International Marketing Campaigns: Breaking Through Language Barriers

For international marketing campaigns, communicating in the native languages of those customers you are trying to reach is by far the best approach. English is a language spoken in many markets. Indeed, you could say that english has become the global language for business, but a key element in any successful marketing campaign is the ability to speak directly to the customer. With digital marketing, there is often a narrow window in which to reach the customer, so the message has to be targeted if it is to engage.


The importance of international marketing has been heightened by the growth of emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East. The rapid acceleration of economic development in such countries as China and India represent opportunities for businesses to tap into new consumer markets, but marketers would be wrong to assume that the same message that worked at home can be successfully replicated internationally. Rather, the nuances of particular cultures have to be incorporated into a properly researched and tailored marketing campaign if embarrassing, or even worse, offensive misjudgements in communication are to be avoided. You may be familiar with some high profile cases of international marketing gone wrong, such as the translation of the KFC slogan “Finger-lickin’ Good” into Chinese as “Eat your fingers off.” On one level, such stories can be amusing, but from a marketing perspective, they enforce the necessity of a country specific approach to avoid the kind of embarrassing outcome that can do lasting damage to a brand’s reputation.

Digital marketing platforms range from blogs to social media feeds using the likes of Facebook and Twitter. The popularity of social media has spread worldwide and represents a unique opportunity for marketing brands globally, but simply rolling out the same social media campaign to all international markets is not going to work. Digital marketing has become increasingly professional, and as a business you would not roll out a digital marketing campaign at home without the input of digital marketing experts. The same approach holds for international markets, so have in-country managers for each of your target markets to ensure proper use of language, compliance with specific regulations, and awareness of any cultural sensitivities. Using country specific marketers also ensures that your marketing message can be kept up to date and relevant.

Take a look at Fahad Al-Rajaan’s profile to get an idea of business growth opportunities in the Middle East and how to successfully tap into this particular market. As chairman of Ahli United Bank and Director General of the Public Institute for Social Security (PIFSS) in Kuwait, Fahad Al-Rajaan is at the heart of business investment in the Arab World. He is also chairman of the Wafra Investment Advisory Group, based in New York. The primary function of which is to invest funds from the PIFSS, recognized as one of the most comprehensive welfare systems globally. His experience offers an insight into what works in terms of business investment and marketing in a key international growth market.

With marketing, the personal touch holds additional appeal for your customers, so an international digital marketing campaign should be tailored to suit particular customer demographics.