Post: The Complete Guide to Growing Your Business Internationally. Part 5: Marketing

The Complete Guide to Growing Your Business Internationally. Part 5: Marketing

Well done! You’ve made it to Part 5 of our Complete Guide to Growing Your Business Internationally. In this section we’ll finally get to the bit many people are most interested in – Marketing.

How to cover the 100s of different marketing tactics available? We decide to answer one of the most common concerns “How do I get a good result for what I spend on marketing?” Follow these steps to success…

marketing budget

Determine your Objectives

The number one reason most marketing efforts fail is because they approach marketing from the wrong direction – selecting a marketing channel first. There are lots of different types of marketing you could do; a TV advertising campaign, Social Media, some sort of high-profile ‘stunt’ but ultimately you have to get clear about what result you want to achieve.

Consider, for example, that it’s possible to put a lot of time and effort into growing a Facebook community of 40K ‘Likes’ to then discover they never buy a thing from you. So how do you decide what is important?

The classic stages of marketing, and marketing objectives, relate to the sales funnel:

1)      Awareness/Acquisition: Where potential customers become aware of the brand/product/services. This could be via word-of-mouth, seeing an advertisement, reading an article, or any numbers of ways.

2)      Consideration: Where potential customers, having become aware of the brand/product/services, consider a purchase. This could be visiting your corporate website or ecommerce store to find out more information, setting up a sales meeting, or reading online reviews.

3)      Purchase: They buy from you (marketing’s role is minimal here)

4)      Post-Sale: Even after the sale, marketing needs to help keep the customer happy; maintaining customer subscription or getting them to purchase again and again (Customer Loyalty) and/or try and get the customer to recommend your products and services and refer other customers (Customer Advocacy)

When it comes to growth, and launching in new markets, most organisations are interested in one or both of the following Objectives

–          Creating Brand Awareness (Awareness/Acquisition stage)

–          Driving Sales or Leads (Acquisition/Consideration stages)

You must:

–          Think about what is the end result that you want to achieve

–          Consider what would need to happen for the customer to get to that end result – what is the buying journey? What will they need to take the action/s you wish them to take?

–          Be clear on what success looks like and how you would measure that

Define Ownership & Responsibilities

For the purposes of this article we are assuming that, regardless of whether you are using agents or intermediaries, you have taken on the responsibility for marketing within the region you want to expand in to.

But should the marketing strategy be led globally or locally? Some responsibilities naturally fall into areas of ownership:

–          Global: The responsibilities best held at the global level are branding and brand guidelines, marketing strategy and budgeting (although local marketing will want to manage their own budgets). Global will also lead on large-scale marketing campaigns, and digital strategy; working in partnership with local marketing resources for input and execution.

–          Local: At the local level is campaign execution, in particular more tactical work – such as PR or managing Social Media profiles – and establishing local partnerships and events.

A note on Localisation

Remember the cultural blunders we mentioned in our original article? The Pepsi campaign that translated “Come Alive With The Pepsi Generation” into Chinese as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From The Grave” and the GM Nova launching to the Spanish speaking marketing where “no va” means “It Doesn’t Go”.


Cultural differences go beyond translation. For example imagery that is deemed ‘a bit sexy’ in one market can be deeply inappropriate in another market with different cultural, social, and religious beliefs. In addition what customers believe and want to buy can be very different – for example many Facebook users around the world were upset by a skin whitening app – in some markets these types of products are acceptable and popular, but in other markets where skin whitening products are not the norm, the campaign was seen as offensive and customers threatened to boycott other products made by the brand.

You need to rely on local knowledge to guide you through the small, subtle changes required to make a campaign look/sound/feel like its local. Also, understand that in today’s digital world marketing campaigns are often seen outside of the local market they were intended for.

Know your customer – and how they buy

We keep saying it and we’ll say it again – Research, Research, Research! How your customers buy here, what media they consume, what influences their buying decisions, and even who is the decision maker – will probably change from market to market.

You’ll need to create a customer profile/s that is truly representative of your customer in your new local market.

It’s so important this is part of your planning and you don’t adopt a channel led strategy e.g. selecting online display advertisements – simply because they seem easy to execute – without understanding how these perform in your chosen market. For example in emerging markets mobile marketing has really good reach – often through simple SMS. And also ‘trust’ in various channels varies, even just between the US & EU social media is perceived quite differently – there is a 22% difference in trust for professionally written online reviews and email marketing varies by 7 percentage points.[1]


If you start-off with the above considerations you’ll be well on your way to being able to develop an effective strategic marketing plan to support growing your business internationally. Time spent on these three areas: Marketing Objectives, Knowing your Customer, and Global vs. Local responsibilities will inform how you move forward:

–          Planning your marketing

–          Determining and hiring marketing resource

–          Which media/tactics should you select

–          How to create the marketing most likely to deliver the results that you want

–          How to measure success and show ROI

We can also recommend these great books if you want to learn more about marketing overall:

–          The 22 immutable laws of marketing

–          The new rules of marketing and PR

–          Influence: The psychology of persuasion

Read part 4 of Growing Your Business Internationally.

John Doe
John Doe

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Hi, jenny Loral
Hi, jenny Loral

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