As companies continue to seek new opportunities abroad, gaining alignment amongst their teams is essential. This alignment isn’t easy and takes better communication, better collaboration and an improved understanding of regional culture and target market. When done well, the results can be impressive.
Unfortunately, lack of alignment between sales and marketing organisations can limit the team’s ability to reach their full potential and most importantly handicap a companies potential to effectively meet their internal revenue targets.
Although most executive teams understand this basic concept, most underestimate the need to have deep conversations about how to provide an internal framework to address such challenges.
When implementing marketing strategy outside of a company’s HQ, it’s imperative to do more than just translate the same collateral used by their HQ teams. Marketing materials and approaches will need to be different from region to region, and country to country.
Know your markets
The most important first step is to truly analyse the target market, competitive landscape and decide if the target market is truly ready for the solution. If deemed appropriate, the marketing and sales teams should move forward and begin to build-out a mini-business plan that provides the framework for active discussion and collaboration.
Gaining insight from both of these teams is critical, if the company wants to have a success roll-out into the new country. In addition, the company should also begin to think about the best ways to protect the corporate brand and ensure it is not misused after entering the new market.
Today, most companies utilise spreadsheets and emails to manage this global conversation. However, leading organisations are turning to a new breed of Cloud applications that help their distributed teams collaborate and debate the best approach to entering a new country.
The main reason this is critical is simple - if what is dictated from headquarters doesn’t match the region’s sales and marketing team’s expectation, the result may be the opposite of what is expected.
Instead of having a tight rein on the corporate positioning and brand, salespeople in other regions take it upon themselves to “fix” the marketing to be more appropriate for their needs.
That said if a company provides a flexible framework for these teams to collect and disseminate market data, in real-time, marketing teams can introduce new content, collateral and sales tools to continue to improve the overall sales process and customer experience.
Avoid the machines
A 2010 IDC report cited what it named the 80/20 rule, stating "up to 80% of the content [that] marketing generates is not used by sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for sales and channel enablement."
This is interesting not only because the marketing teams are creating content that the sales teams don’t find useful, but if this is the case, chances are any multi-lingual content your company is producing isn’t used effectively as well.
In short, if you aren’t creating an environment that allows the teams to test, implement, and re-test, then your company is at an extreme disadvantage. It is a waste of time, resources and effort.
Worse than not localising at all is when marketing materials have been machine-translated. In these cases, they are not only poorly translated, but the person at headquarters who had them translated actually thinks they have delivered something usable. While they check a box completed on their to-do list, the unfortunate marketing and sales representatives in the other regions are left to fend for themselves.
Interestingly, CMO Council’s Marketing Outlook 2011 study showed an increased need for a localised approach to attack markets across the globe and an increase in leveraging technology to do so. The study states: “with more than USD$1.5 trillion spent on marketing and communications worldwide, there are significant incentives for marketers to evaluate the optimal structures, approaches, strategies, tools, platforms and processes for globalisation and multi-market localisation”.
Clearly, the desire to market globally is omnipresent, and with the amounts being spent to try to reach customers in multiple regions, I would hope they are focused on not only being global, but doing global right. This means following the best practices to develop marketing strategies to meet the unique needs of a specific region.
A follow-up to this is creating marketing materials that are not only in the language of the region, but are localised to the point where they read naturally.
Too often, regions outside of where headquarters is based are often forgotten – out of sight, out of mind. Surprisingly, this is even the case when a third or more of revenue comes from these other regions. Marketers need to work harder to understand their needs.
That doesn’t mean changing strategy to meet the desires of everyone in the company. However, it does mean at times adapting programmes and supporting materials to better reflect the preferences of customers in a given region.
Adapting to these preferences is beyond being polite; it can be a competitive advantage. Customers are six times more likely to purchase when they see localised marketing.
There is an unspoken belief that salespeople, particularly those in other geographic regions, are going to do whatever they want. Sometimes a good salesperson is described as a “problem solver”, but the expectation is the same. He/she is expected to do whatever is necessary to move their deal along.
Now, imagine if a good salesperson thinks they have proper marketing materials to support their efforts. Their frustration and annoyance quickly becomes a workaround, which doesn’t match the marketing strategy you planned.
What does the customer want?
The answer is to give the regions materials that actually match their customers’ preferences.Technologies that should be leveraged cover local listening, managing and measurement. For example, tools for listening to social media topics are not consistently used outside the headquarters region.
This is a mistake. Markets mature at differing rates, and how your product is described in each region may need to adapt to meet these differences.
With so many materials being created and localised, leveraging a translation management solution will move the process from emails and spreadsheets to an automated system to improve accountability and collaboration. This will help you implement your marketing strategies quicker and more cost-effectively in each region.
Finally, all marketing efforts, whether it’s marketing automation or project management, must be measured. Long gone are the days when marketing was purely an art that supposedly couldn’t be measured. Besides making marketers more efficient and more effective, technology has also added a very real quantitative ability to measure ROI.