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Veronica Aris delivers clarity around implementing effective marketing and sales strategies, overcoming cross-border hurdles and some rules around branding.

Understanding how to implement effective marketing and sales strategies while developing a ‘brand’ for your organisation is a complex and challenging assignment.
“Organisations are often confused by the very term ‘marketing’, its actual value and effectiveness, where it sits in the company structure and, in today’s digital world, what to do with the wealth of customer data that is available,” says Veronica Aris, head of sales and marketing at The Icehouse, which provides business training and investment opportunities for SMEs and start-ups in New Zealand.

“Successful marketing is about understanding the basics,” says Aris. “It’s about identifying the typical customer. ‘What do they buy? How do they buy? What does their journey look like?’

“Part two centres on constant analysis and review. ‘What are our current marketing activities? Are they working? Are we using data effectively?’ and ‘what could marketing automation software do to allow us to work smarter and better understand our customer?’”

Marketing is hard and unpredictable and, with no magic formula available, businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Gartner Research states that organisations spend approximately ten percent of their total revenues on marketing activities. Google spends 12 percent, Apple six percent, while SMEs spend close to five to eight percent
‘If you’re online, then you’re global,’ was one of the first Internet clichés. In today’s technologically-driven age, businesses are international from day one. Exporters are faced with more questions than answers when it comes to marketing, suggests Aris.

“Marketing campaigns need to be measurable and scalable. Owners must ask themselves if the products they are selling are suitable for new markets, and whether they can be tailored if they are not.”

Cultural and language differences can make or break any export marketing efforts. Does customer behaviour differ in different countries? What makes them buy in those countries and how does the competition position itself?
The Common Sense Advisory states that 73 percent of customers prefer to buy from companies with information translated into their native language, while 55 percent will prefer to buy from websites with information translated into their native language.

One of the biggest brand hurdles facing export companies is communicating marketing and branding efforts overseas. New Zealand generates more than 66 percent of export revenue selling to countries for whom English isn’t the first language.

Export marketing requires a deeper thought-process and cultural sensitivity now more than ever before. The quality of translation, localisation and transcreation (and understanding the differences) will impact on a company’s image and reputation.

History is littered with export marketing calamities, and numerous multinationals have suffered brand damage as a result. Famously HSBC Bank had to rebrand its entire global private banking operation in 2009 after taking a US campaign overseas. The tagline ‘Assume Nothing’ was incorrectly translated as ‘Do Nothing’. Rebrand costs totalled US$10 million.
Ford’s marketing campaign crashed in Belgium when the phrase ‘Every car has a high-quality body’ was mistranslated to ‘Every car has a high-quality corpse’; while Electrolux’s iconic ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’ tagline failed in the US because local audiences took it too literally.

Top to bottom

Cross-border marketing requires a top-to-bottom approach – from establishing the right ‘look and feel’ of a website to making sure all home page content, social media messaging, and sales and advertising activity is cultural-appropriate.

Even company colours can have an impact on export success. In many parts of Europe, orange is the colour of health, prosperity and happiness. In the Middle East it represents mourning and loss.

Businesses exporting to Europe need to also be aware of constant regulatory requirements which will have an impact on marketing activities, such as the recent implementation of GDPR.

However, digital marketing may be a sensible strategy for businesses of all sizes to think about. “As with traditional marketing strategies, the same age-old principles apply – a digital strategy depends on understanding who is your target audience and establishing what you are trying to achieve as a business,” says Aris.

Digital marketing follows a simple five-step process of awareness, engagement, lead generation, revenue and customer service. Moreover, as it relies on social media, emails and blogs, it opens up a two-way conversation between customer and business – something traditional marketing lacks.

It enables businesses to be more targeted and relevant. It gives marketers room to personalise campaigns and drill down to specific customer bases with less expense.

Digital marketing also lends itself to controlled experimentation and trial and error. Businesses are able to test and adjust social media advertising, then analyse the results to establish what sort of outcomes they are getting.

“Branding helps create a sensorial essence of what it means to interact with an organisation, and what a buyer can expect from the experience or product they’re purchasing.”

While technology has made it easier to market yourselves globally, it can still be a confusing and alien activity for many.

‘While marketing and sales are often lumped together as two interconnecting entities, it would be a mistake to ignore the importance of branding, and how that helps push sales and marketing,’ explains Aris.
Branding follows simple rules around values, voice, positioning and understanding your target audience. Harvard Business Review suggests the two primary benefits of good branding are that it enables marketers to build loyalty through a customer base and eliminates rogue marketing efforts to align company strategy.

“Branding helps create a sensorial essence of what it means to interact with an organisation, and what a buyer can expect from the experience or product they’re purchasing. When all are working effectively they can create a powerful organisation,’ says Aris.

Staying on top of new marketing techniques is a full-time job in itself, but Aris believes many traditional marketing activities will never become outdated.

“Networking in the business community, communicating to your customer and providing exceptional customer service are still three of the best marketing strategies to earn a good reputation, customer loyalty and brand recognition.

“It’s easy for businesses to lose sight of that,” she says.

Contact the Icehouse if you need branding/marketing coaching. Go to This article was first published in the August 2019 issue of NZBusiness magazine.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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