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International Marketing: Strategies that Avoid Pitfalls

February 27, 2023
International Marketing: Strategies that Avoid Pitfalls

According to Shopify, the 2022 global e-commerce market’s value was a staggering $5.7 trillion. If your business wants to tap into this massive market and expand its reach among worldwide audiences, it will need to embrace international marketing.

While domestic marketing presents its fair share of challenges, international marketing is significantly more difficult. You must account for local buying trends, cultural differences, and a variety of other factors when attempting to break into international markets.

To help secure your brand’s place in the global market, it is essential to understand what international marketing is and how you can successfully implement this growth tactic into your brand-building strategy.

An Example of International Marketing in Action

There are countless examples of international marketing and its ability to help brands reach beyond borders. However, few brands are better at international marketing than Coca-Cola. According to Statista, Coca-Cola is both the most popular and most valuable soda brand in the world. The global brand value of Coke exceeds $74 billion.

So, what does Coca-Cola do so right as a shining example of international marketing in action? The easier answer is “everything.” More specifically, the beverage behemoth balances universal values with campaign localization in order to connect with millions of consumers around the world.

For instance, the brand’s commercials promote happiness, sharing, and joy, which are three concepts that transcend language barriers, cultural differences, and borders.

In terms of personalizing campaigns to suit local audiences, the beverage company frequently partners with national celebrities via endorsement deals. This approach is great for keeping the brand relevant among existing customers and is even more effective for launching new products.

Coca-Cola not only partners with regional celebrities, but it also even adjusts the taste of the soda to better align with the preferences of specific cultures.

What Is International Marketing? (Definition)

As the name implies, “international marketing” is the process of advertising your services or products to consumers that reside outside of the nation in which your business is based.

For instance, if your organization is based in the U.S., marketing products or services to consumers in Canada or Mexico would constitute international marketing.

Alternatively referred to as “global marketing,” international marketing is extremely research-intensive. Conducting extensive market research will help you understand and account for the nuances associated with advertising to international audiences.

Essentially, you cannot simply “copy and paste” your domestic marketing strategy and apply it to the international market. Even if the majority of your content is relevant to an international audience, you must still tailor your messaging based on local trends, traditions, buying habits, and cultural factors.

How Your Brand Can Create a Winning International Marketing Strategy

Investing in an international marketing plan can be a savvy move that fuels the growth of your business. However, there are many pitfalls associated with international marketing that you must proactively avoid if you want your product to be a big hit outside of the domestic market environment.

When building your international marketing strategy, it’s best to follow these steps:

Research, Research, Research

Conducting market research will lay the foundation for a successful campaign. During your research, make sure to assess the viability of each market you are considering targeting. Specifically, you should focus on increasing your understanding of each territory:

  • Economy
  • Culture
  • Demographics
  • Government regulations

You should also evaluate whether doing business in a territory will be cheaper or more costly than selling your product domestically. If doing business in a particular market will be more expensive, make sure to price your products accordingly.

There are a lot of frameworks you can use to understand new markets, but of one the most commonly used is the SWOT analysis. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and if done properly it can give you an idea of how well you can do in a certain market before you even start jotting down the strategies and tactics.

Be Selective About Which Markets You Target

Generally, you should avoid markets that are excessively volatile or oversaturated with products like yours. Trying to break into any international market is tough, but gaining a foothold in one that is flooded with alternative options is especially difficult, and often fruitless.

Remember, not every market will be a good fit for your brand. Focus on the markets that are viable, and pass on the ones that don’t seem to align with your goals.

Familiarize Yourself with Potential Pitfalls

There are several potential pitfalls that you might encounter when expanding to international markets, including:

  • Cultural differences
  • Considerable competition
  • Government restrictions, taxes, or fees
  • Logistical headaches

Knowing what challenges you are facing before investing your precious time and resources into an international campaign will increase your odds of success.

Connect with Locals

Conducting market research is often not enough. You should also strive to connect with local partners. Local distributors and packers can provide invaluable feedback that you can leverage to ensure that your marketing tactics will appeal to your target audience.

Local partners can even help you better understand customs in their territory so that you do not inadvertently alienate your prospective consumers.

Tailor Your Content

You will want to avoid translating your existing content into another language and attempting to recycle it in new markets. While this approach might be more economical, the content will probably not resonate with your new audience.

Instead, tailor your content and the channels you use to deliver it. For instance, some markets might respond better to more traditional advertising, like radio or TV commercials. Conversely, other demographics might be more receptive to social media posts and short but captivating online video clips.

Adapt and Evolve

No matter how much time and effort you devote to your international marketing campaign — or your domestic one, for that matter — there will always be ways that you can improve your approach and enhance your content.

With this in mind, you must be willing to adapt and evolve if you want to win at international marketing. After each campaign, assess what worked and what didn’t. Gather feedback from your target audience, make the necessary adjustments, and keep pushing forward.

Fuel Your International Marketing Efforts with MarcomCentral

If you hope to make a big splash with your international marketing strategy, you are going to need a mechanism for distributing content across your worldwide personnel. That’s where MarcomCentral can help.

We provide international brands with a robust online digital asset management platform that makes it easy to distribute marketing assets to your global teams. Our powerful solution can streamline mission-critical internal processes, optimize collaboration, and ensure that all of your staff are always on the same page.
To learn more about our international marketing resource management solutions, schedule a consultation with MarcomCentral today.