Jet setting: top tips for building a successful international marketing strategy

With the summer holidays well under way and many taking their annual leave to visit warmer climes, it seems that everyone is turning their heads abroad. When it comes to marketing, often growing businesses feel ready to take those first steps to market themselves abroad yet don’t know where to start. With so many elements to consider - whether its translation, cultural awareness, or understanding the market competition - internationalising your marketing strategy can seem daunting. But don’t fear, this week OTB has our top tips for building a successful international marketing strategy…

TRANSLATION

Although it may sound obvious, internationalising your marketing strategy can bring a number of hurdles when it comes to language barriers and translation, and we don’t just mean editing your content. When internationalising a brand and its marketing strategy it is important to think carefully about the message and brand image you want to portray, and how this will translate into customer engagement and reputation-building in your new marketplace.

According to econsultancy.com, the art of conveying this message effectively is known as ‘transcreation’, officially defined as ‘the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context.’ Econsultancy have argued that ‘this helps to pick up cultural nuances, and create the sense that the brand belongs in that region, and that the business understands what local customers expect and want from them.’

BE TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS

One element of internationalising a marketing strategy is the need to find a balance between promoting your roots as a brand, while also embracing this new chapter of your company’s history. There are often huge benefits to emphasising the international element of a business, demonstrating its successful growth in a number of markets and creating an engaging, unique story for customers to relate to.

A recent article by The Drum has argued that it is important to find a healthy balance between storytelling which relies on origins and roots, and over-emphasising your heritage to the detriment of your current message. They pointed out ‘a major issue with harping on heritage in the global economy is that perceptions associated with your brand’s home country could vary greatly from market to market.’

A good example to avoid is BP, who suffered huge reputational fault out from the 2010 oil spill in the United States when media reports continually emphasised the British aspect of the company’s British Petroleum name. Yet learning from brands who have successfully relied on their roots can generate good insights to follow. Good examples includeRimmel London, who often rely on their association with the fashion capital and its edgy reputation to differentiate themselves from other homegrown brands particularly in the United States, or Jaguar who centred their “it’s good to be bad” campaign using a suave British villain as their lead character.

UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET COMPETITION

As is the case with breaking into any new market whether it be internationally or otherwise, it is important to understand the competition facing you in your newest venture. Without strong insights and market research, making the transition into another country or even region could be tough. In the same way that your message should be adapted to the specific needs of a consumer, soyou’re your product or service offering should be adapted to the needs of the market.

What may have proved a winning strategy in one country may not necessarily translate into high sales levels and strong growth in another. With consumers and markets more widely being extremely diverse, some of the most successful brands have proved durable by demonstrating an ability to adapt themselves to their locality.

A good example is McDonalds. Although you can walk into a McDonalds almost anywhere in the world and its format, decoration and service style will be broadly the same, the fast food giant has also cleverly adapted its product offering to meet the needs of its clients, thereby strengthening its international brand through diversification. Fancy some macaroons in a McCafe in Paris? Need to cool off during the Spanish siesta with an ice cooler?  A spicy Paneer wrap in India? McDonalds has it all, as well as proof that understanding your market and branding yourself accordingly can bring huge success in the international arena.

Jet setting: top tips for building a successful international marketing strategy