Are you ready to take your startup worldwide? It’s easier to do than ever thanks to online Kickstarter campaigns, crowdfunding, social media platforms, and the overall move to digital over old school brick and mortar. However, that doesn’t mean it’s actually easy—globalizing your startup comes with an entirely new set of challenges. Plus, it’s even tougher for entrepreneurs because you don’t have the same deep pockets as corporations who can hire entire translation teams to take care of communication. How can you compete in taking your startup global?
There are 10 easy, budget-friendly ways to stay competitive even on a startup’s budget. Here’s how to go global even when your bottom line is playing boss:
Learn a New Language
Learning a new language yourself helps you show respect for the culture you’re marketing to. Even if you make a faux pas or can’t communicate like a native speaker, making an effort is what really counts. It might be what makes an investor in Japan choose you over a bigger company that didn’t bother to learn basic greetings.
Get on the Right Social Media Platforms
Facebook and Twitter aren’t the be-all, end-all of social media. In fact, the platforms used by other countries for connecting, marketing, and producing might vary widely. Accessing Western social media from China is banned, though not impossible; instead, the local market has developed its own competitors like WeChat and Sina Weibo. Find out what the most popular SM platforms are in the countries you’re targeting and get on board.
Hire Smart, Hire Local
As a growing company, you’ll probably soon have an opportunity to bring on a new worker or contractor. Hiring someone who’s from the region you’re targeting, or at least is highly experienced in the culture, can give you an edge. Plus, it helps diversify your startup, which is a plus no matter how you look at it.
Tell Your Story in Pictures
If you can’t afford a certified translator right now, remember that pictures are worth 1,000 words and need no translation. Use an infographic, image, or short (wordless video) to convey your message. It’s creative and more appealing than a dry document anyway.
Go Fully Digital
There are some founders who are experienced in old school marketing strategies and stay in that realm because that’s where they’re comfortable. Stop. It’s a digital world and marketing is changing, which allows you to reach all corners of the world—plus it’s more affordable, so it’s a win-win.
Research the Culture
It’s not just about the language, but also the culture when marketing. You can easily creative an offensive marketing campaign in another country and never know it. Know the culture and the language if you’re delving into that territory.
Take Holidays into Account
If you really want to tap into a culture or region, make sure to plan your marketing around their biggest holidays. For example, who wouldn’t jump on the holiday marketing bandwagon in the US? However, in India it’s Diwali in October/November that’s the big ticket item. It make your marketing relevant and gives you a free competitive edge.
Give Them Their Own Domain
In some cases, you might want to pick up multiple domains and create content for each region. If it requires another language, it needs expert translation. If not, just make sure the content is different and appropriate to the country. For example, you might want to get both the .com and the .ca for your American and Canadian audiences.
Drop the Slang
Many startups want to be seen as young and trending, which means using a lot of slang. It’s lost on some Americans, so just imagine how confusing it can be to other markets outside the country. Even some “staple” slang like “jones” (i.e. “jonesing” for some chocolate) makes zero sense in other English-speaking countries.
Don’t take Short Cuts
There are no short cuts around certifiable translations. If you can’t afford to go global now in some regards, don’t. There are many other ways to reach audiences besides butchering a language.
While it’s simpler to go global now more than ever, don’t dive in without doing your research. Just like starting your venture, preparation is key. Know who your audience is, why you selected that market, and how they want to be approached before you ever create a first impression.