Pam Didner is a Global Content Marketing Strategist, author and speaker. Her book, Global Content Marketing, was named one of 'The Top 10 Marketing Books of 2014' by Inc. It is also the first content marketing book to offer a complete process to scale content across regions. Didner is an expert in creating successful global marketing plans that meet local marketing needs. Here she talked to Content Magazine about how to standardize content, how HQ and local teams can work in harmony and why successful global strategies are all built on trust.
Content: How can brands create content that resonates and engages with an audience, regardless of the country or culture it is being received in?
Pam: To create content across regions, headquarters and local teams should work together to create a plan that aligns on business objectives, marketing objectives and marketing strategies. Once those are aligned, everything else tends to come naturally. Setting up a process to have an open dialogue among relevant players is the first step.
Is it possible for brands standardize content?
Yes. I’d answer this question in three ways. 1. Products and personas: If your products are fairly homogenous and the users are very similar across the regions, it’s easy to standardize content, right? Same products and similar users! 2. Budget and resources: if you have a small budget and small team, then you don’t have a lot of choice, you have to make do with what you have and get the most bang for your buck. Standardizing content is a way to go. 3. Common editorial: Pick a topic which is common among your users or customers, and then create content in a ‘business casual’ way that is easy to translate without many jargons or local slangs.
To what extent should HQ influence/guide what is happening at a local level? This comes from the aspect of trust. I often say working with the local team is like raising kids (and I have two kids). Let’s assume you do a great job raising your children when they were small; you set expectations up front, such as what to do, what not to do, and you set up a guard rails in terms of what they can/can’t play with. Hopefully a lot of stuff that you said sinks in and provides guidance when they become adults, so you can scale back in terms of your parenting. The same analogy also applies when you work with the local teams.
Say, you work with your local team very closely, and they understand your expectations, you understand their core competencies and what they can deliver. If that trust and relationship is there, then the level of influence and guidance that you will have to provide is likely going to be minimal. However, if the trust is not there, and the local team has not demonstrated that they can deliver, or they do not understand your expectations, it’s likely that you’ll need to exert a little more influence, and possibly have to provide additional guidance to make things happen. So, at the end of the day, it’s about trust!
How can the HQ and local level teams harmonize their efforts? What strategies should they adopt?
Regular face to face and virtual meetings are key! If budget allows, it would be great to have Face-To-Face (FTF) meetings twice a year or every six months. It is important for that FTF meeting to be 2-3 days with a clear agenda and working sessions, discussing issues, building synergy and having fun. FTF meetings can complement regular virtual meetings. Things happen every day…product launch delays, new content being created or new team members joining the team, etc…Having regular meetings keeps everyone informed.
Are there tools you would recommend using?
There are a lot of tools out there to enhance communication and productivity. Slack is one of them. Skype is another. In an enterprise, a lot of tools have been set up by IT - but many start-ups and medium sized businesses use the Google suite to enhance communication. Look inside your company first to see what tools are being used—and go with those before using a platform which is not supported by your IT.
Can you give an example of a brand that has successfully built a global team, why has it been successful, and what can other brands learn from this?
Intel has done a great job of building a good relationship with its headquarters and local teams. They have regular meetings, where the teams openly discuss the issues they are having. And whenever Intel is doing any future planning, it always incorporates local feedback from its geographies. Of course, headquarters can’t always make all geographies happy, but it’s important to have honest communications. It’s really about understanding your internal stakeholders on the ground level, keeping the communication open and making sure everyone is aligned.