More intimidatingly, a truly global content strategy would address every earthlings’ needs—informing, educating, and entertaining them all. Accordingly, a comprehensive plan could never be composed of content and stories about a single product for sale, or even about a business line, because such weak material would instantly crumble under the weight of the individual needs of a seven billion-member global community.
Tongue-in-cheek? Yes. However, new research from Skyword and Reasearchscape International found that something is stopping marketers from engaging in content marketing outside of the United States. This research points out that 64 percent of global companies don’t have a global content strategy. Perhaps when faced with the analysis paralysis of creating a complex global content strategy, almost two-thirds of marketers can’t move forward.
We know that thinking beyond borders and industries is essential to the success of global enterprise. In a study of over five thousand global executives from seventy countries, IBM distilled the angst of business leaders into a trend called the “Uber Syndrome.” This syndrome is a pervasive fear that a competitor from a different country or industry will win the hearts of home audiences and disrupt an entire industry. Executive leadership is worried that borders and industries are no longer good enough to insulate them from competition. Borders cannot protect you when a war is waged through new ideas. As such, winning the hearts and minds of a global audience should be the imperative that global executives hand to marketing teams.
In a seminal HBR piece on “How Global Brands Compete,” brand storytelling or the ability to propagate brand mythology is one of the three most important dimensions that determine highly successful global brands. In that same vein, the marketing trends research published by Skyword also finds that global content marketing is positively correlated with success, with 43 percent of top-performing marketing teams having already put a global content marketing strategy in place, versus only 24 percent of underperforming firms. The correlation between business success and storytelling success should pique your interest as a marketer at a global brand. But does the opportunity cost and required investment merit the immediate pursuit of a global content marketing strategy?
Within the executive suite, strategic business initiatives, like global storytelling, are often built in response to the most important business weaknesses and threats. And in the opinion of top global executives surveyed in the IBM study, the right time is now. For the first time in history (through Web analytics), marketers can study the ways people interact with content. Thanks to these discoveries about media consumption trends and story effectiveness, now more than ever marketers are able to take a single audience insight and apply it to digital stories that can resonate across languages, through cultures, and around the world. The majority of enterprise marketers in the study report only creating content in one or two languages. This will likely change in 2016 as technology continues to facilitate communication around the world.
“All experience is local…We are always in place, and place is always with us.” – Joshua Meyrowitz, “The Rise of Glocality: New Senses of Place and Identity in the Global Village”
In “The Rise of Glocality,” Meyrowitz details the paradigm shifts that tend to occur when technology detaches people from the places they live.
Think back to the “Uber Syndrome” defined in IBM’s study of the global C-suite. Rather than just talking about a fear of disruptive business models, business leaders should also address threats from disruptive communication methods and empower marketing teams to create stories with global appeal. The mobility of ideas across borders, which is seen as a huge risk in today’s business climate, is actually a killer competitive advantage for marketing teams and organizations that are committed to creating a culture of storytelling.
As for the marketers in the Skyword study, many have global ambitions for their content marketing strategies and are in the very early stages of planning, with 39 percent planning on putting a global strategy in place in the next two years. Let’s hope it’s not too late.
To download the full research report, click here.