Going Glocal: A Quick Guide for Small Businesses

Glocalization is not a new concept. This marketing term, a portmanteau of global and local, is the practice of blending global and local marketing techniques and strategies in...

Andrew Gamilla
Andrew Gamilla September 10, 2018

Glocalization is not a new concept. This marketing term, a portmanteau of global and local, is the practice of blending global and local marketing techniques and strategies in order to create an internationally recognizable brand that remains accessible and relatable to local consumers. This also means the creation or adaptation of products or services for the global market by adapting them to local cultures.

“Going glocal” is not particularly difficult these days, especially as technology has made the world a whole lot smaller. It has allowed global businesses to reach their customers on a more personal level, while similarly allowing smaller local businesses to fast-track their entry into the global market.

If your goal is to build local but aim global, here are some tips to help you bring your business to the glocal market:

Establish your brand

Any business, big or small, requires good branding. As much as you probably want to start pouring your energy into ranking your website and building your online presence, it’s more important—especially in the beginning—to invest time and resources in building a solid brand identity. Establish a brand that is easily recognizable to your target audience and remains consistent throughout the entire customer experience. Also, make sure that your brand message and core values are reflected in all aspects of your business.

Keep in mind that using any other business name—even close variations—can create confusion and dilute the strength of your recognizability as a brand. If possible, avoid using a business name that ties you to a specific location. It might help give you an edge with local SEO, but not if you’re looking to get your foot in the door in the international market someday.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your brand, develop it and use it as your guide as you create your website, social media profiles, and other web assets. Make sure to stay consistent across all your online properties.

Put your business on the map

Once you have a website, strengthen its searchability in search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, and Yahoo) by employing search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of boosting your site’s search engine rankings for certain keywords or search terms that are related to your brand and service or product offerings. Your goal here is to appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for whatever keywords you think your target customers may be searching online.

Another way is to submit your business in Google’s listing database. Google My Business provides you with a free listing that allows you to show up in SERPs for local searches. Take the necessary step to optimize your listing to increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps, and more.

All you need to do is supply Google with all the necessary information about your company. These include:

Remember to abide by Google’s guidelines in order for you to appear in the Local Pack and rank well in search results. Spammy descriptions, misleading information, and other guideline violations can get your account suspended on Google My Business.

There are also other business directories that you may want to submit your company details to so that you have listings on various platforms. Make sure to maintain the same name, address and phone number/s (NAP information) across all domains. Paid citation-building sites that handle multiple directories can help you with this task, but you can also manually input your details by registering and contacting web admins to add your company to their database.

Create a glocal social media strategy

Every business should have a social media presence—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other relevant social channels. Each social media platform has its own unique way of allowing you to share different types of content to your consumer base, so it’s important to establish a presence on each platform in order to facilitate active and dynamic engagement between your business and your customers.

Being on social media can do wonders for your business—but only if done the right way. Having a Twitter account for answering customer queries and an Instagram for posting pretty pictures of your new products simply won’t be enough. You need to have an actual strategy in order to make the most out of your social media presence.

The main goal is to promote brand awareness, distribute information, and generate leads. To do this effectively, you need to match the content to the audience. Set up your social media pages in such a way that allows you to create both a global presence and a local one—one example is the Facebook parent-child framework, which you often see with franchisors and multi-location businesses. Once you’ve set this up, figure out what type of content global consumers would want from your brand, as well as what type of content you should serve your local clientele, and then make it happen.

Throughout this entire process, don’t forget to measure your results to see which content types are more effective in garnering the kind of engagement you want.

Build international business relationships

Small businesses tend to network and rub elbows with other small businesses. However, if you plan to someday compete in the global market, you’ll need to build strong relationships with key industry players and potential partners.

Attending international conferences is one way to network with global brands, but another is to build a good online presence and get the attention of other international businesses and potential customers. One of the best advantages of being on the Internet is that it levels the playing field between local and international brands to a certain extent, so you can definitely use social media to get your brand noticed.

Do market research

Due to cultural differences, consumer preferences and shopping habits are not always universal. In fact, they will more than likely vary from one city or country to another. To get into the glocal market, it’s important to do the necessary research to learn more about the nuances in customer habits across various cultures and locations. Having this information will help give you the best chance of success, as it will allow you to customize your engagement based on location-influenced buying behavior.

The best glocal marketing strategy is to have a foundational message while listing clearly outlined areas where you can adapt to local standards. Apart from doing research, you may want to work with partners who understand the culture of a specific location so you can tweak your product or service to meet the needs and wants of your foreign customers.

One prime example of this is McDonald’s. The fast-food giant is a truly global brand that has nearly 40,000 restaurants all over the world, but they don’t serve the same food in every country. While the company maintains their core branding as a source of fast, convenient meals, they’ve also successfully adapted to local tastes by serving a few exotic dishes that are only available in McDonald’s restaurants in certain countries.

Thanks to the Internet, every business has access to the global market. Small business owners can now compete with bigger brands, especially if they are able to provide that personalized touch that consumers crave. If you want to build a brand that is ready to take on the global market, adopt a glocal mindset early on to set your business up for success.

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