Unless you had a foreign language drilled into your brain whilst growing up with your parents; learning a second language can be much harder as an adult. Why? Whilst all adults have a declarative and procedural memory system, children primarily utilise their procedural system; meaning they pick up grammar much faster than adults, unconsciously. In a marketing context, the probability of a business that is ambitious to expand globally is slim unless you can effectively speak their native tongue and adapt your campaign to their culture and circumstances. Hyper-localisation in multilingual marketing is essential to ensure your campaign is specific and effectively targeted. However, don’t fall into the trap of using a simple translation to stick onto your billboard; you never know, your potential market might try and “eat their fingers off“.
Recognise the Need for Expansion
Going from small-time to international can be a scary thought and some businesses shy away because, on paper, the threats outweigh the benefits; but it is not impossible by any stretch of the imagination. The recognition that there is a need for a new product in the market is vital, to begin with.
For example, Spain is a country where you will struggle to find great iced coffee, where only ‘cafe con hielo’, a mug of hot coffee and a few ice cubes, is present. So why aren’t there coffee shops all over Spain that provide easily accessible iced coffee? It is more complex than a standard nationwide marketing campaign to try and convince locals to soak up an iced caramel macchiato in 30-degree heat. Starbucks is the only notable brand that has captivated coffee lovers in Spain with their variations of iced drinks. How? Put simply, it was an identified gap that was fulfilled via a multitude of dynamic marketing tactics to unlock their audiences desire for a cold brew. Most importantly, their use of multilingual marketing to speak to communities on a personal level was where their catalyst for success.
To solidify your position to expand, check your analytics and ask yourself “will my product work here?”, “is there a genuine need for my products in this country?” If you’re a business that operates solely online and wants to open up a store, look at the buying habits/analyse trends and preferences of that specific area and decide whether it’s the most feasible option for future trading.
Now, you’ve established your need for a new product in a new market, the tricky part is tailoring a campaign to your chosen market to ensure it doesn’t flop and end up costing your company more than the initial investment.
Hyper-localisation and Tone of Voice
No international business can thrive in an area where they don’t identify and exercise the needs of a community. This is where hyper-localisation enters the arena, giving your campaign the much-needed personalisation and authenticity to stand out.
A form of advertising, hyper-localisation offers brands the opportunity to deliver their message to highly targeted areas, at a certain time of day, to a specific community. The most popular form of hyper-localised advertising lies within OOH (Out-of-Home) advertising, although traditional marketing methods are still used to execute it. The increasing mobile consumer means one thing for marketers; provide convenience for your audience.
It is important for companies to create long-lasting relationships within the evolving customer-centric business world; a strategy that Spotify succeeded in with its 2016 campaign “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird”. Their in-house creative team pulled off a fantastic hyper-localised ad campaign which ran in 11 markets, capitalising on their big-data analytics and delivering excellent multilingual marketing on a global scale. Most importantly, it was the focus on their tone of voice that captivated their audience. 2016 was a tough year with many disastrous events around the world and Spotify managed to make light of said events by displaying a humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, which created their recipe for success because consumers could connect with the brand on a personal level. SMEs take note. Hyper-localisation, personalisation and tone of voice are nothing new in the industry, but not enough brands practice it with efficiency. Leverage these techniques to create opportunities for your brand and gain advocate customers. It was interesting to observe a Spotify billboard in Germany, where it reads “Lieber User in Berlin, der eine 10-stündige Playlist namen, Kneipenliebe” erstellt hat – Immer mit der Ruhe.” We tested a Google
Translation on the sentence which translated in English; “Dear user in Berlin, who have created a 10-hour playlist called ‘pub love’ – always with peace.” Although a large chunk of this text was translated correctly, the end of the text sounds somewhat incorrect; the point being, make sure to do your translations with a local of the area. Yes Google Translate do a good job of basic translation, but if your goal is to connect with hidden communities within a specific location, allowing your message to shine through their native tongue will go much further.
Adapt Your Campaign to Culture and Circumstances
So by now, you should have an idea as to how you’d strategise your next overseas campaign. With all of this in mind, it is crucial to understand the times when things go wrong. Some are perhaps simple errors that can be fixed, or millions of pounds and a complete rebrand to fix a failed campaign purely down to translation issues.
HSBC had to spend $10 million to rebrand and fix their campaign “Assume Nothing” because once it launched in other countries, the message translated to “Do Nothing” in many instances which caused a plethora of problems for the bank.
Coors, attempted a slang tone of voice with their campaign “Turn it Loose”, but they discovered that slang doesn’t translate very well; Spain commuters saw the commonly known expression which was interpreted as “Suffer from Diarrhoea”.
This is why it’s imperative to adapt to their culture, and actually meet people in the areas you wish to target.
Keren Levy, Chief Operating Officer of Payoneer, couldn’t have said it better in regards to understanding and identifying areas of needs for overseas marketing “You can’t sit in New York or California and feel the needs of customers in India, Pakistan, China, Japan, without sitting with them to understand their needs and their sense of urgency”.
Be clear about what message you’re trying to portray to resonate with your consumers. Even the biggest of businesses make the easiest of mistakes, which can be costly if you don’t put 100% focus into each detail of your campaign. Especially when it’s going to unfamiliar territory where a simple translation error can make or break your message, or even your brand! It’s not a case of finding new ways to effectively market overseas; the tools and techniques have been around for years and will stay as a fundamental part of multilingual marketing. You just need to leverage these techniques, to strengthen your international marketing strategy and provide you with better results.