A small business needn’t stay small forever. In fact, you may already consider ways in which you can help your business grow into a global brand – one with a reputation for excellence and a customer base to match. However, upscaling a business so it competes on the global stage is no easy feat. While you might experience a certain amount of growth using organic techniques, such as word of mouth, expect to put in significant effort to take your company to the world.
Creating a global brand
The easiest way to create a global brand is to start with the idea that you’ll eventually take your brand into other countries or regions. That way, your brands are built for the world from the ground up. If you’re already too far along for that, the other option is to build your global brand in one of the following ways.
This figure depicts your market opportunities and, in our discussion of building a global brand, we’ll focus on the bottom options for marketing in a new market. Certainly, that new market might exist domestically, such as marketing to a different demographic group, but let’s consider the option of moving on to an international market. That leaves you with 2 options: market your existing brand internationally or develop a new brand to sell overseas.
The major benefit of the first option is it reduces the inherent risk associated with selling into an international market, while the second option offers the advantage that you develop a global brand from the ground up, which might result in a better fit with the needs of the international market and limit possible negative associations from the home country. For instance, we love the Swiss for their watches and the Italians for their gelato but we might not think a product from China has what it takes to perform to our standards since we often consider Chinese goods as poor quality. We call this consumer ethnocetrism and it reflects the belief that products from your own country are superior to those from abroad.
Market development in a new country
Often, international brands require adaptation to meet the needs and preferences of the host country. For instance, you might need to adapt the power or plug configuration since different countries use different electrical currents or have different plug needs. Sometimes, consumers like different things such as Americans like their rice light and fluffy, while Japanese like it sticky. We call this product adaptation. For instance, despite its ubiquitous distribution, Coke is actually many different products with various levels of sweetness, carbonation, and even additions to meet local preferences.
Your message might need a switch up, as well. A brand name might have negative connotations in a country, such as the old Chevy automobile called a Nova, meaning no go in Spanish. Or the advertising uses colors ineffectively, for instance, brides wear red in much of Asia rather than white. Even small, almost invisible elements of your images might tell buyers the product isn’t for them. Plus, you must often change up your messaging to highlight the specific benefits desired in a particular country. Or elements of your messaging may violate local regulations. We call this advertising adaptation.
Sometimes, you must adapt both aspects to build a global brand.
Marketing your global brand
Of course, you must now market your brand into other markets or regions. Here are 8 strategies to help you on your way.
- Develop a strong social media strategy. Social media’s ever-growing popularity means that it is probably the most effective way to market your business – and it can help you connect with a global audience in a unique and interesting way since big global players like Facebook have large international audiences and specialized social networks exist to reach various regions of the world. Because social media and digital marketing reach wide swaths of the world, by their very nature, they make great tools for marketing your global brand.
- Ensure that your website is up to scratch. Broken links, vague language, and poor accessibility turn customers away from your website and towards your competitors. Offer your website in various languages so visitors feel comfortable since 75% of multilingual consumers prefer to buy from websites in their native tongue.
- Focus on developing a strong relationship with your customers. The more your customers trust you, the more likely they are to recommend you to a friend or engage with your content – both of which help you to reach out to a wider audience. In an international market, that means paying attention to customs, culture, and religion to show you care.
- Take the time to carefully research every country where you wish to sell your products or services. For example, each location may have specific laws regarding product shipping that you must obey. However, they may also have vastly different consumer markets and purchasing habits, which you will need to adapt to in order to succeed.
- Ensure that you develop an international marketing strategy. Often, given the idiosyncrasies of marketing in many countries, including issues of taxes and other legal requirements, hiring a local agency or developing a local partner really helps. Plus, even if you never thought about marketing internationally, developing your business with the idea of future international markets helps when you start offering your products to a global audience.
- As you grow, you may wish to open up a base in a different country to make your day-to-day life a little easier. Thus, rather than simply exporting products, you need to hire employees and negotiate for space/ If this is the case, language might be a significant barrier in terms of communication and effectiveness. Minimize this risk by working with a global interpretation company that can help make communication easier through face-to-face or online interpretation.
- Continue to work on your brand. Spend time developing new ideas, or working on improving the quality of services you already have on offer. This means that you won’t run the risk of your brand appearing stale or outdated, and can stay on top of current trends.
- Manage your money carefully, ensuring that you keep a tight grip on your finances. This reduces the chance of you running into financial difficulties. Don’t be afraid to reach out to investors for further financial support.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.