Many companies looking to reach manufacturing professionals are discovering the challenges of marketing to international audiences.
Steve Roth, chief marketing officer for MFG.com, a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers in manufacturing, said his company has been working with a provider of globalization and outsourcing services, Lionbridge Technologies, to localize and translate site content in 12 languages.
“It's a huge undertaking for us, but this is a global manufacturing economy and all of the regions are so tightly bound,” he said. “Business is being transacted in areas of the world where, quite frankly, we in the U.S. aren't accustomed to doing business. It's increasingly important for us to be able to deliver relevant content to those individuals, to those demographics, in those regions of the world.”
Even fundamental business questions—such as who manufacturers are, where they are located and what their capabilities are—can be difficult to answer when doing business abroad, Roth said. “We hired a call center in China of about 50 people to do nothing for a year but build a database by calling into these companies to find out who they are and where they are,” he said.
Roth said having local representatives has been important. To reach buyers and sellers for its marketplace in China, for instance, the company opened an office and invested in local management. “I don't think there was any other way to have done that successfully without making that investment,” he said.
Roth also stressed the importance of brand consistency when selling across borders. “It's a very difficult thing to do, but you need to be relentless about that as an organization to make sure you have consistency of brand no matter what geography you're selling into,” he said.