Like it or not, you’re now a technology company.
Probably not the lead you were expecting for an article on global communications, right? But the omnipresence of all things digital and social means that every business, regardless of product or service offering, is a technology company. That means customers expect to be able to connect to your brand—any time, any place. As a result, the traditional lines of geography and culture are often blurred.
What does that mean for communications pros? Well, for those looking to expand worldwide, it means the need for coordinated global strategies is higher than ever. One size does not fit all when it comes to multinational campaigns, and with customers already engaging your brand on the digital front, it’s important that your local efforts supplement—not combat—this always-on presence.
With that said, here are four tips to help ensure your communications resonate across all markets:
Don’t Start Before You’re Ready. Companies often start multinational communications before they’re fully prepared. It might sound obvious, but you can’t cut and paste campaigns from one country to another. No matter how smart your global strategy is, you need to meet three requirements before starting any regional campaign: local customers; local, native spokespeople; and native-language content.
Coordinate Your Strategy on a Global Level. This point can’t be overstated. Domestically, you’re probably already focused on integrating your online and offline efforts, but by expanding internationally, you’ve introduced a whole new set of campaigns and channels that need to be woven into your existing communications mix.
Choose the Right Insiders. When it comes to international communications, companies often run into one of two scenarios: too much red tape (most common when working with a big multinational agency), or poor accountability (often found when your domestic firm’s global capabilities turn out to be no more than a referral network).
Centralize Your Reporting. Successful campaigns require the ability to analyze, refine and adjust campaigns in as close to real time as possible—a problem often magnified when operating on a global scale.
If you meet these criteria, start by researching the key factors specific to each market, including: consumer behavior; linguistics; cultural differences; technology trends; and market maturity. Don’t overlook the small stuff, either, and pay special attention to language. For example, in the U.S., a mobile device is often referred to as a cell phone, but try that same term in Asia and your marketing might fall flat—the preferred term there is mobile phone or hand phone. It’s a small detail, but one that could ultimately make or break your campaign.
To be consistent, consider creating a task force of sorts: a small, dedicated team of trusted, experienced global communications practitioners who can take the lead in developing singular, cohesive strategies. This team can also serve as execution champions for your global communications goals and provide needed support and advice to local teams, without being hindered by day-to-day minutiae.
That’s why it’s important to take your time in selecting overseas partners. Local insight is an irreplaceable asset in global communications, whether it’s instinctively knowing which media and influencers to target, what channels to devote extra time/resources to, or what creative idea is most likely to resonate with local audiences. This type of on-the-ground expertise is what causes marketing to break through, so look for partners with proven relationships, experience and execution.
Most importantly, configure your reporting solution to quickly deliver only the key metrics needed to make optimization decisions, rather than trying to wade through every piece of data available. Also, be sure your reporting tool can integrate all the languages, currencies and country-specific data relevant to your campaigns—it’ll save you time and ensure you’re making accurate comparisons.
Global communications doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The challenges—campaign coordination, multiple partners, variations in languages, cultures and customer behavior—are great, but combining coordinated global strategies with local expertise provides a roadmap for each new market. And in a digital economy that brings your customers closer than ever before, a consistent brand presence is a necessity that can’t be overlooked.
Sabrina Horn is president and CEO of Horn Group, an award-winning digital communications firm and co-founder of the Oriella PR Network, an alliance of 16 top communications agencies in 23 countries. Sabrina is also a charter member of Oriella’s Global Strategy Council.