“Think global, act local”

Perhaps more than any other area of business, the world of marketing is absolutely stuffed full of aphorisms and pithy sayings.

From David Ogilvy’s famous quip that, ‘The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife’, all the way up to, ‘Break down the marketing silos in order to reap the full digital harvest.’ Marketing people like to package their thoughts up for re-sale in a few, neat words.

And sometimes that works.

1If you are looking at exporting or operating in foreign markets, ‘Think global, act local’ is amongst the best bits of advice you can get.

I don’t actually know who penned the phrase in the first place, but I do know it became the mantra of multinational business after they had discovered the shortfalls of going into a new country or region while thinking, ‘Oh, I’m sure that they are just the same as us!’

And seeing Europe, or the entire world, or indeed just another two or three countries, as a homogeneous marketplace is an easy trap to fall into. We are encouraged to think of the global village, a common market and a playing field that is predominantly level.

2English is the global language of business, isn’t it? The web is worldwide and a billion people are on Facebook. To even think of something or someone as ‘foreign’ rings our alarm bells of political correctness.

But ‘Think global, act local’, goes someway to holding those thoughts in check.

What does it mean? It means that you should know your brand values and believe in your marketing strategy. You should always have a clear vision of what your product or service stands for, who it appeals to and how it benefits them. That knowledge and those thoughts should be clearly and accurately defined enough to have universal appeal. Think global.

How your marketing messages and communications are presented and phrased in terms of cultural references, emotional nuance, even basic ideas; that all needs to be put into the mind-set – not just the language – of your target audience. Act local.

3Digital and social marketing allow you to reach out across borders and frontiers, but be aware that the people on the other side of that line may not always see the world as you do or think in the same way that you do.

Opening overseas markets for your business can be both rewarding and exciting. But before you start planning how to maximise the traffic to your website, pushing ads out into the social sphere or hiring translators to help prepare that new brochure, it is worth making the effort to consider how exactly you will present your business in those new markets.

After all, you want to get on with your new ‘locals’, don’t you?

Get in touch

In his advertising and marketing career, Simon has worked on dozens of multinational brands and lived and worked on three continents. He brings that knowledge and insight to bear in his work with all clients – if you would like to arrange an initial consultation please get in touch


About the Author

SIMON MINCHIN CREATIVE DIRECTOR I like to make a difference. I like to work with clients rather than for them. I think my role is to see the wood for the trees; to make thinking, communicating and doing as simple as possible, rather than as clever as possible.

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