Is Localizing Your Marketing Materials Really Necessary? (YES!)

If you’re like most marketers today, you may be tasked with increasing global revenue for your company while fighting tight budgets and even tighter timelines. As a result, you may be tempted to launch your campaigns in English only—but the truth is that global consumers are demanding information in their own language and they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, 96% of the world’s consumers do not live in the United States and less than 6% of the world’s population speaks English well enough to conduct business, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Furthermore, 56.2% say information in their own language is more important than price and 60% of consumers from non-English speaking countries rarely or never buy from English-only websites, according to Common Sense Advisory. The good news is that it is possible to quickly and effectively engage foreign markets. Here how:

Things to consider as you’re creating your global marketing campaign

In order for global marketing campaigns to be effective, the brand needs to be aligned globally but relevant locally. Campaigns that are created in-country can be very culturally relevant, but may stray from the brand. Campaigns that are developed centrally at headquarters without any input from the local region may miss the cultural mark entirely; different regions have unique concerns and priorities. For example, people in Germany tend to be more concerned about security and localization than people in Scandinavia.

So, it’s a good idea to take a hybrid approach. Develop the core message and strategy centrally, but get input from the local stakeholders. In order for this to work, you need to find local partners who not only understand what will resonate in that community, but who also understand the global brand message you are trying to convey so that they can bridge the gap between the product and the local market. This will allow you to maintain brand consistency and add local relevancy, while minimizing costs and time to market.

How to create content that is easy to localize

The key is to create a campaign with broad appeal throughout the globe that incorporates messaging that can be easily localized. For example, you can develop templates that incorporate content and multi-cultural imagery that will be recognized in multiple locations. Coca-Cola has a campaign going right now that plays off of the World Cup. The brand has individual pages for each country that reference local football celebrities and culture, but the overall concept is the same.


Intel also does a great job of this. When launching its Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, the company put together an overview animation which featured two cars racing side-by-side to demonstrate the improved performance and speed. To get its global sales advisors and customers excited about this key technology for second generation Intel Core, the company had the video translated into 11 languages including Arabic, Portuguese, and Turkish.


How to work with your translation vendor for best results

Localization tends to be an afterthought, but it’s much more effective to bring your translation partner in early on and make it a truly collaborative process. A good translator can ask lots of questions to guide the content development so that the translation process goes more smoothly. For example, they should help you to establish terminology guides or glossaries that identify what information gets translated and how. In addition, you should provide clear “do not translate (DNT)” instructions for things like brand names or key terms that you want to remain in English. Plus, it gives you a chance to educate them on the target audience, style guidelines, and the intent of the campaign so they can capture this correctly in the translation process. For example, taglines are often designed to play on words and if the translator doesn’t understand these subtle nuances it will be difficult for him or her to translate these materials effectively.

It’s also a good idea to introduce your translator to the creative agency and let the two partners work together directly. This way the translator can explain exactly what he or she need in order to translate the content efficiently and effectively. While this may seem a little intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. You can incorporate checks and balances to maintain control of the campaign.

Either way, it’s essential that you make your source materials, not just PDFs and EPS files, readily accessible for the translation process. For example, it’s a good idea to avoid embedding text in images. You should also maintain a file manifest (a map of what to translate and where to find it). Having a structure that is easy to navigate will save you time and money during the translation process.

In order to take advantage of regional opportunities in emerging markets, you need to be able to speak their language. But, you also need to be able to balance local relevance with brand consistency. Walking this tightrope requires establishing frameworks to provide the direction, tools, and assets to deliver the intended brand messaging across multiple locales.

Evelyn Toro is the VP of global operations at VIA and has more than 13 years of localization experience in increasingly responsible roles within several companies.

Darren Megarry is VIA’s VP of corporate sales and has more than 15 years of international sales and management experience in the software, and electronics components, translation, and eLearning markets.

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