Does your business have a localization strategy? Many companies make the mistake of launching into foreign markets without planning a concrete localization strategy beforehand. But succeeding overseas is not a fluke. Those who make it haven’t done so as a result of an outrageous slice of good fortune. A business’s international success relies largely on a well-structured localization strategy that can be systematically implemented.
But don’t let the complexities keep you from taking the leap! Entering a new market can seem like a daunting prospect, but by planning ahead and establishing a country-by-country localization approach you could potentially tap into a lucrative international marketplace, and set yourself apart from competitors.
But how to set up a successful localization strategy?
Fortunately, we can guide you in the right direction. Here are our 10 tips for creating a knock-out localization strategy in 2020.
1. Don’t be put off by a competitive market
Your initial market research should always begin with a delve into the local market and your competition there. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by an abundance of so-called rivals but the presence of other offerings shouldn’t be a deterrent — this is probably more likely to be a sign of a healthy market. Conduct thorough research into what your competitors are doing, and then do it better. How? Be creative and go the extra mile: offer full packages instead of separate products and focus on solving the customer’s problem, instead of competing on price. You can still succeed in a crowded market, but you’ll have to find a way of standing out.
2. Use your localization strategy to boost your brand
If you’re breaking into new markets, don’t treat that expansion as a separate entity. Shout proudly and loudly about your new venture, and let this international expansion be a feature of your local marketing campaigns.
Any overseas success will help you build trust with current and potential customers.
But be careful about mixing and matching international marketing materials. Your messaging needs to be consistently on-brand globally, but you also need to ensure that the language you use is carefully adapted to your local audiences. This is why it’s so important to put together a good localization team with native translators and language professionals who can make sure your message is always on-point and culturally sensitive to the local market.
3. Set up a solid localization team and a systematic workflow
Perhaps obvious, perhaps not, but take extra care when preparing to expand to a new international market. When it comes to your content, it’s not enough to simply translate words into the desired language and think you’re ready to go. Set up a vetted localization team to get it right from the get-go. Ideally, this should be made up of a localization engineer, a project manager, a quality assurance specialist, and obviously, professional translators, editors, and proofreaders from the target market. And don’t forget, you also need a systematic workflow to make it all run smoothly! With all these professionals and optimal processes in place, you can ensure you’re prepared to enter the new market with confidence.
4. Research the local culture
A marketable product or service helps attract success, but if it’s not clearly delivered to the target audience, it’s relevance will get lost in translation, literally.
Do some local research to make sure you align your branding and services with the new market. Think carefully about the style, colors, and tone of your marketing materials, and attempt to personalize your offering for specific global regions. It might be that your branding transfers seamlessly across borders, or you might find that certain tweaks are necessary to increase the relevance of your services and products.
The key to localization success is a constant sensitivity to the changing cultures and people in your target markets.
5. Tap into local knowledge
Embrace the ‘local’ in ‘localization’. In every new market, it is essential to call upon the expertise of local translators, editors, and proofreaders. These are the people whose livelihoods rely on an in-depth knowledge of local quirks and idiosyncrasies within their language, so they should be the backbone of any localization strategy. Getting it wrong could sink a new business before it’s even open its doors. So, make sure to avoid the common localization pitfalls and tune into the local lingo to attract your new audience.
6. Adjust your pricing strategy accordingly
Don’t assume that the cost of your service can be replicated in an international market. Thorough market research into appropriate pricing is essential in determining whether you can even operate profitably in a different sector. But don’t assume that you are going to have to lower costs to attract new customers. Be aware of the going translation rates but don’t let that get in the way of your primary goal: providing a good enough offering that will make the customer realize the value they get is worth the price.
7. Show that you care
Many companies make the mistake of barging headlong into a new international market with little sensitivity to the people and culture. Taking the time to get to know your new customer base can pay dividends in the future, and it helps to establish your brand as a compassionate and sensitive establishment. Know what festivals and national holidays are in the calendar, and tailor your localization strategy towards these major events. Some companies go the extra mile by incorporating transcreation in their marketing and localization strategies. This involves completely changing the content (not just the language) to specifically suit that local market. The purpose is to show the new audience that an international or global brand can still be genuinely local in each market.
8. Prepare for the technology
A major part of unveiling a new localization strategy is bringing the relevant technical elements into line. Mobile apps, websites, and software packages all need to be sensitively translated into the new language. But before this massive task is undertaken, it’s worth finding out where to concentrate your efforts. In China, for example, 98% of internet users use a mobile device, so a slick, responsive website is at the top of the list for any company wishing to make a dent in this not insignificant market.
9. Get social (appropriately)
Social media is an essential part of any business today. This is the place to share your innovation, success, and advancement with audiences in a way you’d never be able to do otherwise. But don’t assume that what works in one country, will work in another. In fact, don’t assume that the biggest platform in your country will work — or even be used — in another country. Take the time to carefully research what social media outlets are profitable, and seek expert advice when posting. One casually misplaced social media post has the potential to cause chaos and undermine all your marketing efforts.
10. Embrace integration
If your business requires an element of technological integration, take the time to research and consider how to make it all work together within an efficient, automated (within reason) system. This means making sure your CAT tools, translation management tools, and payment systems are all compatible with each other. Or, avoid that problem altogether by getting an all-in-one integrated solution to handle your whole localization ecosystem. The thought of changing your whole toolset may be a little scary but you’ll be amazed at how much time and energy (i.e. money and resources!) you’ll save once you’ve consolidated all your processes into one streamlined system.
Go local or go home
It all comes down to making sure your localization team is made up of great language, marketing, and business professionals, all working together in an efficient localization workflow supported by integrated, specialized technological tools.
Once you’ve got all these foundational elements in place, you can set out to plan and execute a thorough, culturally sensitive localization strategy in every local market you set out to serve and succeed in.
Are you ready? Check out some of our other helpful articles to help you get there!