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Global Strategy: Four Questions to Answer Before Entering a Foreign Market

Global marketing strategy: four questions to answer before entering a foreign market

When looking at expanding to a new international market, there are some fundamental questions that you need to address. Is it the right market? Do you have access to local expertise? How would you need to adapt your product or service to best reach this new market? What about marketing? In this post, we will delve a little deeper into global strategy, how to answer these questions, and what the answers mean for your translation and localization strategy.

Is it the Right Market?

There are likely two scenarios that have you looking at a new market. One is that there has been significant interest in your product from that market already. Your app has had thousands of downloads or you have been shipping orders overseas. In scenario number two, you are actively looking for the best place to launch. You may have several places that you are comparing. In either of these cases, the first thing you need to do is run the basic numbers. Look at the overall market potential, the number of potential customers, and then what you could reasonably expect to gain as your market share. In the start-up world, the three groups of potential customers are known as TAM (total available market), SAM (serviceable available market) and SOM (serviceable obtainable market). You know your industry better than anyone and it will become apparent quickly if there is not enough promise to justify the cost of expansion.

Look at the overall market potential, the number of potential customers, and then what you could reasonably expect to gain as your market share. In the start-up world, the three groups of potential customers are known as TAM (total available market), SAM (serviceable available market) and SOM (serviceable obtainable market). You know your industry better than anyone and it will become apparent quickly if there is not enough promise to justify the cost of expansion.

Do You Have Access to Local Expertise?

It is a common and deadly mistake to go in without knowing the local side of things. You can have the best product in the world, but unless your target customers will actually buy it, you will have no success. Having a local connection is beyond useful. For example, I did some consulting for an apparel company that was looking to expand to Chile. Without a partnership with a local Chilean company, they would have had no access to the market, no experience with the language, and no expertise with the local customs and laws. But since they had that local expertise, they were able to determine that they needed to expand their target customer group to include a much broader range of demographics than they had in the U.S. if they wanted to be profitable.

For example, I did some consulting for an apparel company that was looking to expand to Chile. Without a partnership with a local Chilean company, they would have had no access to the market, no experience with the language, and no expertise with the local customs and laws. But since they had that local expertise, they were able to determine that they needed to expand their target customer group to include a much broader range of demographics than they had in the U.S. if they wanted to be profitable.

How Do You Need to Adapt Your Product?

Uber is a good example of a company that successfully adapts to the local needs of their global market. Take a look at what they did in Africa. Their drivers and clients did not have credit cards to bill automatically like is done in the U.S. system, so they needed to use cash. This generated the further need to collect the payments from the drivers. By adapting this way, Uber was able to become successful in a market that would not have been receptive to its original method.

What About Marketing?

Even if your product itself needs no adaptation, your marketing almost certainly will. This goes beyond simple language translation of your current collateral. Analyze the following elements of your content for cultural appropriateness.

  • Numbers and dates: Does the day go before the month?
  • Colors: Have you ever noticed that China uses a lot of red?
  • Culturally local expressions: “John Doe” in the U.S. is “Ashok Kumar” in India.
  • Brand specific expression: While we may know that Kleenex is a brand of tissue, it is far from a universal expression.

SEO is another area that you should pay close attention to. While Google is undoubtedly king in the U.S. it would behoove you to broaden your range of platforms when you go abroad. For example, Baidu is the dominant search engine in China and Yandex is very popular in Russia. There is huge SEO opportunity to drive additional traffic to your site by implementing good multilingual SEO for each language your website is translated into. It’s essentially having another version of your site and additional traffic generation opportunities. However, it is important to note that optimizing your SEO is not just straight translation. Even for an English website, “weekend getaways” may be a popular search in the US while consumers might search for “weekend holiday” or “city-break” in the UK. Search algorithms always change too, so it is important to keep your SEO strategy up to date.

Those are a few thing you might want to consider before launching into the next market. If you need help with your translation and localization strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us — or you can get a free quote for your project here.

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