Is it time to expand your brand globally?
Has your business been thinking of stepping outside the U.S. and testing the foreign markets?
If so, having a solid marketing plan in place is nothing short of critical. Without such a plan, you all but run the risk of failing to take your brand worldwide, something that could ultimately hurt you in the pocketbook if you try to expand and do it the wrong way.
In order to enhance the chances your brand will succeed when you step outside the United States, make sure you put together a comprehensive review of where you’re thinking of going, why this decision will benefit your brand now and over time, and what plan you have in place should things not work out.
Get the Lay of the Land
To improve the odds your business desires will succeed outside the U.S., keep the following in mind:
- Economic and political conditions – First and foremost, what are the economic and political conditions in the country or countries you’re looking to expand to? What may seem like stability today could be gone tomorrow or the next day, so get a long-term analysis of what expects believe may happen down the road. Whether you are looking at an Asian venture, expanding to Europe, doing business in Brazil or gaining a foothold right across the borders in Canada or Mexico, research the economic and political climates;
- Demographics now and later – You also need to review and get a feel for the long-term demographics in the regions of the world you are considering expanding to. Will there be gains or losses predicted in the population bases? Having a feel for these statistics is critical for your long-term success. If you’re looking at a region of the world where the population shows to be dwindling, does it make much sense to move there, especially given lesser opportunities to add to your customer base? Populations increase and decrease over time in various parts of the world, so have a feel for which direction your intended advances are going in;
- Competition today and tomorrow – While your business should never be afraid of challenging the competition make sure you do it wisely. As more opportunities open up globally, it only makes sense that competitors will look to fill those opportunities sooner rather than later. Have a feel for where your competition may be going, what they expect to achieve there, and if you can mount a formidable challenge to them, especially economically. If you don’t have any competition in the intended marketplaces you are looking to expand to, be sure to go into such markets fully prepared for long-term activities. If you go in and pull out quickly, consumers may see this as a company that did not things out fully, something that can easily have a negative impact on your company’s persona. Finally, it is also critical that when dealing with competitors in foreign markets you clearly state why having your brand come into the market is a win-win for both consumers and other businesses in the area. Remember to always keep a positive approach and state why your company should be the chosen one.
If 2016 is the year to expand your American business globally, make sure you do it carefully and with plans for long-term success.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.