Content marketing is now a well-established marketing function at most organizations. According to eMarketer, 60 percent of marketers create at least one piece of content each week. That being said, it is still difficult for an enterprise business to implement its content marketing team strategy on a global scale—even with company-wide buy-in and growing budgetary allocations devoted to digital. Going global affects every area of content marketing and requires a succinct strategy to ensure you’re getting results for your efforts.
Here, we highlight three key areas to focus on when rolling out content marketing on a global scale for your business:
Any good content marketing strategy must incorporate a central branded message. This DNA lies at the heart of what you are trying communicate with your content. Your message doesn’t have to be explicit; it can simply be implied by the content. In fact, this is often an incredibly effective strategy.
Red Bull, which employs some of the best content marketers in the world, understands the power of suggestion and often lets the content take center stage. The company’s involvement and proximity to this engaging content is enough to make its message understood.
As one reporter for the Red Bull–sponsored magazine, The Red Bulletin, put it, “I’ve never been asked to crowbar Red Bull into any story I’ve done. . . . The promotion of the brand comes through the activities I cover.”
However, such artful suggestion really hinges on understanding the audience you’re talking to. Marketing, as a class of communication, is concerned with understanding the sociological realities and social expectations of its target audience. A subtle message that is easily understood by a certain group can go completely over a different audience’s head.
One example of this in the wild is the way movies are marketed domestically versus internationally. We are very used to how movie posters look and how trailers are designed. Yet, different markets in different countries see wildly different posters for almost the exact same films.
This piece on BuzzFeed shows how stark some of these differences can be; they’re often hilarious to us, but that’s simply because they’re speaking to a different culture:
Photo Source: BuzzFeed
If you’re organizing a content strategy with the goal of encapsulating your brand DNA and message while also keeping it intact and consistent across your marketing—and at the same time having it resonate with different cultures with varying psychological, social, and demographic realities—you’ll have to tread a fine line.
This is the main challenge to developing a global content strategy. Since your initial formulation governs the rest of your efforts, a mistake here can seriously hurt your efforts down the road and lead to ineffective (or, even worse, offensive) marketing in other markets.
To formulate a central branded message that translates into a local context, delegate very responsibly and personalize your marketing for each market. While a global content marketing initiative should be decentralized in order to react and implement quickly, there should be a centralized authority that dictates certain key elements.
Having clearly defined thought leadership can help a brand maintain consistency across its broader content marketing efforts. Marketing leadership might produce branded documentation that governs things like visual consistency and helps crystallize brand DNA. Here is an excellent collection of this kind of documentation from Skype:
Photo Source: Skype
Once leadership has made clear which parts of the brand are unalterable, all authority should go to the individuals who are managing and executing content in local markets. In order for them to parse this message and rephrase it in a way that will resonate with their audience on a cultural level, you need to give them control over what they say and how they say it.
After coming up with a plan that incorporates a consistent branded message while giving local actors the flexibility to translate that message, the next challenge is orchestrating these often-varied efforts. Such a widespread and decentralized strategy can lead to difficulty in coordinating, tracking, and overseeing.
One method for ensuring quality and consistency across your global content marketing efforts is to establish clear standards and guidelines. In much the same way that central leadership dictates certain unalterable branded messaging, it should also devise a core set of benchmarks for the varied iterations of all branded content from the execution perspective.
Setting those standards gives managers the freedom to work creatively within their respective markets while also holding them accountable for the quality and efficacy of their work. In order to effectively enforce these standards while keeping tabs on multiple varied projects, global content marketing executives will need to employ specialized tools.
Although there are many planning tools for every stage of this process, what will really matter is the overall approach you take when employing them. All the data and tools in the world won’t help if there isn’t a clear outline of how the overall project will be managed and where this information fits into that plan.
Now that you’ve devised a plan and have the capabilities to track and measure it, the last step is to figure out how to put that plan into action. Successful implementation of a robust global content strategy requires regional leadership and talent to collaborate and strategize on the best channels to pursue with content in each unique market.
When it comes to hiring local leadership and talent, it goes without saying that you should select candidates who are fluent in the language(s) of the market you are trying to reach. Not only should they speak the language, they should also be very familiar with any nuanced intricacies of the culture.
Having content planners and creators who have an intimate understanding of specific cultures will dictate how effectively the content strategy you spent so much time formulating is actually put into practice. Having the proper content marketing team will not only help you make decisions about where to promote your content, but it will also help to gauge the reactions to—and effectiveness of—your content as it is rolled out.
Photo Source: Edelman Digital
Even the most comprehensive content plan will invariably encounter certain hiccups along the way. Without having day-to-day involvement from people who understand the culture and can interpret a response, your content strategy will have no way to respond to these changes.
Effectively creating consistent branded messaging that takes the subtleties of local markets into account requires a combination of top-down management for central themes and ideas with a more flexible hands-off approach when it comes to translating these themes for various global audiences.
These rough guidelines should serve as a theoretical road map for allocating your time and resources. The problems facing a global content marketing initiative are complex, but understanding the core logic behind formulating, orchestrating, and implementing such a plan provides the necessary first steps toward a head-on approach.
How does your organization plan to implement content marketing at a global perspective? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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