What are the biggest challenges facing global marketers?

What are the biggest challenges facing global marketers? It’s no small question, but of real significance if you work in the complex world of global marketing. You may have come across some hurdles before, or you may wonder what’s in store as you’re preparing to go global.

Read on to find out more on the common challenges facing global marketers and on some tips to address these.

Global vs. local teams

The bigger the brand, the more links in the chain. Global HQs have historically struggled with rolling out marketing campaigns across multiple territories. Today we have better technology and communication tools, but also greater expectations for relevant, local execution. Internal coordination of complex campaigns across business units and regions remains a key challenge for global marketers.

Many campaign implementation models include an element of ‘adopt and adapt’; but there is some debate about how to achieve the best results. Some brands choose a decentralised model whereby local markets still hold a lot of autonomy. Other brands prefer a more centralised approach and give little to no leeway to local markets.

There’s no right or wrong answer – the key is to find a balance so that both global and local teams feel they’re being heard. After all, the secret to a successful global campaign is to be rooted in local reality.

Reaching local customers

That knockout creative concept that ticks all the boxes in one territory may fall flat in another for any number of reasons. Adapting an idea to suit diverse cultures and outlooks while remaining true to the key messages behind the campaign remains a major challenge for global brands.

Stewarding these creative, intellectual and emotional elements safely across territories is one mighty task. But figuring out digital media on a global scale -with all the technical, media and channel options available – makes the picture even more complex.

Driving local consumer engagement at the highest possible level is an ongoing work in progress. Not surprising when you consider the differing levels of marketing maturity and digital understanding, legal and regulatory issues and cultural subtleties across the globe.

You can never take anything for granted – what may be true at a given time, may no longer be six months down the line. Global marketers must constantly research and test to ensure they fully understand their local audience.

Measure, report and improve

Measuring ROI is a challenge for all marketers – this is particularly true for global marketers as they need to report on campaign performance in different regions, with large budgets at stake. Ultimately global marketers are judged on the performance of their campaigns – showing ROI is showing value in what they do.

It’s clear that working out rock-solid objectives with associated key performance indicators (KPI) at the outset is a ‘must-have’ for balanced reporting. Yet, at the same time, global marketers have to be able to ‘flex’ the interpretation of data coming from several different environments to make it meaningful and digestible. Delivering consistent measurement across a multitude of channels and geographies remains a challenge, particularly where boards demand short-term results.

It’s crucial to set out clear goals from the start of the campaign and ensure that all teams know what they are measured against. If a campaign does not perform well, a deep postmortem needs to be carried out so that lessons can be learnt and measures taken to improve the following campaign.

Handle creative development

Another challenge is the ongoing strive for global campaign consistency, while achieving local relevance. There are differing schools of thought on how to achieve this; but the mantra of ‘act global think local’ remains a central tenet for global marketing directors.

Localisation of the big idea for different territories is the default for all global brand guardians, but the methodology for doing so is somewhat polarised. Whatever route people are taking, it’s clear that localisation and a focus on smart implementation are firmly on the agenda when it comes to rolling out global creative that resonates wherever it lands.

Whether you choose to carry out the localisation of your global campaign in-house, or trust a partner agency to adapt your campaign, it’s important to put as much effort in the implementation of the campaign, as you would in the creative development.

Understand customer wants and needs

There’s a clear need to align campaigns to diverse cultural and social sensitivities. It’s just part of the jigsaw our marketers need to piece together. But targeting messages on a global scale also requires a deep understanding of how industries, geography and demographics will affect messaging.

Brand affinity and consumer behaviour are affected further by the strength of country economies – yet another layer of complexity.

Extensive in-market research is required to validate not only the creative idea but the tactics deployed to bring the brand message to market. Whether you use your own local teams or an implementation partner, research and testing is a crucial step towards global campaign success.

Digital and social performance

How to integrate social into a wider campaign remains a focus for many global marketers. Reliable reporting about the impact of social on awareness and sales remains elusive despite the deluge of data available. Such reporting is sometimes hard to align with the more traditional ROI markers from advertising or direct marketing.

Global marketers understand the value of social, but it can prove difficult to run social on a global scale, given the more direct nature of social communications. Yet, if planned in conjunction with local teams and measured effectively, social can be a fantastic channel for global marketers to use.

Use of technology

Technology has made global marketers’ lives a lot easier. Yet there is the risk to let it lead the way, while it should be an enabler of creative ideas, following a strategic and operational vision.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) remains a tactical challenge. Brands are striving to maintain a centralised repository of marketing assets. It’s also important to know which assets are being used, which are needed, and which assets can no longer be used due to expired usage rights.

Both the production and localisation of the assets can be automated to some extent, with the use of CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools and production automation tools. Technology can also facilitate the validation process by using cloud validation tools – this allows local and global marketers to review assets.

Before switching to any new technology we recommend carrying out a trial to ensure the technology works for you – what may work for one team, may prove difficult for another.

To learn more how to resolve the challenges of global marketing, download our guide to Marketing Implementation for Global Brands, today.

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