your target audience find you but also helps your team combine and split strategies and messaging where appropriate to ensure flexibility for maximum ROI.
4. Know your challenges
If you can’t find a market or adapt your business to the market, you’ll have no sales. Ensure your business runs efficiently and adapts to changes with enough speed and financial security.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your local success will translate immediately overseas. You must give yourself enough time and financial runway to build up solid foundations.
If you’ve never traveled overseas but want to take your business international or global, it’s a good idea to jump on a plane and get a first-hand experience of where your products will be landing. Just like any good film producer will do a recce on their filming locations around the world, a good businessperson will do in-depth research on their new geographical targets and ensure their digital targeting and messaging is precise.
5. Keep learning
Expanding into new markets isn’t just about gaining a new audience and more sales. It’s also about gaining a huge amount of new knowledge and experience about the world. One of the great joys of traveling is that you absorb amazing information about how other people live their lives and the many ways to do things.
Taking your business on a long-term trip to a new market isn’t just about pushing your way onto another highway and assuming it’s the best and most innovative way. If you’ve come this far in your business journey and have the privilege of expanding to a global audience, you need to take the opportunity to learn and continuously improve your products and services at the same time.
Going global is building a new home, or even multiple new homes for your business, and ensuring that you contribute to these homes in a way that makes you want to live there.
Ready to cross borders and expand globally?
If you’ve never managed a global team, digital marketing campaign, or service delivery, this may feel a bit like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
Be sure to arm yourself as much as you can. Start small if you have that option (go international before you go global), hire individuals into your team who have strong experience managing global logistics, and prepare for the unexpected.
If you’ve done your research, customized your product or service to the region and culture, and clearly understand where the gaps are in the market that you will fit into… then you are your only limit.
Lisa Eyo, founder, and Chief Executive Officer at ThisIsLD, is a tea-fueled full-stack creative and innovator who thrives on developing creative and integrated end-to-end solutions that cut through the clutter. Eyo is primarily a night owl who loves traveling and watching cars drive around in circles.
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