With an emphasis on defining Global Mindset, this article focuses on small to mid-size companies new to the international arena and localization.
Preparing for the Global Marketplace
The moment a company’s management realizes that international markets are the path to greater revenue growth is an important one. What happens when a small to mid-size company reaches that understanding and officially announces “we’re going global”? There’s a lot of excitement. Management sees the expansion potential and plans to take full advantage of it. It’s time to move ahead and capture those new markets!
Pause a minute, though. Does a global growth objective provide the company any clue about how to successfully facilitate entry into international markets? Does the goal itself magically endow the company with the thinking it needs to succeed in international markets?
Tactical Actions: “Get Global!”
When small to mid-size companies decide to move into global markets, we often hear two general beliefs:
- Our company needs to find a way to customize our pricing and eCommerce
- Our company needs to translate some of our content
We call this way of thinking “Get Global!”. Here’s what generally happens when Get Global! becomes a company’s accepted wisdom:
- The company hires a localization resource. The company might even repurpose a current employee who has limited to zero localization experience.
- The localization resource gets content translated into selected languages.
- Then? Voilà – we got global! No need to worry about any of it again.
Get Global! bypasses the broader measures needed to create an effective new-market entry strategy. It excludes the following critical elements:
- Internal corporate alignment, defined decision-making ownership, and established processes required for successful global expansion
- An understanding of customers’ desired product, content, and support experiences in new markets
- A defined communication process and company-wide buy-in for the global strategy
- Acknowledgment that all money spent on international market expansion is an investment in the company’s growth. It is never a line-item cost.
In short, Get Global! allows companies to deploy a rapid, short-term solution. It fails to effectively enable efficient long-term international growth.
Strategic Actions: Global Mindset
When companies believe a localization project manager is all they need to enable global growth, the company is unintentionally sabotaging some of its global goals. Such thinking incorrectly posits that new-market growth will come when the company mirrors what it does in English; that nothing else needs to happen. It’s worth mentioning that once Get Global! becomes standard thinking, it’s extremely difficult to escape. Many companies suffer from the misconception that a localization department is all it takes to produce successful international offerings and support.
Global Mindset is a strategic approach for success in international markets. It promotes consistent and targeted growth. It includes all of the critical elements we mention above that are excluded in Get Global!. It acknowledges that there’s important work to be done before localization personnel are hired.
Global Mindset begins with a gap analysis of the company’s ability to reach international markets. This might include an assessment of channels and specific market needs, global readiness of products and services, and competitor analysis. Follow-up actions convert the gaps to strengths. Global Mindset also addresses differing customer needs. It contains a long-term vision to understand how a company’s products and services should work in the global marketplace.
Targeted internal communication is also central to Global Mindset. The communication should incorporate executive level messaging that international growth is key to the company’s future. Such communications highlight that all personnel have a role to play in global growth. Daily requirements do indeed change when a company chooses to enter the global marketplace. Consistent messaging reinforces why these changes are necessary and how they facilitate the company’s new global strategy.
Global Mindset understands that international expansion (and localization) is a strategic, company-wide investment. The return on the investment is increased company revenue from new markets.
First Steps Toward Global Mindset
Below, we suggest actions a company can take to foster Global Mindset. Non-exhaustive, these actions are examples of the building blocks companies can use to ensure successful global expansion:
- Communicate. The executive/management messaging should actively communicate that international expansion affects every aspect of your company’s business. Global mindset is not merely about selected content or a subset of your products. Make this concept part of your company culture.
- Form a long-term, cross-company task force. Among their other duties, the task force will lay out the international expansion roadmap.
- Audit your company for global readiness. For example, check to see the extent to which product offerings, customer facing technology, and internal tools can handle non-English languages.
- Widen your thinking around user experience. Start to better understand what new-market customers want or require. Make it a practice to use data to back up all of your global product decision-making. If you don’t have the data, figure out a way to get it.
At some point, experienced and global localization personnel become a key resource for a company’s push into new markets. To make the most informed decisions, global functions across the company collaborate with the localization team to resolve a wide range of international and localization issues. All localization activities must support and be aligned with greater company goals. As both consultants and participants, the localization team must be a true partner to the entire company.
Global Mindset is constantly evolving. Follow us and our future articles to learn more about Global Mindset. Contact us to explore how we can assist you in realizing your own global goals.