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Pursuing an international level of business can be intimidating. How do you get started with taking your business global? What does international marketing entail, and are you ready for it?
Why is international marketing important?
The first opportunity is simple: More customer opportunities mean more business. Increasing your business borders beyond domestic marketing allows your company to exploit new and different markets. This increases your customer base, which is critical for growth in sales.
Because domestic marketing revolves around one market, your business also relies on that market. Increasing your marketing territories allows for risk diversification because you are marketing in multiple markets simultaneously.
Increasing your borders also comes with new resources. International marketing can give companies access to new resources, such as raw materials, labor and technology. This can help companies improve their production processes and reduce costs.
This push for international engagement also emphasizes innovation within a company. Because of the different levels of competition, this teaches companies how to operate at these different levels and adapt to certain market situations compared to others.
What are the benefits of international marketing?
There are many reasons to go international in your marketing ventures, the two primary motivators being more extensive reach and revenue diversification.
Expand your reach worldwide
International marketing provides you with an advantage over other domestic companies. It allows you to bring your product to a part of the world that needs it or wants it more than your home market.
This provides you with a more significant amount of customers to attract. It enables you to target customers from different countries, backgrounds and cultures.
Diversification of revenue streams
Internation marketing also enables a business to rely on multiple streams of revenue. Because international markets do not rely solely on one another, you can succeed in one country while having a dip in revenue in another while overall having a profit gain because you had both revenue streams coming in.
This access to new markets also provides expansion of product lines because different have different needs that your company can learn to cater to.
By diversifying their revenue streams, international marketing can also help companies forget about the worry of currency fluctuations affecting profit in their entire market.
Related: Why Diversifying Business Revenue Streams Is Crucial To Your Success
How to plan an international marketing campaign
So how can you get started? The task can be daunting, but taking it one step at a time can build a solid marketing strategy for your international interactions.
1. Market research
Identifying and segmenting your target market in international marketing is critical to ensure that your marketing efforts focus on the most promising opportunities. After conducting market research, sorting the massive amounts of data you collect can be intimidating. Fortunately, there are several ways to streamline and simplify this process.
Look for commonalities between potential customers in different regions. This could include shared values, interests or purchasing habits. These commonalities can help you segment your target market and create more targeted marketing campaigns.
You can also look at your competition. Your competitors’ failure and success can help identify regions you should target or avoid. This can indicate where the best opportunities for your product or service lie.
Related: The Best Ways to Do Market Research for Your Business Plan
2. Create your marketing plan
Thanks to technology and the evolution of communication, there are more ways to get your product out there. Specific methods are most effective in certain situations, such as short campaigns to appeal to the younger generation or a more detailed approach for the older.
Adapting your messaging in international marketing to suit the cultural nuances of each market is essential for success in global markets. Be sure to maintain a consistent message that resonates with your target. This can be a super powerful practice to develop in the marketing world.
The easiest way to connect with your audience is to remain culturally sensitive. Still, be careful with the imagery and language you use to grab your audience’s attention.
Your tone can significantly impact how your targets interpret your message and product, so always keep that in mind.
3. Localize your brand method
This method refers to adapting to your surroundings: Not only remaining culturally sensitive but looking for ways to make your product or service appealing based on your surroundings, whether adapting language, imagery or advertising strategies.
These adaptations should aim to resonate with the local market. You don’t want your customer to be able to tell that you are a foreign producer based on your marketing alone.
Adopting a localized approach to branding and marketing can help you build stronger relationships with customers and improve their competitiveness in different markets.
It can also help you avoid cultural missteps and ensure their marketing messages are relevant and practical.
Related: Keep It Local: The Importance Of Localizing Your Franchise Approach
4. Implement, test and improve
Improvements will always need to be made in any endeavor, especially in a venture of this scale. Test your marketing campaigns in different regions and analyze the results. You can then use this feedback to refine your strategy and improve your marketing campaigns.
What is the best marketing channel for your global campaign?
When discussing methods of marketing, many come to mind. While there is no perfect method, there are benefits that specific methods provide over others.
Below are summaries and guides to using the different tools provided in the marketing world. The best part is you aren’t limited to one method.
Because of the nearly worldwide accessibility, social media is a significant first step to consider when marketing internationally. It can be super cost-effective because it is almost always less expensive or even free compared to traditional marketing methods.
This can allow even the smallest businesses to market internationally, allowing them to compete with the largest companies.
Social media also provides an avenue for targeted advertising and improvements using data analytics. Social media platforms allow marketers to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests and behavior.
This helps ensure the marketing message reaches the right people, and you get the most out of your marketing efforts.
However, some downsides might make this method ineffective for your international marketing needs. Because of its popularity, this also means that it will be a very crowded space to advertise in, making it difficult to stand out and reach your audience.
It can also be time-consuming to create exciting advertisements to generate clicks. This also comes into effect with the constantly changing algorithms.
Because social media is constantly updating its algorithms, it’s hard to maintain an effective and consistent marketing strategy. This is another reason social media might not work for you.
Related: How Social Media Helps Define Brands as a Marketing Platform, Make the Most of It
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another option to market your brand internationally. It is a digital marketing technique designed to direct traffic to a particular website.
SEO optimizes a website’s content to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) using specific keywords or phrases.
Once again, this method of marketing has both upsides and downsides. SEO does significantly improve your visibility in any search engine. It makes your website stand out, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
SEO can also be cost-effective compared to other digital marketing. Additionally, it increases the organic traffic to a website, which can increase the return on the investment (ROI) compared to paid advertising.
It also has its downsides. SEO has a significant weakness when it comes to language barriers. This can render your SEO marketing ineffective in countries with language barriers.
Additionally, when it comes to international marketing, businesses may face significant competition from local companies in global markets, making ranking well on search engine results pages challenging.
There are also technical barriers to consider. You will find differences in regulations and algorithms across borders, even technologically. Technical issues can also affect the effectiveness of SEO strategies for international markets.
Related: What Is SEO and How Can it Improve Online Success?
Not to be confused with SEO, paid-per-click (PPC) advertising is usually implemented through a search engine. Because search engines are a mode of research across nearly every subject, they also can be effective in international marketing. Search engine advertising is an effective method to use these search engines for your campaign.
In PPC advertising, the ad is placed on a SERP in the hopes that, after a click, it will lead to a subscription, order or other interaction. To implement a PPC advertising campaign, a business owner must choose a platform to advertise on.
Fortunately, there are many popular and reliable resources, like Google or Bing ads. The business can then create ads and choose keywords relevant to its target audience.
When someone searches for those keywords, their ad may appear on the SERP. Businesses can adjust pricing on how much they want to prioritize their ads in certain spots on a webpage, and these services deliver with consistent accuracy.
If you want to optimize your P-P-C campaign, here are a couple of standard steps:
- Utilize the most relevant and cost-effective keywords.
- Write a compelling advertisement.
- Take advantage of the targeting options within your program to target your preferred audience.
- Always be watching for areas of improvement in your ad campaign
While maybe a more prehistoric tool, email advertising can be an effective way for international marketing when used strategically. Emails can have targeted messaging and segment their lists by geography, language or other categorization methods.
Companies also use personalized emails to contact their customers, effectively creating a sense of connection. You can do this with the customer’s name, past purchases or other data types, like birthdays.
While it can appeal to a wide variety of people, segmented emails can still be ineffective to different groups of people because of their generalization.
Ensure this tool is adequate for your target before launching a more extensive campaign. You can accomplish this with analytics or smaller test runs of a campaign.
Traditional marketing channels
While you should be open and ready to utilize the newest technology is important, sometimes the oldest methods are the most effective.
Some older methods still used and effective today are blog posts, events and mail newsletters. While minimizing the reach and inclusion of multiple regions internationally, all of these methods can still be very effective for a specific group.
Related: 8 Powerful Ways to Market Your Business on a Limited Budget
What are some examples of successful global marketing?
So the practice has been discussed, but what are a few examples of the most well-known names in international marketing?
Coca-Cola is a great company when referencing an excellent example of global marketing. Because of how well-known it is, people often remember the lessons taught through the principles and practices executed during its marketing.
This industry-dominating company demonstrated a fundamental characteristic throughout its marketing efforts: consistency.
For over a century, Coca-Cola has maintained a consistent brand image and messaging worldwide. This consistency has established the brand as a global icon and created a sense of familiarity and trust among consumers.
Another trait that is consistent across all successful institutions is innovation. Coca-Cola demonstrated its capacity to innovate throughout the years by simply staying relevant and open to new ideas. They tried different ideas like the 2011 “Share a Coke” campaign, initially launched in Australia but rolled out globally because of its success.
Related: One Thing Coca-Cola, Geico and Under Armour Are Doing That Every Company Should Do Today
Starbucks is also a prime example of international marketing at its finest. While it demonstrates several of the same characteristics as Coca-Cola, like consistency and innovation, it also uses its unique brand and personality to have individual habits that make it familiar to the customer.
Starbucks stands above its competition by focusing on providing a consistent and high-quality customer experience across its stores worldwide.
The welcoming ambiance of a coffee shop and free wifi are just two staples of this common theme anybody will find in a Starbucks, which also creates a sense of familiarity in a different way than Coca-Cola does.
Starbucks also localized all of its stores to appeal to the respective markets. In China, you’ll often find more tea-based drinks and food items that cater more to that area of customers.
This is just one example, but Starbucks has learned what each culture appreciates and caters to that to make their customer feel more welcome in the appropriate setting.
Related: What Starbucks Teaches About Marketing Commodity Products
Uber is another of many great examples to use when thinking about successful global marketing strategies. Once again, it demonstrates traits like localized marketing, quality customer service and consistency; it also brings an appealing marketing strategy that makes it unique in its industry.
One trait that Uber uses to its advantage is its innovative business model. Their business model of connecting riders with drivers through a mobile app disrupts traditional taxi services.
This has allowed Uber to quickly expand its services to new markets worldwide while offering consumers a more convenient and cost-effective service.
It also emphasizes comfort for the customer. Their tagline, “Wherever you’re going, we’ll get you there,” the simple and recognizable logo and their focus on quality customer service are just one more way they try to differentiate themselves globally; they do this with great success.
These examples across these companies show that there are ways to learn from successful companies and that you’ll often find consistency in ideas across companies.
The difference is the implementation of these ideas — how each company uses its respective market to rise above competitors.
Related: How Apple and Uber Create Messages That Don’t Feel Phony-Baloney
How can you get started with international marketing?
Measuring the success of your international marketing efforts is crucial to ensure that you are achieving your business goals and maximizing your return on investment. Here are a couple of steps to framework your measure of success:
- Set specific, measurable and achievable goals to determine what success looks like in your market.
- Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you track your progress toward those goals.
- Analyze your data to identify trends, patterns and areas for improvement.
- Adjust your international marketing strategy to optimize your performance and achieve your goals.
Related: Measure the Success of a Marketing Campaign Through the Product and the Brand
Don’t be afraid to seek advice and make mistakes, but be ready to learn from those mistakes. Push yourself to not only know your audience statistically but on a more intimate, even if on a larger group level.
Understanding the motivations and fears of your audience can directly help you deliver the best product to them and give you the most success in your business endeavors.
Check out Entrepreneur’s other articles for more information about international marketing and other financial topics.