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As we dive deeper into the topic of Global Content Marketing, we start to run into problems that will need to be solved beyond translation and context. These problems include the software platforms you use, the strategies you deploy, the content creation workflow you select, and how you communicate during the day.
In this episode, Pam Didner and Rebecca Lieb dive into the problems teams face with Global Content Marketing efforts and some solutions they might use to resolve them.
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- - And you're rolling and it's up to us to think of something to do. Okay, you said you were gonna start. - Rebecca, it's so wonderful to see you again. - And it is fantastic to see you again. The last conference we were at together was in Budapest this summer. - I know, that was a lot of fun. - That's why we're the global content marketing chicks. - I totally enjoyed it. Exactly, rock and roll, high five. I haven't seen you for a little while, and you are here to speak for a session, right? - Yes, tomorrow. - [Woman With Black Hair] What is that topic about? - I'll tell you about mine if you tell me about yours? - [Woman With Black Hair] Sure, no problem. - Okay, so global content marketing, a topic we both love. I've been working on research, interviewing a lot of executives at really big, global operations to find out what the pain points are, what the successes are, what the needs are, what the failures are, and I'm here to share some results. What's your topic? - Before I go in there, you have written a book that's just recently published, is that right? - I do have a book that just recently published. - Alright, what is that? I think I actually ordered it on Amazon a couple weeks ago. - Yes, it was available on Amazon. Thank you for letting me plug my book. It is called Content - The Atomic Particle of Marketing, and it is basically a synthesis of my research from the last five years. Looks at content marketing, content strategy, content's role in paid, owned, and earned media, breaking authentic topics like native advertising, real-time marketing, so everybody should go out and buy it. So thanks for the plug. - Yes, everybody should go out and buy that book by Rebecca Lieb. - But I am not the only author sitting here. Now you tell about your book. - Oh, yeah. It's such a niche topic, don't you think so, global content marketing? Not a lot of people talk about it. - Well, I think they should be talking about it, and it's one of the big, no, first, tell the people who are watching this about your book about global content marketing. - Yeah, well I wrote a book about global content marketing that was published with McGraw-Hill back in 2014. I was sharing my own experience. Obviously Rebecca was coming from the experience of doing a lot of research, talking with executives. I had a global role for about 20 years at Intel, yes. Then I share my own experience and my learnings and my observation in terms of how to scale content across the region. - [Rebecca] What are you finding are the biggest pain points, because now you work with clients and you worked inside of a big brand, so what are you seeing as, give me the three biggest challenges in global content marketing? - Wow. I think the first one is, let's define what global is. The global, I think from B2B and also Enterprise's perspective is really the headquarters and the local teams working together to create the content marketing point. So the way I define global is really from internal sense, is the headquarters and the local teams working together. With that being said, there's a couple things they need to do. Call that challenges or call that to-do list, however you want to call it. The first one is they need to have a communication process. The second one is obviously they need to actually have tools there to actually support it. Third is obviously they need to talk to each other. I think the most important thing is to have that communication. - Can I just ask you a question about that overall framework first, because-- - But before that, one second. Before that they obviously need to have a strategy. It needs to be aligned and you do have some sort of common goal. But a lot of times the headquarter's goal is not necessarily what local team wants to go after. That's where communication comes from. They need to talk to each other. Go ahead. - With your framework, I always struggle, and I think a lot of organizations struggle, with that framework of there's headquarters and then there's local teams, because I'm finding that local has a lot of different definitions. If you're talking about Europe, are you talking about the European team, which might sit over the English team and the Italian team and the French team or the German language team, or is the German language team Germany, Austria, and Switzerland? How do you dance that dance and decide on this hierarchy, if indeed it's a hierarchy? - Yes, it does. - Does it get super local or super regional, or a combination of both? - I think it's a combination of both. Also, the way I see it, it depends on how organization is structured, right? Let's just use Enterprise, a global enterprise, for example. They tend to be structured, not every single one of them, but they tend to be structured, you have the headquarter team and then there's a regional team for six different continents. And then under the region, they are different country. Rather than by languages, they tend to be by country because every country probably a little bit different. Then depending on the organizational structure, depending on the communication effort, on top of that, the most important thing, depending on the budget. What I have noticed, even within the same company, like the headquarter, they might have different ways of working with the different region. What is a different region? I defining that as a different continent. Asia-Pacific and also in mee-ah, they might have a slightly different working collaboration process, if you will. They might use the same tool. But you are totally right. Take down to the lowest level, not the lowest, not in any bad way, it's more or less at the country level, at language level, how do that work together? From my perspective, it's also depending on the country's needs. They need to actually have a clear understanding or a comprehension, if you will, what do they need to serve their customers? Having that information and share that information with headquarter, I call that bottom up. And then of course, there's always top down in terms of what headquarters, they have a vision in terms of what they will produce. Is that helpful? - It's very helpful. I don't know if you know this, but I was actually a global marketer as well back in the day. I was responsible for global content marketing at Universal Television. - [Woman With Black Hair] Really? - Yeah, and it was very, very interesting to look at the brands and just find out what the portfolio of brands meant in different countries. - So what were the challenges you encountered at that time? Was it anything different than now, that you are talking to different senior executives? - For one thing, products were different. If we had the rights to broadcast something in the United States, that didn't necessarily mean we had those same rights in Europe or in Asia or in Latin America. But also, the brands. So one of the brands in our portfolio was the Syfy Channel. - [Woman With Black Hair] I love Syfy Channel. - Which is super cool, and that's really how I got into digital, because this was back in the 90's. We did global research, and we learned that Syfy in Asia, for example, had a lot to do with things like your ancestors coming back from the grave or something like that. - [Woman With Black Hair] Ghosts. - Ghosts. And in Scandinavia, it was all about who built the pyramids and all these ancient wonders of the world. And then we showed our logo to this guy in Italy, and we said, "What do you think this means?" He looks at it and he goes, "Skiing and Formula 1 racing." Italy was the one place where Syfy just-- - No, that's not gonna work. - Totally off the grid. - We talk about that, but Syfy? - No. So just the cultural, and that's what I love, is the cultural translation of brand messages and different meanings. But that brings a lot of questions of autonomy into this, what you said, the top down and the bottom up. I've worked with brands that have bought the rights to American football, and then pushed that out to their global marketplace, where football isn't even football anymore. - [Woman With Black Hair] I know, I 100% agree. - And the mandate is use this, and it makes absolutely no sense. - That broad of a question in terms of personalization and the customization of content. 10 years ago, and of course, I always had a global role when I was working in the corporate world. I was a B2B gal, and we are selling microprocessors. Microprocessors are microprocessors. Because the product is homogenous, right? It doesn't matter where you buy, it's the same product, and I'm always this advocate of pushing standardized content. Now, I got a change to talk to a lot of customers and clients, and also where technology is moving, I have come to realize that the customization is actually super critical as part of a global content marketing effort. For a long time, I did not believe that is, it's not like I don't believe it's necessary. I don't think it's that important. I feel that in order to scale it, you need to somehow standardize it. But I run into the challenge right now by talking to more and more content marketers, even you, I feel like the challenge is moving forward on the content marketing side, especially scaling globally. It's how to standardize or scale that customization element. What is your thought on that? - And how much autonomy to allow. So just putting together a content calendar, you can have a global content calender. - [Woman With Black Hair] Oh yeah, talk to me about that. - But then different countries have different holidays, they have different traditions. Something that you want to roll out on a Friday here, although Fridays are bad days for roll outs, you totally couldn't do that in Israel or the Middle East. - [Woman With Black Hair] Right. - So it evolves into things like media strategy. How many Facebook pages do you have, for example, and should they be regional? - [Woman With Black Hair] And by countries. - And do you wanna make an announcement in one region that's not valid in another region? So you've gotta control that by locality as well. I'm finding it interestingly that some of these global challenges are the same challenges that hyper-local marketers have. - Yeah. - So I've worked with some big box retailers and they're looking at a Facebook page like, "Do we have a Chicago page, the neighborhoods of Chicago, "the Chicago land area which bleeds "into Wisconsin and Indiana?" - [Woman With Black Hair] Really? Oh my God, can you imagine that? - So store by store, neighborhood by neighborhood. It's interesting how much hyper-local and global echo each other's problems. I'm researching both of these. - I mean, now just hearing you sharing your insight, you know, I don't have a solution. - The solution is gonna vary. Your mileage varies, and there's no one-size-fits all solution. - So every single company-- - And that's why we consult with our clients, we don't just write books and research. That's how we learn. - So the solution is gonna be situational. - [Rebecca] Yeah. - I think that's one probably key takeaway for everybody is that the content marketing strategy, your plan for your company, it needs to be situational and it depends on your company's corporate culture, organizational structure, budget allocation, and even the product differentiation. And then to determine-- - Another thing is it can really involve fighting the power in corporate and that home office, which sometimes turns into a Death Star. I was working with a client of a major global chemical company, and I don't know if I'm speaking for it now, but this was maybe six or eight years ago, had a policy that every website had to be in English. Their Asian marketing manager called me one night from Singapore, saying, "The markets I serve "are Singapore, Japan, China, Thailand, Cambodia. "Help talk truth to power here, "because nobody's even dealing with this alphabet." - [Woman With Black Hair] Yeah, I hear you. - By the way, alphabets are another challenge when you want to unify tool sets and you're talking global, not all tool sets can handle multiple languages, multiple alphabets, multiple diacritical marks. And so the tool selection, as well as things like tagging assets so that you can repurpose content across broad groups of people become very, very complicated. The process development becomes absolutely critical, because the process development isn't online, then your entire digital asset management system becomes like a library without a card catalog. - Is going to come crash, yeah. - Yeah. - No, I 100% agree. One thing I have noticed, even when I was a global marketing manager, when I was looking in my budget and I will take into account of content production, I will take into account a content promotion, but sometimes I will fell short in terms of signing budget for tools. - [Rebecca] Yeah. - What I have realized, especially once you scale and talking to different regions, if I don't have the right tools, it's very, very hard to scale. - And the right staff, because I find that the further away and the more remote and the smaller an office is, the less resources they have. So they're not just challenged when it comes to tools. They're challenged because maybe the sales person is the person responsible for content. They don't have dedicated marketing support either, or it's dual roles that cut across verticals and silos. It's not the most pressing job. - [Woman With Black Hair] I hear you, yeah, it is true. - So do you give them budget to outsource? Do you keep it in-house? How much budget is discretionary and can be sent within a very hyper-local market versus a region? - [Woman With Black Hair] Yeah, never-ending story. - Yeah. So many people think it's just translation. - Translation, no. - No, no, no, no, no. - It's way beyond that. So you and me, we kinda know that's not the case. - Do you think it has a lot to do with having had global experience? So you're not a native-born American. - No. - I am, but I've spent a substantial portion of my career in Europe and I speak other languages. - In Europe, and you speak German fluently. - As do you. So do you think that is something that helps inform this cultural and linguistic and sensitivity to global content strategy? - I think that might play some into it. I think there's probably a couple reason, our own experience and upbringing does help. Another thing is the sensitivities, obviously, to different cultures, right? You lived abroad for a good number of years, and I was not born here and then came to the States. So I think that does play into it. But having a job that was global and working with five or six different continents simultaneously, that also opened my eyes. So I would say, yeah, upbringing does help, but having that experience working with different countries and different regions, or having the experience living abroad, it does provide that empathy that you understand that the ground or local level, they are people. They are not struggling in terms of financially, but they are struggling getting the messages out or trying to ramp up their campaigns. It does require a lot of help, just like you said. - And it requires a lot of trust. If something is in an Asian language, none of which I can speak or read, I have to be able to rely on colleagues to translate culturally as well as linguistically a message and run with it without micromanaging it, because I can't micromanage it. - You can't, you can't, yeah. You actually have to trust them. I think that trust needs to be built through communications, collaborations, and also a set of tools and process to help them. - So you, like me, speak all over the world on content marketing and content strategy. - [Woman With Black Hair] I've been very fortunate. - Yes, as have I, and sometimes we get to do it at the same place at the same time and have people to go out for dinner with. Are you finding a big disparence in the levels of content marketing maturity in your travels? - Yes, I sense that. Even you saying that both of us live in the States and we at the content marketing world and we look around, we feel like US might be ahead, but it really depends, right? - [Rebecca] Mm-hm. - Depending on the clients, depending on the size of the companies, and also the industries, maybe. - [Rebecca] Mm-hm. - When I travel abroad, did you feel the difference between the developed country and the emerging country? The content marketing maturity, obviously, is different. But at the same time, they might be doing content marketing, but they don't call content marketing. - Marketing, yes. - So I found sometimes it's very hard to judge maturity of it, because they may not use the same terminology. - Terminology, that's a very good point. But on the other hand, there is no marketing without content. - True. - There's no advertising, there's no social media, there's no nothing, otherwise the whole world would be empty rectangles and squares and blank videos. - No, I 100% agree with you, and especially on the e-commerce side. I notice they use a lot of e-commerce sides, even though they say high end jacket or even clothes, they will still do content marketing. They will identify why you have to pay for the premium for jacket. They will talk about what kind of fabric that was used and the material is organic or sustainable, therefore you pay a little more. - [Rebecca] Right. - So they will create content to explain that. Why is the product better? - Oh, I'm thinking now of the J. Peterman catalog, which even predates digital and everything had a story and a personality behind it, and it became a long-running joke on Seinfeld. - And that has not changed. - That's absolute content marketing. - It's a content marketing. - Content marketing is not new to digital at all. - I know, but only presented in a digital format, but it's nothing new, I do agree. So very, very good. When is your session? - I'm going to be presenting my research, my yet-to-be-published research on global content marketing. And tell me what your session is. - My session, unfortunately, is not about global content marketing. - Oh, it isn't? Well I've actually heard you talk about other topics. - I'm doing a session that's kind of a new topic for me, how to create a messaging framework. So think about it, that before you create any content, you've got to actually, you want to know what you want to talk about. So hopefully whatever you said aligns with, say, the product and messagings or the corporate persona brand. - [Rebecca] Right. - So before any content needs to be created within a company, there's got to be some sort of messaging or script, however you want to call it, that has been created. - [Rebecca] Framework. - Framework that needs to be written. Narrative as well, right? - [Rebecca] This is a critical component of any decent content strategy. - I 100% agree. So I'm talking about a messaging framework. I'm going to share a couple templates with whoever is attending, and then share some of the how-to in terms of how to put that together. So I'm not talking about global content marketing this time. - Well, you know plenty of stuff all around the whole ecosystem of content marketing. - I don't know about that. Thank you, thank you. So it will be fun. After the session, maybe we can go out for dinner? - Deal.