Apr 3, 2013

localization in international marketing

The localization is defined, in marketing, as the process of making a product or service more suitable for a particular region or country.

It's important to know that there's more to localization than just the translation of the content and information about the company and its products.

Depending on the target market, localization can go as far as using a whole different marketing mix, e.g. having different positioning of the products.

There is an entire industry developed around the localization need of multi-national companies, ranging from translators, to go-to-market / marketing strategy consultants and market research companies - the latter because the real localization comes from understanding and becoming familiar with the new segments and markets the company is addressing and for which it prepares the whole localization process.

There are aspects which only need (proper*) translation as localization effort: the entire corporate communication - the messages issued by the headquarters, the group certifications or awards, the press releases, the annual financial reports, the company's brand values. 

On the other hand, there are marketing functions which need a high degree of localization:

- Marketing collaterals: brochures, presentations, white papers
- Online presence / website / content selection
- MarCom: press releases, case studies
- Channels: post, fax, email, phone, face-to-face
- Direct marketing: all direct communication such as mailing, emailing, telemarketing
- Events: own or participation in third-party conferences with presentations.

In these functions, having the content / communication available in the targeted country's language is not sufficient. The content created, selected, published, sent, has to be different in order to be interesting for the target market. The press releases sent to the publications must be relevant for the local readers, the case studies must refer to local clients, or, if not, they should be related to well-known international companies. The website should only mention the products / services available to the targeted country and so on.

*I'll passingly state the obvious about translation: the quality of the text should be very high from both language and technical / industry jargon point of view. In order to reach this level, it's recommended to work with native translators and to have a local specialist from your company to review the texts before publishing them.

According to a 2012 survey by the CMO Council, 86% of marketers intend to look for ways to better localize their marketing content

The main findings of this study, quoted by the CMS Wire, showed that:
- 49% of survey respondents said that localized marketing is essential to business growth and profitability.
- 41% of respondents said they devote 30% or more of their marketing budget to field or localized marketing and merchandising programs.
- Nearly 50% of respondents said that they are underperforming or need new strategic thinking and capability development in the area of localized marketing.

How do you deal with the localization need?

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