Planning a Global Marketing Campaign? Start with Your Localisation Strategy

Global campaign planning and execution is a challenge for global marketers. How do you make an impact in multiple markets and languages? And how do you create and coordinate a global marketing campaign so that it resonates all over the world? The secret lies in a good localisation strategy and solid campaign rollout plan. Read on to find out more.

Global marketing or advertising campaigns usually originate in a single market. The first stage of the process is creative thinking, with a focus on the big idea and campaign strategy. And while this step is key to a campaign’s success, strategy and creative are too often decided from a single-market perspective, heavily influenced by the culture of the home market.

And this is just the first in a series of challenges facing global marketers. From planning, to production, to delivery across multiple markets…global marketing campaigns are extremely complex and require forward thinking to avoid last-minute stress.

Read on to identify the common pitfalls of global marketing campaigns, and for our tips on planning your localisation strategy effectively.

Where Global Campaigns Fail

Lack of communication

This may sound obvious, but it’s impossible for teams to work together if they’re not all on the same page. And when it comes to planning and delivering a global marketing campaign, communication is probably your most important tool. Basic communication, like information around schedules, often gets lost between global and local marketing teams. For instance, creating a global toolkit to share with local markets is a great idea, but it can only work if a schedule is agreed to allow plenty of time for markets to adapt the assets. Similarly, if local marketing teams are unaware of the campaign launch schedule, it’s extremely difficult for them to plan media schedules.

Clear communication around deliverables is also important. If the central team is not crystal clear on what marketing content is requested by different markets, they’re likely to waste resources on producing content that’s not appropriate or needed for the markets.

Communication must also happen between markets. If communication doesn’t flow between markets, they may lose out on possible synergies and collaboration, and instead generate similar materials, at unnecessary cost.

The creative ideas won’t translate

A global advertising campaign is often difficult to localise. From tag lines, to pictures, to concepts – the entire localisation process can be a minefield to the unexperienced global marketer.

Forgetting to consider the local implications of key visuals for your campaign may lead to trouble. But there are many other ways a campaign can fail globally. For example, sound matters. A market may react badly to the voice over you’ve selected. You must ensure that the voice connects with your audience by using the right accent, tone and expression. Other hidden dangers include humour, metaphors, idioms, regulatory issues and cultural norms.

Local misunderstanding of the global creative

Aside from some inevitable communication challenges – different time zones, languages, cultures – too often, local marketing teams involved in a global campaign fail to understand or relate to the global creative concept and strategy. For this reason, it’s not unusual for global ideas to miss the mark when adapted for different markets. And this lack of understanding of the global strategy can explain why local marketing teams might reject global campaigns altogether.

Related Read: The Creative Process of a Global Campaign – Dos and Don’ts

Technological challenges and disparities

Technology brings about a heap of challenges. Differences in local internet speeds or connectivity can have a negative impact on a campaign’s performance. Also, each market has a different relation to technology, with some markets being more tech-savvy than others.

Unclear Roles and responsibilities

A lack of accountability is often at the heart of global campaign fails. Uncertainty surrounding processes can hamper the situation further. Whose project is this? Who’s responsible for this task? Who reports to whom? Who’s in charge? There is so much to coordinate – agencies, people, status reports, deliverables– and very often a lack of people to make it happen, or to take responsibility in case any issues arise. At the heart of this conundrum, marketers are unclear on where to go for help.

Budget black holes

Where does the budget sit? When working on a global marketing campaign it’s not unusual to hear this question. And, unsurprisingly, it’s often a source of tension between global and local marketing teams.

If the budget sits entirely with the global team there’s a risk that local markets can get sidelined in the creative process due to the global team not considering local needs.

If the budget is split between global and local, the onus is on the global team to provide materials that will work and meet the needs of local markets. However, although it may seem like a balanced approach, this split frequently creates more tensions. Local markets often discard global toolkits to recreate their own, resulting in duplicated costs and possible brand inconsistencies.

If the local teams manage the budget then the global role becomes quite hard. In this scenario, global teams need to get buy-in and budget allocation from local markets to develop global assets which can prove difficult without strong central management.

Another danger zone for budgets occurs when marketing budgets are not confirmed until very late, with frequent changes to the estimated budget. This can result in local or global teams not managing their budgets efficiently, or in the budget not being used entirely.

A better way to plan your global marketing campaign

A focus on global marketing planning and execution from the outset is the key to global marketing success. We believe that there are 5 elements of a global marketing campaign that require consideration at the initial stage:

1. Introduce smarter processes and allocate roles and accountabilities

Make sure you’ve got the right people and that everyone knows what they’re doing.

  • Establish clear roles for global, regional and local teams. Define roles, educate each stakeholders, and stick to your plan.
  • Define a worldwide localisation process. Implement one consistent but flexible process worldwide and educate global teams on transcreation and adaptation.
  • Determine what resources are available and fill any gaps within internal service departments, global and local marketing teams, agencies, or other suppliers.
  • Where’s the money coming from? Decide on budget ownership and allocation and make sure everyone is clear.
  • Secure early budget allocation to allow marketing teams to deliver with confidence and consistency.

2. Think global from the get-go in a clear localisation strategy and process

  • Decide your creative development approach in association with the markets. Get the markets involved and co-create.
  • Mandate and pay centrally. Incentivise markets to use the global content.
  • Define a global creative brief. Prepare a global plan and creative concept which all marketing teams can work from. Reduce local reworking as much as possible.
  • Understand the creative toolkit needs for each market. Consider developing toolkits that work for larger, medium and smaller markets.
  • Plan for creative localisation implications (e.g. images, product shots, talent, cultural norms).
  • Define creative collaboration process between central and local teams.
  • Understand the budget impact of the creative route chosen in terms of localisation requirement.

3. Clear project management and communication under a Project Lead

  • Assign a Project Lead who can act as a central point of contact and oversee the A-Z of the campaign plan.
  • Having a single point of contact maintains consistency and keeps knowledge flowing between translators, validators, developers, client stakeholders and the creative agency.
  • A good Project Lead is an expert in digital localisation; they know the right questions to ask, questions that creative agencies often bypass (e.g. character limits, special characters, best format in which to validate, structured QA process, and so on.).
  • The Project Lead should be deadline focused, ensuring adherence to timelines and budgets. They should continuously seek methods to improve process and technology.
  • The Project Lead should set up project tracking against every deliverable for every market.
  • Their role is to establish a structured briefing process to ensure that the goals are understood by all parties, and include a formalised sign-off process and clear escalation steps.

4. The right tools will make your life easier

  • Invest in a Digital Asset Management system – a single, secure, and easy-to-use system, accessible to partners and agencies.
  • Use a project management and collaboration system to enable the viewing and management of the complete campaign process and status.
  • Consider other key tools such as translation memory and workflow, video subtitling and web CMS translation software.

5. Think localisation strategy and campaign delivery first

Spend as much time nailing down your global communications localisation strategy and campaign plan as you do with your creative development. This will save you some money and stress – and ensure that you have control over your campaign timeline. Your global brand will be enhanced, and you’ll get a far better ROI, and results you can measure.

For more on how to create powerful local campaigns, while still maintaining a strong global brand, feel free to get in touch. Our team are always on hand to offer advice. Equally, you can download our guide to creating successful global marketing campaigns here.