You’ve built your brand, carefully and methodically. It’s a success and growing. What a great feeling!
Now you are ready to compete in overseas markets – to share your brand with other people in other countries. You are sure they will love it.
Hold on. There are some important considerations here. While much of what you did to build your brand in your native country will cross over to what you do internationally, there will be a lot of time spent translating and localizing your site, content, and social media for another culture.
Your brand is essentially your reputation. And building that reputation in another country will be all about the impressions you make, especially through your interactions with your new target market. These interactions occur the same ways they did and do in your own country, with some important caveats.
Here are five tips that will help you. As you take each of the steps, you must keep asking yourself if what you are doing is:
Relevant – Will your target audience find value in what you are offering?
Appropriate – Are you pursuing your target audience in a way that is culturally correct, and is in compliance with all legal requirements, etc.?
Sets you apart from your competition – what makes your brand stand out among the competition you have in that foreign market.
With this in mind, here are five tips:
1. Determining Demand
Success locally does not mean success elsewhere. How will you determine if there is a demand for the product or service you want to offer to a foreign audience? This will take some research, of course. When you began your business locally, you conducted the same type of research. You know that demand is based upon very specific factors – the preferences of the consumer, incomes of a target market, the number of potential consumers in a market, and even income distribution.
To determine this locally, you did the research. Now you have to do that same research in a foreign country.
Many businesses, if they have the budget, will hire marketing professionals in the target country to conduct the research on market viability. This is obviously the most effective strategy. If you do not have such a budget, then you will have to research how any competition is doing; you will have to research what consumers in your target market are purchasing online; you will have to develop a customer persona and research average incomes, etc. Any information you can obtain will help you determine if there really is a market where you want to go.
2. Translation vs. Localization
You know that all of your content must be translated into the target language. And you also know that merely translating that content will not be enough. Translations will make your content readable to a foreign audience, of course, but that does not mean that audience will find that content valuable or culturally appropriate.
What you need is a translator who is a native of the target country – one who is intimately familiar with your target audience and the cultural specifics of that demographic. For example, if your target country is Japan, there are many sub-demographics. If your audience is older, then all of your content must be quite formal, respectful, and free of the jargon of the younger generation. If, on the other hand, your audience is younger, the language will be quite different. A translator who has this understanding will make sure that your content is culturally appropriate for your demographic.
When you decide to locate a translation service, check out Pick Writers, a review site that provides a list of translation companies that are reputable and have a history of translation and localization success.
3. The Logistics
Before you even think about a marketing plan and moving into a foreign market, you must have the logistics in place. When order come in, how will they be acknowledged? How will receipts to customers be provided/ And how will item be shipped? Either your product will be shipped from your local facility, or you have set up manufacture and/or distribution within the country. Manufacturing and import laws vary from country to country, and you will need some legal representation in the target country to ensure that you are in compliance.
The point is this: you need to make sure that you can reliably and consistently get products to your target customers.
4. Let’s Talk About Your Identity
Your brand is established by a number of things – content, of course, but also packaging, product names, logo, etc.
The name of your product must make sense to your new market. After all, you are not Coca-Cola. You may need to rebrand locally. Many car manufacturers do this. Do you know the brands Holden, Jiefang, Wuling or Baojun? Probably not. But they are all GM cars. Just attempting to translate a brand name could be disaster. Work with a native to come up with a name that truly represents your brand in that language.
Logos or any other symbols that represent your brand must not be confusing or, worse, offensive. This goes for images, colors, and words. Again, consult with a native.
Packaging and labeling: These do not just need to be appropriate for the culture. They must also meet standards and regulations for transport.
Trademarks and Registration: Be certain you follow the process in the target country for registering and protecting your trademark. For this, you will need a local expert.
5. Communication and Awareness Building
Your style and tone are communicated by everything from packaging to advertising, to your blog and social media posts. And what about customer support? The manner in which you communicate with your target audience will be critical. Again, use local resources as advisors.
In terms of building awareness, consider the following:
What channels will you use? You will need to know the most popular with your audience, and it may not be Facebook.
Will you use “.com” or is there a better URL that will make you appear to “understand” the local audience?
You will have to invest time and money in social media accounts, especially those that are popular locally. Again, localization, not just translation, will be key. This is how relationships are developed, just as they are at home.
Creating content that is relevant and suitable. What are trending topics and how can you incorporate them into your content? You can also use translators to read other blogs to find ideas for your topics. Youi must know the preferences of your audience, just like at home. What will they find entertaining, humorous, or inspirational? Contracting with native content writers is pretty much a “must.”
You may even want to translate the name of your website to make it more locally appealing. Again, you are not Coca-Cola.
Just a few reminders:
1. Do your Research. Failure to do it will result in a complete waste of your time and money
2. Find local resources, especially marketing and legal specialists
3. You are the outsider – it is your job to ‘fit in” not theirs to get to know you.