Marketing in a foreign country

If you’re branching out into the international marketplace, your marketing strategy should include any possible cultural differences.

Marketing principles and strategies are, in many ways, global. But if you’re branching out into the international marketplace, your strategy should include any possible differences, otherwise your results may not be what you’d hoped.

Market need

One factor worth keeping in mind is the most obvious one – market need.

Most products or services are successful because they provide people with something they either need or want. These are strongly dependent on the local environment, and you can’t assume that all markets want the same things. There’s little need for ice scrapers in Miami, whereas you’ll find a much larger potential base of customers in Calgary.

Markets respond differently

Certain markets will also respond differently than others to any given marketing effort, and marketing execution should reflect a foreign region’s specific sensibility.

Foreign languages need to be used carefully

Language is the most obvious example (just think of how you’d respond to a TV commercial in a language you don’t understand). But there are other aspects that are also received differently from one country to the next.

All marketing relies on images or symbols, whether it’s:

  • A picture in a print ad.
  • A metaphor in a story you tell about your product.

Images are important

How an image resonates depends on the target audience. This is why you see pictures of babies in ads that target new moms.

It’s also why the image of a Mountie may be good at selling a certain vision of Canada, but it may not be helpful if you’re trying to sell a product to consumers in Australia (unless your marketing plan is to identify that product with Canada!).

Research your target market

Research into what compels customers in a foreign market to buy will help you avoid crafting an ineffective campaign. Local insights may also suggest a way to tweak your offering itself so that a new audience will more warmly receive it.

In the end, the results of your efforts may depend on how well you understand your audience – and how your product affects that audience.

This is just as true in Canada as it is elsewhere. Whether you decide to conduct studies or partner with someone who knows how your ideal consumers tick, understanding the nuances of the marketplace will mean you’re in a better position to succeed.

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