Here are some questions to begin with to help determine if and when your company will be ready to enter the global marketplace and what is needed to do so:
- Is the corporate leadership committed and involved in going global?
- Who should be involved in our global game plan and strategizing sessions? What are their specific roles and responsibilities?
- Have we done any market research to determine: What global markets have a demand for our offering? Who would we compete with in each market–how are we the same and different? Does our offering (products/services) have to be restructured or rebuilt to include specific features and options?
- What do we anticipate in operations cost increases? Does the revenue potential in that market support that increase?
- Does our enterprise system have the capability to support multiple languages and currencies?
- Should we acquire foreign companies or partner with existing businesses in the local markets to support expansion strategies? Or should we build our own operations?
- What operations should be local and which ones should not?
- As we continue to enter new markets, how will we integrate them into the overall marketing and communications strategy as well as those operations and processes already in place?
- Will we need additional staff to provide language expertise by market, cultural and geographical understanding, legal support, etc.? Should this staff be localized in the areas we do business in? Or should we consider outsourcing to those who offer services to support our needs in key markets–i.e., multilingual contact centers to provide customer support or warehousing for fulfillment and shipping?
- Once our global game plan is finalized, how do we introduce it to the entire organization to generate excitement, ownership, accountability and enthusiasm? What marketing and communication efforts should we focus on to launch our new corporate international mission to our customers and partners–should we focus domestically and/or globally?
If your organization is a pure dot-com or is interested in “localizing” its Web site presence to support efforts in new markets, then also ask yourself these types of questions:
- Are the markets we are targeting equipped for Web connectivity?
- Have we done our homework prior to “building our online presence” to completely understand our target market and its local customers? Do we really know how our online audience behaves, what their shopping traits are like, what payment methods they use, what sort of information they need to make a purchase and how do they want that presented to them?
- Have we localized our site graphics, content and navigational structure to support the target audience and their cultural preferences? Does our brand image (logo) and corporate message make sense to our target markets? Are our corporate colors or content wording culturally offensive in anyway?
- Who will manage the content on the site–updating, accuracy, messaging, etc.? Do we have a qualified partner to help us translate all our Web content? Does the partner have local translators in country to do the translation? What portion of the site and its content should be translated? Should the content be translated verbatim to what we say in our local language, or should we rewrite portions of it to better communicate to our target audience?
- Who will manage the site’s performance, daily functionality challenges, IT, etc.?
- What criteria will be used to measure the success (Return On Investment) of our global expansion online?
- Does our e-commerce site support the local–market currency/conversion frequency, payment methods, taxes, tariffs, VATs, language, logistics, supply chain fulfillment, customer service and support, distribution channels, legal practices, etc. Do we have technology to handle multilingual email inquiries, accounting and payment needs, etc.?
- Should we forge partnerships with individual banks to handle our online transactions or with a “payment hub” that already holds relationships with banks in specific markets?
- Do we have a logistics partner(s) who understands global shipping and handling requirements based on our warehouses and ship-to markets?
Strategizing Your Next Move In The Global Game
by Karin K. Schaff-Glazier
MarketingProfs.com, April 29, 2003