Technology has lowered the threshold for brands to be global, and marketers often end up with a global remit, responsible for acquiring customers or users in multiple markets, languages and cultures.
Global marketers need to be aware of consumer trends and their impact on advertising effectiveness and adoption of technology. While at the same time they need to know how to deploy the latest marketing tools and understand some of the challenges and solutions to launch effective worldwide campaigns.
Global Marketing is emerging as a core discipline, so in the latest meetings of the CMO Breakfast Club, we discussed the results of a research report we conducted in collaboration with Freedman International, a leading global implementation agency.
We had a mix of CMOs and marketing directors from a variety of businesses in attendance at both our London and San Francisco meetings from brands including The BBC, Ralph Lauren, Trustpilot, Deutsche Bank and Nissan in London, and SAP, Salesforce, IBM Watson and EA Games.
For the report, ClickZ surveyed over 500 senior marketers in the US and UK about the challenges and opportunities that they see in the year ahead within global marketing. The research identified 7 key trends and provides case studies and best practice for marketers to understand how to implement the learnings in their business.
Here are some of the key themes based on the 7 key trends that you will find in the full report.
Trust and Transparency
Transparency is something that consumers have come to expect from brands, it is one of the pillars of building trust. In London, we shared stories of what happens when that trust is lost, how that impacts on the brand and what strategies can be employed to rebuild it.
Often the best approach is to be honest and humble and act immediately. One attendee put it like this, “It’s not enough for brands to talk about humility and transparency, they have to live it and act it”.
We heard several specific examples of what happens when brands are in crisis, and their response strategies. The retailers in our group shared the importance of transparency and why being ‘ethical’ matters more than ever, from the supply chain to the in-store experience.
Authenticity is also a key element of building trust. Global brands have embraced the trend of showing real people in their advertising, rather than airbrushed models – because this is what consumers want.
Consumers relate to people who look and act like them, more than ever it’s vital to gather insights into your what your consumers believe, across all markets and generations, “Generations often have more in common than nations”.
We also touched upon the importance for companies to have a purpose, increasingly so for younger generations. Attendees shared some great examples of how their companies have instigated programs that help local communities and those in developing countries. One global tech player even mentioned that they have adopted the UN’s 17 goals for sustainable development into their Corporate Social Responsibility program.
With increasingly short attention spans, it’s getting harder to capture the attention of consumers.
Many of our attending members talked about how the average length of their video content has shrunk to below 6 seconds, meaning they need to front-load critical information and ‘hook’ consumers in. Both B2B and B2C marketers agreed that there is still a place for longer form video further down the funnel, with customers who are at the point of purchase, or have already purchased, ready to watch longer form video.
Even for relatively small B2B brands, it’s no longer enough to produce one video and stick it on YouTube. Today’s video production is much more complex, with varying lengths, content and platforms not to mention different languages and cultural references.
Similarly, many marketers are now thinking about the impact of voice search on how consumers can discover their brands.
Voice search only gives one answer, so the immediate challenge is rethinking and restructuring the architecture of your online store or website to rank for the search terms that consumers might voice search. Longer term, marketers need to understand the impact of smart home devices on brand consideration and selection.
Take everyone’s favorite example, the smart refrigerator, it orders your groceries automatically, so what role does the human have in selecting brands?
We also discussed the growth of internal production teams, and how this had evolved from a relatively modest outfit to having multiple solutions, each with different levels of finish for different audiences and purposes.
When it comes to localizations the best practice seems to be to take the format and message and localize around 30-40% of the content. Whilst there are some elements (e.g. product demos) that will translate, a lot of other content needs to be locally adapted.
Even for the more technical content, it is still worth checking any assumptions to ensure this relates and resonates in the target market.
Building a global brand involves two distinct, and sometimes competing, strategies — playbooks and agility.
Playbooks contain a set of campaign ideas, tested channels, messages and creative assets which have worked well for the domestic market, that are pushed down to local markets. However, those in local markets are ‘in market’ and therefore closer to the local customers, meaning they should be able to tell what is going to resonate best in their territory. They see the brand guidelines and playbooks as a useful starting place, but experience has taught them (or will quickly teach them) that they need to adapt, iterate and learn.
This was an example of where the tension arises and was another key theme that was discussed at some depth. Central offices, who control budgets, planning and resources, aiming for consistency, and local offices, who are closer to the customer and require flexibility or agility, two different strategies to achieve the same goal.
Some solutions that were covered included everything from building better processes, to swapping places in ‘secondments’ between central and local offices. Ultimately, it is a human problem and sometimes, it can only be learned by trial and error.
Being humble was another key point with one member saying, “You need to leave your ego at the door”.
Simple things matter, even setting conference calls at times that aren’t absurdly early or late for regional office can strengthen relationships, not to mention getting the best from your team.
A number of head office marketers also talked about how they now recognized the importance of thinking global implementation first, championing local talent and voices and creating a feedback loop from each local market back to HQ. “A global strategy can be driven from the top, but needs to be guided locally”.
Another key point was to focus on building relationships, empowering individuals to see their colleagues as fellow humans, on the same team, rather than as obstacles.
Building a process and using the right technology can be important to ensure regular communication and consistency of purpose within the team: Tools such as Slack and Chatter allow much more fluid, social and authentic communication than email.
Technology presents both challenges and opportunities, as brands globalize, but the solution lies with human creativity and relationships, something that not even an AI-powered bot can simulate, yet.
As one member put it, “No one teaches you how to do global marketing…”.
To see the full report you can download it here and if you are interested in joining a future CMO Breakfast Club, you can register your interest here.
Freedman International: Global marketing campaigns delivered worldwide.
Freedman are your global implementation partner. Since 1990 they’ve delivered global marketing campaigns in all media, in all markets.
Freedman adapt, transcreate and produce campaigns which resonate with local audiences, allowing your brand to thrive everywhere.