Localizing Communication to Maximize ROI

Determining whether a foreign market is right for your product or service requires due diligence. Demographic diversity, cultural norms, regional and local language differences all play a critical role in discovering whether and how your brand will be received in a new market.

Time and time again we see companies try to shortcut this process by simply translating their sales and marketing materials into a new language. In reality, translation is one piece of a much larger strategy we refer to as localized communication.

For more on our approach to supporting companies looking to expand to the U.S. market, check out this post.

ROIWhat is localized communication?

To answer this question, we spoke with Fernanda Ave, Partner and Intercultural Communications Specialist at Mirrai International. Mirrai International supports companies looking to expand into the Canadian or Latin American market by helping them navigate across cultures through localized communications strategies.

According to Fernanda, the first thing to know about localized communication is that it’s not about translation.

“Localized communications means understanding the market that you want to enter into and making sure that your brand is being accurately relayed. It means translating your company’s message to a new culture.”

Of course, there is a translation element to localizing communication, even when those languages are the same. In Brazil, where Fernanda is from, she explained that words change in Portuguese depending on the city you are in. Regional nuances exist in the U.S. as well, which may impact the way a brand is received.

In essence, translation plays an important role in localized communication, but the first step is to understand your market on a cultural level.

Common pitfalls to communicating in a new market

As an Intercultural Communications Specialist, Fernanda specializes in helping companies overcome common challenges to communicating effectively in foreign markets. We asked her to expand on those challenges and what strategies she recommends.

“Most people assume that their marketing strategy will work everywhere and that’s definitely not true. Particularly in the U.S. or Canada, people assume that because these are big countries with strong economies their marketing strategies are going to work elsewhere.”

ROIAdditionally, with the growth of digital communication and social media, the number of words that companies use to express themselves and their brand has shrunk significantly. While it’s become easier to access new markets, how and where one expresses themselves digitally is critically important.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Whatsapp, selecting the right social media platform based on regional preferences is critical.

How to improve your understanding of a foreign market

Step 1: Market Research

Prior to expanding into a new market, companies should have a good handle of who their buyer personas are within their existing market. This includes their demographics, habits, needs, and desires as potential customers.

The goal of new market research is to uncover who your buyer persona will be in this foreign context. This requires understanding the market a macro level in terms of culture, customs, purchasing practices, and expectations.

Step 2: Adapt Buyer Personas

Now that you understand the culture and expectations of the market, it’s time to adapt your existing buyer personas to the new context. Your goal is to identify those most urgent individuals or organizations for a solution to the problem you are solving. You will also need to discover the behaviors, habits, and preferences that indicate that someone is a qualified prospect.

Step 3: Calibrate your Marketing Strategy

With market research and buyer personas in hand, it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy to introduce and build your brand to find your target customers. This requires adapting your full range of marketing tools—from website, to collateral and signage—to meet cultural expectations in design and language.

Good marketing research will uncover which marketing modes are most important to your target persona. For example, are they very focused on digital or do they still listen to the radio? All of that research goes into your marketing strategy.

Localized communication ensures that your brand and message are received the way you intend. Among the list of investments one has to make when entering a new market, localized communication is sure to improve ROI.

Check out our full conversation with Fernanda Ave on Localizing Communications here.


MEET (meetroi.com) helps B2B growth companies effectively leverage at trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney at MEET today for a free trade show participation assessment bill@meetroi.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

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