How to Market Direct-Selling Businesses to an International Audience
By Liz Elting
Business 2 Community - August 8, 2012
Businesses that rely on local sales reps or independent contractors to sell their products and services directly to consumers see global expansion as the route to future growth. These organizations – eyeing easier access into China, Russia, and the Middle East – plan to use the web to support direct sellers on the ground in these new regions. To make that plan work, companies first need to know how to recruit and support global teams. That plan should include:
Keyword and search engine research: Work with localization and translation professionals who apply their knowledge of colloquial speech, cultural preferences, and regional dialects to convey your message. They can identify relevant keywords and determine how to use them most effectively to attract the search engines that are popular in that region. (No, Google is not the top search engine worldwide.) Direct translation won’t cut it here; this activity will be the basis of every marketing campaign, so make sure you’re taking advice from human experts, not machines. This activity is at the heart of every viable international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategy.
Drop-down menus for language choice: In many international markets, potential recruits (and their target customers) speak multiple languages. Don't try to guess which they prefer; offer relevant choices for core content.
Regionally effective imagery: Any localization expert worth her title knows that companies need to translate more than just words. Images carry different connotations for different audiences, as do colors. Vet your stock photography before using it to populate international websites, and then tag it with your localized keywords for better search engine optimization (SEO).
Culturally aware content: The last thing you want to look like in a new market is a "foreigner." Make sure the translated content you use to attract, support, and retain a direct selling team conveys your brand image positively and reflects local preferences. For example, in some international markets it may be an asset to state that your product/service is "the best on the market." In other cultures, that kind of statement would seem brash and foreign. If the content is not strong and tailored to local audiences, the expansion effort is at risk.
Ongoing maintenance: Direct selling companies know from their domestic success that dynamic website content builds business. For that reason, international web properties must be updated often. That means you’ll need a translation management system that can automate as many tasks as possible without jeopardizing the quality of your localization efforts.
E-commerce shoppers often report that preferred language availability drives their buying decisions. This feedback should be instructive to companies recruiting independent contractors for a global expansion project. Your content must speak to these audiences in an authentic manner. When it does, they can better address their target customers and help you expand your business in new markets.