When I talk about global marketing at conferences, one of the best practices I always emphasize is close collaboration between Headquarters and Geographies. Naturally, the question that the audience usually asks is how to build that close collaboration. I work at Intel’s Headquarters (HQ) and I will write this blog from the HQ perspective.

Frankly, there are a lot of ways to build a close relationship between HQ and regions such as regular face-to-face meetings, frequent e-mail exchanges, and phone calls etc… One of the more effective ways is a regular HQ/Geo meeting. It can be once a week or every other week. For a starter, I’d recommend having a meeting once a week. Here are a few tips for an effective HQ/Geo weekly meeting:

1. The HQ is in charge.

Someone needs to chair the meeting and own responsibility for planning and setting the agenda, taking and publishing meeting minutes and recording action items to follow-up.

I’d recommend that HQ takes charge of the meeting.

2. Action items need to have a follow-up.

The meeting is only effective if relevant team members follow through on all action items. This is true of any meeting and particularly true when you are trying to build a relationship of trust.

An action item needs to have a clear owner and a deadline.

The lead of the meeting needs to track action items. All attendees need to review the meeting minutes to make sure the details of the action items are what they agreed to in the meeting. After that, all team members should be committed to completing their assigned action items.

3. Determine meeting time.

The trick to enabling the corporate offices and geographies to work together effectively is to find a good time to meet. I have tried several ways to do this.

There is really no right or wrong way; you need to find the time that works for your and your teams.

  • I used to run a recurring global meeting that had participants from all geos. I tended to set that meeting at 11:00 pm PST to accommodate all geos’ schedules. No matter what time you select, you will still have someone calling in at night or during dinner or lunch time. You can also alternate the time periodically so that no one region or country gets stuck with always attending at a suboptimal time.
  • Another option is to run two separate HQ/Geo calls with the same agenda. One is scheduled at 7:00 or 8:00 am PST with North America, Latin America, and Europe, Middle East and Africa. The other is scheduled at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm PST with the Asia Pacific. Again, this is not ideal for teams who are based in India. Running two separate calls with the same agenda has worked well for me.

4. Publish the agenda in advance.

What types of agenda items would typically get covered in a weekly meeting

Start from the mindset of: – What geographies want to know from Headquarters (and vice versa) – How you can help each other

The best way is to talk to your team members, both at HQ and in the geos, is to understand what they want to hear and discuss it at the meetings. Here are some examples that my geographical counterparts find useful:

  • Company’s worldwide sales goals and business objectives
  • Corporate-wide marketing plans and metrics
  • Product roadmap
  • Messaging, product positioning, content
  • Creative playbook based on marketing campaign themes
  • Branding guide for master and product brands/logos
  • Marketing research and trends
  • Geography’s marketing plan, marketing metrics, sales results
  • Geography’s challenges and needs
  • Editorial and Content discussion
  • Budget discussion
  • Lead generation
  • Content localization and translation
  • Sales discount and offering
  • Co-marketing with partners and channel partners
  • Third party speaker or agency to share new trends
  • Sales and marketing collaboration
  • More…

The chairperson does not need to create a presentation for all the topics above but does need to find appropriate people within the company to come to the meetings to discuss the topics and share their insights. Not every topic needs a presentation; sometimes a round-table or free-form discussion can be very effective. A good working relationship needs to be built over a period of time. Collaboration can’t be achieved by one face-to-face meeting or ad-hoc communications.

Like any other relationships, both sides need to put in time and effort. What do you do to build a collaborative relationship between the headquarters and your geographical counterparts?

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