The best sales and marketing strategies to engage international markets have changed significantly in the past few years—especially for tech companies. Gone are the days when globalization was reserved for behemoth companies with multibillion-dollar market caps.

Surviving in today's competitive climate requires thinking about global strategy from day one. The biggest mistake companies make in regards to global marketing is thinking that globalization requires tremendous resources and continually putting it off.

That thinking traps businesses in domestic markets while their competitors make the world their oyster.

Today, going global can be achieved more easily than ever—if you have the right strategy and solutions in place.

What changed? The first real revolution in opening up global markets was the birth of the Internet, which shattered hurdles to communication and enabled idea sharing across borders and time zones. Also, the birth of the cloud made the fulfillment of purchased services as instant as that communication. Solutions can be delivered the instant a deal closes, support can be provided in real time, and the product can be scaled on demand.

But what is the best way to go about marketing to a diverse collection of regions with vast differences in what types of marketing communication work well?

Go with native tongue and talent

Language barriers first come to mind when the topic of global marketing comes up.

Though speaking the language of your prospects is important, it's just the first step. Knowing what to say and how to say it is more important.

A vital component to success in global marketing is understanding the cultural business norms within each market. The insight that guides the perfect message creation can only come from a complete cultural perspective.

For example, prospects in Israel are typically ready to talk budgets and benefits right away, but tech managers in Russia often will not reveal details of their needs until they have established trust and received some initial support.

Tactics and messaging that work very well in one region can easily fall flat in another, so cultivate the right strategy for each geography before launching.

Gauge market maturity and strike during prime growth

One of the key benefits of global markets is they offer a sliding scale of growth opportunities. When one region hits maturity, another is entering swift growth. Identifying markets in the correct growth stage for a particular offering is vital. Entering a market too early can lead to lackluster sales and costly support, and targeting already mature markets may limit future revenue potential.

Understanding market conditions requires digging beyond the current state and developing accurate short-term forecasts. If a market is still emerging, when will it enter growth and what are the steps to position property for it? How much investment would be required to kickstart that growth and help move the market?

Balancing the needs of the market with its potential and lifetime value advise the ideal timing for launching and scaling appropriate campaigns.

Optimize channel mixes for success

Most marketing campaigns benefit from implementing a combination of digital and direct voice communication, but the devil is in the ratio details.

Preferred channels for relationship-building vary with culture and region, and knowing the right time to use each one can be the difference between nurturing a lead and losing interest.

Understanding how decisions are made in each market guides the channel balancing act. For example, prospects in India love to jump in and start asking questions immediately, so direct telephone outreach is an effective tool there. In the United Kingdom, branding plays a large role in product selection, so it makes sense to build awareness through multiple channels before expecting to move leads through the funnel quickly with conversations alone.

* * *

Going global may seem like an insurmountable task for companies with no history in global marketing, but plenty of help is out there. You can use informative market research reports online (which can help set up and run successful global campaigns) to develop and implement an international marketing campaign in a matter of weeks.

Tapping overseas markets can make the difference between struggling and thriving for many companies.

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What Marketers Need to Know About Going Global

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image of Tim Killenberg

Tim Killenberg is senior vice-president of sales and marketing at N3, a global outsourced sales execution firm.

LinkedIn: Tim Killenberg