Kill your global digital marketing in 1 step - with focus on language

Ed Marsh | Jun 2, 2014

Focus on the facts

Let's assume.....dangerous, right?  But we need to start somewhere.

So let's assume that you set out to create content marketing which will support your B2B sales effort for capital equipment to US manufacturing facilities.

Now note - we're assuming that you're steps ahead of your average competitors.  You're well beyond simple creating 8.5X11" sell sheets with bullet points of 'features.'  You're a convert to the discipline of content marketing; you're initiative is built on a cerebral strategy and it's executed relentlessly.

So what's the focus of your content?  The issues (and cascading implications) that keep the plant engineers, production managers, general managers and maybe even the CFOs awake at night.  And naturally, somewhere along the way relatively far down the funnel, you put the dots real close together for them - illustrating how your product will resolve one area of angst so they can lay awake at night fixating on their next biggest problem.

And if you're doing this, you're probably crushing your numbers.

But now let's pretend

But what if you started by creating really artfully written content that focused on the features of your product.  I mean really artistically written stuff - white papers with literary merit worthy of a short story competition, for instance.

What would the flow of marketing qualified leads look like then?  Probably pretty lame.

And that's intuitive, right?  Your content certainly must be well written and appropriate and accessible for your audience, BUT before anything else, it must speak to topics about which they care.  Indeed if it doesn't provide edifying value around their business issues, they won't bother to read it regardless of the prose.

So why does the word "global" somehow bend reality?

There's a funny (not really....maybe strange is the right word) thing that happens as soon as people begin to talk about how digital marketing can help them grow global B2B sales.  The word global seems to distort common business sense!

Suddenly they ignore all the fundamental predicates of successful B2B marketing - and instead fixate on translation.  Here's a recent example from an article from Business2Community.
"Take time to dive into your web traffic and analytics as best as possible with any country you don’t currently serve. See when the largest amount of activity is occurring. You may find that the vast majority of your traffic prefers your standard “English” website and sees no defined need for regionally specific content. Such is often the case with industries that are based in the United States but serve location such as but not limited to:
  • Canada 
  • United Kingdom 
  • South Africa 
  • Australia 
  • New Zealand 
  • as well as other countries where English is the first language or a high-ranking secondary language"
Put aside for a moment the naive assumption that there is a single, ubiquitous version of 'English.'  Does anyone seriously believe that all those locations share identical conditions with the US in areas of business impact?  Consider factors that directly impact business investment and operations decisions:
  • regulatory environment
  • cost of real estate (manufacturing & warehouse space, WiP inventories, etc.)
  • business practice (JiT, innovation)
  • cost of labor (and various loading factors which impact it locally)
  • logistics
  • common trading partners/markets and their requirements
Of course there are many more - but the point is that a business person, making a rational decision in one market based on prevalent local considerations will reach a dramatically different conclusion than their counterpart in a different market facing a divergent reality.  And in that regard language is almost immaterial.  But for nearly every company considering global expansion, language and translation seems to top the list of perceived impediments.

And that's a problem.  Your expansion efforts aren't some short-term high school exchange experience where it's cool to experiment with language and sip espresso - it's business.  Investment must correlate to return and all efforts must focus on substantive issues rather than superficial ones.

Why then do companies tend to abandon fundamentals when they begin to consider global expansion?  And why do so many "experts" counsel that translation is the first and most important step to success?

Harvesting vs cultivating

Now none of this means that companies with very good domestic US digital marketing can't harvest valuable marketing and sales qualified leads globally.  In fact any company with great inbound marketing probably is.  (Although many sadly fail to sell them based on unfounded fears.)

But passively gathering leads is very different than actively cultivating them - and the latter is clearly the intent when the topic turns to translation.  So if proactively cultivating certain markets for global sales growth is your objective, resist the reflexive urge to simply translate.  Step back and undertake an appropriate global growth initiative design.

And only once it's clear which markets are realistic, what types of buyers you will pursue, and what timeframes and investments are realistic - then it might make sense to begin to internationalize your marketing.  Wondering how to undertake that?  Check out our free ebook.

International marketing infographic