The role of software
Software is amazing. It's hard to imagine any aspect of life that isn't impacted by code.
In some cases the software we encounter is at the core of the task (e.g. medical imaging.) In others, it's integral to the task (e.g. CAD.) And in others it's intended to help - to increase efficiency or extend capabilities (e.g. marketing automation.)
What's not so cool is when software purports to be something it's not. In that case, no matter how hot the fad, eventually it fails. But it doesn't fail until after it's caused expense in the form of lost productivity, poorly justified investment or time wasting hassle.
Every day at the intersection of marketing and international business growth I see an example of software which purports to be something it's not.
- Cloud translation -
Almost without exception this is sold as the passe-partout to convert extensive content marketing into a global sales growth juggernaut.
This is simply incorrect - but the false assurances and expectations are building.
Translate it and they will come
The breakdown is simple. Implied in most of the cloud translation marketing material is the embedded assumption that the only hangup between domestic marketing and international success is efficient translation.
It's analogous to suggesting that you only need one version of any product, and only have one persona to whom you sell.
Different buyers within the US have different requirements - that's why you have options. And you market and sell those differently depending on the prevalent business issue that you address, and how the target experiences that issue.
And then you expand internationally - where:
- corporate structures differ
- formality and hierarchy impact how people raise and present ideas and suggestions
- accounting practices are different and return expectations vary
- strategic planning cycles cover substantially different periods
- economic factors substantially impact the viability of different products and services
In some cases your domestic home run product or service may not even have a viable market. If it does, it may be based on an entirely different justification or USP, and would likely face a drastically different persona, buying journey and procurement process.
Those are all issues that you've invested heavily to understand and optimize in your domestic marketing. Yet many companies simply discount those differences. They skip, seduced by the ease of cloud based workflows, to translation.
That doesn't work. Of course, some basic website pages which are easily understood by folks in target markets will be helpful - but the fundamental assumption that the key to translating (pun intended) great domestic marketing into international success is simply efficient marketing translation is wrong.
What cloud translation does well
The systems are designed to maximize workflow efficiency, controls, communication, approvals and commonly used text.
Generally they do that, and API connections with CMSs eliminate wasted hours repairing formatting as information is cut & pasted between text management tools.
What cloud translation can't do
Neither cloud based translation tools, nor a more traditional exchange of documents for translation can take a fundamentally misdirected approach and adapt it. That's not the translators job.
If you haven't developed local personas, understand the 3D buying journey for your product/service in a culturally appropriate way; and developed your USPs for the market - you don't have international marketing.
Marketing translation can't fix that.
An incremental, data driven approach to using digital marketing to grow globally
All that being said, your instincts are right. There is a huge global opportunity, and digital marketing offers an incredibly efficient and effective way to identify market opportunities and then incrementally pursue them.
We've written a guide about how to do just that. We outline traditional barriers, how digital tools can reduce risk, and how to economically follow a step-by-step approach to global sales growth using digital marketing. Download your free copy here.