3 Key Factors in Every Global-to-Local Marketing Strategy
Field marketing, EMEA marketing, portfolio marketing — whatever you call it, it’s a critical yet challenging function because, inevitably, translating a global brand into local demand doesn’t always go smoothly.
Local customer foibles (“People never use LinkedIn here”), cultural quirks (“You just can’t say that in France”) and bandwidth constraints (“I have 65 customer events to organise in DACH this quarter alone”) can throw a spanner in the works of even the best-laid marketing plans and sometimes, fuzziness lingers (“Do we actually have any customers or salespeople or partners in Estonia?”).
As an agency on the outside looking in, we don’t necessarily have all the solutions but we do see patterns across the many international B2B marketing teams that we work with. From that perspective, here are a few fundamentals that we believe can help — or hinder — field marketing teams’ efforts:
It should stand to reason that the closer a marketing team is to the local market, the better it can adapt or originate campaigns to create local demand — but the organisational structure can hamper this.
Research conducted in 2019 by the CMO Council found that a majority of senior marketing executives globally are failing to meet their global-to-local challenge. In fact, of the 350-plus people surveyed, 63% expressed dissatisfaction with their localisation efforts, admitting they struggle to deliver contextual experiences that reflect local culture, behaviour or customer needs.
What’s interesting is that the main threat to global marketing isn’t strategy: it’s structure. More than half of marketers attribute their unrealised customer opportunity to a lack of localised intelligence, while 82% describe their local market intelligence as just “OK.”
The research found problems with the primary ways most global marketing organisations are structuring themselves. Marketers in completely centralised organisations say they do not fully understand local market needs and are not close enough to their customers. Meanwhile, marketers in completely decentralised organisations do not have a clear understanding of brand strategy.
The answer appears to be a hybrid structure: centralising brand strategy while leveraging local market intelligence and execution. The CMO Council found that marketers in these hybrid structures report improved understanding of local customers, alignment of strategy and enhanced operating efficiency. Issues still arise but they are mainly around decision-making speed, rather than the quality of information and execution.
2. Go-to-Market Strategy
Nothing confounds the work of field marketing teams like a lack of alignment on how the business will enter a market regionally. Simply put: “Which customers are we going after, in what verticals and in what markets?”
All demand generation programmes flow from this shared plan — it’s fundamental to everything from campaign development to intelligence gathering. And yet, time and again, we see that a clearly mapped go-to-market strategy either doesn’t exist, hasn’t been shared or isn’t commonly agreed.
If you haven’t already mapped this out, we think that having a simple one-pager that provides an overview of the go-to-market strategy is indispensable. Needless to say, there needs to be a lot more detail behind it (everything from personas to named accounts) but a simple overview is useful to get everyone on the same page — including agencies.
3. Agency Partner
Of course, agencies have a responsibility to support and add value to all of these challenges. Disappointingly, 83% of marketers feel they’re not aligned with their agencies and are looking to gain new value from partners. Namely, agencies that can scale quickly, align with local business goals and source intelligence, skills and capabilities around the world.
Agencies can be similarly challenged by structure: too large and agility suffers, too small and reach is a problem. Working alongside larger holding-company agencies, we regularly encounter situations where it takes more than a month for an answer to a query to come back from the network — a query that’s likely been passed between many individuals. Basically, it’s slow Chinese whispers and completely undermines agility.
As a smaller agency, we pride ourselves on being agile. That said, we also need access to local insight, local implementation support and global best practice. Our solution is to work with a global network of more than 70 independent agencies, Worldwide Partners.
With over 1,000 B2B experts and $1 billion-plus in B2B billings, we get access to insight from practically every industry vertical globally. We get agility too: when we ask the network for an answer, we can expect to wait a week but we know we will receive rich local insight that greatly helps deliver locally relevant messages and campaigns.
Localising a global brand means connecting with customers on their terms. And while a certain amount of consistency is key, companies that are most successful in overseas markets are those that strike the right balance between global standards and local flexibility. By taking into account organisational structure, go-to-market strategy and agency partners, your field marketing team will be better positioned to provide locally-relevant experiences.