BlogDagmar 18.08.2014

International marketing – well planned, half done 

Customer experience development Marketing development Marketing communications Brand Culture Customer insight

For 30 years, Dagmar has helped Finnish marketers export their brands to the world and foreign companies to find their target groups in Finland. The Dagmar Global Connections unit works with an extensive international network of partners, through which target countries vary from Romania to India. Solid experience in both international consumer and B2B markets has taught me to find the best operating models – and to beware of various pitfalls. Communications Planning Director Paula Hernetkoski and her team summed up a number of good questions that an internationalising marketer should be prepared for. 

1. Prepare carefully 

Question everything you know about the keys to your success in the Finnish market. This is perhaps the most important rule of thumb for marketers who manage their products or services around the world. What works for us does not necessarily open doors to success elsewhere. Therefore, put a lot of effort into the preparation work before entering new markets. 

Start questioning already about what is on offer. Do the needs of potential customers differ from domestic ones? Are we competing in the same category, are consumers’ purchasing decisions guided by the same motives as in Finland? Can the current portfolio meet the identified needs or does internationalisation require adjustments to the offering? 

Dagmar is often involved in helping marketers well in advance of entering new markets. Typically, the focus is on creating an understanding of the target group through research: identifying the local purchasing process, mapping the target group potential and determining the positions of competing brands. 

Comparison data from a few markets is valuable capital in the early stages when deciding which market it makes sense to enter in the first place – where our offering meets a sufficiently large potential target group and we are able to stand out from the competitive field profitably. Customer understanding gathered from the target market helps to find the motives behind the purchase decision, which help to position the offering in the local competitive field. 

Examples of questions to be clarified: 

  • What kind of overall product or service works in question? market – additional services, packaging, etc.? 
  • What kind of position can we own – how should the product be branded in relation to the competitive field? 
  • What trademark issues need to be clarified and what is the optimal price level for our product or service? 

2. Choose the right partners 

Choosing a distribution partner is typically one of the most important partner decisions when targeting new markets. As an alternative to owning a distribution individual or – as is the case with more and more Finnish brands today – using the network as a distribution channel. 

In addition to potential markets, the research partner helps to identify the distribution channels that are most relevant to the consumer’s purchasing process. For example, what is consumers’ attitude towards online payments in different markets? How do cultural factors, trends and purchasing habits affect product positioning and distribution? What are the potential barriers in areas such as income inequality, education, network use or infrastructure? 

Dagmar’s research unit helps internationalising marketers in a variety of ways through its partner network; both in deepening consumer understanding and in planning practical marketing communication measures and analysing effectiveness. 

Examples of questions to be clarified: 

  • What kind of marketing strategy works for different target groups? 
  • Can we find factors that allow for a consistent approach across markets and thus increase cost-effectiveness? 
  • What do competitors do in marketing communications? 
  • What kind of media mix is needed and with what input? 
  • And what are the messages that work by channel? 

When choosing a partner, the perspective of managing the marketing communication process is also essential; combining local implementation with strategic planning and steering from Finland. 

Of course, the need for local variation varies, but according to Dagmar’s experience, responsibility for strategic policies and their coordination should always be kept in Finland. In the lead agency model, Dagmar is responsible for briefing the international partner network, taking care of schedules and coordination of actions, as well as analysing success, whether it is a question of individual campaigns or continuous visibility. 

A lot can also be done from Finland – especially online. For example, harnessing keyword advertising to support marketing can be implemented entirely with domestic resources. 

3. Track success 

When entering international markets, as in all marketing communications, it is important to analyze success in a continuous cycle. However, setting relevant metrics and measurement methods is not easy when talking about new markets – you should use the help of a local partner here. 

Examples of questions to be clarified: 

  • What kind of indicators are the best indicator of success in the market in question? 
  • How should success be measured – for example, what is the role of the network as a research channel? 
  • What kind of target levels can we set for success in different markets? 

Yes – we dare to say that in international marketing, good planning already helps halfway towards business success. Without careful preparation, there is no reason to invest in international markets – even a neighbouring country may surprise with its diversity! 

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