Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Pauline Farris, of Translation Client Zone
When you think of global expansion for your business, and building a successful marketing campaign, those are some pretty big things to consider. Your goals are to reach as wide an audience as possible and to make an impact on a global scale. So, it may be a bit counter-intuitive when you consider that the best approach is to think smaller.
Your business may be growing internationally, but to get your message out to people, you have to think at a local and regional level. This process is called localization. It’s making sure that you are communicating with your target audience in a way that’s familiar with them. To launch a successful marketing campaign to a global audience, you have to prioritize localization. Here are some of the key components of localization:
- Using references that are culturally relevant to your audience
- Respecting history and traditions
- Using sayings and idiomatic speech that is understandable to your target audience
- Employing examples that are meaningful to people in a specific location
- Using geo-targeting in marketing and ad campaigns
Localization can include translation, but there’s more to it than that. For example, English is spoken in both the United States and England. However, a marketing campaign localized for each region would likely look very different from one another.
Developing a marketing campaign that incorporates localization is a challenging undertaking. Below are some ways
Rethink Your Products and Packaging
Coca-Cola makes adjustments to its cans to appeal to each marketplace. Fast food companies offer different types of food, depending on the country. These changes are made for a variety of reasons. They want to appeal to those customers, avoid cultural or religious faux pas, even stay within the bounds of the law in a specific location.
Then there are brands like Kit Kat. Many years ago, they recognized that consumers in Japan were quite adventurous and ready to try sweets in a variety of flavors. So, the company decided to fill that need and create a niche. Thus, many new flavors of Kit Kat were born, all intended for Japanese taste buds.
While you’re considering your products and packaging, think about the colors you have chosen, catchphrases, and other details. There may be several things you can adjust to make the biggest impact.
Develop a Working Relationship with Localization Professionals
If you’re simply expanding into one region, speak the language, and have someone on staff who truly understands the local culture, you may be able to localize your marketing campaign on your own. Otherwise, you may need to consider bringing on a localization service. A professional translation service like The Word Point will have professionals on staff to help you with this process.
A localization professional will be able to help you with the details that you have to consider when you are marketing to people in different locations. Some of these considerations are more technical in nature. These include date and time formats, the way that you address people, currencies, and other symbols.
Another issue that a localization professional will tackle is properly translating idioms, pop culture references, etc. For example, a company might use a cowboy or popular cartoon character to market a product in the United States. In another place, those may not be meaningful at all. Using them would just leave the target audience a bit confused. A qualified localization pro would take the time to understand what the company was trying to communicate by using that character, then find something that was relevant for the new audience.
Get Audience Feedback
Once you begin your marketing efforts, there’s really the only way to know if you are connecting with your new audience. You have to get their feedback. One technique to employ is social listening. This is monitoring mentions of and sentiments towards your brand online. You may already be doing this in your current markets. Just keep in mind that the search engines and social media platforms that are popular can vary from place to place.
Learn The Values and Priorities of Your New Audience
Remember that your new target audience isn’t just another version of your current audience that simply speaks a new language. They have their own culture, traditions, values, beliefs, and challenges. Your marketing has to meet them where they are to be successful.
For example, in western culture, it’s not unusual for advertising to be sarcastic or irreverent. You might see an eye-rolling teenager featured in an American ad. In another culture not only could that be offensive, but it also wouldn’t even have the same meaning.
Cultural insensitivity in marketing has caused problems for many brands. You have to get to know your audience. Never assume that their values are the same as your other audience members.
The best way to approach localization is to start by educating yourself and your team about your new audience, then take care to employ sensitivity in your efforts. Once you have done these things, you can begin your localization efforts. Just be sure to pay attention to audience sentiment. Finally, know when it is time to invest in the services of localization company. This can be more than worth any expense.
Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.