When I sit down with CMOs and senior marketers, one of the things we talk about is how to replicate the success they've experienced with content marketing in the U.S. throughout the world. They understand that the old mass-market world of interrupt advertising doesn't work. Fifty-seven million people now subscribe to Netflix, choosing to pay a small subscription fee and have an ad-free format. HBO Now launches this month and is expected to draw millions more. Three-quarters of TV viewers in the U.S. and U.K. use a DVR to skip through TV ads, while half of online consumers say they never click on digital ads. In short, the ways in which people find and consume information and entertainment has changed radically.
Brands must adapt by fundamentally changing their approach to marketing. Instead of interrupting the stories people love, innovative marketers realize they must create stories people love—and do it in a sustainable way. In contrast to one-off ad campaigns, brand storytelling provides a consistent, authentic editorial voice that has the ability to respond to the changing world. The best brand storytellers focus on the consumer's information and entertainment needs and tell stories that meet them.
These storytellers' next challenge: how to tackle global content marketing in an organized way. The innovators, now seeing success in the U.S. marketplace, are faced with a much bigger challenge. They must replicate this approach to sustained storytelling around the world. One company that took a hard look at how its content was being produced and distributed globally is MasterCard.
"It's all about getting closer to the consumer—no matter the market," Guillermo Morrone, VP-head of Global Consumer and Priceless Cities Content Strategy, MasterCard, explained.
Content produced for one market is not always relevant in another location or culture, and brands often have no strategy connecting content from platform to platform. To connect with consumers in an authentic way around the world and produce local content on a global scale, MasterCard set up a new global marketing infrastructure to tell local stories in line with its global strategy. (More tips are available in this webinar video.)
Here are five steps to follow when setting up your global content marketing plan:
1. Identify your target audiences and your brand's key message for them.
Using feedback from local markets, develop your brand's core narrative. How will it translate in each market? Your audiences may also differ slightly from country to country, so make sure your targets in each region are clear. Set goals to track and measure the content's effectiveness.
2. Review your organizational roadblocks and set up systems for success.
Content marketing demands a more agile organization, and its success depends on breaking down silos to create a unified strategy. That is especially true when the goal is a global content strategy. In many companies, marketing innovators now understand the power of sustained storytelling, but much of the organization remains stuck in a 20th century, interrupt-advertising mindset. The innovators need to be evangelists to get everyone on board in markets around the world.
3. Assemble the assets you need to produce relevant content for local markets.
We need to be honest: The way we tell our stories in the U.S. will not work in Spain or Brazil or Japan. We can't just translate the words and assume that makes the message relevant. You need local editors for ideation and to guarantee that you're telling stories that will resonate in the local market. You need local creatives who understand the context for the stories they tell. And you need a workflow, a localized payment system and analytics that allow global marketing teams to measure success across markets.
4. Communicate your global strategic goals to market-level leaders and teams.
Find your local target audience and communicate with them appropriately. Identify local influencers. And, of course, work to translate your brand's message and principles for each market, taking into consideration cultural nuances. It's not enough to translate the words into another language; your message needs to be culturally relevant in each market.
5. Get the technology right, and get the content right for the technology.
Technology and infrastructure are critical to connecting your organization to local consumers. The technology must allow your organization to execute your corporate vision through the world. But each market has its own requirements, and even perhaps its own specific social platforms, as we see with search in Russia or social in China. Know where your content will appear and design for the local medium.
To differentiate, brands must tell original stories in every market where they want to reach consumers. Those relying on curation risk brand conflation with any competition that is doing the same, and those that fall back on simple translation will fail to connect. Building the right infrastructure for global, sustainable storytelling in all major markets allows multinational brands to create and tell stories that connect with people in each local market—and that connection is what it's all about.
About the Author
Tom Gerace is founder and CEO of Skyword, a leading content marketing software and services company. Mastercard, United Way and IBM are among the companies that partner with Skyword to create meaningful, lasting relationships. Mr. Gerace also founded Be Free, a publicly traded affiliate marketing platform and services company. Be Free transformed online advertising from pay-per-view to pay-for-performance. At the time of its acquisition by ValueClick, Be Free served more than 300 leading brands, including Citibank, eBay, AOL, Lending Tree, Bertlesmann, Time Warner, IBM, Dell and Microsoft.
About the Sponsor
Skyword moves marketing leaders and those who create content for them forward. By embracing a sustainable, scalable approach to original storytelling, Skyword liberates brands from ineffective marketing practices and inspires them to create deeper connections with their audiences. The Skyword platform makes it easy to produce, optimize and promote content at any scale. Skyword also provides an editorial team, program managers and access to a community of freelance writers and videographers who help move clients' content marketing programs to new levels of creative excellence.