Large corporate brands that want to thrive in global markets need to change the way they think about localization. It needs to become a revenue enabler and a profit driver, rather than the time-consuming cost center it is too often perceived to be.
This was my big take-away from the 3rd edition of the Brand2Global conference, held last week in London. The event targets marketers who have a stake in successful globalization, who are keenly interested in localization trends, who can sponsor and champion the efforts, but who are generally not involved in the nitty-gritty of it. (In fact, these may include some of the very people who perceive localization as a cost center… which may also explain, at least in part, why attendance is still pretty small for a marketing conference in London - about 150 people.)
Yet there is evidence that those companies who view localization as a strategic business enabler see an increase in their revenues. Ben Sargent, a highly respected content globalization strategist from market research firm Common Sense Advisory, said companies that increase their volume of content were 1.8 times more likely to show revenue growth, and companies that increased translation budgets were 1.5 times more likely to see revenue increases. In short, more – and let’s hope, valuable – content, localized into more languages for more markets, drives global business success.
That said, more content, in more languages, creates a certain amount of complexity too. So how can businesses create more, and localize more, without spinning out of control? According to conference speakers, it depends on three things:
- how companies organize content delivery;
- where they place responsibility and budgets for local digital and social activities;
- and how effective their localization teams are at enabling the business.
Organizing content delivery
For Sargent, successful integrated marketing is one of the biggest prerequisites to successful localization. He argues that first of all, content gets better amplification in social channels when all the components are part of an orchestrated sequence across multiple channels.
Moreover, organizing content delivery into campaign cycles makes it easier to ensure all components get localized at the same time. If campaign pieces get created in silos and then handed off to the translation partner (or worse, the translation partners) in a fragmented way, then you’’re increasing the possibility of inconsistencies and errors.
Assigning responsibility for local digital activities
While campaigns are crucial, digital activities are wider in scope than that. So where should companies place responsibility for local digital and social activities? Susie Hamlin, Director of Global Strategy and Advocacy at Cisco spoke about fluctuating organizational models: her company completely decentralized a few years back, and did so to be closer to markets and customers. It then later shifted to a regional model in the face of budget cutbacks. But corporate regional organizations tend to ignore geographical and market realities (EMEA, anyone?), so it’s difficult to come up with a regional approach that resonates in the same way across all countries. Plus, as Hamlin pointed out, regional teams can sometimes behave like mini-corporate ones; they can filter information, slow down processes, and in the end, make content feel generic.Given that the Cisco content engine hasn’t gotten smaller, Hamlin says her company has decided to revert to a global decentralized model that empowers the countries. They are now beefing up their staffing and budgeting accordingly, estimating that it takes 4.5 resources and some 610K$ per country to deliver effectively on digital activities like SEO, social media and landing page creation.
Hamlin stressed that the decision to centralize or decentralize is not just about costs and optimization; it’s also about creating an enablement framework. This involves identifying what must be done locally and what can be done more efficiently at central level.
Turning localization teams into business partners
Bruno Herrmann, who heads the globalization team at The Nielsen Company, talked about turning localization teams into business partners and breaking down the localization silos. Indeed, so much needs to occur for successful globalization, and chances are, many activities are occurring in silos without much coordination.
Herrmann suggests adopting a strategic plan that is focused on simplifying, automating, and ‘centrifying’ (a word he uses to mean ‘making things more user-centered’, or customized). Take all your related processes, assets, technology and indicators, and map out the opportunities to simplify, automate and customize. Doing so will enable globalization teams to become true business partners who contribute to profits.
Herrmann’s team consists of 12 people, and they do a lot more than manage cost per word and translation workflows. All of them are account managers who are embedded in key teams like digital and integrated marketing. This ensures both deep expertise in each of the team’s specific requirements, and a consistent approach across teams.
So there you have it. Organize your content delivery into distinct chunks, ensure your countries have dedicated resources for digital and social, and transform your localization teams into globalization enablers. Easy, no? I encourage you to peruse the many resources available on the Brand2Global site for insights and inspiration.
And we can help, too. Getting a handle on the global content, processes and tools you have is always a good place to start. Why not call us for an audit?