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A guide to international marketing

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I’ve been fortunate to live overseas and manage marketing campaigns in different countries. As a marketer, this presents a whole set of different challenges and achievements including managing campaigns in a number of languages as well as English, including French, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Malayalam and Chinese. 


 


When you’re reaching out to an international customer-base, it’s important to remember that one shoe does NOT fit all!  Your marketing needs to be tailored accordingly, without losing your brand identity and brand values. 


 


Here’s a brief guide to what needs to be considered: 


 


Language


 


First of all you need to ensure that your company and/or brand name does not have an offensive meaning in another language. This may be obvious but even large car manufacturer have fallen foul of this one! 


 


Secondly, if the countries you are targeting do not use the same as English, then you need to get an appropriate logo created. You should consider an phonetic option, a transliteration rather than a straight translation. I’ve seen some amusing Arabic adaptions in my time, especially when ‘Ps’ and ‘Vs’ are involved. Ideally, you would want your target market to pronounce your company/brand name as near to as the way you say it as possible. 


 


Culture 


 


This is not the same as religion. Let’s take the Middle East. I lived here for 17 years and can tell you that the culture is very different between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan or Egypt, even though they are all predominantly Islamic countries and speak Arabic. Include Iran into the mix and you’re in a total different ballgame!


 


Whilst this may form part of their culture, when you’re reaching out to a new customer base, it’s important to understand their heritage, motivation and surroundings, as well as behavioural habits, which are all good insight into a culture, which can you use to your benefit in your marketing communication. 


 


Religion


 


Everyone is sensitive about this subject matter. Suffice to say, be respectful at all times. Learn as much as you can to ensure you’re not being offensive. An example of not factoring this in, would be Pirelli’s campaign that used the footballer Ronaldo, from Brazil, as their brand ambassador in the pose of the famous statue, 'Christ the Redeemer’. You can imagine how this would have been received across the Middle East. 


 


Psychology 


 


Without getting a degree in psychology, it’s important to understand that not all cultures have the same decision making process as the UK. It’s considered that our process is quite lateral, whilst other nationalities take a different approach, like juggling balls. Therefore, when you’re communicating key messages to reach out to emotional and rational decision making factors, they may not be the same as the UK. In fact, many burgeoning markets are early adopters and fast followers, a lot more than in the UK, so this may be an advantage. However, they may also be more fickle and quick to switch brands. 


 


 


Time Zones


 


This may be more to do with practical trading rather than marketing, but let me tell you, no-one in the Middle East wants a call on a Friday morning, equally no-one in the States wants to hear from you on a Monday morning GMT/BST time. Managing your campaign across time zones can be a challenge, especially if pricing is different and you’re using a digital marketing strategy, so plan accordingly. 


 


Technology


 


Mobile usage is mainly the biggest consideration here. For example in the UK desktop vs mobile is 51.89% to 36.4% respectively, with tablets being 11.71%.* What is interesting is a comparison to established more traditional markets which are still using desktop, whilst evolving markets and use mobile more. Here are some statistics: 


 



  • In the USA, the statistics show usage as desktop 50.48%, mobile 41.07%, tablet 8.45%.

 



  • Across Asia the statistics indicate mobile 65.97%, desktop 31.73%, tablet 2.3%.

 



  • In India specifically it’s mobile 77.79%, desktop 21.52%, tablet 0.7%.

 



  • In Africa, mobile 66.43%; desktop 30.92%, tablet 2.65%

 



  • South America shows totally different usage desktop 60.68%, mobile 37.66%, tablet 1.66%. 

 


What this means is that if you don’t already have a responsive website, you will not be listed on Google search results a mobile or tablet device, which may have or have not a serious impact depending on your target market. As a professional, I would recommend a responsive website. because mobile usage is increasing all the time. 


 


*Source: Stat Counter Global Stats September 2017. 


 


 


Creative


 


To create marketing and advertising, PR and events, ensure you consider all of the above for your concept, headline, visual language and copy. Consider testing the creative with focus groups to see if it is effective and communicates your brand values. Does this appeal to them? Would they buy it? Bear in mind, the environment and the deployment of the creative and how they will engage with your brand. 


 


 


Written by Emma Bowman, Client Services Director, Bare Bones Marketing.


Email: emmabowman@bbmarketing.co.uk


 


 

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