As the economy repairs itself from the recession, marketers continue to evaluate different ways to improve efficiencies, increase awareness, and drive revenue.
For any company, regardless of the industry, customers are the vital element of success. The goal is to ensure that current customers are valued and appreciated while simultaneously engaging new customers to expand portfolios and increase revenue. This level of continued growth in today’s competitive landscape requires companies to understand the wide reach of the global economy and target international customers to drive sales.
However, doing so requires sensitivity to culture, language, and customs that are localized and tailored for the regions a business plans to enter. Prior to pursuing new international customers, marketers should consider several questions:
1. Does your company have the ability to provide and support remote customers? This greatly depends on the type of product or service being offered, but, regardless, a reliable 24/7 network must be managed to cater to customers around the globe. Considering that more than 70 percent of Internet users are not native English speakers, hiring multilingual customer service representatives may give you a strong leg up on the competition.
2. Have specific target markets been selected? As an example, “Western Europe” is not one market--rather, it’s built by numerous countries. Each country has specific audiences, which have their own needs, advantages, and limitations. For instance, while social media is a popular marketing tool in the United States, it’s a continuous source of contention in China and far from a profitable channel for any business at this time. It’s critical to understand exactly what your brand stands for, what your company offers, and which markets will embrace it.
3. Is the brand universal? Some brands are well-known and easily recognized around the globe, such as BMW, McDonald’s, and Google. However, other brands are not as fortunate, such as Gerber, which translates into “vomit” in French, or Colgate, which translates into “hang yourself" in some Central and South American Spanish dialects. Working with expert translation vendors can source these issues before they become global issues.
4. Has the company’s product or service been localized? Depending on the amount of presence a company is looking to have in a new market, this could include localization of messaging, Web sites, collateral, advertisements, social media, and more. A prime example of the importance of localization is when Pepsi created the“Come Alive with Pepsi” global campaign; however, when translated to Chinese, it meant, “The drink that brings your ancestors back from the dead.” This incident could have easily been avoided.
As any marketer knows, reaching and earning a new customer base is challenging. Businesses are always eager to implement growth strategies, but it’s wise to take the appropriate time needed when entering international markets. The first impression speaks volumes, so value the opportunity and create a solid platform that allows ongoing communication and ongoing growth.