Blunders Across Borders: 6 International Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

by whatsmind

The global market is rapidly changing. Business people running their companies from a home office are discovering that expanding internationally is within their reach.

The prospect of a global business is an exciting, attainable goal, but there is the potential for costly mistakes. Here are some blunders to avoid when you stretch your business operations across international borders. 

Not using a virtual address when expanding your business presence 

Expanding business operations internationally presents many challenges, and you want to use your resources as strategically as possible. For example, instead of investing in an overseas office space, you could subscribe to a virtual address for businesses and save yourself the time and labor of running a brick-and-mortar in a foreign country. A virtual address can receive foreign mail on your behalf and notify you immediately through email or phone, no customs or expensive postage required.

Most countries also demand that businesses have a working physical address and telephone number for permit and license approvals. Paying rent, utilities, and property taxes can dramatically increase your expansion budget. Using a virtual address can keep your legal ducks in a row without breaking the bank on your campaign.

Failing to adapt a product so that it fits the market

One of the most common mistakes companies make when expanding internationally is forgetting that the global market isn’t one product fits all. For example, high-tech internet software that is wildly successful in Singapore may fall flat in the Maldives, where issues like access, connectivity, and cost of use persist. Rather than shipping a product tailored towards a U.S-based audience across borders, It would make more sense to adapt this product to better fit the circumstances found in the Maldives.

Translating marketing material instead of adapting it

Lost in translation isn’t just a pithy phrase–it has real-world consequences. Effective communication inspires and motivates customers, and the language in marketing has to make sense culturally. 

Successful companies write their marketing information in their predominant language. Then they adapt it to reflect the culture, grammar, and usage of the target country. Localizing a product is much more than translating ad copy from one language to another. If you want to convert leads in your new market, you must speak the language both literally and culturally.

Falling short in researching prospective countries

Unrestrained eagerness will be a serious and costly mistake for any company trying to grow internationally. What works well or is popular in one country may be a tremendous cultural or religious insult in another. Something as simple as not understanding what constitutes a business day creates an unnecessary obstacle. 

A company that fails to consider topics such as demographics, spending habits, transportation, or test marketing, will likely find its efforts unsuccessful or costly. Research takes time, but it pays dividends in the end. 

Poor followup

Momentum is easy to build when expanding globally. Splashy promos, garnering public support of leaders or celebrities, and fancy kick-offs are an adrenaline rush. But once the glitz is gone, a successful company is ready with sound follow-up strategies. 

Concrete problem-solving processes and steps to monitor progress need to be in place. There is software available to assist managers in using resources and meeting goals.  Without measurable markers and procedures, a company will find itself struggling or out of business entirely. 

Neglecting to consider the communication medium

Businesses that don’t set up country-specific websites when expanding internationally will find that they struggle or fail. For example, while French is spoken in many countries, dialects are different from place to place. The French spoken in France is quite different from the French in Cameroon.

Successful companies will set up websites with native-friendly SEO metadata and use country-specific domains.


Expanding a business across international borders can be fraught with pitfalls, and it’s vital to have a solid plan with defined steps. Dedicated research, clever marketing, appropriate communication, and the use of technological tools will go a long way to forging the path to success.

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