Going Global: Six tips for marketing your business on the international stage

Marketers are increasingly looking to the global landscape to open new revenue streams, expand access to talent, diversify, and gain exposure to global investments for the businesses they support. In fact, the latest World Bank data states a whopping 58 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) is related to foreign trade. And while global commerce used to be about major multinational companies trading goods, e-commerce and digital globalization have broadened that reach to encompass developing countries and billions of individuals, making today’s global market available to small companies and startups.


All this expansion opens the door for exciting new growth opportunities for marketers to tap into. However, moving into new global markets can present challenges as well. Marketing tools you’ve used for years may not work internationally, and language, culture, legal and regulatory differences in foreign markets may mean you need to take a completely new approach to your campaign.


To minimize those challenges and maximize your success, planning is key. Keep reading for six tips you can use to frame your marketing plans for implementation on a global scale.


  1. Understand how your audience shops. The ways in which consumers connect with products and services on their path from awareness to purchase to delivery can differ greatly from country-to-country or region-to-region. Does paid television work in the market your targeting? How prevalent are mobile or online purchases? What about home shopping? For example, shoppers in Italy, Israel, Peru, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Vietnam and Spain are especially interested in buying products promoted in-store, while Filipinos, Greek and Vietnamese shoppers are attracted to products with free gifts. Understanding the unique shopping habits and points of attraction in your target market will greatly inform your campaign strategy and creative.


  1. Diligently scope pricing, costs and regulations. From a customer viewpoint, price dominates purchase criteria all over the world. However, from a business perspective there are many factors to determining pricing and the costs associated with delivering your product to the global marketplace. There are taxes and import duties to consider, fulfillment and shipping costs, and regulatory bodies along the way. For example, Brazil has a very high import duty of 60 percent, which means imported goods are extremely costly to consumers. This creates a competitive disadvantage for a U.S.-based supplier from a pricing perspective, meaning your product must have a high perceived “premium” value to justify the additional cost. Make sure to research end-to-end costs and regulations, taking note that many countries have different regulatory organizations depending on your product area, to ensure you’ve accounted for any potential impacts to your product delivery and campaign planning.


  1. Keep mobile in your campaign. Global retail e-commerce sales are expected to rise 23.2 percent in 2017 to $2.29 trillion, according to eMarketer. And while you may buy a movie ticket, restock your Starbucks account, or order something from Amazon via your mobile phone, mobile shopping is often even more ubiquitous in other countries. Mobile commerce is expected to account for more than 70 percent of ecommerce sales in China and India, and 59 percent in South Korea, according to that eMarketer report. Make sure your creative is mobile-ready so you don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with your target customers.


  1. Pre-place your products and understand local fulfillment. Remember, you want your products available for processing or pick up the moment a customer makes a purchase! Pre-place your products before you launch your campaign so customers aren’t waiting weeks or months for delivery, and take into account the expectations local customers may have. For example, a recent survey showed that 79 percent of South African residents are willing to pay for same-day delivery, so an e-commerce business serving customers in that country needs to be prepared for a very responsive delivery system. It’s also important to keep in mind that shipping and labelling are often heavily regulated country-to-country, and offences can trigger fines or delays.


  1. Be on the alert for knock-offs. Unfortunately, counterfeit versions of products are common in some international markets, and the more desirable or trendy the product, the greater the possibility of counterfeits being created. Do your best to combat this problem ahead of time through unique branding and messaging, putting copyrights and patents in place when possible, and making regular adjustments to your product to distinguish it from knock-off versions.


  1. Track and use your metrics. Data, metrics and analytics are vital for advertising campaigns in the United States, and the same is true internationally. Cost per visit, cost per call and cost per order are important regardless of the region or country your customers are in. Track metrics and use that data to impact your messaging and media spend. Just remember, metrics can vary even within a country when you consider factors like multiple time zones, so look at the full picture provided by the metrics you’re tracking to ensure you’re customizing your campaign in the right ways.


With proper research, planning and customization, your foray into the global market can be a huge success in expanding your business footprint and growing your share of the market.

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