What Is a Global Marketing Strategy?
The United States of America makes up just 4.27 percent of the total global population. Consequently, you must create a global marketing approach if you wish to reach the other 95 percent of your potential customer base. In fact, even a thriving, high-profit business with a consistent return on investment (ROI) will find it almost impossible to increase profitability without going global at some point.
Global marketing strategy applies to doing business within the borders of countries other than your own, and across the borders of neighboring countries. Global marketing issues might include exchange rates, language barriers, tariff and trade agreements, economic sanctions, infrastructure gaps, local customs, cultural mores and taboos, political stability and customer expectations between one nation and the next.
A simple global market definition includes purchases and sales of goods and services anywhere in the world in exchange for something of value to both the seller and the buyer. This may be money, in-kind services, sweat equity or goods.
An effective global business strategy requires timely and accurate decision-making based upon on-the-spot, actionable data. Consequently, you must establish cooperative relationships in each country between your stateside headquarters and all applicable local and overseas suppliers, as well as with all of your transporters and end users. This communication network enables global supply chains to provide and maintain an international advantage.
Having local agents around the globe ensures that critical messages between your headquarters and your international locations remain verifiable and relevant in real time. For example, local counterparts in your overseas locations can prevent costly service interruptions by spot-checking the accuracy of real-time voice search results on a set schedule or as part of a point-in-time survey of available amenities.
Verified, voice-activated search optimization results allow global vendors to accurately assess variables such as the effects of local weather on product availability. This allows your fulfillment department to predict shipping disruptions before they affect customer satisfaction.
Example: Record snowfalls in the winter of 2018 closed highways and grounded airlines, delaying ground and air transport throughout much of the United States and Canada. By using voice search optimization that combined GPS software with data from the Emergency Alert System, affected shipping companies knew whether to wait in safety, switch to alternate routes or delay setting out in the first place.
Buyers want to envision themselves in product offerings and advertising campaigns, behind service counters and in company boardrooms. When customers see themselves represented and find evidence that the company cares about their needs and aspirations, they will make more transactions with and provide more referrals to that business. Conversely, if buyers believe a company does not care about their lives, respect their values or intend to improve their standard of living, they will do business elsewhere.
Companies with successful overseas operations make the effort to personalize customer experiences by adapting their product offerings, advertising, workforce development and adherence to local expectations to fit each business location. In practice, those businesses which insist on a "Country of Origin-only" focus will find themselves bypassed in favor of those who make the effort to blend into global communities.
Beyond the need to personalize the customer experience, international businesses must also increase the personal wealth of their workforce and enable real property ownership for local families and individuals. This worldwide investment of time and money in education and personalized experience improves community living conditions by growing a tax base and educating the workforce.
No one will hand your company a slice of the $1.7 trillion-per-year global marketing industry. You will need accurate global analytics, a strong grasp of international monetary policy and a focus on political and economic stabilization in order to thrive. Your business must also exhibit a willingness to research the unmet needs of the populace from a constructive perspective.
Avoid assuming that people who do not buy your products don't know enough about them or lack the intelligence to appreciate them. For example, a phone that relies on electrical power may not sell at all if an area lacks a reliable power grid. Instead, provide a long-life battery with a solar- or wind-powered recharge capability to dominate the market in that region.
Global analytics used to be the responsibility of government agencies such as the Financial Stability Oversight Committee of the United States Department of the Treasury, and international bodies such as the World Trade Organization. The FSOC reviews transactions between the United States and its trading partners, while the World Trade Organization collects, analyzes and publicizes data to assist the 98 percent of all nations that engage in global trade.
International sentiment and a mercurial stance on trade and diplomacy in the 21st century make up-to-the-minute information essential for sound decision-making. Despite having a regular schedule of collecting and reporting data, governmental trade reports often arrive too late to take action on them. In self-defense, many companies now maintain their own oversight and quality assurance departments or contract with trusted financial watchdog groups such as Redburn, PwC International Limited or S&P Global.
Before you can decide whether global marketing will boost or obstruct your domestic business goals, take the time to elucidate your long-range vision to your domestic development team and your prospective allies in other countries. Does that vision focus on providing the trendiest products and services or do you find it more important to engage in a higher level of corporate responsibility?
Or does your vision rest on hearing your company name on everyone's lips, under the theory that even bad publicity can serve your company's interests better than no publicity at all? While that approach requires less effort to implement, do you really want people to associate your brand with whatever drama has taken over today's news cycle?
Align your business goals with the types of international strategy you decide to implement. Depending who you ask, as many as five different international strategies exist: import/export, multi-domestic, global, multinational and transnational.
Import/Export businesses move goods from one location to another, with little regard given to product labeling in the receiving country's language. These businesses rarely target their goods to the preferences of local consumers. Product packaging often fails to reflect the contents in an intuitive form, leaving consumers guessing about quality, shelf life and wholesomeness. As a result, many import/export goods wind up in discount bins or on flea market tables.
In a field where $1.2 trillion in goods per year enter the United States, and $772 billion in goods leave, you might think that corporate conglomerates dominate, but no. Conglomerates account for barely 4 percent of all exports each year. Instead, 96 percent of all exported goods come from small businesses.
On the other hand, multi-domestic companies meet the needs of the local market by addressing language barriers and possible cultural differences in all product research, labeling and advertising. This increases the likelihood that all products will sell at prices comparable to those in the country of origin, with some adjustments to the realities of the local economy. The multi-domestic approach leads to decentralized decision-making, so the company has multiple, semi-independent headquarters in each market large enough to support one.
Global marketing strategy resembles an old country song, "I've been everywhere." Companies that use the global strategy will market the same product, with the same packaging and logos, same ad campaigns, cookie-cutter displays and barely transliterated messaging in every market. If your company sells tour packages for senior citizens, this approach might even succeed.
With their money in hand and wearing nothing but their party clothes, today's world citizens require more than a recycled advertising campaign for a product that ridicules local society. The one-campaign-rules-them-all marketing approach often violates local customs and ignores the roots of homeland values.
In truth, the global marketer's lack of cultural empathy can lead to a significant amount of cultural appropriation by stripping clothing, hairstyles, speech and familiar household items of their historical, personal and religious significance. In consequence, few of your potential customers will know or care what you wish to accomplish with such lazy marketing efforts.
Multinational marketing strategies frequently swing too far toward local concerns, sometimes going so far that they wind up offending customers back home. When a multinational approach backfired for Ikea corporation, it resulted from an attempt to meet local restrictions on depicting women in their advertising campaign in Saudi Arabia. Offended customers raised an outcry immediately, and the Ikea brand took a big hit in its corporate value before the scandal ended.
On the other hand, transnational strategies attempt to find the ethical balance between cultural sensitivity and applying uniform company norms based on human rights. For example, companies that demand that their overseas suppliers hire only adults instead of using child labor may encounter resistance to their efforts. Nevertheless, they will reap the rewards of being good corporate citizens with the daily demonstration of their ethic of caring.
Political turmoil, the effects of climate change, shifts in economic strength, effects of ethnic and religious conflicts and the concentration of global wealth will continue to sway policy in every country around the globe. Companies that enact ethics of corporate social responsibility, including economic equity and respect for basic human rights to life, health, and liberty, will find themselves reaping the most consistent profits.
Remember to demonstrate your corporate ethics in every transaction, whether between the company and customers, employees, suppliers or government officials. Pay your employees a living wage so that they can afford to buy what your company makes and sells. Hire adults only, and refuse to use child labor or engage in human trafficking to fill the positions in your factories.
Build hospitals and schools, both at home and abroad to protect public health and reduce illiteracy rates. Improve existing roads and airfields and design more efficient ones. Create new train and bus stations and connect all of the existing routes. Do whatever helps feed, house and immunize your workers so that poverty, disease and illiteracy do not plague your workforce.
Invest as heavily as you can afford at home and abroad, and your company reputation will make you both the employer of choice and the vendor of choice in every city of every country, on every continent around the globe. Once you align your corporate values with the values held by your customers and suppliers, your workers will become your best customers, your customers will out-recruit your most talented and educated human resource officers and your C-suite will begin to look like a cross-section of the entire world.