4 Common International Marketing Mistakes (+How to avoid them)

International marketing is hard work.  But when done right, it allows you to expand your business and enter new markets. 

However, it’s very easy to make common mistakes. The result?  Much wasted time, money and possibly even some damage to your reputation. 

Four common international marketing mistakes often made by businesses are: 

  1. Being culturally insensitive
  2. Failing to localize marketing content
  3. Ignoring local competitors
  4. Not considering pricing strategies

So, let's look closely at some common international marketing mistakes, provide some examples, and then review some ways to avoid making mistakes in your international marketing plan.

As we get started, it would very helpful for you to review these two tutorials:

Let’s get started.

4 Common International Marketing Mistakes and Examples

Being culturally sensitive and researching price points are core to your international marketing strategy.

Some of the common marketing mistakes done by international companies include:

1. Being culturally insensitive

Being culturally insensitive can be a big source of embarrassment and frustration. Though you may access the same products and services as your international partners, they have their cultural standards, taboos, and preferences.

The most effective way around this problem is to try and understand their culture before you make any decisions about your business strategy. If you plan on selling something that may be offensive in another country, find out if that product or service is acceptable within their culture before attempting to sell it there.

2. Failing to localize marketing content

Localizing your marketing content is a must. It's vital to use the local language, local culture and customs. For example, if you're trying to sell something in the US, using American phrases will help your marketing efforts. But if you're selling something in France and write in English, you'll lose your audience because they won't understand what you are saying.

Localizing content also makes it more likely that people will understand the product perfectly. This increases engagement rates on social media platforms, which helps drive traffic back through those channels from time to time.

3. Ignoring local competitors

You’re a new business and want to expand your reach, but you don’t know who is already doing what you want. You may have heard the saying “know thy enemy,” but it doesn't apply here. Your competitors are not the enemy but valuable information to rely on.

Before making big decisions that could affect your marketing strategy, you will need to learn about them. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses to use this knowledge effectively when planning how best to compete against them.

4. Not considering pricing strategies

Consider the local market. Different countries have different pricing strategies, so it's important to consider how much you charge for your product or service. In some countries, consumers are willing to pay more for higher-quality products; others often look for the lowest possible price.

Before making a final decision about your prices, research your competitors' prices and make sure you're not overcharging or even undercharging.

7 ways to avoid making common mistakes in your international marketing strategy

Here are 7 ways how you can avoid making mistakes in your international marketing.

1. Understand the cultural differences

Cultural differences are one of the biggest obstacles that can halt your international expansion. Marketers must understand the cultural differences between countries to properly market products and services in foreign markets. This includes how people think, act and feel about different things. It also includes how they interact with one another daily. Marketers who want to enter foreign markets must be aware of these differences to market their products or services successfully.

2. Test your marketing messages before launching

Test your messages with a small sample of customers representing your target audience. Make sure you don't just test the language but also the design elements, such as colors and fonts.

If you're selling a product or service different from what's available in the local market, educate your customers on its uniqueness and also why they should care about it.

Whether you are marketing internationally or in your home market, here is probably the most important marketing lesson you will ever get, and you will use for your entire career:

What is the first rule of marketing? (Solved!)

3. Learn from other companies' mistakes

The best way to avoid international marketing mistakes is to research and find out what's already been done. This will help you avoid common pitfalls like not having the right team or even resources. Look at how other companies have approached their international expansion, mistakes, and successes.

4. Hire a consultant to help you avoid mistakes

A good consultant can advise you on the best ways to market your product or service.

Also, if you don't have the time or inclination to travel overseas, they can go on your behalf and make sure everything is done correctly and according to your expected standards.

The consultant can help you structure your company's organization and staff. Additionally, they can guide you by choosing appropriate distribution channels, suppliers and customers.

5. Review the laws and regulations

Review the laws and regulations of the countries you want to sell in. Some countries have strict rules on advertisements and products, while others may require special permits or licenses.

If you're unsure about local restrictions, it's better to err on the side of caution and not do business there.

Here is an excellent, very helpful resource to help you get started properly with your International Marketing strategy:

International Marketing Strategies PDF (Free checklist)

6. Study consumer behavior

When it comes to foreign markets, you first need to study the consumer behavior of your target audience. You'll want to understand what makes them tick, what they like and dislike, how they make decisions and what products they prefer over others.

This will ensure that your product or service matches their needs and expectations. This will also help you create a message that resonates with them.

7. Look for local marketing partners

You might be tempted to try selling products directly and handling logistics yourself. However, if you want to sell overseas, it's important to find local partners who know the market and can help you get started. You might even want an agent who can act as an intermediary between you and your customers.

Conclusion

The main takeaway from this list of international marketing mistakes is that those who fail to plan will fail. 

Of course, that's hardly a novel idea or revolutionary maxim. 

But the fact that so many companies make these mistakes proves that there are advantages to having a clear plan of attack before embarking on your international venture.

Helpful Resources:

If you have excellent marketing skills and a unique perspective for an international market(s), you can learn how to turn this into an income as a marketing consultant. Go here to learn how with our Nomad Marketing Starter Guide.

References

  1. Cross-cultural research in international marketing: clearing up some of the confusion: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IMR-12-2014-0376/full/html 
  2. Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders by American Firms in Japan—Some Lessons for Management: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1069031X9500300411 
  3. Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited—Some Lessons for Managers: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1069031X9600400106 
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