There is a popular story about an ad campaign run by a Western detergent company seeking to enter the Saudi Arabian market. The ad consisted of a simple series of images showing a dirty shirt, washed using the detergent which then made it sparkling white. The text was written in Arabic and all set for the Arab audience or so they thought.
But they had failed to take into account the fact that unlike Westerners who read from left to right, Arabs read from the right. So, what they saw was a sparkling clean shirt, washed and then made very dirty by the detergent. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very successful ad campaign.
According to a report by JP Morgan, only about 25% of online shoppers speak English. That leaves 75% of online shoppers who can’t speak English but want to spend money on products regardless of where they come from. Big corporations can afford to establish physical offices in these countries. For smaller businesses, online marketing is the primary key to harnessing the international market.
Creating ads for these audiences involves more than simply hiring copywriters and translators. Like in the detergent story above, every society has unique cultural differences that you must pay attention to if you want to run a successful ad campaign. To learn more about successfully navigating these differences, you need to take note of these tips.
Research and Align Content to Local Culture
Before you create ads for an international audience, you need to research your target audience. You can’t make one-size-fits-all ads for everybody. Your ads have to be tailored to individual audiences, whether Japanese, Chinese, or Russian.
Research will show you elements of the local culture that would be very helpful. If the detergent company in the story above had done its research, it would have easily avoided making that gaffe.
You will need a Team of Trustworthy People
I know I said that this is more than just hiring copywriters and translators. Yes, that is true, nevertheless, you need them. Although you should not be overly reliant on them. A lot of business coaches suggest that you learn the languages of your audience. But, let’s keep it a buck, it is not that easy.
How many languages can anyone realistically learn? You have to employ translators and copywriters to do the job. However, you have to be artful about it. You don’t want them working half-heartedly. You have to first employ excellent talent and then keep them motivated to produce their best work.
Stay Abreast of Local Festive Seasons
In the US, sales are usually seasonal. Festive periods like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween witness large spikes in the sales of some classes of consumer products. It is exactly like that everywhere else in the world.
To properly harness the pool of international consumers, you have to tailor your ad strategy to local seasons. For example, it will be easier to make huge sales in China during the Chinese new year if your ads are tailored to that fact. It works just like Christmas-themed ads and promotional packages.
Be Aware of Local Regulations
Different countries have different regulations concerning advertising. Certain product classes, usually cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, are strictly controlled in some countries. If you want your ad campaign to be successful, you have to take these restrictions into cognizance.
Legal troubles will only cost you unnecessary time and money. Avoid them as much as possible. In countries where you think the legal hurdles are insurmountable, it is best to simply move your business somewhere else.
The advertisement landscape gets more sophisticated every day. All online advertising mediums now offer the option to create targeted online ads for varying demographics.
You can take advantage of this to test run your ads. Testing will allow you to detect errors and fine-tune your approach before you broadcast to the wider, intended audience.