Boston – the capital of global content strategy (at least for a week!)

When we founded Cloudwords, we trail blazed a new approach to globalizing enterprise content, and for this reason we look to participate in like-minded conferences that take global content strategy to a completely new level.

This week we are in Boston for the Gilbane Conference 2013: Content and The Digital Experience to present and moderate the session titled: How Do You Implement Global Digital Experience Management? We’ll be discussing what characteristics and systems are critical to creating and managing global digital experiences.

What I appreciate about professional gatherings like this, is that I walk away with a renewed sense that Cloudwords is truly revolutionizing the way companies think about their global content strategy and business processes.  The beauty of the “cloud” is that it enables all industries to reimagine and retool their business and revenue streams in ways that were previously unthinkable. Global content operations is one such process being reinvented with Cloudwords.

One of Cloudwords’ early investors and mentors, Marc Benioff, recently shared a Forbes article that described how the price of the smartphone was dropping dramatically all over the world, enabling hyper-growth countries to arm their citizens with technology that will allow them to communicate, collaborate and improve their overall quality of life.  Pretty amazing considering the usual drive to revenue and profits, but that wasn’t the part of the story that grabbed me.

The article reminded me that with the sheer number of individuals that inhabit the earth, and the number of languages spoken and written, once the technology was truly in place, the thirst for “content” was going to explode worldwide!  I see a world where content that is created in one language will automatically find itself in 100 different languages in a matter of seconds.  This content will then be consumed by anyone, anywhere and on any device – probably a mobile device!  That said if you are a “content creator,” “content marketer,” or just a person who has something to say, your native language will ultimately become irrelevant as you begin to communicate with the world.  We are a few years away from this reality – the guys at Google will tell you the same – but it will happen.  Just like speech-to-speech instantaneous localization will happen.

If you are someone who is responsible for mass content creation at scale, you can’t ignore these realities.  Your customers don’t speak one language – they probably speak about 20-30!  If that’s the case, you need to ensure you have a global content strategy in place to address the ever-growing amount of campaigns, product materials, landing pages, emails, or customer success stories you will need to produce.  We at Cloudwords just published an ebook dedicated to helping you map out and execute such a strategy:  Content Operations on a Global Scale: A 2014 Guide for Marketers.

Best of luck on your journey to global greatness! Make sure you are focused on all of your customers – not just the ones within 100 miles of your company’s headquarters!  Oh, and if you are a global marketing or technology professional in Boston this week, stop by the Gilbane conference.  I am confident it will be worth your time.

News Flash: The Globerati Have Arrived in San Francisco

Everyone’s talking about it. It was THE event to be at and be seen at. All around San Francisco, the city is buzzing with excitement. The globerati have arrived.

I know, you thought I was referring to Dreamforce, the cloud computing mega-event that has turned this city upside down, bringing an astounding 100,000 plus visitors to the city by the Bay. Yes, everyone is talking about salesforce.com’s annual vendor conference, but in fact, I’m referring to the Club Cloudwords VIP room at Marketo’s “Chill Out Zone,” the Dreamforce after party that took place Wednesday night at a very hip, upscale and historic establishment called the Old Mint.IMG_0385

Together with our partner and customer, Marketo, Cloudwords hosted marketing professionals from across the U.S. to mix and mingle for an evening of networking, relaxing… and winning prizes! If you were one of the fortunate who arrived at Club Cloudwords, our exclusive room set aside for the global marketing elite, you were inducted into the globerati, a term we’ve dubbed the savvy professionals who fully grasp and relentlessly pursue the opportunities presented by global markets and multilingual audiences. Not every marketer can count himself or herself among the globerati.

IMG_0916While we raised our glasses and made a toast alongside our marketing colleagues, we also talked business, which of course focused on global marketing best practices and strategies. Global marketing operations require strategic planning, collaboration across numerous departments, and localization of content and materials. Leveraging your marketing automation platform—such as Marketo—is a great place to start. Lucky for Marketo users, Cloudwords easily integrates with the Marketo platform, to manage the entire globalization process with just a few clicks, so marketers can effectively reach more global markets and engage multilingual audiences in less time.IMG_0981

While the party was meant to thank our customers, celebrate our combined success, and meet new friends, Cloudwords is grateful to the event’s sponsor, Marketo, for inviting us to be part of this fantastic community. If you weren’t able to join us at the party, not to worry, you can still join the globerati. Just give us a ring or start a free trial, and grow your international markets faster and easier with Cloudwords!

Revenue Disruption’s long lost Chapter 28!

I love to read.  Not just any book, but a good book written by someone whose passion oozes from the pages of text and I found that in Revenue Disruption, by Phil Fernandez, President and CEO of Marketo.  For those of you who haven’t read the book, and are interested in the latest thinking in sales and marketing strategy and customer advocacy, I highly recommend it.

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After reading the book, I was inspired by what Phil had discussed and thought there needed to be a section of the book dedicated to the “global” nature of sales and marketing strategy.  That said I give you a proposed Chapter 28 to Revenue Disruption:

Aligning Global Strategy with Execution

As companies continue to seek new opportunities abroad, gaining alignment amongst their teams is essential.  This alignment isn’t easy and takes better communication, better collaboration and an improved understanding of regional culture and target market. When done well, the results can be impressive.

Unfortunately, lack of alignment between sales and marketing organizations can limit the team’s ability to reach their full potential and most importantly handicap a company’s potential to effectively meet their internal revenue targets.  Although most executive teams understand this basic concept, most underestimate the need to have deep conversations about how to provide an internal framework to address such challenges.

When implementing marketing strategy outside of a company’s HQ, it’s imperative to do more than just translate the same collateral used by their HQ teams.  Marketing materials and approaches will need to be different from region to region, and country to country.  The most important first step is to truly analyze the target market, competitive landscape and decide if the target market is truly ready for the solution.  If deemed appropriate, the marketing and sales teams should move forward and begin to build-out a mini-business plan that provides the framework for active discussion and collaboration.  Gaining insight from both of these teams is critical, if the company wants to have a success roll-out into the new country.  In addition, the company should also begin to think about the best ways to protect the corporate brand and ensure it is not misused after entering the new market.

Today, most companies utilize spreadsheets and emails to manage this global conversation.  However, leading organizations are turning to a new breed of cloud applications that help their distributed teams collaborate and debate the best approach to entering a new country.  The main reason this is critical is simple – if what is dictated from headquarters doesn’t match the region’s sales and marketing team’s expectation, the result may be the opposite of what is expected.  Instead of having a tight rein on the corporate positioning and brand, salespeople in other regions take it upon themselves to “fix” the marketing to be more appropriate for their needs.  That said if a company provides a flexible framework for these teams to collect and disseminate market data, in real-time, marketing teams can introduce new content, collateral and sales tools to continue to improve the overall sales process and customer experience.

A 2010 IDC report cited what it named the 80/20 rule, stating “up to 80% of the content [that] marketing generates is not used by sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for sales and channel enablement.” This is interesting not only because the Marketing teams are creating content that the Sales teams don’t find useful, but if this is the case, chances are any multi-lingual content your company is producing isn’t used effectively as well.  In short, if you aren’t creating an environment that allows the teams to test, implement, and retest, then your company is at an extreme disadvantage.  It is a waste of time, resources and effort.

Worse than not localizing at all is when marketing materials have been machine-translated.  In these cases, they are not only poorly translated, but the person at headquarters who had them translated actually thinks they have delivered something usable.  While they check a box completed on their to-do list, the unfortunate marketing and sales representatives in the other regions are left to fend for themselves.

Interestingly, CMO Council’s Marketing Outlook 2011 study showed an increased need for a localized approach to attack markets across the globe and an increase in leveraging technology to do so.  The study states: “with more than USD$1.5 trillion spent on marketing and communications worldwide, there are significant incentives for marketers to evaluate the optimal structures, approaches, strategies, tools, platforms and processes for globalization and multi-market localization.”

Clearly, the desire to market globally is omnipresent, and with ever increasing budgets to reach new customers in multiple regions, the challenge isn’t “if”, but “where”, “when”, “how” and “what”.  The answers to these questions aren’t easy, which is fundamentally why alignment between a company’s marketing and sales teams is not only important, but also absolutely critical.  Companies that have a culture that encourages an agile approach to “going global” will not only limit their initial market entry investment exposure, but the team will also be able to learn more about the market, customers and partners faster. This new learning will save the company not only a significant amount of future investment, but also a tremendous amount of time trying to find the right product/service-market fit.

This new approach does mean adapting marketing and sales programs and customer support materials to better reflect the preferences of customers in the new target market.  Adapting to these preferences is beyond being polite; it can be a competitive advantage.  If you knew that customers were six times more likely to purchase when they see localized marketing, would your company spend a bit more time thinking about how to get these same prospects to convert to customers and adopt your product or service?

A good salesperson is described as a “problem solver,” constantly testing new techniques, messaging and content.  Often, they are a company’s front-line and have the latest qualitative prospect conversion data points that are critical to your company.  He/she is expected to do whatever is necessary to move their deal along and they should.  However, they also need to remember that they are part of the larger team and feed this new learning, what “is” working and perhaps more importantly, what “isn’t” working, back into the marketing framework, so the broader team can adjust their thinking, process or customer-facing content.  Now, imagine if a good salesperson doesn’t believe they have proper marketing materials to support their efforts and especially in their native language.  Any frustration and annoyance quickly becomes a workaround, which doesn’t match the marketing strategy you planned – ultimately, not a great situation for the company.  Ultimately, the goal is to give the global sales teams materials that actually match their customers’ preferences. The only way to achieve this goal is to ensure there is a corporate culture that encourages a framework for learning, testing and retesting.

The speed at which all of this learning happens truly depends on the company, their willingness to encourage cross-functional learning and perhaps as equally important, the company’s ability to invest in applications that facilitate this global communication and collaboration.  With so many multi-lingual marketing materials being created and localized, leveraging a global translation management solution will move the process from emails and spreadsheets to an automated system that improves team accountability and collaboration.  Fundamentally, this new approach will help your company implement marketing strategies quicker and more cost-effectively in each target market.

Lastly, all marketing and sales initiatives, whether it’s marketing automation or project management, must be measured.  Long gone are the days when marketing was purely an art that supposedly couldn’t be measured.  Besides making marketing and sales more efficient and more effective, cloud applications have dramatically shifted the speed at which a company can enter new markets and above all else, measure the effectiveness of multi-lingual programs and support global customers and partners.

After all, as the old adage goes, if you aren’t measuring your global programs, how will your company ever know what to improve?

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