By Alexandra Sevelius, CMO at ONEiO
The age-old question: to localize or not? And if yes, to what extent? The answer depends on the nature of your business and your target audience.
I believe that in enterprise sales there is a clearer business case to localize because it can be your competitive advantage. In some cases, it’s even a deal breaker because sales cycles are long, and your buyers take a higher risk when committing to your solution. They expect a higher level of service, and your sales and marketing team need to work hard to hook them.
In enterprise sales “people buy from people”, it’s paramount to build a relationship and build trust. One way of doing that is by really speaking the customer’s language in your marketing activities.
In this blog post, I’ll cover things to keep in mind when localizing your marketing and how to do that successfully. Spoiler alert: it’s all about hiring local experts.
Deciding what to localize
These questions can help you to define the level of localization that makes sense for your business. Think about these questions for each market you’re active in:
- How comfortable is your target audience in doing business in English?
- Would it be a competitive advantage to support their buying journey in their local language or is it vital to winning the deal? Are buyers researching in English or in the local language?
- Even if search volumes are likely to be lower in the local language, would it be easier to rank well if you invested in local language content?
- Is your solution available in the local language?
Other things to consider:
- Your buyers are more likely to expect that your product is translated if your sales and marketing activities are done in the local language.
- Know your target audience. People from different industries within the same country may have different needs.
- If search volumes are low, consider translating hand-picked content that your SDRs, sales reps, and marketers can use.
Remember that localization is not solely the act of translating your sales and marketing materials and activities. It’s about understanding how buyers behave in different markets and ensuring all your marketing activities and channels reflect that.
Think about how different types of ads might work, or the impact of using different types of imagery (whether it’s different people or different scenery), and what different colors signal. Although I mention the use of different images and colors, I don’t believe in creating separate brands for different markets, but rather in finding ways of localization to different markets within the boundaries of your brand and its guidelines.
Here’s a simplified presentation of different degrees to which you can localize your marketing:
- Full-blown localization, i.e. everything that’s done in English is also done in the local language: a full local language website, campaigns are run in the local language driving traffic to local content, and events are held in the local language with local speakers.
- Hand-picked content that shows local presence: translating key website pages or simply the homepage with clear CTAs to read more in English, translating a handful of relevant content pieces for SDRs, sales reps, and marketing, events may be held with a mix of English and local language presentations.
- No content localization
Different levels of localization will of course require different levels of resources. Let’s have a look at resourcing in the next section.
How to organize your localization efforts
If you decide to invest in full-blown localization or even the lighter level with hand-picked content you’ll need a dedicated resource. In many areas of marketing, you can either rely on the help of marketing agencies or hire your own in-house experts.
Having worked mostly with complex deep-tech solutions operating in niche industries, I’m a proponent of hiring in-house experts. Largely because building a strong understanding of the solutions and the industry takes time. Outsourced colleagues aren’t as incentivized to really take the time to learn the solution while in-house marketers are being paid to do exactly that. This is why I also advocate for hiring localization experts, i.e. field marketers, ideally one field marketer for each market you operate in.
Hiring Field Marketers
Field marketers are the experts that plan and execute your global marketing strategy in the field i.e. in the local market. They work closely with your local sales team to translate your global marketing and sales plans and goals to localized activities, ultimately ensuring they find the right marketing mix for their specific market.
The tricky part is knowing when is the right time to hire a field marketer. I’ve come to the conclusion that if the following criteria are met, the time is ripe:
- There are clear revenue expectations and the company is committed to investing in the market, i.e. it’s not a short-term “testing the waters” situation
- There’s a clear plan to scale the sales organization with 2+ sales reps already being hired
If you don’t already have a presence in the market and you’re looking for someone to kick-start your go-to-market efforts, I recommend using a headhunter for the first hires unless you have someone in-house that can source candidates.
Being the first marketing hire in a new market often means they will have to juggle a lot of responsibilities in order to build a solid go-to-market plan covering all areas of marketing.
Think about the following questions when deciding on what you’re looking for in your new hire:
- Market understanding:
- Do you already have a good understanding of what marketing activities and channels could work in the market or is this something you expect of the Field Marketer? Don’t assume your marketing activities will work in exactly the same way across your markets.
- Do you already have someone in the Sales team who knows how the target audience behaves in that market?
- Language skills:
- What’s the level of written proficiency you’re looking for? A native-level writer responsible for translating content, or someone who will act as a project manager coordinating translations through outsourcing?
- Go-to-market timeline:
- Do you have time to hire someone who can learn on the job or are you in a hurry to open a new market and need to hire someone with previous experience that can hit the ground running?
- A more senior hire might take longer to find because your expectations are higher, and they will be a more expensive hire.
If you’re looking to enter a new market or win in an existing market, here are some tips for you:
- If you operate in enterprise sales, it’s likely you’d benefit from localized marketing activities
- Localization is not just the act of translating content, it’s about customizing it for the buyers of a certain market
- Hire localization experts, i.e. field marketers to help your organization win a new market with a solid go-to-market plan