Think Globally, Sell Your Business Locally

In a global world, brand campaigns are going for a more local approach. The key to success in foreign markets is contingent upon understanding the target audience’s population, culture, and competitors.

Having been involved in numerous localized campaigns myself, I’ve seen companies continually make the same mistakes when it comes to customizing their product or service for a particular location, and as a result, fail to succeed in taking over the market in a particular city, state, or region. As the CEO of Mobilizr, my job is to help companies run successful brand engagement campaigns and achieve success as they expand globally.

We often think of the world “translate” in the context of language and personal communication. However, this is the number one reason why global brand campaigns don’t pan out: they fail to translate well for a foreign audience. Take Walmart, for example. In the U.S., they brand themselves as a money-saving value store based on U.S. pricing. In China, they use the same branding, but it fails to translate because Chinese consumers associate that pricing with a premium store.

In my experience, it’s crucial that your strategy is comprised of these four basic components:

1. Collaborate with local professionals. When beginning a localized campaign, engage already established personalities in the community to help siphon content and choose what is suitable for the population. Given the assumption that this new market is foreign to your company, it’s wise to enlist those who are familiar with the local culture to help you choose what your new target market will respond best to.

NPR is a great example of this. “The Local Stories Project,” which began in 2011, is a collaboration between NPR and local journalists, bloggers, and web producers to create area specific programming. In total, 36 stations across 32 states joined the project, and NPR reached new listeners by working with professionals who already knew their audiences.

Pro tip: The best collaboration happens when you open yourself up to being challenged and admire people for their honesty and ingenuity.

2. Reach users on social media. Building up brand recognition in a new location is all about targeting the right audience in the right place. Utilize location-based services on social media to reach local users. Without it, your customized message gets lost on the wrong audience.

Facebook has a plethora of location-based services and is just one example of the countless tools at your disposal. Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads focus on the reach aspect, rather than how many clicks an ad gets. Therefore, you can be sure that your brand campaign is optimized to reach the local audience, rather than the entire base of Facebook users. Additionally, Facebook Global Pages creates a single global page for your brand that also connects users to your local pages, generating a singular brand identity, while directing users to their local branches.

Pro tip: Consider hiring a local social media expert, especially if you don’t speak the local language.

3. Develop buyer personas. Being very clear about who will buy your product or utilize your service is crucial to any brand campaign. By developing a buyer persona, you are answering these questions: How old is he/she? What devices does he/she use? What are his/her other interests?

Once you’ve determined who your buyer/user is, go find numerous people who both fit the description and are influential on social media, and get them involved in your launch. When Samsung approached my company to launch the K-Zoom (a hybrid phone and camera), we worked with a team of 63 amateur photographers and Instagram users to help us build brand awareness. We determined the main purchasers of the K-Zoom would be photography enthusiasts, so we enlisted them to take photos, upload them to Instagram, and show their followers how great the product is.

Pro tip: While celebrity influencers help you get buzz, you get more actual conversions and signups from peer-to-peer influencers.

4. Measure continuously, reward accordingly. Which of your advocates is driving the most conversations about your product, visits to your website, or signups for your product? Measure this regularly—daily or weekly, depending on your product—and feed this back to your team of crowdsourced brand advocates. Motivate the team by providing incentives and rewards based on performance. When Uber launched in Lagos, Nigeria, we took weekly measurements of the brand ambassadors’ output and sent communication to low-performing team members. This helped boost performance in subsequent weeks as team members received Uber credit for each sign up, resulting in 1,131 new signups in 30 days with 50 brand ambassadors.

Pro tip: You don’t have to break the bank to incentivize your ambassadors. A little perk can go a long way.

There is no shortage of challenges and hurdles to jump as you expand your company globally. It’s important to remember that a single person can’t possibly speak every language and understand the heart of every culture. Therefore, by treating your global campaign like a local one, and enlisting the help of regional experts, you’ll be on your way to successful brand engagement.