Expanding your brand by going international will definitely bring you more sales, market share, and brand recognition— only if you do it right. The first step you should take is good market research. You have to know the lay of the land before you build on it.
Take note that this article is about market research instead of marketing research. Market research deals with information about the market itself while marketing research is focused on marketing processes and tactics.
This article will focus on the research phase that precedes an international business marketing strategy instead of talking about optimizing current marketing strategies. This won’t be a comprehensive step-by-step tutorial on market research. Rather, this article will list key vital areas in market research where you need to put extra effort in terms of optimizing to a multilingual market.
Re-examining Your Business Goals & Preparing for an International Market
As with any other market research, it begins by asking yourself and your business colleagues a set of questions in the likes of “What is your goal?”, “How can I make my brand compete with local competitors?”, “How can I make my product relevant?”, and etc.
Only this time, you’ll have to reorient those questions within the areas of how you can establish your brand as a competitive player in a new foreign market. As you’ll continue reading this article, the more you’ll be equipped to come up with a good answer to your questions.
Hiring the Right Translation Company & Why You Need Them
Right from the beginning, you have to get in touch with a translation company. A translation company provides professional translation services to many types of industries. Similar to contracting any type of service, carefully choose your translation company by taking a look at their portfolio, services provided, testimonials, pricing, and etc.
In this context, you’ll want to find a translation company that provides essential services that the marketing industry requires. These include marketing translation, website translation, technical translation, document translation, creative translation, and localization.
Localization is the process of adapting content, be it products/services/digital media/ to another audience or market. We’ll go further in-depth about localization on the next heading and how it is essential to an international marketing strategy.
Expanding Your Sales & Marketing Opportunities Through Localization
Localization is about making your brand relevant to your target audience. It’s about finding the sweet spot between market research, marketing strategies, and content delivery that will have your market become receptive and loyal to your brand. Here’s a short but essential list of criteria in a localization strategy.
- Linguistic Nuances – Other than knowing your market’s standard language, you also have to know that languages are inherently divided into vernaculars and dialects. Even the English language has dialects. For example, using marketing terminology catered to the American audience won’t exactly fit for an Irish or Australian market.
- Cultural & Social References – Just because you got a hold of accurate translation doesn’t necessarily mean that it is relevant to your market. Incorporating cultural references, be it traditional culture or pop culture, will capture their attention and improve your brand’s perception.
- Cultural & Social Faux Pas – This involves what your market’s cultural and social taboos. Watch out for references involving religion, and politics, and other social norms that you need to be aware of. Some citizens have strong opinions on certain things about their society’s collective history. It’s best to steer away from committing any faux pas.
Localization will be present not just in your market research phase but also during your marketing campaign and even as you continue doing business. You can never be truly rid of localization, especially whether you’re going global or catering to a multilingual audience.
Knowing Your Market Research Options
You’re probably already aware of the importance of general market research and why initial feedback is super important. The type of market research methodology that you want to employ will depend on the resources you can spare.
Depending on your budget, time, and convenience, you’ll still want to get a hold as many people as you can and get as much critical feedback you can get.
While secondary research involving internet research and market reports will get you a general but sufficient outlook on a specific market, dedicated research methods, although it will lead to comprehensive and detailed results, is nevertheless more expensive.
Indeed, tapping into a new market is also much more than just a google search here and there. But worry not as there are definitely low-cost market research options that don’t involve hiring professional psychologists and marketers to conduct in-depth surveys.
You can start by asking your family members, relatives, and friends for their opinions. Since we’re talking about foreign markets, local networking is also essential. Ask local acquaintances and friends and ask for their feedback. Granted, it is less scientific but in situations like these, you’ll have to work with what you have and make the most of it.
You can also further expand your local networking opportunities by going to local trade expos, shows, and conferences to get an in-depth look at your competition, market, and even future business partners.
Regardless of the methodology and what research instruments you’ll be using, here’s a list of criteria, but not limited to, that you need to take into consideration in your data gathering period.
- Demographics (gender, age, income, education, occupation,)
- Customer Preferences (price preferences, product/service/content expectations, aesthetic preferences)
- Local competition (Are there brands that provide the same product/services like yours?)
- Preferred marketing channels (Television, radio, print, billboards, social media).
- Relevant market trends and exploiting gaps in the current market.
Of course, never forget that your translation company will also be involved in your market research process. They’ll be providing the proper translation for any documents you’ll need and even help you understand your market even better. Rather, this section was an overview and what you need to take into account before you proceed to your actual market research phase with your translation company.
Preserving Your Brand’s Reputation by Knowing Relevant Laws & Paperwork
If you already have a physical location in your home country, then you’re already aware of the type of paperwork you had to prepare. Naturally, it’s no different anywhere else in terms of getting the right paperwork to make your brand legal.
Also, consult with your translation company and ask for document translation services as you’ll be heading into legal territory where mistranslations might cost you heavily.
As the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. Since we’re dealing with foreign markets here, you’ll have to be mindful of relevant laws & paperwork.
I. International trade laws, commercial laws, customs laws, intellectual property laws
II. Regulated & restricted items
A. Shipping prohibited items might have your brand blacklisted
B. Some countries ban illegal displays of certain imagery and content
Ex. Germany bans anything not related to education, research, and art that displays Nazi-imagery
III. Shipping & payment options (some markets prefer cash-on-delivery as opposed to credit card payments)
IV. For brick and mortar locations; business registration, permits, recurring fees,
It’s a different situation from country to country. Some countries are more liberal with their import laws while other countries are almost draconian towards restrictions on certain items. But in the end, it absolutely pays in getting the right paperwork and knowing your legal boundaries.
An illegally running business that cuts legal corners will undoubtedly hurt your brand’s reputation and future with international authorities and commercial entities. Some stains are harder to wash off than others and some might even stay stuck with you when you try a new market.
Don’t be discouraged as to how extensive multilingual market research can be. Indeed, it is comprehensive and time-consuming, but you’ll be right on track in building up the proper foundations of your marketing campaign and international business operations.
All you need to do is find the right translation company and locals to work with and take it step by step. Once you have a good marketing strategy, you can step up your marketing and customer service operations and by using Pipeliner CRM as your CRM of choice.
Bio: CEO of Tomedes, an industry-leading language service provider, Ofer Tirosh collaborates with professional translators all over the globe to cater to clients of all industries that are looking for quality translation services. Tomedes offers niche services to the marketing industry such as marketing translation, document translation, technical translation, localization services, and more.