It’s the night before the worldwide launch and you’re wondering if you’re ready to go global. A timely and successful launch can make a big difference in worldwide revenue, especially in the first, few months following a product introduction. A successful global launch increases market awareness, organizational efficiency, and sales results worldwide. This requires effective planning, communication, and education. In preparing for your launch, consider a global readiness check list to review key needs prior to the worldwide announcement.
- Evaluate local market opportunities
In order to leverage local market opportunities, a pre-launch analysis of the competitive space and customer demand in key country markets is a necessity. Don’t risk missing out on new opportunities to increase international revenue by avoiding a market check-up prior to the global launch. Existing and emerging markets around the world can offer hidden opportunities for expanding global market reach. In order to develop a revenue plan that supports global launch objectives, you will need the market data to build a strong business case and secure budget for local markets.
- Create a global plan and roadmap
The global launch plan provides a clear vision and roadmap to facilitate execution by cross-functional and cross-regional teams. It needs to be developed and delivered at least 4-5 months prior to launch to ensure effective execution through timely adoption of messaging, strategies, and production of deliverables. The creation of the global launch plan also provides the opportunity to engage teams worldwide. Ensure early input from key functional and country teams who will drive global and local marketing, communication, and sales readiness activities. Objectives, milestones, and success metrics need to be realistic, time-sensitive and locally adaptable. By providing a global planning template, the launch manager can collaborate with teams and ensure early participation in launch efforts. In addition to key objectives, strategies, and tactics, the template should include a timeline and a checklist of core deliverables that can be reviewed for country marketing and localization needs.
- Design an effective launch process worldwide
Global market success is dependent upon your internal infrastructure and the ability to coordinate a centralized strategy with local execution. This is determined by the ability to build a launch management framework and process where you can leverage internal team knowledge, manage project flow, and effectively deliver product on time and on budget in every part of the world. Not a small task! Make sure to build a global roadmap that accounts for key milestones in the global readiness areas of product, marketing, communication, and sales. Then you can utilize project management tools to develop key roles, responsibilities, tasks, and timelines that support the roadmap – including the critical dependencies for meeting global launch objectives. A deliverables matrix should include key globalization, localization, and translation dates for completion of marketing and sales tools required for local markets. Now just make sure you’re ready to execute.
- Engage launch team across cultures
When launching a new product, a successful outcome is always dependent on team alignment. It’s important to ensure understanding, participation, and ownership from cross-functional and cross-regional team members. Building your network of team members across functions and cultures takes careful planning and relationship building. So where do you start? Check in with your team members around the world and create a networking strategy! Bring out the organization chart and identify your key drivers and influencers for the following: 1) Strategy Team (Executive sponsors), 2) Core Team (Cross-functional and cross-regional members), and 3) Local Team (country marketing managers).Then be prepared to assess your networking space. Do you have the appropriate foundation to build a network across the organization? Is everyone aligned with your launch objectives? Is your core team onboard and committed to the project? Is the launch management team aligned with influential groups within the organization? And finally, are the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions aligned? If you answered no to any of these questions, you will need to re-visit your networking strategy.
- Communicate across functions and cultures
When communicating around the world, you’ll need to ensure that you can align teams and manage time zones effectively. In order to maximize awareness, interest, and participation in the global launch, it’s important to develop a communication strategy that will engage team members in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. A communications strategy needs to address when communication takes place, to whom it should be communicated, and what will be communicated during the launch process. A successful internal communication strategy should engage cross-functional and cross-regional team members through the use of regular and consistent communications. This includes vehicles such as weekly launch meetings, regional launch calls, and email updates.
- Test your message and image
There are many global marketing mistakes that have been made by well-intentioned global strategists who assumed similarity rather than difference. In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” was presented as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.” Nike offended Muslims when the “flaming air” logo for its Nike Air sneakers looked too similar to the Arabic form of God’s name “Allah”. Microsoft offended customers in Latin American markets when a Spanish language version of XP Windows asked users to select their gender between “not specified”, “male”, or “bitch” (for example, “hembra” means woman in Venezuela while it means “bitch” in Nicaragua). To avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes, ensure that you work with a recognized translation service and review the final copy and image with your country marketing manager for context and relevance.
- Internationalize customer communications
One way to leverage resources and reduce localization costs is to internationalize communications. This simply means that key international messages are incorporated into global communication vehicles created at headquarters in order to benefit international offices and local markets. The international message supports local marketing efforts by country managers. It also positions the company as a global player. This includes references to a worldwide rollout and product availability in key geographic markets in the worldwide announcement. References to country-specific success stories and the use of analogies and examples that will be understood by an international audience also need to be considered.
- Ensure timely and localized deliverables
Since increasing global market reach is a growing priority, US companies are starting to pay more attention to local marketing needs. A global marketing strategy that succeeds in avoiding local customer rejection needs to focus on localized products and marketing tools. A product needs to address local requirements for design features, packaging, and pricing among others. Marketing positioning and messaging needs to consider the language, tone, and imagery. Internal teams need to select and design culturally appropriate communication vehicles determined by language, terminology, design, color, style, format, and delivery.Timing is a critical component for ensuring effective support and execution on announcement day and post-launch. Many companies make the mistake of prioritizing US-centric and English language products and communication tools, with localized products and material delivered weeks (and sometimes months) after the global launch date. In order to provide the local marketing and sales teams with the means to succeed, ensure that translated and localized tools meet an early production timeline to guarantee delivery prior to launch.
- Deliver effective support tools to ensure global readiness
In order to achieve global readiness at launch, marketing and sales teams need to be aligned in every corner of the globe. Sales team members need to be engaged early in the launch planning process in order to achieve launch objectives for sales readiness, sales tool development, and customer engagement. An inventory of sales tools should be reviewed and selected for relevance and value in supporting local marketing initiatives. An important and often overlooked opportunity involves the development of international customer references and local success stories. Active use of quotes and testimonials from international customers helps the country teams accelerate sales and positions the company as a global player.
- Enable local sales teams through training
You’re getting ready to launch and your sales team needs to speak the same language. How do you ensure the same message in different countries? When ensuring sales readiness globally, it’s important to develop awareness, understanding, and knowledge. This can be accomplished by targeting local training needs and resources. When planning for local sales readiness, don’t forget to secure time and availability from product managers, trainers, and thought leaders who can travel to the regions. In addition to field communication and support tools, a series of education activities need to reach all members of the worldwide sales force. Rapid e-learning sessions followed by live training for each region should ensure that sales teams are ready to go at launch.
Time to market, efficient processes, and knowledgeable teams are at the core of global launch and market success. When reviewing your global readiness check list, ensure that you have the capabilities to secure timely delivery through strategic planning, effective communications, operational efficiency, and globally responsive teams. Can you create a global launch plan and roadmap for both global and local needs? Can you communicate effectively with teams across functions and cultures? And can you educate teams to connect with local and global customer needs? It’s important to leverage internal resources while increasing understanding and participation within your organization. Make global launch readiness your competitive advantage and you’ll enjoy increased marketing and sales results around the world.
If you would like to make global readiness your competitive advantage, please send an email to email@example.com with your name, company and your role in global initiatives. We look forward to hearing from you.