Navigating the challenges of marketing an international business3 July 2020
It’s not easy being responsible for the marketing and communications of an international business. The more offices you have and the more countries you service, the more complex the nature of marketing and communications becomes.
This is partly to do with the issues of communicating across borders, but also simply the practical challenge of creating consistent and coherent communications from different offices.
Do you recognise your company’s situation here, from our hit list of potential challenges:
1. Language that doesn’t translate well into other languages
2. Marketing teams are geographically split up, so their focus is on local needs
3. Offices working in silos, resulting in duplicated communications
4. Inconsistency of messaging, leading to confusion
5. A lack of cross-selling
6. Not being thought of as an International business, even if you are one.
The consequences of not addressing these issues is a failure to present the face and voice of an international business.
However, there are effective and simple ways to bring about order and structure.
The best way to think about this is your approach to branding itself. If you were rebranding your business, you would start at the beginning and look at defining who you are, what you’re about and what you’re like. So the first thing to note is that there is order to things that will help create clarity. At the same time, what this is really about is making sure that your marketing teams are working together and have the same mindset.
The best starting point is to come together, whether it is to review your international communications or to define your international offer and key messages. It’s important to involve the whole marketing team in the process. Why? To build consensus and ownership. Everyone must feel invested and build the same level of understanding. There is power in having a team who pull together. Building strong personal links between the international comms teams right from the start creates an organic bond rather than imposed.
This is the first step in solving the issue of marketing teams in far off countries working in silos. Preventing this automatically leads to avoiding duplication of materials. Clearly this should not be allowed to happen for a number of reasons, not least cost. But it also resolves inconsistent messaging, which is very bad for building a strong brand. Teams must adopt a mindset around being ‘international’ and let that lead their thinking.
So having reviewed your existing communications mix and having decided on an appropriate set of offers and messages, it’s then important to create a common international voice. This means avoiding local country humour, colloquialism and clever word/plays. This just won’t translate successfully. Better to work with the most common denominators: plain, simple, clear, straight-talking, accessible language. This avoids the pitfalls.
Once the marketing teams have together created an approach to your offer, messages and tone, there is real value in creating a forum for sharing best practice, files and other resources once the teams have dispersed. We can all learn from each other as the brand is applied and developed. Also it’s important to maintain the team spirit built up along the way.
This is helped by providing a structure for reviewing issues and/or successes periodically. This might be a monthly or quarterly video meeting. An annual review is valuable but not regular enough to keep things on track.
You might find it helpful to involve an external agency to help review your communications with an independent perspective. Otherwise you may encounter power struggles from country teams defending their own communications against others.
Please feel free to talk to us about your own situation if you feel it would help you.Read more...