If you’re a B2B marketer working for a multinational company with corporate and geomarketing groups, you are likely well aware of how important (and sometimes challenging) it is to strike a balance between global and local marketing.

You may be wondering how you can chip in to build that sense of alignment between global and local marketing to reach your business goals, in which case I’m here to help.

Working as a global strategist supporting over 5 different geographies for more than 10 years, I can share some of my biggest takeaways and tips about balancing global and local marketing by creating a joint corporate/geo Centers of Excellence (COE).

What is a Center of Excellence (COE)?

You may already be familiar with COEs, but let’s do a quick refresher just in case. For starters, I still love this definition from How to Transform Marketing into a Center of Excellence:

“A center of excellence consists of subject-matter experts and uses methodologies and tools that enable shared learning and encourage the building of a performance-based team.”

What’s so great about a COE? The benefits are wide-ranging; you can read more over at Shift Paradigm with Justin Gray, but according to him, a huge advantage of creating a COE is that “a marketing COE keeps large, often geographically separated teams on track, on brand, coordinated, and making progress. Without it, an enterprise marketing department can get hung up by legal approvals and other red tapes that can’t be circumvented or expedited.”

In other words, it makes life much easier, especially when you’re looking to scale products and services. It means increased production, decreased turnaround time, etc.

What’s the big deal about balancing global and local marketing efforts?

It’s not that local marketing doesn’t share many of the same goals as global, but when you break things down at a geo level, needs and pain points are more nuanced. For example, buyer personas can vary based on location. While corporate values generally remain universal, messaging usually needs to be refined by markets to hit the target audience effectively.

For everyone to win across the scale, it’s crucial for the two ends of the spectrum to work together as marketing research and strategies are developed and executed.

The biggest benefits of working together are that you can:

  • Minimize duplications
  • Divide and conquer on content creation and customization/translation
  • Scale outreach from headquarters to geographies

How should the joint global/geo Center of Excellence collaborate?

The best way to collaborate is through weekly or bi-weekly meetings. These meetings don’t have to be long, but it’s important to publish an agenda and get presenters on the same page in advance.

For example, you can invite the sales team to come and talk about their content needs. You can also ask digital marketing to talk about customer journeys, website refresh, etc. You can also get your creative agencies or in-house content team to share the latest creative concepts.

Here is a long list of topics you can discuss:

  • Marketing plans
  • Content editorial and roadmap
  • Sales enablement
  • Martech stack
  • Technology and tool ramping schedule
  • Messaging framework
  • Product roadmap
  • Product launch plan
  • Local marketing plan
  • Local needs or gaps
  • Marketing research
  • SEO
  • Events/roadshows
  • Social media
  • Media buy
  • Email marketing
  • Demand gen

As you can see, the list is endless; as long as there is something that global needs to plan and create that geographies need to execute, there are many topics which can be discussed and reviewed during the checkpoint meetings.

Where does the Digital Center of Excellence belong?

In a global company, the role of the Headquarters is to provide clear and strategic guidance, set up processes, source the right tools, and share best practices so that geos can execute campaigns on the marketing front. Therefore, it makes sense to build a COE within Corporate, not at the geo level, so that information may be widely and efficiently communicated and distributed globally.

How the Digital Center of Excellence can effectively guide and influence marketing teams

If a COE has the power of budget and headcount, it can directly “control” geos’ marketing campaigns. In reality, though, a COE typically does not control the budget and headcount. What then?

In those cases, the way for COEs to work effectively with geos is to demonstrate a concrete sense of “value-add.” In other words, it should be clear to the geos that the COE exists specifically to help them. As such, your team should be willing to embrace new technologies for the sake of agility and adaptability.

It’s also essential to demonstrate subject matter expertise. Show everyone precisely what the COE brings to the table to help gain their trust!

Geos appreciate knowing they can count on a COE’s expertise and guidance on new technologies and marketing innovation. When COEs are proven reliable, the local-global bond is strengthened tenfold.

This is not to say there won’t be hard work involved in the upkeep of a COE. You will need to put in the effort to maintain the COE, but the benefits are far-reaching.

The global/geo Center of Excellence should be customized based on organizational needs

Digital is a broad umbrella term because digital marketing can include things like online creative, online content production, company website, media-buy, social media, online training, and more.

Depending on the company, industry, and organizational structure, a global/geo Center of Excellence (COE) may need to be broken down into several subgroups, including digital content production, social media, media, on-domain website, and creative services, Search Engine Marketing, and possibly others.

Be sure to keep communication lines open

After a COE is established, it is critical to focus on communication, communication, and communication. Weekly COE and geo calls are incredibly beneficial to drive close collaboration and best practice sharing. This will help to build trust in the process, as well as maintain the COE.

Additionally, it’s crucial to provide a substantial level of governance in the upkeep of the COE. This will aid in the creation of policies and standards and will boost agility overall. Be sure that key decision-makers consult with your security team on best practices.

Sharing is caring

Global companies’ challenges are generally similar, so it’s refreshing to share strategies for making the most of our digital marketing efforts. Does your organization utilize both corporate and geo-marketing groups? How does your company find the right balance? What are your thoughts on COEs?

I’d love to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment or drop me a line. For further reading check out my Global Content Marketing Strategy Guide for B2B Marketers.


What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.