US-based marketing advisory firm Consilium Global Business Advisors published a White Paper on marketing overseas in January 2012 which contains useful advice for American firms seeking to improve their sales abroad.
Consilium specializes in advising on export in the US and its founder Ed Marsch was presented with the US President’s “E” Award for Export Service at a ceremony in Washington, DC by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in May 2016.
The White Paper, entitled “Four Immutable Laws of International Marketing & Localization” contains some precious basic principles for US firms seeking to invest in marketing overseas. Europages is glad to offer the basic tenets we found useful.
It says “Marketing localization is a unique and daunting challenge” but warns too “often some modest allocation is earmarked for “translation” services and occasionally an international marketing manager is hired.”
Legal liability and property protection
It starts by warning to ensure your activity is properly registered and legally protected and compliant : “before launching any international forays you must first ensure that you have taken reasonable steps to protect all aspects of your corporate identity/brand. Trademarks, Service marks, local URLs, etc. should be researched, reserved and registered”. Remember for example that “many markets strictly prohibit direct mention or comparison between competitors in marketing communications.” Differences with the American market may apply to the use of email, fax and SMS delivery methods, which vary from market to market.
Use your domestic marketing, but adapt it
The White Paper recommends that you plan to work from what is already developed for your domestic market, but adapt it based on research and in-country time on the ground; visiting stores, end-users, etc.; dialog with local channel partners and assistance from US Government Commercial Service representatives.
Ultimately, fine-tuning will enable you to “uncover the unintentional cultural errors and to incorporate effective messaging, imagery and design” which is the essence of successful marketing localization.
Language, medium and style
“Proper translation (not necessarily grammatically perfect, but perhaps specific to dialect and local colloquialism) is a baseline requirement” the report suggests. “It must be competently done and reviewed by your local channel partner or another capable, culturally attuned native speaker.” Alongside this careful attention to language, it recommends determining which is the locally appropriate media – email, sms, tv, newspaper etc – and adopting the appropriate tone and style, for which your local partner with be essential again.
American-specific words of caution – “don’t do it yourself”
The American firm addresses some specific words of caution to their nationals : “Americans and their business practices are not always viewed positively. And yet, the very subtle indicators which identify us as foreigners in our target markets, also impact perception of our products – and in ways which we are dangerously ignorant about.”
It concludes that although building a successful overseas marketing campaign may sound complex – “a properly localized campaign is a tapestry of numerous commercial, social and cultural factors” — the main thing is straightforward : “be responsible and be effective”.
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