So, all your hard work and smarts have paid off. You’ve conquered your home market, and now the world beckons. You’re ready to grow your company’s global footprint – open new offices, serve new customers, and of course reel in more revenues. To ensure success, you’re cognizant of the instrumental role marketing and public relations play in building global brand awareness which inevitably precedes sales.
Whether you’re an international company looking to boost your profile in the US, or a US-based business aiming to expand globally, the way you handle your international marketing and PR is going to mean the difference between making it or breaking it. So, let’s get it right. Here are five considerations for planning your global communications strategy:
1. Localize, Localize, Localize!
Expanding – to Asia, Europe, South America? Or expanding from there to the US? Remember each country has its cultural norms and way of doing business. Effective communication starts with awareness of how business is practiced in each country. Understanding economic, political, and social backgrounds will strengthen your communications with co-workers and local media contacts. Adapt your content, SEO, and PR strategies according to each market based on their needs and the channels they interact with. For example, if you're doing business in China, marketing via WeChat is a must. It's the largest social media platform in the country, with 1.25 billion monthly active users.
2. Your Brand Positioning
You may be a big fish in your country, but in the international marketplace, you’re likely a tiny morsel. Create a cultural profile for each country you’re aiming to inhabit. Identify the most reputable news sources and their audiences and pick one or two messages to center around. Repeat these messages over and over again. Frequency, focus, and consistency are key to making your brand familiar to foreign audiences. But remember, brand consistency is vital. Whether it's a social media post, a brochure, or an ad, you want your audiences to recognize who you are no matter where you are. Coca-Cola, Apple, and Airbnb are great examples of companies doing global branding right. Maintain a brand style guide that outlines the colors, fonts, logos, and other guidelines that maintain brand consistency across regions and languages.
3. Know the Laws and Codes
The US has rules that companies must comply with when advertising in any media — and the same goes for other regions. Get to know regional laws around advertising, influencer marketing, ESG and sustainability claims, prize promotion, etc. Besides promotion, companies may have to adhere to rules regarding sales tactics, data protection, and products, such as product packaging and labeling regulations. Doing your research beforehand and having local expertise is paramount when entering a new market. While hosting events, gift-giving, and organizing press junkets are part of the PR toolkit, be aware that each country's policies are different.
4. Speak the Language, Know the Culture
The success of any international PR campaign relies on an appreciation of the intended market's culture, language, and nuances. If your translation translates poorly, it will fall on deaf ears — or worse, cost you $$$$. KFC bit off more than it could chew in the late 1980s when it expanded into China. The company failed to realize that their well-known slogan, ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’, translated to ‘eat your fingers off‘ in their target audience’s native tongue. Ouch.
5. Remember: Media are Not all the Same
What works media-wise in one country does not necessarily work in another. While press conferences are an effective PR tool in Asia, they are frowned upon elsewhere unless you're Apple. You also need to understand what’s considered newsworthy, as what’s relevant in China may be of no interest to the US media. It’s important to take local specific journalists’ preferences into account.
There’s a lot to think about. But an experienced marketing/PR agency such as SKC can support you every step of the way. We can help you establish where you fit in the market and how to communicate with foreign audiences and media. And we understand how to position your brand and make it stand out from the rest. For a complimentary consultation, our team at SKC is happy to chat!