There’s this common idea that the internet made “going global” an easier prospect for business owners. Sounds pretty logical too. After all, the web has created a digital world where everyone is connected. That kind of reach was barely even possible 20 years ago and even then it was only the biggest firms that could afford it.
The same barrier doesn’t quite exist in the digital world – at least not to the same extent. The theory is that businesses of all size and budgets can enjoy global reach and stand a good shot at expanding overseas, but is that really the case?
Everyone connected (in theory)
It’s that global connection that really makes modern marketing so exciting. Not just the opportunity to interact with people all over the world but the fact you can tap into the smartphones everyone carries around in their pockets – or hands, more commonly.
So the internet hasn’t just brought global reach to the digital marketing table, it’s completely overhauled the depth to which you can engage with people. You can now become a daily presence in the lives of prospects all over the world from the personal confines of their mobile, tablet and desktop – in addition to whichever offline channels you choose. At least that’s how the theory goes.
Establishing those connections is actually quite difficult
Unfortunately, this concept that the internet connects you with the entire world is overly optimistic. What it does come with is the potential to connect you with any given internet user. However, establishing those connections is becoming increasingly difficult.
There are various reasons for this:
-Digital saturation: Users are being targeted by marketing messages everywhere they go – both online and offline.
-Desensitisation: This makes people less receptive to such messages and sometimes more hostile.
-Competition: In the digital world you have a potentially global audience but also a world of competition to beat.
-Monetisation: After creating a web where businesses struggle to exist without an online presence, the likes of Google, Facebook and every other marketing channel now charges you for the privilege.
-Containment: The web giants like Google and Facebook are also doing everything they can to keep users inside their own applications. Which means people are searching less, spending less time on websites and seeing fewer brands.
So not only is it getting more difficult to establish connections in the digital world, it’s also becoming more expensive (and will continue to do so). That’s probably not what you want to hear, but the brands who make it in the digital world will be those that invest enough to stay competitive and grow quickly enough to keep funding it all. The number of brands capable of doing this gets smaller every year.
The same challenges of going global exist (if not more)
Okay, so the internet broke down the connection barrier of global business – a feat in itself. But as the biggest names in web technology build that barrier back up again (and then charge you to get over it), all the other challenges of going global remain – if not more of them.
Here’s a short list to hammer home the point:
-Cost: Going global is expensive and digital marketing is not the free ride it once promised to be.
-Language/culture: Being able to reach someone in Puerto Rico doesn’t mean they’re going to understand what you’re talking about or consider buying anything from you.
-Tax and compliance: A new minefield with each different market you choose to take on.
-Import tax: In some markets your products will be more expensive due to import tax.
-Legal environments: Laws also change a lot between different country – as do the punishments.
-Media regulations: In some places, sex really doesn’t sell. Amongst other things.
-Logistics: Things can work quicker, slower and more or less productively any given country.
-Penetration: You have to prove to people in each market you’re better than the local options.
-Customer service: Providing customer service across multiple regions is a real challenge.
-Branding: You have to remain consistent with your branding while adapting at the same time.
-Scaling: How many markets can you take on at any one time, which one are most profitable, which are most costly, etc?
The digital world has also brought some new challenges to the table. Having a global audience means your mistakes and failures are there for the world to see – and the web loves laughing at failures. It also forces you to spread your marketing investment across a much wider range of channels. So much so that many businesses simply can’t afford to compete, which leaves you asking what’s really changed.
None of these are reasons to not go global, but they’re challenges you’ll need to understand before taking your brand overseas. The trap many business owners fall into is thinking the digital world made marketing easier and cheaper, while it’s actually made it more expensive and complicated.
So it’s all doom and gloom, right? Well, no, not exactly – because the majority of brands are still underachieving and that means you can do better than them. So stay tuned for our upcoming post on how to get ahead as digital marketing get more difficult and pricier.
If you would like to talk more about it , please contact me whenever you would like at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to help.
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