Technology has brought unlimited business potential. Even a small company in a small town can offer services to global populations. Despite this glossy picture, access to different communities away from your hometown or region poses several challenges such as:
- Language barriers
- Cultural mismatch
- Currency problem
- Staffing problems
- Legal and government regulations
This and other challenges are what localization is all about. All these items ought to be on your mind if you want to expand beyond your geopolitical location. Briefly, localization is a process where you offer targeted information to a specified group in a way that positively brings their experiences and culture.
It is the antithesis of standardization and commoditization. It tells you that every customer is unique—complete with tastes and preferences. Such customer profiles continue to grow. Presently, most chain stores have to account for over 70 unique customer profiles when making marketing decisions. It tells you that the customer is becoming more kingly than he ever was—with tastes that are more particular.
At least 90% of the top companies that are trying to sell out of their comfort zone have faced significant challenges. A good number of them have sunk deep into their pockets after botched attempts to localize their products and services. At the core of the failure is an obsession to automation.
To automate processes, you need an extensive behavioral understanding—machine learning and artificial intelligence—to pull it off. That level of knowledge is at the infancy level. The process of localization tries to automate where necessary while supplementing the efforts using the good old ways of manual checks.
Most experts contend that localization solutions can be done as follows:
- Strategy phase
- Learning stage
- Translation stage
- Execution phase
At the heart of a good plan is information. If you don’t have it, you had better start by gathering it. When it comes to going to other cultures around the globe, one mistake can be fatal. It can kill your chances of ever selling in that location. You don’t want your brand to be associated with negative connotations, which makes this stage all important.
So, at the core of your plan is an effort to look for those things that make your brand appealing to the target audience. It has to be a deliberate effort to find a necessary medium. If there aren’t any, it means you have to create a new one that suits the targeted customer.
It also involves setting timelines and budgets for the process. Localization is not a walk in the park; it has its fair share of challenges. It also has its undeniable positives. However, it can be chaotic. It is usually a messy endeavor, as information being localized tends to be in silos where management is already chaotic.
Majorly, companies have to grapple with a multifaceted process of localization. Some of the things that must be localized are:
- Multimedia, such as videos, infographics, audio, and images
- Social media
- Print or desktop publishing materials
At this phase, setting up an agile management platform is imperative. It will guide the whole process, which will prevent file duplication and consequently unnecessary costs. It will also allow for smooth integration, timely delivery, file and information security, and a balanced company profile that translates into a globally sensitive organization.
The learning stage
Each marketing campaign entails a step where you have to delve deeper into your target audience. It helps you define the audience, structure or restructure the value proposition, create the message, and prepare for launching. Also, preparation of documents and processes that involve business functions is essential. In this case, interpretation and regulatory compliance need perfection.
Effective learning is more than the demographics. Think of marketing in Asia. What is the dominant search engine? How does it rank content? Do you have an expert in that area? It involves putting yourself into that environment, thinking like the locals, and doing thing the way the locals do it—only that this time with an eye to entice a proportion of the people to buy your product.
Sometimes you are not moving to a new location to try localization solutions. Even within the same jurisdictions, demographics are changing. Customer tastes and preferences are changing. With data collection and analysis, clustering can help you offer targeted solutions to your customers. Research shows that the customer wants to improve on his or her experience, which can be a tough ask to a company that seeks standardization of products.
The core function of localization solutions is to deliver an impactful experience. That is only possible for a company that has an excellent plan to do that. Machine translation has proven ineffective. In addition, about 72% of customers want to buy from a website that offers a shopping experience in their language.
You have to translate everything, especially the price point and currency. The starting point is the company website. Some websites follow minimalistic designs to be effective. However, behind the ranking engine is a silo, if not silos, of content that need to be translated into different languages. They should also conform to the cultural orientation of the audience. Well, that sounds sophisticated. You are right it is because your team needs to review every file to confirm its authenticity. It also needs to ensure that web page graphical orientations and scripting issues do not crop up. If you don’t have local capacities, you should not worry. You can enlist professional localization services.
A professional translation company can help you translate media and text without a problem. It will also help you retain keywords and search engine friendliness of the content. If the SEO strategy has changed, they should help you localize or advice you on the best way to go about it.
You have a clear plan of how to go about the process, which has served you well so far. You have ready content for your website. You also have a site that conforms to the new target audience. In short, you have overcome what and where the localization will target. The only thing that remains is the where.
As Harvard Business Review puts it, a customer must be targeted when he or she is most likely ready to make a buying decision. For example, you cannot target a newly employed person with a mortgage. It is too much. However, you can interest him or her with a serviced apartment idea. Therefore, you have to structure your launch at a time when you can take advantage.
Holiday seasons are the best. In the Muslim world, the period after the Ramadan brings good tidings. For the Christian world, Christmas is a perfect time. Other local functions such as Thanksgiving in America and the Oktoberfest in Germany are some of the times that you can target.
A localization expert can guide you through the process from planning to execution. Translation has to be perfect if it is to yield the intended results. If localization is done well, the company stands a chance to reap the following benefits:
- More sales
- Customer loyalty
- Brand visibility
- Complete feedback loop
- Reduced liability
- Competitive edge