What is Global Marketing?

The Dictionary of Marketing, published by the estimable Oxford University Press, defines global marketing as "Marketing on a worldwide scale reconciling or taking commercial advantage of global operational differences, similarities, and opportunities in order to meet global objectives." Quite a mouthful, I'm sure you'll agree. Put simply; global marketing is the name for both the ethos and the methodology companies use to scale their offering up from their domestic market to a broader international audience. Encapsulated succinctly in a marketing-style phrase; "How to go global."

In this article, we'll explore how you can understand the global marketing opportunities once prohibited and the strategic thinking required to manifest the vision.

Global marketing objectives

Let's start by looking at the four objectives of global marketing strategy. Internalizing these concepts is the first step on the journey to taking your business to once inaccessible places.

  1. Understand target markets. A complicated affair made much more efficient with correctly applied first-step global marketing strategies. The groundwork required to attain an understanding of the different sets of norms and customer behaviors within each target country is nowhere near as exhausting as it used to be.
  2. Develop a coherent marketing plan. The right global marketing plan is fundamental to maximizing message congruency across multiple, global markets. There are some great examples of big brands who've done this well in recent times. More about them later.
  3. Customize marketing to each target market. No matter how well marketing managers harmonize product or service brand-message in multiple markets at once – the need to adapt to the expectations of the local audience will always be a factor worth considering in detail while ensuring message standardization is not lost in translation.
  4. Localize message, products or services in line with local market demands. Viewing this key objective through the cutting-edge Connected Translation paradigm empowers marketing managers to ensure that messaging, and product or service variances are in place from the outset. No one wants a brand-damaging situation caused by lack of market sensitivity, followed by an embarrassing (and even more damaging) product recall to hinder global marketing growth.

Breaking down global marketing objectives into easily digestible thought-bites is the simple part. Evolving understanding of these concepts into a robust global marketing strategy, in conjunction with innovative social media campaigns, is where the rubber truly meets the road.

Accessible global marketing in the Content Economy

Before the advent of the digital era, and the resulting Content Economy, global marketing was an endeavor open exclusively to companies with budgets big enough to foot the eye-watering bill.

In fact, in the pre and proto-digital marketplace, global marketing was so cost-prohibitive only brands with the deepest pockets were able to create global marketing strategies. Back then, just planning a global marketing strategy was a considerable undertaking by itself.

Instant-communication technologies have vastly reduced costs, as well as other barriers to entering promising global markets. Modern marketing managers can now seek out opportunities awaiting in any corner of the world. Faster than ever before.

The immense popularity of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide 21st-century marketing managers with almost everything they need to develop a global marketing strategy, at a tiny fraction of the old-world overheads. Tasks which used to devour enormous chunks of limited budgets are much simpler and cheaper to implement these days. The social media-fueled-online marketplace has freed up precious, finite resources. Allowing global marketing savvy companies to more effectively:

  • Perform all-important market research – Once one of the most time and cash consuming aspects of planning global marketing strategies. Global marketing research projects used to consist of establishing a physical presence – or at least spending a lot of time and money in every target country. Imagine needing to survey and request feedback from your target demographics or ideal customers in person. Across ten or twenty markets. All at once. If you were reading this in the days before the genesis of content economy, I'm sure you'd be thinking, "let's outsource that" – and you could have done so – provided you had quite a bit of budget leeway.
  • Promote products or services – The process of producing, translating, proofing, and editing tangible or digital global marketing assets in the modern era has streamlined in recent years. Correctly selecting and utilizing the best tools available is a piece of cake compared to the manual labor methods of the past.
  • Drive universal demand – Products and services with universal demand mean they are needs, rather than wants — necessities, like food or car insurance. However, creating something akin to universal demand is now an achievable goal for many businesses in the content economy. An expanding universe for your products and services offers expanding opportunities.

The age of accessible global marketing offers a responsive approach to figuring out which domestic marketing techniques are to be carried forward to your newly identified target countries. Just think about how much time and money you'll save armed with the best global marketing tools and mindset available.

Sturdy, well implemented global marketing strategies are given a shot in the arm by the massive social media user uptake over the last few years.

How should we delineate the basic fundamentals of planning new global marketing efforts?

How to develop global marketing strategies

There's plenty to consider when planning global marketing strategies. Just think about the amount of time, and effort domestic market-launches take. Now imagine the extra steps involved when tackling an unfamiliar market with a totally different set of norms and values that need to be understood from the get-go.

After all, what may have worked well in your domestic marketing campaign might be irrelevant or even downright disastrous when applied to markets in other parts of the world.

Although it may appear daunting at first, there are simple, practical steps that will help you see a clearer path ahead to enter lucrative global markets successfully.

Marketing mix: The four Ps

One of the most important global marketing meme's to consider is the marketing mix. The marketing mix is comprised of four product or service concepts. When each of the four elements are addressed in turn, within the context of the target market in question, a different, precise picture will emerge for each international market you wish to target.

The marketing mix is often colloquially referred to as "The four Ps" of global marketing. Remember, each one is to be thought of in light of the local market conditions in each target country individually.

What we're looking for is a crystal clear vision of the target market in question as a whole. Which will emerge only once each crucial element and the potential necessary changes are taken into account.

For the sake of expediency, let's assume you've only ever been active in your domestic market until now. The next major milestone on your business' global brand journey is to add a new target country to your operational portfolio.

Below, are some of the first, most vital questions you should be asking about your marketing plan, product or service to help you zone in on what needs adapting, what should continue to work well across borders, and what needs to be rethought, or jettisoned entirely, when entering a new international market.

Product – Ultimately, should the product or service itself remain the same in the new market? What changes, if any, are required to align the tangible aspects of the offering with local market expectations? Is there anything about your product, which may confuse or concern a local market customer?

Price – Should the price of your product or service remain the same in the new target country? What are the economic factors at play which will affect your rates in the new market? Are there any additional logistical costs to bear? What does the local competitor landscape look like? When the market-to-market differences in these facets are correctly identified, necessary price-point amendments will emerge.

The final two considerations relate to brand messaging. Crucial to maintaining a strong voice in multi-jurisdictional global marketing strategies.

Placement – What differences exist in how your ideal customer makes purchasing decisions in the target market? What local nuances change how individuals relate to, and select, brands in their domestic market?

Promotion – Will your message reach across cultural divides without losing potency? What are the cultural or linguistic peculiarities relevant in the new target market in comparison to your domestic market ideal customer profile? Brand messaging will almost certainly require tweaking (or potentially completely overhauling) for each target market campaign.

Performing this vital primary step in the marketing plan will identify precisely which pieces of the marketing puzzle, product or service features must be localized to be successful in that market. Each time you apply the four P's of the marketing mix, you move forward positively on your journey towards global brand status.

Now we've covered some practical steps to assist in preparing a global marketing strategy; let's look at the benefits of global marketing.

What benefits can I expect from a global marketing strategy?

As well as the added value already explored and improved positioning multi-market access provides, a few other improvements will arise from a solid global marketing plan. Below are six major advantages global marketing efforts offer to today's aspiring global marketing managers:

  1. Enhanced product development. Preparing your products or services for new markets will shed light on potential problems previously unnoticed in your domestic market. Opening your product or service up to the wider-world will force you to consider every aspect of your offering from the native perspective.
  2. Competitive edge. There will always be those ready to explore new territory and those crippled by inertia. Position your business in the former category – you'll leave the competitors unwilling to look outside of their domestic market eating dust.
  3. Reach. Possibly the most obvious benefit of all. These days, thanks to wireless technologies, free internet access available on most street corners. Everyone is connected to some degree. Tapping into this cybernetic network is one of the main drivers to boost international growth.
  4. Brand awareness. More eyes on you. More feedback from more markets in lots of languages. Put your global marketing plan into practice well, and your brand awareness could go through the roof.
  5. Overcoming time-constraints. Traditional marketing methods required days or weeks to create and approve. The modern accessibility of global marketing techniques slashes the once constrictive time-frames dramatically.
  6. Reduced costs. Increased savings. Take advantage of powerful economies of scale. Simultaneous activity in multiple global markets will open up unexpected opportunities to cut cost revenue and ultimately, save money and time.

You may be wondering which global brands provide the best examples of global marketing strategy wins? Which trailblazers successfully avoided the pitfalls lurking ahead for those who don't get the basics in place before launching into a new market?

Global marketing success stories

There are some fantastic success stories of global brands, and SMEs, who've got the marketing mix, strategy, and market variances right in regards to how they globally market their wares.

First, let's see how a new global music-tech giant got global marketing right.

Spotify

According to Interbrand in 2018, Spotify is one of the world's best global marketing brands. They've built a community of over 180m users and amassed 83m subscribers across 65 markets. Spotify is also the world's largest driver of revenue to the music business.

It wasn't long ago, Spotify was a small Swedish start-up with big dreams. How did they grow from humble beginnings into one of the global marketplaces' most well-known brands?
By the reckoning of the marketing boffins at Interbrand, they've excelled in three pivotal external brand measurements; relevance, authenticity, and presence.

Driving their users to hear music outside of their usual listening habits has also played a key role in their success. The innovative discovery features introduce listeners to music they may not have heard before.

Of course, they also got their global marketing strategy right from the very beginning. It illustrates perfectly the growth potential which can be unlocked by localizing and adapting to a variety of disparate market conditions simultaneously.

Airbnb

A top global brand worth mentioning is Airbnb. Founded in 2008 in California. Since its inception, Airbnb is now present in 34,000 cities across the world.

Airbnb did an excellent job of localizing content and message. Mainly by empowering users to drive the localization process while retaining strong brand standardization across a vast number of global markets.

Along with a fantastic global marketing strategy, Airbnb knows how to harness the power of social media. In 2015 they launched a campaign with the hashtag #OneLessStranger. At the time, the company referred to this as a "global, social experiment." Airbnb asked their community to record themselves performing a random act of hospitality to strangers, then to share the videos online using the hashtag. Within three short weeks, the campaign had garnered over 3m engagement actions.

It goes to show, global marketing strategy, in conjunction with a smart social media campaign, can be the catalyst to elevate businesses to dizzying heights.

It's not only global brands who've unlocked international growth opportunities by implementing the power of global marketing strategies. Marvelous examples of local market SMEs also exist.

Unger & Kowitt

You may not have heard of Unger & Kowitt. They're a Florida based road traffic law firm. Not sounding very global so far, is it? Well, what Unger & Kowitt did better than anyone else in their niche is realize that global audiences often lay hidden in what may appear as a single, homogenous local region.

U&K developed their website, and even specific marketing efforts in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole. Having their finger on the pulse of their local market opened up global opportunities. Not least to the tune of the 3.5m Floridians who speak one of the three aforementioned non-English languages as their mother-tongue.

A bright outlook for global marketers

Hopefully, by now, you're feeling excited at the prospect ahead. You're thinking clearly about potential moves you can make to get the global marketing ball rolling. Ready to rise to the global marketing challenge.

As we've seen, the opportunity to earn a place amongst the global marketing powerhouses is now a realistic possibility for anyone willing to do the work necessary.

Even SMEs have joined the party – earning a mention alongside the most well known global brands. No mean feat. Often, innovation and vision are more valuable than bottomless budgets.

Globalization and technology are deepening the connection between the consumer and the brands they choose. It's time to take your business to a global audience. Get started now. Indecision has its perils. Besides, who knows what the global marketplace will look like by tomorrow.