five things to stop & consider before launching your global communications strategy
Senior Account Director
Senior Account Director
Your company has been successful in one market and now you are looking to expand to new markets and audiences. Your priority is to target Europe, including Western and Eastern Europe, but there is such diversity and culture within Europe itself that this is a huge task. The leadership, operational and sales team want things to happen fast, they already have many aspects of market entry and roll-out in motion and are expecting you to also pick up the pace and deliver a results-focused communications strategy.
If the above scenario sounds familiar, then read on. I have broken it down and created a top-line overview of what you need to consider when creating and implementing a multi-market communications plan.
1. identify and define
Tier the countries within the region you are targeting. Tier one countries will be those where you will invest most of your marketing and PR budget into. These countries should have a direct sales effort and may even have local staff or a well-equipped and keen reseller/distributor network.
The next task is to categorize the countries further into tiers two and three according to your business and communication priorities. Make sure to map out as much detail as possible regarding each tier of countries, such as the languages needed for outreach, the approval process between your HQ and any local teams or resellers/distributors, as well as any unique but important cultural intricacies that each market has. Each tier will have a slightly different strategy and of course budget allocation. It should be clear how the marcomms budget is managed and who has the final approval over it.
Ensure the business goals and objectives for the region have been shared with you internally and your approach is closely aligned from a communications perspective. Define also what the internal KPIs are for your regional comms roll out. Internally identify what will be required to label this communication strategy a success and make sure your strategy and tactics then work towards that. From the outset, have in mind how you will also measure your approach, lay out clear KPIs.
Decide what local support you may need and seek out the best type of support. For example, do you need local communications agencies in your tier 1 countries? Would it benefit you to have the support of a central coordination hub who can help you manage all agencies and the region seamlessly? Does your reseller network have internal marketing teams? Are they willing to help and how much? You should also determine what internal resources you have, not just from a capacity perspective but also remember you need a team that really KNOWS the region and what works and what does not within each country.
As a step beyond this, establish within planning stage the clear roles for global, regional and local teams. Educate each stakeholder on what needs to be achieved and stick as closely to the plan as feasible once implementation begins.
2. understand what localisation means
Translation does not mean localization. Taking what you do centrally and then merely translating that locally into another language will not prove effective. When expanding globally and running multi-market comms strategies several things about your brand most likely won’t change – such as the company logo and name (though sometimes this also has to be altered), but your approach may need to.
In our experience, generally the main things that may need adaption is the approach to marketing, messaging, creative, advertising, PR and priority channels depending on what country you are entering.
You will have to consider how your service or product translates in each market. What government regulations are there that you need to keep front of mind? Will your current messaging resonate locally, if not, then how can you tweak it while still being true to the brand? Be mindful that channels popular in the US or UK may not be very popular in the UAE for instance.
In addition to the above, it is wise to assess what content can be created centrally to be efficient and maintain a level of brand consistency. For example, a central campaign toolkit that the local teams can use, albeit adapting and translating it, can really support the seamless execution of a regional campaign. Just don’t expect a copy paste of what is produced.
Cultural intricacies such as religious beliefs, family dynamics, local norms etc all have an affect on how things can be understood and should be communicated. Also, be mindful of the political environment in each country, consider sensitivities around content, timing (for instance during Ramadan, or Orthodox Christmas) and channels of delivery (what may need to be digitally led in the UK may need a grass roots approach in Algeria or Egypt). Your international strategy should have core messaging and a foundation but from that don’t expect the same approach to fit all. There is a certain skill to balancing global messaging with regional intricacies all while remaining true to your brand.
3. create a central depot/toolkit
One of the key things in managing a multi-market comms strategy is having many assets readily available for all the varying parties who will support you in the successful delivery of your communications strategy, such as local agencies, local resellers and their marketers.
We often set up a digital asset management system that has easily accessible items such as brand/campaign photography and videos, talking points for story angles, logos, company backgrounder, press release templates, stock press releases, editorial story templates, spokesperson bios and areas of expertise, workflow, approvals and process policy outline, the global comms strategy document, and social media graphics.
Having a platform that allows for two-way sharing, brainstorming, conversations and work tracking really can help boost a regional comms strategy as everyone can share best practice, share successes, have support on hand, all while feeling connected under the one goal. This centralized digital asset management system should be easy to use and easily accessed by all partners and agencies.
4. co-create the plan
Before you start creating your global/regional communications plan, I advise that you first establish your team. With this team – that will be made up of the likes of your in-house global team, your local in-house team, resellers/distributors, a global hub agency and local agencies – host a few kick-off work shops where you can all start to co-create a plan and have a skeleton outline of what will make it work.
In parallel to this, define a global brief and plan, show this direction to your wider team get their input and weave this into the plan. The main thing you want to avoid is creating a global/regional comms plan that local teams feel doesn’t fit with their needs or don’t end up following, and instead make their own campaigns/versions locally. Not only does this double the work, but it also dilutes the brand. Reduce local reworking by involving everyone early. You will ultimately lead the plan and decide on what central items make sense to create but incentivise everyone to be involved and co-create from the outset. Plan also for local adaptions and assets, such as images, product shots, subtitles, and cultural dos and don’ts.
5. share successes
Once your plan is underway across countries and you start to see the results make sure to share successes amongst everyone. Both amongst each other but also present these local wins to the leadership team. Not only is it important to co-create during the planning phase, but it is also beneficial to show case the great delivery of the communications strategy. This keeps everyone motivated, incentivised to continue doing a good job and it also shows that it is a team effort and not a global team dictating how things should happen locally. In essence, it enhances relationships between headquarters and local offices.
If you are planning a multi-market communications strategy and need support from a team who have been coordinating over 40 markets simultaneously on any one project, then reach out to Amanda for an initial conversation. Email: [email protected]