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Lee Odden

Create More Meaningful Content and Enjoy The Profits

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Understand Globally, Communicate Locally

Literally and figuratively.

While at networking event in Bucharest I met the head of global business development and partnerships for a well known video hosting platform. Working with professionals from so many different countries, cultures and customs requires careful attention to communications and behavior - not entirely unlike how marketers who create content need to flavor their message according to the unique needs of each target audience.

He shared with me how things like accepting a business card from someone in China and then writing on it or not greeting the most senior person first in a Middle Eastern country, can kill a deal. He also talked about the importance of structuring engagements in a way that not only empathizes with the business customs of the region, but also makes money for all involved.

I think that's an important lesson that a lot of marketers working within the same culture overlook. First - understand the strategic nature of how your marketing solves problems for customers and at the same time, don't ever forget, that marketing exists to build the business.

Many marketers execute tactics reacting to the competition or chasing shiny new social objects. They also avoid being accountable with their marketing via superficial KPIs.

For example, I know many social media marketing experts have long evangelized the need to "engage and not sell" through social channels, relying mostly on network growth and interactions as measures of success. However, social media marketing programs that are limited to the warm and fuzzy without ever being accountable to business goals eventually die because everything must answer to growing the business, sooner or later.

Selling happens all the time on social networks, it just doesn't happen the same way marketers are accustomed to.

Recently Chris Brogan posted a photo on Instagram of a pair of Skora running shoes he was sent. They looked really unique and he mentioned how comfortable they were. I Googled the company, found a pair that looked good to me and then went to Amazon to purchase them. Then I posted a photo on Instagram with a comment that the shoes are indeed, quite comfortable.

Did Chris sell me those shoes? Did Skora? Sure they did. But not in the traditional (annoying) sense.

I became aware of the product through a social network connection, did my own research (by searching Google and visiting the company website) and not only did I transact, but I shared my purchase back to a social network where I have thousands of connections (and now here where hundreds of thousands may view it) - possibly influencing others to buy running shoes from the same company.

Make no mistake, lots of selling is going on through the social web, it's just different and also very difficult to track.

The opportunity for content, social media and search engine marketers is to understand what formats, language and search terms will be relevant and meaningful to the buyer experience. Then make content using those insights - give people information in the formats they want in order to help them solve problems and reach goals - understand globally and communicate locally.

In the same way a global marketer would localize content for Greece differently than Kansas, make a point to always localize content and social engagement according to your unique audience. It might literally be cultural if you're creating global content. Or it might be directed towards a particular vertical market or customer segment. Whatever the focus, it makes sense for content and social engagement to be audience and platform specific to improve the likelihood of consumption, engagement and effectiveness. Plus, why annoy or alienate readers from your brand?

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About the Author:
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a provider of innovative Internet marketing consulting for progressive B2B companies ranging from Marketo to PRWeb to McKesson. Odden has been recognized for his expertise with enterprise social media, SEO and content marketing strategies by The Economist, Advertising Age and Mashable. He writes a monthly column called Social Media Smarts for ClickZ and his blog at has an active community with over 46,000 subscribers, 12,000 Facebook Fans and has been rated the #1 Content Marketing blog 3 times by Junta42. He is also the Author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing" published by Wiley.
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