In the current economic scenario, the internationalization or globalization of companies is often necessary in order to maintain competitiveness and achieve desired growth.
Starting out in new markets is a great challenge and there are many factors to consider when planning a step of this importance: the adaptation of products/services, operations, human resources and, of course, Marketing.
We will focus on the latter. It is important that companies are aware of the role that Marketing will play in an internationalization process. Let's start at the beginning.
What is International Marketing or Global Marketing?
"International Marketing, or Global Marketing, is the set of strategies aimed at the internationalization of the company's products or services. More than replicating local actions, it means adapting, planning, production, dissemination and promotion to foreign markets, with the objective of expanding business worldwide. "
Thinking about Marketing on a global scale is not just about replicating, although there are synergies, as we will see later.
Local Marketing vs. Global Marketing
Let's start with the difference between them: Local Marketing focuses on the domestic market, where we compete with national or regional customers. In the case of International Marketing, the focus is on the foreign market, where we're looking at other geographies.
Most companies are comfortable with Local Marketing because they know the market, consumer habits, competition and their potential customers. In the case of International Marketing, the challenges are much greater, so planning and a well-defined strategy are essential.
"An International Marketing strategy is not just transferring your efforts from one country to another. It's necessary to take into account the particularities of each country, adapting the product or service to the new range of consumers."
There may be similarities between markets, but you will need to conduct a rigorous investigation into your new markets to see how viable they will be.
How do I create my Marketing team?
Companies that choose to go global in only a few markets have to decide how to structure their Marketing team.
In an ideal scenario, we should have a central or global team (which is typically located at the company's headquarters, closer to the decision center, and which defines the common lines of the company's Marketing Strategy) and then have representation from Local Marketing or, eventually, representation in strategic regions/continents/geographies.
However, the costs inherent to such a structure are usually only available to large companies or companies with large turnover volumes. And local Marketing teams may not be necessary, depending, of course, on the business model, the maturity of your company and/or your area of operation. However, if there are major cultural or time differences, a local team is essential.
It is also worth thinking about the relationship with Sales. The close collaboration with the sales force in defining the strategy and making it operational will reduce risk factors and increase the success rate of entering a specific market. The sales team will be more familiar with the specifics of the market. Whether we talk about Local or International Marketing, the alignment of Marketing and Sales will be decisive in obtaining results and achieving objectives.
Tip: It can be interesting - and a competitive advantage - to have Marketing people with a Sales background (or an appetite for the commercial component) on your team. This facilitates the connection with Sales. The opposite - Sales people with a Marketing background - can also be useful.
The digitalization of companies and the ease of travel that exist today also help to fill the need for physical presence.
Digital Marketing as an Opportunity
The truth is that there is a large slice of your Local Marketing efforts that can be replicated for the international market. Especially if we think about Digital Marketing strategy.
- Content: Any content that is created for a given market, if it is suitable for other markets, can be translated and/or adapted to be shared.
Tip: Not all content will be suitable for all markets. But there is "core" content from your company that will certainly be useful for any region.
- Website: In the case of your website, you will also have to make some of the same decisions. Will you create websites by language? By location? It depends on your strategy. You can opt for a simple division by language (Spanish, Portuguese, English...) regardless of the country. However, if you have local or very specific initiatives (events, campaigns, differentiated products) you may have to move towards a country division. In any case, you should consider that SEO work better when tailored to each market.
- Social Media: Remember that different regions may have preferences for different platforms. Analyze your target markets and understand where potential customers and competitors are, who are the thought leaders, etc. Your content can serve several markets, but don't forget to balance broad content with local content.
Tip: Pay attention to the different tones and forms of writing, as sometimes they are very different. Do you know about the Buyer's Journey?
- Email Marketing: If you have a robust database, consider how you can segment your mailing lists. If you want to communicate with your clients/prospects in different markets regularly, you need to take into account the time difference and the tone of your content. We all know that there are certain words or expressions in English that not everyone would understand...
Tip: If you work with several regions, it may be appropriate to consider including the country as a mandatory field in contact capture forms.
- Paid Search (Google Ads) and Paid Social (Linkedin Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads): Via Social, you can reach any audience (at a global scale) by segmenting according to your needs. Again, the content can be replicated from other regions or created specifically for these markets. Pay attention to your budget, as advertising costs in some areas may not compensate for the financial effort. Monitor your campaigns very well, listen to the comments you are receiving, revise/readjust your tactics.
With all of this adaptation/customization, you might think that the implementation of an International Marketing strategy will be a nightmare. This couldn't be further from the truth. Fortunately, nowadays there are Marketing Automation tools that make life much easier and that are practically essential in any Marketing strategy.
If you invest in an all-in-one tool, such as HubSpot, you will be able to manage all the areas mentioned above, with the appropriate regional customizations, allowing you to start operations with a small team. You can also partner with an agency like mbudo to help you scale and expand internationally. Want to know more? Get in contact with us!