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international marketing strategiesThe internet and globalization has led to many brands increasing their reach from the home countries, and branching out across international borders. This phenomenon has meant that many marketers need to fine tune their businesses strategies, to ensure their brands are getting the most value out of the global market. Today, there are a new generation of global brands emerging, and it means more than just having a Starbucks on every corner. If you’re in a start-up, this crash course on lean marketing techniques has great insight into the process and offers a ton of tips to get you started, otherwise read on to discover how to create an international marketing plan.

For brands that want to compete in the global marketplace, there are five key strategies companies have to build into their marketing plans.

Build a Strong, Consistent Brand Culture

Traditionally there has always been a rigid corporate structure behind all of the largest brands, and the local roll out of branding and marketing strategies was left up to the local branch. Today, there has been a shift with globalization, and companies new need to create an experience that is familiar to consumers – no matter where they are in the world. The best brands have a single marketing strategy, that sits at the core of all they do. If you’ve never written a marketing strategy before, this course is great at understanding how it all applies to your business

The rapid rise of digital marketing channels is the main cause of this shift, because ultimately your brand is a reflection of your organizations culture, not a rigid corporate structure. The most successful brands are the companies that have got this right, using social media and viral marketing to reach consumers and let them know what the business is all about. Today, anyone in the world can log on to Facebook and check out the company page, or trawl through corporate videos on YouTube so brands have to have a single story that works in every single market. Likewise, that doesn’t mean you need to throw all of the traditional methods out the window, this course has some great tips that will have you thinking outside of the box in your marketing plan.

Compromising your brand in a single market can have far reaching effects, like the example of Google’s search engines troubles in China. Their attempt at a self censored search engine caused massive backlash as they censored information, which goes against their mission to make information universally available. It wasn’t possible for consumers to accept Google having two different standards, and as a result Google now redirects search requests from China into Hong Kong which doesn’t have the same level of censorship.

In your company you need to find your core mission, and champion it.

Make Your Marketing Efforts Borderless

The abundance of digital platforms has made it impossible for companies to have different marketing strategies in different countries, and a unified approach is needed.

In the digital age the slogan “think global, act local” is no longer relevant, as social media takes content viral, and moves it across borders so that brand stories reach a much larger group of people. Campaigns need to be selected that are universal, and can be rolled out in every country. Good examples are Coca Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign, as well as the positions taken by Nike, Adidas and McDonalds which can be found in almost every country, with a local identity, but consistency across the brand. Companies that don’t follow this borderless approach risk being left behind.

Nike did a great job with a football themed advertisement that was timed with the World Cup, and took footballers from all over the world and integrated them into a single story, united by a love of football. This is where your marketing efforts need to focus, on being truly a borderless brand.

For FMCG companies this borderless aspect is particularly difficult. Traditionally, brands could have different target audiences between countries, but now anyone can see their global comments on Twitter and Facebook. As borders become less restrictive, marketers need to spend time analyzing their markets, and building a content story that can be applied across every single one.

The increased connectivity comes also with its own problems. Countries that were previously not a priority now get the same level of attention as the top tier countries. This is because a human rights issue or a problem in a small market like Uganda can often lead to a massive negative reaction in the big markets like New York, London and Tokyo. Marketers need to be very careful at controlling what marketing is being done at all levels of a brand, to ensure they don’t get any sudden surprises.

What is important to note here is the change in thinking. Traditionally brands were focused on dividing customers and markets into segments so that they could b targeted, but now have to consider the common points that unite each consumer. When brands start caring about the issues and problems that people care about, that’s where you can make a big difference.

Operate from an Internal Hub

To establish a global brand, you need to create a single and unified team that are delivering a single message. If you simply roll out a set of strategy documents across an organization you haven’t really got people involved. It doesn’t work when the people implementing your marketing strategy haven’t had a chance to look through what you’ve done, debate particular issues or be involved in the process. They have to feel like the strategy is their strategy, not the one from corporate.

When you build a unified team, you’ll have much more success as everyone will be on the same page, and working towards the same goals for the brand. It’s much better than having them feeling as if they need to create their own version of the brand in a marketplace.

A great example of this is Durex, am international condom manufacturer that has recently build their own global brand center. This allows marketers within the company to hold onto the global perspective, no matter where they are based in the world. This global hub is transforming Durex’s marketing team into brand evangelists, that are all talking about the company in the same way. Not only interacting with customers, their goal is to create a strong internal community of marketers who share best practices, gain consistency across markets, and be more engaging. It also helps with alignment, and the speed to market – because everyone can help each other and get things moving faster.

Adopt a Regional Structure

The best in the business are already doing this, and challenging the two structures most commonly seen in large brands. In a bid to be more unified, they are moving away from local marketing structures, and taking a more regional approach. This allows companies be more innovative in their marketing efforts, and accelerate the coordination already evident in their teams.

This is all about finding a balance between being global, but acting local to deliver successful international marketing campaigns. It can be difficult to leverage scale on a global level whilst still being relevant to locals, but get it right and you’re well positioned for success. Coca Cola’s Open Happiness campaign is a great example of this, and demonstrates how marketing can successfully work across different markets.

Typically there are two models that exist with the largest global brands. One is predominantly centrally led, with a strong message and a single global brand that is the same in every country. The technology company HP is a great example of this, and it’s the same HP no matter where you are in the world. The second model gives local branches full authority, which allows them to be flexible and ready to adapt. The trouble though is that you need to have strong controls in place over every local office if you wish your brand to remain strong. This is especially important the further away from headquarters you get, because people will feel that they have the freedom to change whatever they need. You can’t allow this to happen because it weakens the brand for every single consumer.

The optimum solution is to build a strong hub from where all of your global marketing initiatives can be managed, best practices to be shared and help local markets to coordinate. Much like the countries in the EU, brands need to give their operating branches room to build their own policy (so long as it supports the overall goal).

Get your Consumers Creating Content

Social media has given marketers the perfect platform for interacting with both businesses and consumers. If you can get a strong following that are recommending your product, talking about your brand to each other, and talking to the business you have a strong base for success. This course covers everything you need to know about reaching and connecting with people in the digital age, and harnessing the power of social media.

With Durex as an example, campaigns are run seeking content from consumers in exchange for prizes, and the content is then widely available over the internet and often goes viral. It is no longer the case that the manufacturer controls the content. In the new ways of doing business it is often a partnership with consumers, in a symbiotic relationship where everyone has the chance to speak up and be heard. Give customers a chance to have their say, and interact with them instead of just polishing your content to perfection.

The key to making your brand as accessible as possible also requires a little patience. Sometimes sitting back and waiting for customers to come to you is better than a gung-ho strategy opening new stores in new markets. Waiting for customers to draw in your brand to new markets will help your growth to be organic and ensure you never overstretch your capabilities.

On paper, an international marketing strategy is a great idea, but it can be difficult to leverage a strategy across multiple markets or countries. This recent post is great as it covers all the latest marketing trends, and in the end having a global approach will save you money, effort and resources, and is the cornerstone that will provide a high level of consistency across all of your branding activities.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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