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International marketing: does technology mean anyone can do it?

It is more possible than ever for businesses to market their goods or services overseas, thanks in great part to the increasing ease and affordability of having your own website, and the prolific use of social media.

No longer does a business need sales and marketing teams on the ground in every country to carry out a marketing campaign; with a few clicks of a button it is possible to reach millions of potential customers worldwide via email, social media and online advertising. However, could all of this technology perhaps make us think it’s so simple that we forget the importance of local knowledge in international marketing?

The key difference between global and international marketing is that whilst global marketing campaigns promote the same message worldwide, international marketing acknowledges the need for tailored activities per country. But how important is it to tailor campaigns, and to what extent should they be tailored, potentially at the expense of keeping a consistent brand experience across markets?

Every marketer would want their brand to look and sound its best in every country; however, sometimes its best doesn’t mean the same, no matter how catchy or slick. A great slogan or strapline in English – especially one using a play on words or alliteration – simply may not work once translated or translocated to another market. Ultimately, in the vast majority of cases, sales count for more than a uniform appearance.

So how and who should make the call on tailoring local marketing activities? Local marketing teams. Despite the fact that you could in theory carry out your international online marketing campaign from your HQ, it is people on the ground who have an innate understanding of the customer, people who are customers in that country in their own right. Analytics tools can give you statistics into any customer base around the world, but you need specialist knowledge of that local market to be able to truly convert those statistics into valuable insights.

It can be difficult to get local marketing teams to collaborate with HQ and vice versa, and that’s where all of this wonderful technology comes into its own: video calls instead of emails, and corporate social media networks instead of coffee machine chats are just a few ways to help to build friendships and understanding.

To sum up, technology is a fantastic enabler for international marketing, but successful international marketing ultimately relies on marketers with 1) the local expertise to truly understand their market, 2) the willingness to collaborate with HQ, and 3) an HQ that will listen to them.

Use IFB2016 to find those people who can help you achieve your international goals, including UKTI and international marketers, and find out more about marketing technology.

About the author:

Marghaid Howie is a Chartered Marketer and Global Multi-Channel Content Manager at Glaxo Smith Kline.

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