Going “glocal”: Building global marketing campaigns with local know-how


By Chris Lee

When Marshall McLuhan first coined the term “Global Village”, he associated this with the “instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time”. This now-common metaphor embodies the current speed of global communications and social networks, according to Tim Norman of online marketing consultancy SDL Web Content Management Solutions.

Norman argues that marketers today need to reach customers quickly so that they don’t miss any opportunities that now seem to appear and disappear just as quickly. The challenge brands face is that they still need to capture the attention of local audiences – in the moment and in the way they want to be communicated with. NMK caught up with him to learn more.


Despite the homogenization of so much of our communication methods, the reality is that local marketers still face local market conditions and characteristics, according to Norman. Purchasing trends, cultural traits, language, climate, political and regulatory environments and more, call for a local approach, knowledge of local markets and local marketers who understand.

“Today’s marketing requires that global and local marketers coordinate message, approach and brand. While centralised marketing approaches offer many economies of scale, this is an individualistic world with high expectations for relevance,” he told NMK. “A combined global and local strategy, increasingly called ‘glocal’ demands that both global and local marketers interact and cooperate.”

Nothing is more ‘glocal’ than social media

The immediacy and inherently global nature of social media has changed all of the rules, Norman argues. Outside of the multiple perspectives from around the world you can see at any moment on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, local social media also has a strong and distinct presence.

“In our global village, only 31 per cent of internet users are native English speakers, and of non-native speakers, more than 80 per cent prefer their own language when interacting online. By identifying local social media organisations and tailoring social media to incorporate a linguistically and culturally local approach, organisations can build brand value. Global approaches to social media may in fact have a limited effect,” he said. “Like all tactics, social media needs to be built within the context of strategic global and local contexts. Social media is best integrated with a local marketing strategy that reinforces global brand values and enlists a local voice.”

Going beyond translations

Local effectiveness goes well outside of the bounds of language, Norman argues. It’s not enough just to translation content from elsewhere and expect it to work.

“Global markets will benefit if they value the knowledge that local marketers have about their audiences and distinct context. Local marketers, on the other hand, benefit from the brand equity of the larger brand. Instead of fighting for resources, as is often the case, an effective glocal approach brings together the strengths of each side of the equation,” he told NMK. “In an ideal world, marketing organisations enforce corporate brand and brand messaging, while tailoring local campaigns and local campaign messages for maximum effectiveness. Local marketers bring understanding and personal touch the global message.”

Norman said that a purely global approach will continue to be challenged by the increased ubiquity of mobile and tablet marketing, for which location-based services and applications have tremendous potential.

“The ‘customer on the go’ who is online all the time, means that marketers need to consider all the new opportunities presented by the local customer presenting a tangible value added in the moment, and in the location of their choosing,” he concluded.

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