Going Global: The Top Five Ways to Implement Localized Marketing

July 31, 2018

Editor’s Note: This post is the final article in a three part series covering global marketing expansion. You can read the first article in this series here and the second here.

In the prior two posts, we talked through the advantages of centralized marketing on a global basis, but also the tipping point for when staffing up localized marketing regions makes sense. In this final article, we will walk through how to implement localized, in-region marketing once an organization has hit the tipping point for going local.

1. Co-locate your marketing team with the sales organization

This might seem obvious, but if your sales organization is not in a major metropolitan, or not in a target country for localization, you might be tempted to not hire the marketer in the same location as the sales team. Here is a likely scenario. Your target market for localization where your products are under represented is German speaking companies. Your EMEA sales organization, however, is located in Ireland in a regional city. Do you try to hire a German speaker in Ireland? Or just hire a German marketer in a DACH country? The challenge with not collocating sales and marketing together in remote offices is that you lose one of the main reasons for going local in the first place – the presence and morale boosting impact on sales a marketer will have knowing they aren’t alone. Communication challenges don’t get solved and the remote sales team will still call back to HQ, unsuccessfully for support.

The temptation to hire in the target country and not the location of the sales office is strong especially since target country language speakers may not be readily available at your sales office. But also realize that whatever language/country you want to penetrate as your current target won’t be the next target. Scattering marketers across a continent in every country is super inefficient. Hence the importance of specific language competency is over rated and can be dealt with through contractors or translation services.

2. Think Long Term and Make it a Priority

If your demand generation team is running correctly, they are heads down focused on hitting the quarterly number for leads. While improving lead flow from a specific geography might help in the long run, the results will take a while, the effort is hard, and in the larger scheme of hitting a top line demand number, worrying about leads for France just won’t seem like a priority. Centralized marketers sitting in a central office can’t feel the pain of remote sales people as well as a marketer sitting next to them. Hence, without executive sponsorship, the organization could be hesitant to adopt localized marketing and cede control.

To solve this, CMOs need to take a long term approach and more importantly, show the importance by having the localized marketing teams by having them report directly to them. Without this level of support, the rest of the organization might reject the new organization, for good reasons – they are short term focused on the leads for today, whereas any localized spin up is an investment for tomorrow.

3. Additive Marketing

I have worked at some larger companies where the in-country marketing organizations simply run the global programs locally. Major marketing consulting firms also push this theory of global demand gen just run locally. The problem with this is that you are just moving work from one location, where it can be done extremely effectively on a global basis, to another decentralized location where the efficiencies aren’t necessarily there. If you had 3 local offices, for example, it’s like taking your well-oiled, global PPC program run by a single person, and dividing into three, and handing it off to three more people. What does that solve? There will be some improvements as companies adopt to the nuances of the local market, but are the inefficiencies worth it?

If you apply the test that anything the local offices do has to be additive to the overall effort, your results will be different in a positive way. There is plenty to do. Being additive drives the top line, pushes innovation, and lets the entire marketing team see that the local offices are adding the overall marketing teams efforts, not just doing the same work that could have been done centrally.

The result should be a stronger top line doing projects and activities that are truly additive and different.

4. Avoid “It’s different here”

Remote offices constantly telling the centralized marketing team how different their market operates, and how they don’t or can’t understand the differences is counterproductive. Every market in the world is different and country boundaries don’t necessarily define differences. Doing business in New York is very different than doing business in Atlanta. So rather than let offices get away with “it’s different here, you don’t understand”, go down to the next level to understand what makes different regions different then figure out what actually has to change or be adopted.

My difference list:

  • Time zone
  • Language
  • Primacy of channel partners
  • Appropriateness of give-a-ways
  • Trade show interactions
  • Internal decision making processes
  • Business etiquette around meetings
  • Humor in advertising
  • Meaning of basic words like yes
  • Contracts
  • Purchasing processes
  • Privacy laws

Of course the number of differences is going to vary based on the region and the list above is not exhaustive. So when someone says “it is different here, you don’t understand”, the answer is “of course it is. It is different everywhere, now tell me specifically what you think is different.” A lot of times when I am told why something in the US won’t work elsewhere it has more to do not invented here syndrome than sound decision making and vice versa. The key is to weed through the noise and get to the truth. Conversely, centralized marketing teams have to be open and should be adopting marketing practices from the local offices. It is a two-way street. Finally, differences should be tested and documented. If moving to British English over American English drives better conversion, test it, then prove it out (it does).

5. Hire Wisely

Hiring the remote marketing leader is perhaps the most difficult challenge. Depending on the remote office locations, your access to talent could be challenging especially at the seniority level required. The marketing team in the remote office needs to figure out how to add value to a fairly complex inbound lead process that most likely involves multiple channels of inbound. In addition, they need to figure out how to work with all the members of the central team, and support the local sales team at the same time. It is not an easy order to fulfill and the tradeoff for experience vs. potential will come early into the recruiting process.

Scope of the job is also critical. Effective marketers in region need to be a jack of all trades, able to jump from PR to PPC, from content translation to content writing. Generalists are harder to find, but it makes the job a lot more enjoyable to the right person. These people are your VPs of Marketing. It is a great job.

The culture fit piece is key. For as much as “it is different over here” doesn’t always apply to marketing programs, culture does. In this case you have to find someone who works with your office culture, which is not always easy to do when hiring in your central office, but you also need to find someone who can bridge two office cultures. Differences here become pretty obvious. It can become a real strength and source of enjoyment if recognized and approached correctly. Your local marketing resource can help with this.

That is the cookbook for spinning up local marketing efforts. When approached in this manner, you can make additive marketing efforts to drive incremental, in country business that truly drives the top line instead of simply move work from one location to another.

Bryan Semple


A 20+ year high-tech veteran, Bryan has spent the last 11 years working in datacenter infrastructure and operations companies. He is currently the CMO of SmartBear, which he came to from Dell where he worked for the CMO of Dell Software Group to expand high velocity sales and marketing processes across the Dell software portfolio. He joined Dell after the acquisition of VKernel, where he served as CMO. At VKernel, Semple developed and expanded a try/buy download model that grew the business 100% and help lead to the company’s successful acquisition by Quest Software, then Dell.