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What's a global integrated marketing manager?

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I laugh at my own title sometimes, which is indeed global integrated marketing manager. What does it mean? Can I really execute integrated marketing on a global scale? The answer is “Yes,” though it’s a team effort between company headquarters and myriad geographical and cultural differences.

Global sounds abstract and vague. Bing Dictionary notes that global is defined as 1) Worldwide: relating to or happening throughout the whole world; and 2) Overall: taking all the different aspects of a situation into account. The second definition reflects what I do. I take the different aspects of six Ws (what, how, who, where, when and why), internalize them, strategize and create a global (comprehensive) go-to-market strategy.

This process results in a plan that enables my geographical counterparts to understand the corporate direction on what to market, how to market, whom to market to, where to market, when to market and why to market. Our team creates a plan that encompasses these six Ws. With this plan on hand, they can create their own plans of execution that align with the overall corporate initiatives and directions.

When we started our global go-to-market plan several years ago, it was a very corporate-centric strategy without local feedback. For example, we planned to launch a hardware-based virtualization product, but our China office pushed back. China was simply not mature enough at marketing at that time. Initially, we did not understand why they resisted this major product launch. After extensive discussion, we ended up modifying the final version of our go-to-market plan and recommending a different product for the China office to launch.

Local input is crucial to a successful global strategy. Before headquarters finalizes the go-to-market plan, I ensure that geographies’ voices are heard and their input is evaluated and incorporated as appropriate. I learned a long time ago that my go-to-market plan is almost impossible to effectively implement without local buy-in. Global cannot thrive without local.

There are significant hurdles to creating and executing a solid integrated marketing strategy. Integrated marketing requires a consistent theme in which unified messaging is proliferated through different communications channels, such as traditional (TV, print, radio, events, out-of-home, etc.) and online (websites, Web communities, social media, texting, etc.). We also must use geographies’ local expertise to help define the weighting of delivery channels. For example, China’s b-to-b marketing focuses on print and online, while North America’s b-to-b marketing effort is 100% online.

In addition to messaging and communication channel recommendations, I also make strategic recommendations about which countries to prioritize and how to allocate marketing budgets based on the projected total available market and growth data. When you’re dealing with priorities and budgets, friction can ensue, so I must explain the criteria and logic to management to assure them that my recommendations are not arbitrary.

For a global company, it’s vital that someone in the headquarters drives the strategy and execution alignment worldwide. By working with the different geographies, I’ve come to realize that they would like to receive strategic guidance from their corporate office, yet have enough freedom to create their own marketing execution plan. The global integrated marketing manager’s role is to provide a solid framework and then trust the local teams’ ability to execute.

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