Question for the Expert:

How do I create content for a global internet marketing program?

Answer from the Expert:

Writing any content – internet or print – for global marketing is complex. To ensure the success of your marketing program in overseas markets requires three elements. First, fluency with the language. Second, an intimate cultural knowledge. Finally, a clear understanding of the brand message.

Marketing history is littered with content mistakes. These include language errors such as the Parker Pen ad in Mexico that used “embrazar” for embarrass…except that “embrazar” implies “to impregnate.” Consider prices and numbers. You wouldn’t want to price an item sold in Japan that included the number 4. Four is unlucky because it sounds like shi  – death. That’s why there are two readings for the number four, shi and yon. A writer with localization skills would know to use yon whenever possible.

Content challenges aren’t limited to language. Color and images must also be considered. When Pepsi changed from royal blue to light blue on its vending machines in Southeast Asia, it introduced a color associated with mourning and death. The list of cross-cultural marketing errors goes on and on…

With all this in mind, the first step to creating great content for global internet marketing consumption begins with a lot of “homework.” Start by understanding how your product fits into the local market. Then study the culture and the language.

Once you know what you want to communicate and it comes time to craft the message, rely on humans. Don’t use translation software! Online translation sites may be great for understanding the idea of the content, but it should not be trusted with something as vital as your marketing message.

You can do the research yourself, have your work reviewed for accuracy and hope you avoided any linguistic or cultural faux pas. Or, you can partner with an agency that provides global content services. BFO provides global content production services which give our clients a team of writers native in over 70 countries, editors and proofers who have an intimate knowledge of local language and customs.

Learn more about what it takes to run a successful global internet marketing program.

Also published on Medium.