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Thanks in no small part to the internet, we live in a global economy in which companies can compete in markets they never would have a decade or two ago.

For B2B businesses in particular, globalization has created countless market opportunities. But exploiting them isn't always easy, and for companies already overwhelmed by the number of marketing options they have in their home countries, international marketing can seem like a daunting challenge.

The good news: while entering new markets is never easy, marketing in them doesn't have to be nearly as risky as it might seem at first. Here are six ways to increase your chances of international marketing success.

1. Remember that localization is about more than translation.

Whether you're putting together collateral for an ad campaign or developing content for a blog, it's important to understand that marketing success requires localization, and that localization does not mean translation. Knowing the culture and local nuances is crucial to success.

2. Truly understand the market.

What and how you market internationally may be different than what and how you market in your home country. In short, the opportunity for your products and services may be different overseas, requiring an entirely different go-to-market strategy. This, of course, would have a significant impact on your marketing approach.

To ensure that your marketing efforts are fruitful, it's crucial to understand the market. Don't make assumptions about needs and pain points: talk to folks in the market to validate your assumptions about the nature of the market and its state of development.

3. Have a local presence.

While it's not always necessary to have a local presence to build a successful B2B business in a foreign market, in many cases, it is. Whether you set up a local subsidiary or forge a relationship with a local partner, being able to show that you're invested in a country can boost your credibility substantially, making it far easier to market effectively to potential customers.

4. Reassess the marketing mix.

Don't assume that the channels you currently focus on are the channels you should focus on in other markets. In some parts of the world, for instance, it may be sensible to invest more in mobile marketing channels than you do at home. In others, offline channels, such as print and events, may need to be a more prominent part of your marketing mix, particularly when you're starting out.

5. Build bridges before you launch marketing campaigns.

Entering foreign markets can be extremely difficult. In most countries, it's not what you know, but who you know, but that's doubly true in many parts of the world. With this in mind, think about building relationships with potential customers and partners in new markets before you officially launch in them and begin marketing formally. In many cases, visits early and often are a prerequisite to success.

6. Set realistic expectations.

Marketing is just one piece of building a successful international B2B business. As such, it's important that your international expansion strategy doesn't place unrealistic expectations on marketing teams.

Expectations around ROI deserve careful consideration. Entering a new market is an investment that typically requires patience, so if your company expects marketing efforts to deliver the same results overseas that they do at home right off the bat, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 September, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2401 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Six great tips, Patricio.

I think we've probably tripped over each one (hopefully only once each).

I tried to think of a seventh that's as important as these but failed. Nice one.

almost 4 years ago

Jonathan Mallia

Jonathan Mallia, Lead Management & Marketing Automation Consultant at GFI Software

Very much so.. I would stress on research research and research! A lot of marketers skim very briefly when researching as they look forward to execute their campaigns - if only research is done by "fully understanding the market" i.e listening to what the audience is after before we serve them their favorite dish. So building personas is the key. No?

almost 4 years ago

Ivor Morgan

Ivor Morgan, Personal

A great list Patricio - I'd put #5 at the top of the it though. Building bridges makes the rest of the list easier, more informed and more productive. I'd also add local media, trade bodies etc to the list of bridges to build - they can give you a wider perspective that individual customers and partners may not have.

almost 4 years ago

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over 3 years ago

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