Global marketing : global marketing strategy

Global marketing strategy Globalization

It can be a very challenging process for any organization. It can also take some companies by surprise as they outgrow their initial local plans. This brings cultural, language, process and many other challenges. With the growth of digital, almost all businesses have an international presence through the internet even if their target audience is very localized and so some aspect of global strategy should be included in almost every digital strategy – even if that aspect is to ensure that global presence is minimized. Culture There are many cultural differences around the world, too many to count, and the relevant ones must be understood when building a global strategy. This can range from religious beliefs to manners and it is impossible to know what we don’t know – so doing your research is important here. For example, did you know that Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight? That the colour red is lucky in China? That Suriname’s land is 91 per cent jungle whereas there are virtually no trees left in Haiti?

These facts can affect your copy, conversations, brand and many other factors. From a digital perspective there are several cultural considerations. You should look at whether each region you are targeting responds well to buying online and, if not, whether your strategy should focus on thought leadership, brand awareness and directing people to your offline conversion channels. Understanding the penetration of smartphones and tablets alongside mobile coverage will also influence your strategy.

For example, at the time of writing, Google’s Consumer Barometer tells us that Norway has 79 per cent smartphone penetration whilst Japan, perhaps surprisingly, has only 54 per cent (Google, 2015). This could mean that moving to a responsive website is more or less of a priority for your business and you may not require the app that you have budgeted for. You will also need to understand broadband speeds and coverage as this will dictate how fast your website and off-site content will download and, therefore, the design of your assets.

Lifestyle points such as working hours and average commute times will influence your targeting and customer support programmes. Even weather, which is not cultural itself but does influence culture, is an important factor to consider as it will affect the amount of time spent indoors (near computers) and outdoors (on mobile or offline). It is also important to understand that the digital landscape may be very different in territories away from your amount of cash in their wallets as people in France or Australia. This behaviour is of course vitally important to appreciate when developing an e-commerce strategy. Brand Your brand is one of the key parts of your business that you must align with at all times. This is understood by most people and so I am sure there is no need to spend too much time convincing you that this is the case. There are, however, some vital reasons for this that are worth examining. I often talk to people about how considering your company’s brand as a person can be a powerful framework.

The values of your company are like the values that you hold yourself. You may try to be polite to everyone you meet, you may be someone who wants to achieve a lot in life and you may be always looking to learn more and grow your knowledge. These values in a business could be translated as service, sales and innovation and they create the personality of your business. Further, your brand has what non-marketers often consider a brand to be – a visual identity. What is your logo and how does it look in different scenarios? What is your colour palette? How do you design your materials? Again, this could translate into what do you look like, do you keep fit, how do you dress and what are your favourite colours? By combining your values and visual identity you create your personality and look, and therefore your brand. When you assess whether something strays from this brand you get a very easy to understand perspective about whether this feels right or not. Values As we have just discussed, the brand values of your organization are its personality, and having a consistent personality is important to enable consumers to understand you and therefore believe in you. Your digital strategy must therefore stay true to these values and to how they are expressed elsewhere (unless how they are expressed elsewhere is poor and you can drive improvement in those areas).

Visual identity

Your visual identity can be difficult to control and easy to compromise online and so discipline is important. There are many opportunities to stretch your logo or tweak your colour palette to fit in with another website or digital opportunity, and staying true to your guidelines is vital here wherever possible. Compromising your visual identity can create a lack of trust as you can appear less like an organization that is in control. To that point it is key to remember that your guidelines must work for digital. It is certainly less true now than it was 10 years ago, but some guidelines still are not built with digital in mind. An understanding of accessibility rules for colours, challenges around using your logo on other sites such as affiliates, and creation of logos or icons that work in limited spaces, must be built into your guidelines. Your identity may already be in use in newspapers, on television, in direct mail and on stationery. Your consumers will be seeing these in their day-to-day lives and so ensuring consistency with these is vital. digital channels, such as paid search, creates a far more powerful result – and the same is true of your brand. Innovation and pushing the boundaries is important, especially in digital, but not at the expense of a consistent face of your business as this will be detrimental to your organization as a whole. Sitting above all of this, however, is your vision. This is the statement that must embody everything your business is striving to achieve and everything it represents. Your company is likely to have a vision in place and if not you should consider whether it is appropriate for you to review this with your leadership team. This summary of what you stand for can be powerful when talking to investors, shareholders and customers alike. Whatever your com- pany vision, it is important that every strategy within your organization fits within this vision, otherwise you run the risk of delivering something that does not align with the direction of your business.

Culture

The culture of your business will likely be unique. Every business builds its own culture from the day it launches. This culture stems primarily from the decisions and behaviours of the leadership team. It also, in turn, stems from HR policy, office layout, growth plans, recruitment, location and many more factors. This culture has an effect on everything you do as an organization. Your culture may encourage your staff to be hungry for career success and willing to take risks to show they have what it takes to be the next leaders of the business. It may on the other hand simply encourage staff to be careful and try not to cause any issues and risk being fired.

You may have a culture that drives towards growth and therefore a high percentage of sales-focused employees, or you may be comfortable with your market position and therefore have staff who are excellent at service and the softer skills of customer relations. The culture of your organization will have a direct effect on your digital strategy for many reasons but some specific ones should be considered. If your business is a results-focused business then this suits channels such as paid search very well, as it is performance focused and relies on data to accurately track performance. If your culture is not performance focused then you may find that this allows more flexibility for your content strategy but this may frustrate your paid search team.

Research and insight

Research is a driving force behind any strategy and so understanding what your data is telling you is vital to the success of your strategy. You may have a specific research function and separate insight team, both together or neither. Whatever the capabilities within your organization it is important to bring broader research into your digital strategy.it is an interesting piece of digital research that clearly demonstrates that the percentage of consumers buying online is, in most countries, far beyond the percentage of businesses selling online. Understanding this data for your specific market will allow you to understand where the gaps are for your business to exploit. The data you gain from your activity will inform future plans and tactics and even the shape of your strategy.

This data, however, has one main restriction that takes two forms. This restriction is simply that it can never tell you what it doesn’t know. That may sound obvious but when we look at the two forms we can begin to understand why the broader picture is vital. First, your data cannot tell you what has not happened yet. But how can you build a strategy without understanding what is going to happen? By gaining insights into your customers’ and consumers’ behaviours, under- standing what motivates them and how they respond to other materials, you will be able to gain an advantage that will set your strategy on a positive path from day one. Second, your data is digital and so is not tracking anything outside of your digital marketing. You may be able to use search volumes to give an indication of the success of a television advert but you cannot see directly what people thought about your creative.

You may be able to see a peak in response rates when you send an e-mail about a specific product but you cannot see whether people think your competitors’ products are better. By using both qualitative and quantitative research from across the organization you can understand buying patterns, interests, competitive analysis, creative feedback, customer behaviours, primary areas of dissatisfaction and many other data sets that would otherwise be unavailable to you at the start of your strategy or even when it is very mature.

KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an essential method of measuring the success of your campaign. We will look specifically The reason for taking a quick look at this now is to ensure that, when building your reporting and dashboards for your campaign, you align the measures of success with those of the business. We have discussed that there are different business models with different objectives, visions and cultures. These will ultimately dictate what the business KPIs are – and if you are going to ensure that your strategy is accepted by your decision makersand is perceived to be a success then you will need to be shown to be delivering what the company needs to deliver. As well as this consideration you will also need to be agile enough to align with any changes to the company’s KPIs that you may not be expecting.

It is entirely possible, and in fact quite common, for a business to change its primary goal, for example, from acquiring a large volume of customers to maximizing profit. This could be due to market conditions, shareholder demands or activity by the competition, amongst many other factors.

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