Going Global: When do you create a local marketing presence?

Bryan Semple by

Editor’s Note: This post is part two of a three part series covering global marketing expansion. You can read the first article in this series here.

In part 1 of this series we discussed the benefits of centralized marketing and the reach that centralized teams can have on a global basis. In this article, we’ll discuss the tipping point for going global.

Despite the effectiveness of a centralized team, at some point going local makes sense. The term “going local” is really the key term. If you are operating correctly, your company already has a strong global footprint, most likely in English, and most likely in American English. The key is to decide when to segment your marketing efforts and “go local” to serve markets that are under-represented in your revenue mix. This terminology nuance is important to note especially when dealing with internal stakeholders. Many sales organizations will not realize the global reach you currently have from a centralized location and will prematurely push for someone to be “in country”. Showing traffic and leads by country that are driven by a centralized marketing team is a powerful metric to ensure you go local at the right time.

There are a couple of tipping points for going local and opening up remote, inbound marketing offices. The first, of course, is sales team presence. At some point, most organizations will start to open multiple remote sales offices. Most likely, this is done to support time zone coverage for customers. Sales offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific are not uncommon. Further local offices can be deployed for massive markets like China and Japan where local presence for the sales team is critical. Once these local offices start opening up and once they are staffed with a critical mass of sales reps, a local marketing person becomes more important.

Pressure will come from the sales team, but at what point does it make sense? The question to ask sales is – “would you rather I add a local marketing resource who can drive x incremental leads for y geography”, or “would you rather I add another central resource that can drive x incremental leads for the entire world”. If there is data that points to an underserved geography with a different language than your global language, the case can start to be built that a local resource is better than adding another global marketer. For example, the scenario could be that you can get 1,000 more leads from DACH if you had a local marketer driving programs in German, but adding a centralized marketer to increase content marketing, you think is only worth 800 more leads. The case is rarely this clear cut, but a mix of sales people, remote, underserved markets, and the need to get your marketing team more attuned to local conditions starts to tip the balance.

There are other tipping points to adding local marketing assistance. Global webinar programs start to become problematic due to time zones depending on their scale. Most global webinars will run 3 – 4 times during a 24 hour cycle. Depending on the frequency, there are only so many times you can ask people to get up in the middle of the night to present from a central global location. Local offices make these webinars easier to accomplish. Even better, local offices allow the building out of podcasting/webcasting studios around the world to support a truly global webinar effort.

Managing press, influencers and analysts can also be more readily accomplished in time-zone. While most of the larger analyst firms provide access to their analysts worldwide, smaller boutique agencies and regional influencers will be easier to reach with marketers in time zone.

Finally, the marketing organization will take a giant leap forward in their ability to localize for specific markets once you have hired for the first localized marketer. Having a central marketing organization think globally is very different than having marketers in local sales offices feeling the pain of an insensitive global marketing organization, no matter how “globally aware” the central marketing team thinks they are. Operating in a truly global fashion takes a lot of commitment and change to operations. Having a constant reminder from someone outside the central office that the central team isn’t considering all the nuances to operating 6 or more time zones away from the central office helps. Even the most globally tuned in central marketing team will be surprised at how many obvious mistakes for a local market they make when trying to run programs centrally.

In the final post in this series, we will discuss the top five ways to successfully implement localized marketing.