May 17 2011
The phrase, think global, act local has permeated the thinking of global leaders, but how do we dig deeper? We all know local talent is the best way forward, but what about organisations operating on a global scale with little budget available to setup overseas operations? This article will attempt to look at some methods of achieving excellent results in local markets on a shoe string budget.
Consultants / Translators
One cost-effective method to gain the input of local talent without the overheads of running regional offices is to employ consultants and translators.
Consultants can bring specific market information, advise on business rules and regulations, suggest market entry techniques, highlight potential partners and provide demographic profiling – among many other uses. Finding a good consultant from a far may be difficult, so look for established networks with a local presence.
Translators will help you talk to your target audience. It is likely you already have a wealth of information, content and articles in your native language that has never been read in your target market. Employ translators to give your already-developed content a new life cycle and bring quality information to new readers abroad. Best results can be achieved by setting a fixed number of articles per month on a flat fee, and by training the translator on industry keywords (unless it is far too complicated, in which case seek an industry insider).
Market Research and Product Positioning
In Globality, Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything, the authors discuss customizing products to local markets through specific market knowledge. However, this does not have to entail an expensive product development process and entirely new services. Instead, look to modify current offerings to match consumer behaviour and knowledge gained from market research - sometimes simply positioning/marketing your product in a customized way is a stride in the right direction.
An excellent example provided in the book mentioned above is that by looking at cultural attachment to cement as a house building tool to provide family heritage in rural Mexico, a cement organization adapted their brand to appeal to the consumer market and created smaller quantity bags. Directly appealing to consumer emotion and facilitating sales on a smaller scale, resulted in a huge increase in revenue with little increase in overheads.
Pricing and Payment
You must speak to each market in their own language, in their own currency and priced according to local conditions.
The first step is to find payment providers who can handle multiple global currencies. Paypal is a great example of an organization that is constantly striving to add currencies to their already impressive profile. Accepting local currencies will enhance consumers’ view of your service as locally as well as internationally relevant.
Next consider payment methods. There are huge differences between markets in payment methods, from the western countries being credit card dominated, to card limit restrictions in China and the preference of Indian consumers to have a variety of options (Cheque, money order etc..). You must also consider lump sum versus installments. In Brazil, almost everything is offered in installments, with price being displayed everywhere as 12x $35, rather than the full price.
Matching currencies and payment methods to market tendencies will increase uptake by offering forms and methods comfortable to the consumer.
On a higher strategic level, how should your price points differ between markets? Look at competing services and economy wealth. If you target market is global CEO’s price points may not change dramatically due to salary levels, but then you must consider, are they used to paying for your product or service? If it is an entirely new product to the market or they are used to getting what you provide for free/cheaper, then expect to significantly shift pricing or be experts in marketing and PR.
PR firms not only hold key press contacts, but they also work as consultants, advising on how to tailor your message to their specified market. PR professionals are extremely connected to their market and knows what sells. They spend their time working out what journalists and your target audience want to hear. Therefore, mine them for as much information as possible and incorporate findings into your ongoing PR and even general business strategy.
If your budget is small, work with a firm once and try to retain all contacts for your own press list after any interactions with journalists. In each meeting take notes, and enquire about local press interest – what news does best here? How can we tailor our message?
Overall, you must create a plan for regular mentions in top publications, to have a real impact in the PR sphere. People won’t automatically trust your brand after one mention, but by the fourth or fifth, they will start to take notice.
Internet marketing is the most effective way to reach global audiences, but each campaign requires customization and at least basic understanding of regional languages (if you do not have this, employ a consultant).
- Regional webpage. Create 3-5 pages of content that are specific to the region and language you are targeting, with local market information matched with more general info available on your native language site.
- Blog / Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Create a blog or an article section on your regional microsite and continue to add content in the local language. Adapt already made content in your native language and have it translated. For English speakers, many users from other nations will also be interacting online in your native language – target these users as well by creating regionally focused articles in English.
- PPC Advertising. Create a foreign language campaign in google. Work with a local on creating the copy and generating a base of target keywords. Take these keywords and use google’s keyword tool to generate related search terms used by your target audience. These keywords can also be then incorporated into your SEO mentioned above.
- Social Networks. As above, many users from around the world will be interacting in English and social networks provide a great platform to capture these users. However, take this a step further by joining regional, language specific groups and posting your regional content and discussions here. A consultant or native speaker will likely be required.
When looking to enter a new region, the tried and tested formula is to find a local partner to bring you into the market, with you being able to offer a global connection in return. Deeper partnerships are offering formed between organizations of a relatively large scale, and lead to regional offices (requiring high budgets). Again this is the best way to enter a new market, but for those with little budget, a full scale partnership is rarely an option.
Instead partnerships become smaller, marketing orientated relationships. Allocate resources to using partners networks to reach potential customers, whether you provide a revenue share or have cash ready to pay for exposure, this is often a great way to reach a targeted audience through a locally trusted brand. To be successful make sure the their audience is relevant to your service, and as highlighted above, consultants or native executives are the best source for highlighting potential partners.
Remember, when looking to make deeper local connections be aware that every region or nation is a series of markets under one label. Consumer behaviour and language will differ between states, cities and ethnic groups etc. While you may not be able to target too closely due to time and monetary restraints, being as specific as possible will allow you to mould your service closer to the consumers needs and explain clearer how they will benefit.
This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).
BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.