Investing in a global marketing strategy can be a major undertaking, both in terms of actual costs (localization of campaign assets) and productivity costs (employee time), but the return on investment can be exponential when it comes to opportunities for increased revenue and market share. However, getting globalization right is critical, because now more than ever, global marketers are on the frontlines of revenue growth and need to consider the impact on sales their campaigns generate.
By reaching global markets, marketers and sales reps can engage new audiences, nurture more leads, and close more deals. However, marketers can no longer think about globalization as simply translation of materials—that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s time to think of globalization as a business process that can—and should—be optimized, just as companies are optimizing their sales, finance and HR processes to decrease costs and maximize efficiency.
Beware of Pitfalls
When it comes to generating demand and filling your sales pipeline on a global scale, inefficiency is a marketer’s worst enemy—it’s costly, slows the team down, and puts many opportunities to capture global revenue out of reach. When it comes to getting globalization right, what you don’t know can stunt your company’s growth instead of drive the revenue you want. Don’t let the hidden costs of globalization hold you and your company back.
- Sidestep Silos: Are the marketing materials Corporate invests time and money to produce and deliver actually being used by regional teams? If they’re not useful (i.e., relevant for their regions’ target audience), it’s possible regional teams are taking it upon themselves to produce materials that are culturally relevant and localized. This decentralized approach leads to silos and results in wasted time and money. Overcome organizational challenges from the start by bringing together stakeholders from corporate and regional teams to collaborate and determine strategy before content and materials are developed.
- Avoid Translation Trade-offs: Compromising on how much, or when, marketing campaigns and content get localized for key markets hinders potential for growth. The longer it takes to deliver your content to your target markets, the more competing messages your sales force will have to position against, and the longer it will take to capture market share and revenue in those markets. Invest in localized content for all your multichannel campaign assets to reach key target markets concurrently.
- Dodge Inefficiency and Duck the “Time-sucks”: Have you ever tracked your localization spend? Not just the dollars spent paying translation vendors, but have you tracked the productivity costs associated with employees tasked with managing an inefficient localization process? Decreased productivity by marketing teams is a time suck and wastes valuable marketing dollars. Their creative minds and talents are better spent developing marketing campaigns, not tracking the status of localized assets. Moreover, inefficient processes lead to bottlenecks and increase go-to-market times—which means your competitor could be going to market faster and capturing potential revenue before you. Ouch.
- Stop Paying Twice (or More) for Translation: The two largest cost drivers for localization projects are the number of words you need to translate and the amount of time it takes the vendor to finalize the document so it reads properly. You can save money and time with one very valuable asset: Your translation memory. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised; it’s the best-kept secret in the translation business. Translation memory is a database of a company’s previously translated words and phrases. It’s valuable because if you’ve translated something once, you should never have to pay to have it translated again. Typically, translation vendors manage this asset, but how do you know if they’re leveraging it and passing the savings on to you? You may not know—which is why YOU should be the owner of your translation memory database.
- Don’t Dilute Your Brand: If you’re using different terminology or telling different stories in different markets, your message gets diluted, or worse, completely mistranslated. Either way, you can end up giving the wrong impression in some markets and jeopardize your entire global investment. Take advantage of your multilingual assets, including centralized multilingual glossaries, corporate style guides, and of course, your translation memory database, to ensure consistent messaging and a strong brand presence.
Gain Global Rewards
Many companies fail to engage successfully in international markets because their global marketing strategy and localization process haven't been optimized, and their globalization investments get side-swiped by hidden costs along the way. Collaborating among teams, localizing multichannel assets, creating efficiencies in your process, and leveraging all your multilingual assets will get you on your way to getting global right. With the proper strategies in place, you’ll soon realize better ROI, faster time to market and increased market share.
So go ahead and get started, the world is waiting for you — don’t let your competitors get there first!
A version of this article originally appeared in Sales & Marketing Management.