The world is getting smaller. While globalization and digital communication offer enormous opportunities for business, they also present a strategic conundrum. How should a business approach going global and connect with new markets?
Technology helps businesses and brands connect with their customers and marketplaces. When done correctly it can help give a firm a better understanding of its client base than ever before. But done badly, it can result in a damaged reputation, stunted growth and a failure to connect with customers.
Embarking on an international journey means not losing your business principles.It’s best to base your strategy on becoming part of a new marketplace, not dictating to it. This will have an impact on your approach and marketing activities.
Here are five top tips for any business aiming its sights on pastures new and planning an international expansion.
Know your market
The ethos and principles of business do not change when you expand to a new marketplace. Instead they become more defined. Rarely would a business embark on a new project without first beginning research: identifying a need, identifying where there is a need, understanding their customer and how they would interact. Expanding internationally should begin with the same strategic approach.
Market and cultural research will help a business to further understand their target location. It will help a business to understand the target consumer better, to understand their needs and wants and their interaction with brands. Understanding the local market means there will be a slightly different approach in each location. This is a good thing, rather than a bad; it means business will be able to alter itself to fit with the needs of the market, working with consumers rather than dictating to them. This fosters better trust and loyalty.
Local is the new global
The aim of the research is to understand the local community better. Consumers behave differently around the world and any business needs to understand they need to fit in with this behavior, rather than try to change what their would-be customers are doing already. Whether it be language, custom, even social media and online activity, thinking locally is a vital step towards brand loyalty.
Creating localized content
Online is by far the easiest medium to grow internationally. Removing the need for a huge outlay, hiring vast numbers of staff and investing in expensive office space, it makes growth simpler. Thinking local and producing localized content will make connecting with consumers on the ground more effective. The Common Sense Advisory says 85% of consumers won’t buy if they can’t access information in their own language. Translation as well as understanding cultural behavior will be an important technique for helping new customers understand your product and what you offer.
Recruit local talent
In terms of language and conveying your message, local staff will help do much of the job for you. Why train existing staff members to do something people on the ground already have the skills and abilities to do? A native speaking copywriter will understand local nuances and usage of language. They can also feed into social media and search engine habits. It helps make the job much easier and gives a comprehension of where the consumer is coming from, it also gives the right message. There is investment in the local community, through hiring staff, paying for advertising and providing a new service. A company investing in the local community will be trusted by its new customers quicker than one that doesn’t.
Investing locally does not simply mean hiring local staff on the ground. Local promotion will help connect with consumers and tell them about your business and direct them to your product. Social media will be an important element, so understanding what networks are used in the target market, be it Yandex in Russia or Badoo in Latin America the aim is to connect, and on a personal level.
Advertising is equally important. Google Adwords and Adsense might be understood by most businesses with an online arm, but Google is not the only search engine used the world over. Baidu, used by over four fifths of the China population has its own advertising programs for foreign business, which includes using a Chinese interface and Chinese payment.
The advantages of using this approach will be felt directly by your business when you expand into a new market. International growth is about opening new doors to sell your product in new places, but it is as much about fitting in with the new marketplace rather than bringing your old practices and implementing them. This approach helps instil brand loyalty, providing a mutual understanding of both brand and customer. It provides a more sustainable approach, investing locally in local talent as well as media to help promote your business. The planning and preparation might take a little longer, but the benefit should be felt on your bottom line.
About the author
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a top translation agency in the USA. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.