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Digital marketing is really hard. Marketers in every organization have to worry about messaging, cadence, audience selection, and a host of other concerns before even hitting “publish.” As we’ve learned in the past 12 months, they also have to be attuned to crises and current events and develop their agility in an ever-changing digital landscape.
The bad news is that marketing isn’t getting any easier. As organizations grow into internationally recognized brands, these challenges compound. Marketers now have to deal with them in more regions, on more channels, and in more languages. This creates issues of consistency: creating a consistent voice across all these different variables is a challenge. This is a widespread struggle: according to an EIGHTYDOTS report, 75% of international brands don’t have a consistent brand message or digital presence across all their markets.
So, how can your brand scale its marketing efforts without sacrificing efficiency or consistency? How can you make sure your marketing efforts resonate with your audience, not just in your region, but around the world? These strategies will get you started.
Building a global brand should entail creating a global marketing team. One key to a strong, consistent brand is to avoid silos between divisions. Of course, the global marketing team will have many different divisions, each of which serves a different (though important) purpose. But the constant collaboration and communication that a global team offers is invaluable. It can even lead to deeper insights when different divisions share data and ideas with one another.
Of course, fostering collaboration is easier said than done, especially with a traditional marketing model. In such a setup, central teams at the headquarters focus on strategic, brand-related objectives, which local subsidiaries then try to connect with local insights to create business impact. This setup can create severe limits. In fact, CMO Council reports that nearly two-thirds of marketers rated themselves as below satisfactory regarding their capacity to adapt global marketing strategies across their local markets.
This is one reason brands should adopt a service-focused collaboration model. Unlike the traditional top-down approach, wherein a central team sets overarching policies, a service-focused model sees headquarters as supporting local marketing teams in their own efforts. Here, the global team’s job is to tailor their support to the local teams’ particular needs — and one key part is that the global team need not all sit in the same place. Rather, each local branch might have one (or more) global representatives who gather information and make sure it’s shared with other local teams.
This decentralized approach increases agility in local marketing efforts, mitigates the inefficiencies inherent in large bureaucracies, and creates confidence that teams can deploy marketing campaigns effectively. And best of all, if the central team does their job the right way, this approach can foster the collaboration that’s so important in breaking down silos.
83% of marketers within a global organisation find it challenging to regulate consistent use of their brand on a global basis and only 14.8% say that their brand gets used in the correct way across their teams.
Marketers sometimes think of governance as comprising two distinct categories: legal and brand. Legal governance, of course, means marketing materials adhere to any applicable laws or regulations; this is crucial especially in heavily regulated industries like pharmaceuticals or financial services. Brand governance involves adhering to a consistent voice and tone — essentially making sure everything the marketing team puts out is “on brand” so that it resonates correctly with audiences.
Still, regardless of which type of governance you’re practicing, the process remains the same — especially on a global scale: you need a clear set of guidelines and a plan to make sure you stick to them. This is the responsibility of the global team — the same team we talked about in the last section. Even though they’re not making all the decisions (remember the service-based approach), they must create guidelines and support local teams with effective implementation.
But what does that support look like?
The first step is a solid understanding of where the biggest challenges are likely to occur — both geographically and in the guidelines themselves. If the regional marketing team in North America lacks expertise or capacities in design, they’ll need more support. If teams have challenges in creating content that adheres to visually brand guidelines, it's important to focus efforts there.
The bottom line, however, is that these teams need the right tools to effectively collaborate on adhering to guidelines. General Motors, for example, uses the Khoros platform to align their social media efforts with their brand identity, successfully incorporating 800 users in seven international regions across nine brands. GM is now positioned to create a first-class social media experience for its customers across all global brands.
One major issue that global marketing teams face is the gap between actual and potential engagement — in other words, many brands aren’t living up to their full potential. According to an EIGHTYDOTS report, this issue occurs in nearly every industry:
There are, of course, many ways to boost customer engagement. Online communities are excellent for this, as is improving social media practices. But even investing in solutions and strategies like these won’t help if the content you publish doesn’t resonate with your audience. In today’s busy environment, content has to stand out in order to get noticed and drive engagement — and to do this, it needs to be personal to the reader. This means anticipating needs and showing specifically how your brand can fulfill them. Without this, your strategy will fall flat.
So, how can you personalize your marketing content to appeal to audiences? This is another area where collaboration between global and local teams is crucial. The global team can help by setting consistent standards and management processes; the local team supports by knowing what the buyers in their market want and need from their products. This collaborative process takes into account each market’s individual requirements in culture, past performance, business goals, budgets, and competences (to name only a few), in addition to the objectives of the headquarters. It also helps the global team track crucial differences between regions or countries and share those insights with local teams, improving their ability to anticipate needs. Even small things like tone of voice can make a huge difference, and this process helps keep that knowledge out of silos and put it into marketers’ hands.
Here we’ve covered just three ways for international enterprise brands to improve and scale their marketing efforts. But there are other strategies, too. If you’re interested in taking your brand’s global marketing to the next level, read the whitepaper we wrote in partnership with EIGHTYDOTS, Transforming Marketing for International Brands. There, you’ll find more detail about the service-based approach, as well as examples, and best practices that will help you align your global marketing efforts and deliver better results for your brand.
Khoros is a global leader in digital-first customer engagement software and services. We build enterprise software and offer expert services for digital customer service, messaging, chat, online brand communities, and social media management — differentiated by award-winning services with 20+ years of experience.
Over 2,000 brands use Khoros to power approximately 500 million daily digital interactions and create customers for life. Khoros has over 10 industry awards from TrustRadius, Stevie Awards, G2, and more. Khoros, built from Spredfast and Lithium, has nine offices globally, and Vista Equity Partners is its lead investor. For more information, visit khoros.com.
EIGHTYDOTS GmbH is a Munich-based international digital marketing agency. We help brands create business impact day by day, by transforming their digital marketing with an approach that connects the competences and resources of central and local marketing teams more effectively — all with lower budgets.
As trusted advisors for our clients, we know how difficult it is to transform a great marketing strategy from a headquarter or regional department into effective action on market level. Within our first few years we have already built up long-term relationships with brands of all sizes and created digital marketing strategies that have been implemented successfully in more than 50 countries worldwide. For more information, visit eightydots.de.