Now, don’t get us wrong. Professional translation is an absolutely critical piece to the global business puzzle. Without it, you can almost bet your messages will miss the mark with customers—or be ignored altogether. Neither situation is exactly worthy of doing a happy dance.
And yet, it may not work for your business to rely solely on professional translation to sell products internationally. You may need to localize as well.
Many of the world’s best-known brands use localization to adapt their global business strategy as necessary so they can look and feel local in their target markets. This is important now more than ever as personalization becomes a worldwide demand.
When you’re planning to expand your global presence into new markets, don’t rule out localization. It’s a powerful way to help you build a loyal customer base in every locale you do business in. Add some local flair to your global business approach with these three best practices.
1. Adapt your business model—from products to stores
Before you enter a new locale, one of the first considerations—even before professional translation—are your actual products or service offerings. It’s a good idea to conduct some market research and truly get to know these new customers so you can understand how they’ll react to your products, services, stores and business concepts.
Companies that fail to fully grasp the local culture may find themselves retreating just shortly after they arrive. Take Home Depot, for instance. The business found itself closing all seven of its big-box stores in China after years of losses, having discovered that the do-it-yourself model didn’t align to a “do it for me” culture.
On the flipside, Starbucks had a strong localization strategy when planning for entry into the Chinese market. Starbucks realized that its drive-through-like stores work well in the U.S. but may be less well-received in China, where consumers value space and couches to relax in the afternoons. The brand leaders also discovered that China’s love for coffee only runs so deep. These insights led Starbucks to adapt their stores to incorporate local design and more space, making it the optimal space to hang out with friends and colleagues. The team also changed its menu to offer unique items like red bean frappuccinos. Because of this, Starbucks’ presence—and sales—are strong in China and the entire Asia Pacific region.
Of course, menus, store collateral and other materials require professional translation. But when it comes right down to it, if people don’t care about your products, translation alone won’t be enough to sell them.
2. Add local taste to your marketing campaigns
Along with your products, look specifically at your marketing campaigns. A global approach may not be as effective as a tailored campaign that connects with and engages your target audience.
Of course, professional translation is crucial here—be sure that you have in-country subject matter experts that understand marketing practices. Only these individuals can ensure that the messages are effective. Add some local aspects to your campaign, and get ready to see much stronger results.
There are many examples of companies doing this—and doing it extremely well. These companies include homegrown touches like local celebrities, holidays, events and more.
Nike features unique, locally known celebrity athletes as spokespeople in many of their campaigns tailored for markets around the globe. Even its World Cup ad, which is for a global rather than local event, incorporates the same local feel—highlighting various players from all over the world, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Sweden, Cristiano Ronaldo from Brazil, Wayne Rooney of England, Andrés Iniesta of Spain and many more.
For more tips on how to localize your campaigns, check out Global marketing campaigns: Is your approach personalized for each locale?
3. Create a custom online experience
Another way to build a local presence—even if you don’t actually have physical stores—is to customize your website for each market. Your website is your virtual storefront to the world, and as more and more people research products and services online before pulling the trigger on a purchase, it’s absolutely vital that your site is top notch and tailored.
More than just pursuing professional translation, you may want to consider website localization to create a tailored, locale-specific online experience for all your audiences. You don’t want to turn off—or worse yet, offend—any potential prospects. Things like layout, colors, images, symbols and more all warrant close attention so you can meet your audiences’ online expectations and align to cultural values.
Check out The fine art of mastering website localization: The McDonald’s story to learn more.
Professional translation + localization = powerful results
Instead of relying on professional translation to do all the heavy lifting, couple your global efforts with a solid localization strategy, and you’ll be on the right track to success. We’ve helped many international brands do just that.
To help ensure that your brand doesn’t get diluted as you cater your content for specific locales, check out our best practice brief Global marketing translations: 6 best practices for preserving your brand’s identity.
If you’ve used any of these tactics to enhance your global marketing efforts, did you see stronger results?
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