If you’re online, then you’re already global. But you can’t rely on your home market content to grow your brand. Strategic global digital marketing, then, is your power play.
We’re all about helping our clients with their digital marketing. As part of this focus, we are interviewing global digital marketing experts to unearth trends and insights into the practice. We had the chance to talk with Pam Didner whose consulting business is centered around creating global marketing strategies and refining marketing processes.She spoke to us about how global and local teams should collaborate closely, what to do with user-generated content, and how to measure global campaigns.
Jim: How different is a global marketing plan from a regional marketing plan?
Pam: Why don’t we define what global is first? Global doesn’t mean that you have to market to 128 countries all at once, and global doesn’t mean that you have to please everybody. I have identified six parts to a global marketing effort.
To develop a global marketing plan, first you need to define your communication and collaboration process between your headquarters and your local teams. This also has to do with ownership, who owns what.
Next, you need to nail down your marketing objectives, your marketing strategies, and your key tactics for executing on that strategy per region.
You may need to create additional buyer personas for your target market. The buyers in a new market will be different than the buyers in your home market.
And then you need to choose the priority countries. Nobody has the budget to market to every single country. Look at where the economic growth is, and focus on those regions first.
Look at your content. Some content is more important to localize than others, and you can make that determination at the planning stage.
And lastly, you need to determine what languages you want to focus on based on what’s spoken in your target countries. For example, if one of your priority countries is Canada, you need to know there are two official languages there: French and also English.
Jim: User-generated content (UGC) is becoming a part of every brand. How should a marketer approach the challenge of UGC in various languages?
Pam: There are lots of factors as to whether or not you can or should use it in the first place. First, you have to take corporate policy into account. The legal team will ask you whether you need to get permission from the user to use it. Then, the marketing team might say that the user-generated content does not align with your corporate brand, so you can’t use it. And your social media team will probably say ‘this is great’ and want to charge forward quickly. There is a lot to sort out between various stakeholders before you can use it.
Sometimes, just to make things a whole lot easier, some companies decide to not use it. But that’s a shame.
If your company doesn’t have a lot of budget to generate original content themselves, then using user-generated content makes a lot of sense.
Overall, user-generated content is a great way to complement the content that’s created by brands internally, and also to add additional validation to your products and your services. But be cautious of what you share and how to share it, and have a process in place to monitor it.
Jim: Companies with very strong brands want to maintain their brands across markets. How do you keep the core essence of your brand but also adapt it for the new market?
Pam: I would start with the product. For example, McDonald’s customizes their menu for different countries. In India, for example, they have the McVeggie. If the product is customized at a local level, then a lot of the content that you generate needs to be customized for the local market as well.
If you are marketing to different audiences in different countries, and the products are very different from country to country, then very likely one standard creative concept cannot apply to all your markets. In this case, campaign customization is necessary.
On the other hand, if the product is very standard, the iPhone for example, or Intel’s microprocessors, then the company can focus on creative that is more standardized.
Another example: Coca-Cola is the same everywhere. They can come up with centralized creative that applies locally—it’s possible because the product is standard. The emotional connection, how they tell the stories and what connects people, is very similar around the globe; everybody cares about bettering themselves, being productive, taking care of their family, financial stability, and being happy.
Jim: In your book, you talk about the importance of measurement. When you’re designing measurement for your global program, do you need to measure different things?
Pam: Yes. There is a global level of metrics and there should also be a local level.
For example, if the global team is measured on how many pieces of content created at headquarters are adapted at a local level, you want to make sure whatever you create is being used at that local level.
At the local level, metrics should tie in directly or indirectly with sales. Each country needs to have its own revenue goal. To summarize, the metrics at the local level will be different; it depends on each locale's marketing tactics, and also on their marketing campaigns’ effort.
Tools—like for social listening and monitoring—need to be scaled and implemented across multiple countries and everybody needs to use them. I’ll note that this doesn’t tie in directly with sales, but rather with efficiency and productivity.
Jim: What trends are you seeing within global digital marketing teams?
Pam: Marketing and sales now overlap like never before. For example, the marketing and sales teams both use email marketing and social media: the marketing team uses social media to reach out to their customers or express brand love, and the sales team also uses social media to reach out to their existing accounts and prospects.
Also, the tools that are being used between sales and marketing are very similar.
I don’t see sales and marketing as two separate functions anymore.
Jim: Thank you, Pam, for your insights into global digital marketing!
This is our second interview in our Global Digital Marketing interview series. Read the first with Professor Dan Baack here. He discusses personalization, AI, and how to maintain your brand essence when going global.