The challenges of global messaging, and a better path forwards

Delivering a message that resonates with your audience may be manageable when you’re only targeting certain buyers in a certain region, but things get a lot more complicated when you try and spread this same message on a global scale. In our recent roundtable in association with The Mx Group and Bray Leino, senior B2B marketers came together to discuss their challenges in this area, and how they’re going about delivering a truly global message that resonates with their buyers.

Challenges marketers face in global messaging

We asked each roundtable attendee to share their main challenge when it comes to delivering a global messaging strategy. The main issues that came up were as follows:

  • Translation agencies just aren’t enough. Although they do serve a purpose, there was agreement amongst all attendees that simply translating a message from one language to another is simply not an effective way of delivering your overriding message on a global scale. Nuance, difference in humour, taboos and more can of course all differ in different cultures, and so merely translating the words is not enough. A more intelligent strategy is therefore required.
  • For one attendee, the biggest challenge is moving from a market and region they know extremely well, and trying to scale out the same message on a global scale. In other words, where do you begin? How do you take a message that works in one country, and then adapt it to work on a global scale?
  • Another issue marketers are facing is consistency. In other words, how can you deliver a consistent message – even down to the tone of voice – on a global scale, especially when you work for a huge, global organisation? With so much content to deliver in so many different regions, how can making this message consistent be done effectively?
  • Another significant issue that was raised was around personalised digital messaging on a global scale. As the expectation to deliver increasingly personalised digital experiences rises, how do we incorporate where different regions are at in the buying journey? For instance, are people in region X generally further along or further back in the buying cycle for a certain organisation? Understanding and using this information is crucial in delivering messaging on a global scale.
  • Getting agencies to communicate with one another is also a big challenge faced by one attendee. In essence, if you’re trying to deliver one unified message across the globe, you need the agencies you’re working with to actually speak with one another, in order to get on the same page. If they don’t communicate, ultimately what you’re left with is a lack of consistency in your global messaging.

A more effective method to create global messaging

From the point of view of Tony Riley, president, The Mx Group, the typical scenario runs something like this (in its simplest form, of course):

  • Information on the buyer is gathered. For instance, what do they want, where do they buy and how do they buy? At this stage, no regional or behavioural information is considered.
  • A message is then created that targets the buyer based on this information (without considering the regional information).
  • From this message, a marketing campaign is then created.
  • Only then is this message passed on to different regional offices or agencies to roll out.
  • These different regions then (rightly) adapt and critique the message in order to make sure it aligns with their regional audience’s behaviour, language and cultural nuances.
  • The message then gets somewhat distorted or inconsistent, and the global campaign lacks the unified one world message that was originally intended.

Ultimately the global marketer is frustrated, because their message has been distorted; the regional marketer is frustrated because the campaign they have been given to roll out doesn’t necessarily work as well in their region; and the buyer is not as engaged because the message doesn’t truly speak to them.

A better solution

An alternative to this flawed approach suggested by Tony and Sam Crocker, managing partner, Bray Leino, is to start with a ‘human truth’. In other words, what do we really know about our customers? What is the thing they look to us to deliver? A human truth isn’t something like ‘we need a CDP’, but rather ‘we need to save time in our working days’. Once you have this human truth, you can bring different regional agencies or partners on board to discuss how to convey this fundamental truth in a message that works in a given region.

In other words, rather than starting with a potentially uninformed or naïve message (naïve in the sense that it doesn’t take into account regional differences), you’re starting with the ultimate truth you’re trying to portray, and allowing your global network to deliver that in the best way.

Of course, your branding will still need to be aligned, and this doesn’t mean every region goes their own route. Quite the opposite, it ensures consistency, as the same ultimate human truth is being delivered globally, within a branding framework that you set.

Getting this alignment at the beginning of the process ensures a consistent, relevant message, as well as time saved from endless tweaking. It also leads to a much more engaged customer.

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