How To Effectively Manage An International Marketing Team

International marketing teams bring in-tow their own unique advantages, opportunities and challenges. More companies than ever before are branching out internationally, creating their own localised marketing teams at various locations around the world.

But what’s the secret to successfully managing international marketing teams and driving the best possible results?

Having had experience of managing an international team in the corporate world and also remotely through my own business I thought I would share some of the insight I have learnt.

1. Establish what is driven globally and what is managed locally

First of all, it’s important to draw clear lines between what is managed on a global/central level and what is taken care of locally. In-market teams need to be given extensive freedom to control success levels at a local level, while at the same time operating under the brand’s wider global framework. Define what should be controlled at which level as early on as possible, ensuring every contributor understands their responsibilities and level of authority/freedom.

If you are brought in to manage an existing team it can be harder to make drastic changes to start small and ensure you get buy in from existing team members before implementing a radical change to their workload or work style.

2. Communicate effectively at all times

The very foundation of success in any marketing or international team management capacity is communication. Misunderstandings due to miscommunication represent perhaps the single biggest challenge to those operating globally – particularly when it comes to the above point. Extensive efforts should be invested in on-going communication with all contributors at all levels. If anything, it is advisable to get in the habit of over-communicating, in order to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Communication is always harder when faced with remote management as there are no non-verbal cues, so as a leader be very clear in your choice of works and ask a lot of questions to check that meaning is always understood.

3. Employ or implant local marketers

Most experts agree that the importance of having marketers on the ground in every region the business operates in cannot be overstated. To operate from a central/global level means forgoing the benefits and insights that come with working directly with the clients and community in the locality. It also means limiting understanding of and experience in the local culture, which likewise can make a huge difference when it comes to the quality and impact of marketing campaigns.

The key to working with local marketers is to trust their ability to know their market and as a leader help them adapt their techniques to drive success within global brand guidelines.

4. Plan with precision but give plenty of freedom

Ensure that all members of the marketing team at all levels are familiar with and working in full accordance with defined schedules and deadlines. It is crucial to ensure that marketing teams at all levels and in all locations operate to the beat of a single drum. But at the same time, there needs to be plenty of freedom and flexibility where realistic. Structure is an important element, but not to such an extent that strict controls stand in the way of performance and execution.

Once again, communication plays a pivotal role in ensuring important deadlines and schedules are both understood and upheld.

5. Seek Similarities

Last up, while it may be preferable and beneficial to install or hire marketers in every required territory, actually doing so may not be realistic. Which is why so many global businesses look for similarities and common consumer insights across various countries and territories, by working with consumer data gathered locally. Where possible, marketing strategies that can be implemented successfully across a wider area represent more effective and affordable options than singular, local marketing strategies for each locality.

6. Be prepared for hurdles

Things won’t always work to plan. There will be misunderstandings, differing priorities and cultural differences that crop up along the way. The key is to view these as opportunities to learn and grow. Encourage innovation and radical thinking amongst team members by providing a basic framework for success but then shifting ownership for decision making down to an individual level.

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