How to Market Internationally

This is article #44 out of 50 in The Startup Marketing Playbook.

An exciting step in a startup’s growth trajectory is when you start expanding internationally. From new laws to currency exchange, international growth brings a fresh set of challenges to the team. For Marketing, international expansion can be intimidating… will you have to run many simultaneous campaigns to address different regional markets? Getting started with marketing internationally is actually fairly simple. Consider the following pointers to kick off:

1. Pay to get started

Some paid acquisition can go a long way. Start by identifying who the major publications (print/digital) and events are, and secure a few sponsorships. If possible, set up a booth at a local event. You need to kickstart your international marketing with an initial list of targets, so manual efforts like paid email blasts and events can get the engine started. This can compliment a locally targeted digital campaign on Facebook, Google and retargeting.

2. Segment and duplicate

If you’re just getting started, don’t worry about trying to make double or triple campaigns. Typically, you can reuse the same core concept of a marketing campaign (e.g. an ebook) as long as you do language translations. There are many services where you can send in copy and they’ll rapidly send back a translation. With that said, it is helpful to start international expansion in regions that speak the same language as your home base (e.g. USA and UK).

3. Have a local guide

It is beneficial to have a local employee in regions you are expanding to. This person can quickly act as a translator, point you in the right direction toward the most influential publications and industry associations and ultimately enable faster growth.

4. Identify local influencers

Every region has local influencers (i.e. thought leaders). You can typically find them by reading blogs, looking at article contributors or just doing a search on Google. Consider reaching out to these influencers, introducing your product and perhaps inviting them to participate in a joint webinar. This can quickly help your brand go from stranger to local neighbor.

5. Understand the language

Even if you are working in regions that speak English, be aware of subtle differences in spelling and pronunciation across dialects. When my team at Netpulse was replicating our ebooks for the European market, we typically just translated them to British english.

6. Be aware of time zones

As you are scheduling campaigns, you need to be aware of local timezones. Often your marketing automation system will have a “smart send” function that pushes out an email in batches for each recipient’s local time. You want to avoid emailing your prospects when in California it’s 10am but in Australia it’s the middle of the night. For webinars, in some cases you’ll need to make recordings available or do multiple versions to account for the differences in time zones.


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