The world is becoming increasingly connected, and doing business in other countries is no longer the logistical hurdle it once was—thank goodness. Many agencies now work with clients on a multinational level, leaning on overarching global strategies to guide their thinking in multiple markets. The benefits to clients are clear: efficient use of resources, shared learnings between markets and the value of a single partner who understands their international brand. At 90octane, we’ve had great success helping clients expand their thinking outside the U.S., and we’ve learned a few things along the way.
Here are three things to keep in mind when working with clients outside your home market:
Get to know the market.
In a world that feels smaller with each new advancement, it’s easy to assume that people in other countries have a similar mindset to your home audience. But don’t be fooled—diligent research into local markets will uncover unique behaviors, buying processes and consumer priorities key to making your work resonate. The media landscape may be entirely different as well. For example, Weixin (WeChat) is a crucial part of any media plan in China because it’s the country’s largest social network as well as a leading payment platform for consumer goods. However, the app isn’t commonly used elsewhere so it could easily be underestimated or even overlooked by non-locals. It’s also important to be aware of regional regulations that may impact programs; for instance, GDPR privacy laws in the EU have forced many agencies to restructure how they process consumer data. It’s important to have this local perspective when working in new markets.
There’s no substitute for a handshake.
While technology makes it easy to connect with colleagues around the world, never underestimate the value of being on the ground in a country where you have clients. In many countries, business is largely driven by personal relationships—which are best built in person with the support of non-verbal cues and natural, familiar discussion. This is especially true of intercultural relationships where language barriers and differing business customs can create unintended hurdles. Having a local partner or employee on location provides insight into business culture and context for work.
Be prepared to invest.
Venturing into a new market or working with clients abroad takes up-front investment. Time is often the most significant resource needed, and building a presence in a new market requires patience. When creating a network, developing client relationships and establishing working processes, you’ll need to persevere to get it right. Being committed to building a solid operation in other markets is critical to client success.
While it can be a challenge to venture out of established markets, these challenges can often have a positive halo effect, as it can force a company to think in new ways which has the potential to also improve operations at home. Want to learn more about how to carve out your niche in international markets? Reach out to us.
We’ve had great success helping clients expand their thinking outside the U.S., and we’ve learned a few things along the way.
About the Author
Kelsey is an Account Director for Globus and shares the client’s passion for travel. With 8+ years of marketing and agency experience, she has spent the last several years working abroad in both Beijing and London.