A big thanks to Jessica Thiefels, today’s guest blogger.
Expanding your marketing to a new country is exciting and scary at the same time. You’re about to open up an entirely new opportunity for sales revenue, but you have a lot to do before you’re ready to say, “Go.”
You have to consider translating all marketing materials, working with professionals in the new country or countries, and looking at both internal and external data, which will dictate a number of decisions and must-ask questions.
Use the following tips to prepare for this big transition. You’ll find suggestions for translation services, tips for choosing your expansion location(s), and more.
1. Start With Countries That Speak the Same Language
While every country has regional dialects and slang, both of which are important to know, you have to start broader than that—with the most commonly spoken languages.
When expanding your marketing into one or more new countries, it’s wise to choose locations where the same language is spoken countrywide so you can re-use marketing materials like videos, ads, and social posts.
For example, French is spoken in 32 countries, Arabic is spoken in 26 countries and Spanish is spoken in 21 countries according to the interactive language map, Languages of the World.
Choosing your expansion locations this way also forces you to be more specific in your plan. Rather than saying, “We’re expanding to Europe” you’ll say, “We’re expanding to France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg.”
This detail is important because “customers identify at the national level, and marketers need to remember that every country has its own local laws, cultural norms, forms of currency and payment, and unique business practices,” explains Nataly Kelly, a writer for the Harvard Business Review. See more about this in the next section.
2. Work With a Local Professional
The best way to know what marketing techniques and tactics appeal most to this new demographic is to work with an expert. If you don’t want to bring someone new on as full-time staff, hire a contract employee that works only on this particular project. Tasks for this person might include:
- Brainstorming: What social platforms and marketing opportunities have worked with this population in the past? While Facebook is popular in the US, the country you’re expanding into may have their own version that allows you to reach more people.
- Language/culture: What type of verbiage is most common for advertising in these areas? Does it differ from region to region? What slang or potentially offensive terms should you be aware of and avoid? Will any aspect of your current branding come off as offensive, spammy or strange?
- Rules and Regulations: What regulations, like the CAN-SMAP Act, exist and limit or regulate what you can and can’t do?
3. Use Internal and External Data Sources
External data sources are hugely valuable when expanding your marketing into a new country. As you dive into this data, you’ll discover how much opportunity exists for your business in addition to important regional demographics, average marketing spent for similar businesses, and much more.
However, don’t ignore your internal data in this research process. You have to ask yourself:
- How easy will it be for us to do business in this market?
- Have we had success in similar markets?
- Do we have any business networks we can tap into within the new market?
- What is our budget? What was our budget for projects of similar size?
When you only dig into your own data, you’re more likely to make decisions based on feel rather than facts, which can ultimately lead to costly mistakes.
4. Don’t Forget to Translate Everything
Translation is critical to the success of scaling marketing into a new country.
“It’s amazing how many businesses that want to operate abroad will skimp on translation (or even not do it at all). Translation should be a priority from the outset. Potential customers who can’t understand a product or service simply won’t buy it,” says Renato Beniatto, with SalesAndMarketing.com.
When translating, there are two factors to remember:
- Translate every single piece of marketing material, from user manuals to spec sheets and product descriptions.
- Use a professional translator, preferably one who’s worked in your industry before. Using a service like Accredited Language, which offers localization experts and certified translators, will ensure translation success throughout the process and reduce the amount of legal issues that may arise.
5. Prepare Your Sales and Customer Success Channels
An important aspect of scaling marketing into a new country is making sure your sales and customer success teams are on board and prepared. Not only might they need to be able to speak another language, but they’ll also need to communicate effectively with both potential and current customers. In many cases, it’s wise to invest in a foreign team of employees, rather than teaching your current team.
When prepping your customer support team, start with the basics. Tell your employees to: “Listen more than they speak, ask lots of questions, and learn as much as possible about prospects on calls,” says Cara Hogan of Insights Squared.
She continues, “DON’T have reps talk about product features, but instead tell them to listen to the struggles of the prospects and relate to their needs. Reps don’t have a solid talk track to rely on yet, so they must be flexible and adapt as needed to buyers.”
It may be worth training your sales team with a sales consultant from the country you plan to expand into. They can provide feedback and insight into what people in that particular region expect in terms of customer service and phone conversations.
Expanding your marketing into a new country takes a lot more than just research. Extensive preparation and translation goes into the process, and with the right people, services and resources in place, the process will be smooth and successful.
About Jessica Thiefels: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last six years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends, or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.