A strong global content marketing operation requires extensive collaboration, close communication, and hard compromises. None of it is easy, but all of it supports the ultimate marketing goal – to grow business.
For content marketing, whether B2B marketing or B2C marketing, the goal is to grow business by creating and sharing educational, entertaining, or insightful information with your target audience.
Content should make it easy for your customers to learn, search for, and ultimately purchase your products and services.
By being helpful and providing valuable knowledge, customers reward us with their business and loyalty. In general, it’s easy to create a content marketing plan for one country or one region.
A cross-country or cross-regional plan is tougher. However, not too hard if you take the right steps to align headquarters (HQ) with regional or local offices.
It may sound like a massive undertaking, but it’s actually quite manageable if you can take care of five key elements up-front. Let’s break down everything you need to know.
1. Align business goals between HQ and regions
It may sound rudimentary, but headquarters’ goals do not always align with those of regional and local offices. HQs may demand higher sales quotas than regions are willing to commit to.
Conversely, regions may be planning to grow a brand new market segment or request customization of specific products, even if HQ doesn’t have the bandwidth or resources to support those kinds of undertakings.
An in-depth conversation to ensure full alignment on business goals is an absolute must before any planning can effectively commence.
Start with an easy two-page template, fill it out, and review with regions to get feedback.
2. Determine country priorities
No company has an unlimited global or regional marketing budget, so it’s a good thing that “global” in this case does not mean you have to market to all the countries on the planet.
Here, global simply refers to the process of marketing to targeted regions or countries. The company, usually HQ, needs to determine the regions or countries they would like to nurture and grow strategically.
Tackle one or several regions or countries at a time. Identifying key countries will rally all marketing teams to prioritize content planning efforts, and will help to determine how content should be tailored to those locations effectively.
Most of the time, sales revenue or new business focus will help HQ determine the countries they want to focus on. In addition, you can also get feedback from executives, business units, and the sales team.
Although country priorities are determined by headquarters, in some cases, some regions can push themselves on higher priorities by having their own local budgets to drive marketing campaigns.
Determining country priorities is a two-way conversation between headquarters and regions.
3. Agree on personas
In addition to reaching a consensus on business goals, it’s vital to agree on buyer personas.
Since your content marketing plan is global, it may make sense to create global personas that apply to all regions. But global personas may not necessarily be applicable to your industries or your products and services. The decision to use standardized global personas versus localized personas depends on the industries and the products.
If your products are homogenous across regions, it may make sense to create global personas. If your products are highly localized, due to local behaviors and usage models, creating localized personas for different regions and countries probably makes better sense.
Also, if there is no agreement on buyer personas between HQ and regions, you won’t be able to move to the phase of content planning. It’s imperative that you find alignment here.
For a guide on how to create effective buyer personas, check out my crash course here.
4. Create editorial topics and a content roadmap
A good persona provides insights into your audiences’ attitudes, purchasing behaviors, thought processes, challenges, desires, and aspirations.
Buyer personas are especially important when considering adapting content for a variety of audiences around the globe. Because there are many nuanced differences depending on geography.
Through personas, you can also extrapolate potential editorial topics and use those as a compass for content planning and creation.
Identify three to five broad editorial topics, such as mobility, security, fitness, health, and so on. Topics must be broad enough to give you the freedom to produce different sub-topical content or create interesting local campaigns that resonate with your target audiences.
Solicit feedback on buyer personas, editorial topics, and your overall content plan from your regional and local teams.
Since they are likely to know their regions better than you down to the smallest details, let them take the lead in picking and choosing the appropriate editorial topics for their specific audiences.
You don’t have to take on every bit of their feedback or implement each suggestion, but their input is crucial if you want to gain a solid understanding of how best to target audiences outside your immediate familiarity.
Also, be sure to establish success metrics. You want to be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts as you roll out your global content.
Reaching an early agreement about what you’re hoping to see will save you a lot of time and headaches later on. It will also allow you to continue agilely adapting your content with precision.
5. Craft region or country-specific marketing campaigns
Having agreed on business goals, personas, and country priorities, the regional and country teams can begin the process of crafting their marketing campaigns.
Their plans should identify how content will specifically be utilized as part of their campaigns.
Their plan can also serve as a feedback loop to the overall global content planning. In addition, the marketing campaign and content plans are good resources for driving budget and headcount discussions.
The holy grail of global content planning is to establish a regular communication process between the HQ and regional/country teams. So everyone is moving in the same direction and striving to achieve the same business goals.
It’s possible that people will be located across various time zones, so take that into account when you establish your meeting times.
Know that it’s not always possible to find a slot that works for everyone, so you might also consider switching things up every other meeting so no one feels they’re getting stuck with the short end of the stick. Here is the blog post on how to conduct global/local meeting.
You should also be sure to send an agenda out before each meeting to keep the conversations on point and on track.
Assign someone to take notes during each meeting, and then distribute the notes to all attendees and/or relevant players who may have not been present for the discussion.
The notes should make it clear if there are deliverables with upcoming deadlines that certain parties need to complete, and you should be sure to follow up with those team members to make sure everything is moving along smoothly.
Overall, global marketing efforts require being flexible and adaptable, which does not necessarily mean being random or spontaneous.
It usually requires extensive collaboration and coordination.
It takes a village – in this case, a big one! But if you take these steps, you’ll save a lot of time and effort as you go about creating or adapting your global content.
If you have specific challenges or questions related to creating a global content marketing plan that I didn’t address here, feel free to drop me a line!
I love hearing from readers and am always eager to help if I can.