We work with a variety of clients that come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the organization is a small start-up or a large global enterprise, fundamentally each client has the same globalization objective: to reach a broader audience. The maturity of the globalization process can vary significantly. For example, you may have a small, nimble start-up built for a global audience from the start. Or you may run a large enterprise that still struggles to manage globalization consistently. The one truism: all organizations struggle with the early steps of globalization. The most common questions we hear are, “How do I get started?”, “what should I consider?”, and “What do I need to do?”.
Realistically, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to going global, but I’ll outline five basic considerations to get started. Let’s take an example of a U.S.-based company with annual revenue between $50 million and $300 million that wants to market to a global audience. (Important nuances exist if “market to” is defined as selling products, providing a service, or educating a consumer in a B2B or B2C scenario. We aren’t going to go into the required nuances here, but be aware that they exist.)
So, how do you get started?
- Define your targets. This is an easy one but you need to know what languages and regions are your targets. You don’t need to overachieve on this step but you need to start. You can then validate your thinking with a partner. (See #2 below).
- Engage a partner. Yes, this may seem self-serving, since we provide globalization services, but this is a no-brainer. A good globalization partner will provide language and regional validation, guidance about core items you need to manage your translation process, provide quality translation, and, most importantly, start the education process. You most likely won’t have an internal team to manage globalization right off the bat, nor do you need one. Later on, you might consider internal management and you want a partner to help you get there. Your partner should set up an appropriate localization workflow; leverage translation memory; discuss technologies and processes that affect your translation process; and provide leadership. If these things don’t happen, move on!
- Establish quality/in-country review. You will want third-party review of your content to ensure cultural relevance. You may also need to do transcreation, or re-writing or re-purposing of content to ensure a better message.
- Support marketing. Most likely your marketing team will need assistance with production or general globalization to adjust tone, content, or marketing approach. You will want to understand any global SEO challenges, social media approaches, and other mechanisms to support your marketing efforts.
- Evaluate your content supply chain. You are starting to build a foundation for your global business with your content. The creation process, the technologies that support it, and the user experience all affect your global customer experience. You need to evaluate how these pieces connect together with a focus on supporting multi-lingual content. An effective globalization process drives costs down, ensures consistent messaging, and helps you achieve good communication with your audiences.
These five tips for globalization are designed to get you started. You want to be in a position where three to five years out, you start to own and evolve what you are doing with your multilingual content. One goal might be creating targeted content for a specific region or language speaker delivered in a one-week window and promoted across targeted social media outlets. When you’ve built a solid globalization foundation, goals like this become possible.