Geographical boundaries are no longer as imposing as they used to be. In today’s highly interconnected world, they’re almost non-existent. Thanks to more lenient trade regulations, it’s now more feasible than ever to scale your business and aim for global expansion, no matter where you’re based.
That isn’t to say this is an effortless endeavor; you can’t simply rely on your domestic marketing strategy and make some adjustments if your goal is to charm a global audience. You’ll have to create a specific marketing plan for each target by studying the respective local languages, demographics, and culture. These will all inform the best way to present and deploy your product or service in these areas.
In this guide, we’ll show you what you need to build a global marketing strategy that can be adapted to different regions. To make things easier, we’ll also cover a few examples of companies that did it right.
What is a global marketing strategy?
A global marketing strategy streamlines your company’s brand vision to present to your target markets. This will serve as the basis for determining the right angle to promote your brand in foreign markets, so your social media, events, brand messages, and even PR will all play a pivotal role here. From this consolidated plan, you’ll create a specific strategy that caters to a particular local market.
Many businesses use one of the four main international business strategies to begin expanding globally:
- International: Where a company has an overarching marketing plan, so they don’t have any intention of changing the way they sell their products internationally. This includes lowering the prices or adapting the product to local circumstances.
- Multi-domestic: Here, the company focuses its local marketing strategy on ensuring its product conforms to the local standards and regulations in each of its target markets. It emphasizes appealing to local tastes while maintaining prices.
- Global: In this strategy, the company is chiefly concerned with decreasing costs while improving efficiency in promoting their products, ignoring responsiveness to local preferences. The main priority is to keep costs low and build economies of scale by providing the same products or services in each market.
- Transnational: This type of global marketing strategy strikes a balance between a multi-domestic strategy and a global strategy. It equally weighs the need to attain lower costs and increase efficiency while adapting to local tastes within each market, requiring the creation and input of local marketing teams.
Global marketing strategies aren’t drastically different from traditional ones. Regardless, for yours to succeed, you’ll need to mold your marketing initiatives, brand message, and brand strategy according to your target region or country’s culture and way of life.
What are the benefits of having a global marketing strategy?
Entering new markets is always a challenge for a marketing department. Still, it’s worth the effort: having a global marketing strategy will help propel your brand into your different countries, making it easier to tick a few boxes in your marketing objectives. Here are a few of its advantages:
Better brand awareness
Having a clear global marketing campaign allows your organization to reach and establish your brand name in foreign markets that would otherwise not be accessible.
You won’t have to spend as much on advertising your business since your customers, no matter where they are, can easily look for you online. You can also modify your product offering and marketing messages easily, paving the way for faster market entry.
Higher product quality
Expanding into new markets gives you the knowledge necessary to refine your product according to the preferences of your customers in each market. You’ll end up with an improved product that resonates much more with your target audience.
Knowing how to pivot quickly to market trends or customer demands gives you an edge over local competitors, especially if they don’t have their own international marketing strategy. You’ll also have insight from your plans in other markets, which can come in handy when fine-tuning your strategies and cementing your business as a global brand.
How to create a global marketing strategy
There are a few things you need to do before you get the ball rolling on your global marketing strategy.
Going global means thoroughly understanding the attitudes, preferences, and contexts of your target markets. By diving into the behaviors of these audiences, you’ll figure out the messaging, channels, and tone of voice that would most resonate with them. With these insights, you’ll avoid expensive mistakes and get your initiatives off the ground more smoothly.
For example, different markets often have radically different preferences. Take a look at Starbucks’ attempt to expand to Australia, which is a good example of what not to do with your global expansion strategy. Down Under is known for its love of coffee and its serious coffee culture. On paper, this target market may have seemed like a significant business opportunity for Starbucks, but they failed to do thorough research. They completely overlooked the psyche of the Australian consumer behavior, which favored the flavor of local independent coffee shops.
People found the coffee chain to be overpriced, lacking in quality, and offered drinks that were too sweet for the Aussies—evidently, Starbucks did not adapt their drinks to the local market. In 2008, Starbucks was forced to close down around 70% of its stores.
Understanding local market pain points
What frustrates one customer in the US might not affect a customer in Canada. Understanding these regional pain points and incorporating them into your strategy is key.
Another important factor to consider is that companies treat entering international markets very vaguely. For example, they often make broad statements such as “expanding to Asia,” forgetting the sheer size of the continent and the numerous, vastly different cultures found within its borders. It’s problematic to generalize a region, and marketing teams will have to treat each market segment carefully when creating their plans.
Create a marketing plan
Though it depends on the strategy you choose, building a global brand typically doesn’t involve pushing the same marketing initiatives from your home market to multiple international audiences. After analyzing the market landscape, adapt the insights gained into your global strategy. Ensure that it accounts for your target market’s needs while remaining consistent with your marketing efforts in your home country as well.
Localize your marketing approach
Creating a personalized experience is vital to the success of your marketing strategy. You must tailor your brand message to factor in your respective market’s local culture, preferred languages, and the prevalent marketing practices.
What works in one country might not work in another, so your ads and media assets must be aligned with your target audience’s core values. Study the locale’s holidays, events, and even pop culture references, which may come in handy when coming up with marketing material.
However, localizing your product or service isn’t a hard and fast rule—sometimes, it can actually backfire. Make sure to conduct thorough research to determine if you’ll need to adapt your marketing plan or if it could work with a few tweaks.
Challenges of a global marketing strategy
To ensure you have an airtight global marketing strategy, you’ll also need to assess the potential roadblocks you may encounter. Preparing for as many possible scenarios will solidify your marketing efforts.
Adapting to your target audience
Tailoring your strategy to fit the conventions and preferences of a new geographical target will be one of your biggest hurdles. Sometimes, localizing your marketing campaign means overhauling it into your new markets, but you’ll also have to keep this consistent with your overall brand message. It’s equally crucial to adjust your pricing scale according to what’s standard in the region – after all, you’ll want to avoid Starbucks’ costly pricing mistake in Australia.
Every country also has its own laws, and your marketing strategy in each location must adhere to them. For example, the European Union follows GDPR, a set of privacy and data protection regulations, whereas South Africa follows its own POPI equivalent.
Naturally, compliance to these laws is vital to make sure your marketing campaign even gets off the ground. When conducting business in other countries, conforming to other types of laws, like human rights obligations, is also a must. You wouldn’t want to spoil your entry into a new market on the heels of allegations of human rights violations. You can find a country break down of different laws here.
The role of language and website localization
Getting your language right is arguably one of the most important parts of expanding your brand, as it ensures that your target audience comprehends your message and intent. If they don’t understand you, then your marketing efforts won’t yield any sort of useful results.
Nailing the precision of your translations is an essential part of successfully entering a new market. For example, when KFC expanded to China, it retained its famous tagline, “finger-lickin’ good.” However, they eventually found out that when translated to Chinese, it read as “eat your fingers off.” A classic example of no localization.
And so your localization strategy goes hand in hand with your global marketing plan, ensuring the successful implementation of your brand. Localization doesn’t just involve translating your website; it also means adapting your content to your target market, accounting for language nuances, idioms, and imagery. In short, the goal is to make your local audience feel like it was especially made for them.
For ecommerce websites, keeping an eye on critical aspects like localizing your checkout will encourage your customers to continue and finish their purchasing journey. To do this, you’ll need to use the right website translation tool. Weglot, for instance, detects, translates, and displays 100% of the content of your website instantly and solves a notoriously complex part of doing international business: language.
Global marketing strategy examples
As part of their global strategy, Domino’s updates the toppings available on their pizzas according to what each local audience prefers.
The other parts of their pizza, such as the sauce, bread, and cheese, are usually kept consistent because it works everywhere. The offered toppings are their main selling point: for example, in India, they make sure there are a lot of vegetarian options as 40% of the country’s population is vegetarian.
McDonald’s is a great example because they keep their branding consistent while offering items that account for local tastes. They routinely offer country exclusives; for example, in the Middle East, they have the McArabia; in South Korea, they have the Bulgogi Burger; and in the Philippines, they have the Cheesy Eggdasal, all of which are not sold anywhere else.
Their highly localized options allows them to service each market thoroughly while retaining other parts of their products, just like Domino’s. The result is a brand that is consistent and uniform across the board, while keeping costs low.
Unlike its other competitors, Burger King keeps their menu small and uniform in their international markets to maintain its quality across the board. With fewer offerings, the company can keep a stricter eye on each of the products’ signature traits and uphold rigorous preparation guidelines. Since Burger King already enjoys a robust brand image buoyed by its witty advertising and affordable prices, it doesn’t need to localize to the extent that other businesses have.
Airbnb deployed a different strategy to build its brand awareness in international markets. Beyond housing, they provided value to their customers by instilling a feeling of “being part of a community.”
The company also maximized their social media presence by asking its users to do random acts of hospitality for strangers, taking a photograph or video with them, then sharing it on different social media platforms.
This campaign was a resounding success, with more than 3 million people talking about or participating in it globally.
Jimmy Fairly is an independent French eyewear brand that manufactures and sells its collection at a lower price than its competitors. They do this by going directly to the customers, cutting out the middleman, offering instant savings to its target audience.
Given their burgeoning presence in foreign markets–19% of their sales came from abroad–the company decided to go global and properly serve their international audience by translating their website.
Jimmy Fairly used Weglot to make its website multilingual. A mix of machine translation and human editing meant they could keep costs down while launching products in new markets faster than with a traditional translation method. By doing so, they increased their international turnover 10 times and saw a 70% increase in website visits.
How Weglot can help with global marketing strategy
Within this guide, we’ve given an overview of how working on a global marketing strategy can ultimately strengthen your business and brand when looking to enter new markets.
Creating a successful global marketing strategy will give you the structure needed to adapt an effective marketing campaign across borders.
One of the simplest ways to reach foreign markets is to make your website available in various languages. When the vast majority of your target audience can understand what you’re trying to say, you’ve already made it through half the battle.
If you’re ready to expand to new markets, try Weglot for free today.