Last Updated: August 20, 2019 3:00PM
by Sophia Eakins
This is the fifth in a 10-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from 20 years in the business. Today: what you can learn from other companies that are going or have gone global.
Lace-up your sneakers and step up to the starting line: you’re ready to reach countless customers in new markets. You’ve secured your spot in the Global Marketplace (whether by default or design). But before you sprint away, take a good look around you. You are not alone in this race. You are one of thousands of companies going for that global gold. Yes, that means more competition. But more competition also means you have more companies to learn from. An important part of your globalization strategy should be regular and thorough analyses of talent. You should even—perhaps especially—take note if that talent comes from your competitors.
To give you a head start, we’ve compiled some tips on how to leverage the work other contestants have done before you.
Who leads the pack in your current market? What about their business strategy makes them a successful global competitor? You aren’t starting in a vacuum. Be resourceful and use others’ successes to your advantage.
Experts advise analyzing how your competition engages its audience. Identify the language and tone competitors use in their messaging, their primary marketing channels, and the types of content they create to promote their products and services.
For example: assume you are looking to expand to a market in Southeast Asia. A first step in conducting an effective competitive analysis is to find a global company that has already been successful in that market—and understand why.
Google recognized that people in Southeast Asia spend more time per day on their phones than people in any other region in the world. Using this information, Google adjusted its approach in order to accommodate this mobile-first culture.
A lesson from what Google learned? It’s twofold: first, Google’s work expanding into Southeast Asia reveals a cultural preference for mobile experiences. Second, more generally, this experience teaches companies to look past the message they’re attempting to convey. True global resonance arises from a combination of the right content and the right medium by which it’s delivered.
Fill (or Avoid) Gaps
That said, when you are looking at what other companies are doing in a particular market, don’t forget to recognize what they aren’t.
For instance, perhaps you have identified a gap in the market where you are looking to expand. That can mean a few things:
- There is some reason why that market is inaccessible. Perhaps consumers are fiercely loyal to local industries, and foreign companies have not been successful there.
- Some quality of your product or service might clash with the cultural conventions of the target market.
- A diamond lies in the rough. If you have found an opportunity that other top competitors have overlooked, you have a chance to slip through a gap and pull ahead to the front of the race.
Now Look Back
You can certainly learn a lot from your stronger competitors, but it is important that you do not discount those who have not succeeded. Who are these players? Where did they falter?
You can learn much from past companies’ missteps. Did they launch a product without conducting the proper analysis to ascertain whether customers in that market needed or wanted it? Was their website poorly localized and thus inaccessible or—worse—offensive to prospective customers? Did they run a marketing campaign delivered by a medium their target customers weren’t using?
A benefit of taking part in a global-sized competition is that you have the knowledge and experience of scores of other companies at your fingertips. You have the privilege of learning from mistakes others have made in the past, so you can avoid them in the future.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The path to globalization is a long and challenging one. Any athlete will tell you that the effort you put into training and preparation is just as critical as the race itself. In parts 1-5 of our “Going Global” Series, we laid the foundation for how to pull ahead in the race to Go Global. Stay tuned for next week, when we will coach you through another important aspect of your globalization strategy: multilingual, multimarket Search Engine Optimization.
Are you ready? On your mark, get set, go global.
Missed earlier installments of our Going Global Series? Find them here:
Going Global 101, Part 1: What Does it Mean to Go Global?
Going Global 101, Part 2: So You Have a Website. Are You a Global Company?
Going Global 101, Part 3: Going Global Glossary
Going Global 101, Part 4: Where Are You Going?