Multi Channel

Global to Local Marketing in the Era of Digital Transformation

Written by
Mads Krogh Petersen
Global to Local Marketing in the Era of Digital Transformation

What global marketing teams excel at

It is typically a routine job for the seasoned global marketing team to create global marketing campaigns that knock the socks off the executive sponsors within the organization of the multinational company.

Extensive experience within HQ marketing, well bolstered global budgets and the wide availability of experienced agencies in the metropolitan areas are conducive conditions for the definition of world class marketing strategy and creative.

Where global marketing teams are challenged

However, global marketing teams are as routinely severely challenged in getting buy in to the global campaign at country level and get it efficiently rolled out across geographies and markets. Fueled by the promise of digital transformation in terms of inherent scale and efficiencies, executive sponsors’ expectations for both operational excellence and commercial excellence in global marketing implementation are uncompromising.

Critical success factor for local adoption of global campaigns

Perspectives from global/regional and local are rarely aligned in terms of the extent to which local differences are substantially “real” and the level of adaption that these differences warrant. For example in the Healthcare industry, Global tends to argue the target audience is fundamentally the same, both as regards the HCP AND Patients suffering from the given disease/condition. Thus, the behaviors to change are similar. Also, as Pharma and Biotech companies fundamentally are in the business of brand building and that the world's strongest brands have a consistent message across the world. Thus, anything beyond changing a word arguably amounts to a change to global brand strategy. And this should be avoided. To add to this, Global feels there is pronounced “Not invented here syndrome”, which is also a documented characteristic of international organizations. Local tends to argue that global campaigns are often built on insights which US centric or collected in EU5. Thus, in this sense, the global campaigns are per definition not global.

Accordingly, common wisdom is that to maximize adoption, local representatives needs to be 1) involved in the definition of the global campaign; it should 2) cater for local differences; needs to be 3) inherently scalable i.e. fit for roll out at local level with minimal need for local budgets, lowest possible complexity and within the currently available local capabilities.

The limitation of global marketing’s mandate

How and the extent to which the global marketing organization can deliver on the above 3 critical success factors hinge on strategic decisions made at upper echelons of the company and corporate structural inertia outside the direct influence of Marketing. Examples include:

  • Global KPIs for Scale & Efficiency: Separate to (and often in conflict with) the organizational lay out, global executive management has set guidelines for the level of adaptation “permitted” at local level in support of an overall operational excellence program. 80/20 is the classic version. As another example, the quest for operational excellence often leads to stern limitations on the marketing channels which the local market is allowed to use.
  • Legacy technical infrastructures & processes: Local markets often have varied channel marketing infrastructures which makes it impractical for global assets to be cost-effectively developed to cater for each local scenario. For example, some local markets may have a robust and segmented email database, some have actively maintained YouTube Channels, some are proficient in creating custom landing pages, whereas some local markets are unable to do many or all of the above. This means that asset creation at a global level often by default ends up catering either for the lowest common denominator (non-segmented emails and a product page update) or an uncomfortable middle ground that the more ‘basic’ markets are unable to leverage and the more ‘sophisticated’ local markets are uninterested in leveraging.
  • Level of decentral vs centralized organization: The actual layout of the organization partially determines the level of local budgets and the country’s reliance on global support to drive marketing in the local market. As a basic example, in some local markets bespoke visual templates are often developed through local budgets with creative local application of branding and sub-branding within these templates. Money is, as always, power.
  • Hazy division of responsibilities between Corporate Communication and Commercial in term of influencing stakeholders at the early stage of Decision Journey. For many MNCs, the role of the Corporate Brand versus product brands is in a state of flux. This is because digital transformation drives the company towards solution orientation and customized services. This precludes investing fully in old style product branding alongside the product brand still being necessary. Hence, the haziness and state of limbo in terms of who is doing what for a given marketing campaign.

A modular Global to Local Marketing Methodology

The question is how the multinational’s Marketing Office can most efficiently launch and roll out campaigns given these external variables and constraints?

To this end, Vertic has developed a modular Global to Local Marketing Methodology which can be adjusted according to context in case. It is based on the experience of rolling 8 global campaigns out across a total of more than 50 countries.

It includes the varied division of labor between global and local functions across the typical phases of a global campaign i.e. 1) insights; 2) strategy; 3) conceptualization & execution in priority markets, 4) execution in tier 2 markets; and lastly, 5) continuous analytics and optimization.

The framework also provides a detailed description of the required project activities, associated templates & tools, suggestions for Change Management; a Best Practice Playbook structure for efficiently guiding the local markets through execution in their unique market context as well as a content hub structure for holding all assets and manuals for the global campaign shareable internally and with local agencies.

Whereas not a Silver Bullet, we have experienced a very significant increase in local uptake of global marketing campaigns by rigorously systematizing and planning the integration of the global and local marketing teams throughout the different phases of global marketing projects as described in the methodology.

Written by

Mads Krogh Petersen

President and Co-Founder

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