“‘Global marketing’ is an outdated term killed off by the Internet.” What? How can this be possible?
When we read this article, “How the Internet killed ‘global marketing,’” we were taken aback. Wouldn’t an increasingly connected global society necessitate global marketing even more?
The article claims that because of limitless exposure from the Internet, multiple localized campaigns are not necessary because one universal message for global audiences will work.
Now, we live and breathe this stuff daily, helping some of the best-known brands in the world reach their global audiences through effective marketing localization strategies. So while we think this article has some good points, there are definitely some missing puzzle pieces.
Global marketing is alive and well. In fact, because of instant global access through the Internet, it’s crucial now more than ever to adapt your campaigns for various cultures around the world. After all, if they are going to find your message anyway, you should make sure it resonates.
Let’s take a look at the main points from that article so we can explain why global marketing isn’t dead.
Point 1: Localization isn’t needed since consumers are exposed to messages, images and products from other countries, and are able to purchase these products because of the Internet.
No doubt, the Internet takes your business to new heights by smashing down geographical barriers and opening your messages up to audiences beyond your home country. But that doesn’t mean that it is always effective to have one universal message versus multiple localized versions.
We agree that the Internet makes it much easier to find and connect with global customers. Perhaps many may already be visiting your website. However, people from different cultures often process information differently. Just because they are exposed to your messaging does not necessarily mean it will resonate as well as it does in your home country—and that creates missed opportunity.
The Internet makes information easily accessible across the globe, but that doesn’t change cultural views or eliminate language barriers. This makes marketing localization all the more important. It’s all about creating a good experience for your end users—welcoming them to your website with open arms.
If you notice traffic coming to your site from other countries, you should consider localizing your website to cater messaging appropriately. Doing so can result in better engagement and increased revenue with your international consumers.
Point 2: Businesses cannot limit marketing messages to certain regions of the world. With the Internet, people can view your online content from any country whether you intended it or not.
While this is true—and great for creating global brand awareness—it still doesn’t eliminate the need for marketing localization.
Sure, one could argue that global marketing is not about the localized message but rather the right message and platform. As an example, Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice Man campaign went viral across the globe after its debut at the 2010 Super Bowl—despite being available only in English. However, in reality, local campaigns rarely go viral around the world.
Creating valuable, shareable content is always a good idea. But instead of betting on the right universal message to go global and appeal to many audiences, you should target each one appropriately and tailor copy as needed. In this case, you may want to consider transcreation where in-country linguists with marketing expertise reposition your copy so that it is sure to strike the right chord with locals. This is a lot more effective than simply hoping your campaign gets picked up in the countries you want it to.
In fact, the Old Spice marketing team did see the value in marketing localization—adapting their campaigns and doing it very well. After their initial success with the Old Spice man commercials created for the United States, they localized the concept for Australia, where they incorporated a “down under” theme with tweaked messaging and local props such as snakes, crocodiles and kangaroos. The reason was to gain market share in this country.
Going viral is great. But you still have to build long-lasting relationships with your customers so your organization can yield the highest return in all your markets.
Point 3: Developing separate strategies for global campaigns and local campaigns is inefficient, because all customers want the same information and in real time.
People may want information about the latest product launches at the same time, but you still have to speak their language—and localizing campaigns doesn’t have to delay this.
Sure, companies like Apple can simply host an online conference so all of their customers can get the information right away. However, that doesn’t mean that they have stopped their marketing localization efforts to support those launches. If you take a look at Apple’s website, for example, you’ll see that it’s adapted for over 100 countries so that they can sell their products in these countries. This site is updated to coincide with each new product launch.
So yes, marketing localization requires time and resources to develop, but more importantly, you can significantly increase your campaign effectiveness when your content is adapted to the language and culture of local markets. Companies often choose to localize product launch materials for multiple locales simultaneously, ensuring that product release dates are consistent across the globe to avoid delays.
Localize your message, strengthen your global brand
You should always think global and be aware that the Internet is changing how companies enter global markets. But we don’t recommend skipping out on marketing localization because of this.
After all, localized campaigns are at the very core of what made the global brands that we know and love.
Check out our article, Global marketing campaigns: Is your approach personalized for each locale?, for more tips on how to do it right.
Now, let’s hear from you. Do you think localized campaigns are necessary? Did the Internet really kill global marketing as we know it?