7 and a Half Tips for Building an International Audience

We’re living in a world that’s more connected than ever before; Phineas Fogg’s “Around the World In We’re living in a world that’s more connected than ever before; Phineas Fogg’s “Around the World In 80 days” seems laughable to us, as we’re able to circumnavigate the world in split seconds thanks to the power of the Internet. This arena opens up opportunities that continually stretch the limits of our imagination. One of the greatest possibilities has been easily marketing your company to groups across country borders: Here are seven and a half tips to do just that.

Tip 1: Contemplate the Culture of Your Content

When creating content, it’s important that you add value. “Value,” however, may be different depending on what time zone you are in. Make sure that you’re adding something that is meaningful to the target demographic, and that you’re not using any terminology that would feel too foreign or is offensive to locals.

Tip 2: Widgetize Your Language

If you want to appeal to those who speak another language, you will want to provide translation tools. Websites can add a simple flag icon that users can click to view the translated page. When building bulk content, though, such as with a blog, you probably don’t want to do all your translation. Luckily, tools such as the Google Translate widget will allow you to have this content available to those who are more comfortable reading in their native tongue.

Tip 3: Learn Your Colors

There are many color associations to keep in mind, but these aren’t consistent from country to country. For example, while the color white is thought of as a wedding color in the U.S., signifying a new beginning– it’s a color of death in India. Don’t get the signals mixed up. Look into color meanings before choosing your palette, and consider a modified design for your foreign markets.

Tip 4: Tone Down the Technology

While the U.S. and many first world countries have a large spread of high speed internet availability, many countries do not. The same guidelines that applied back when dial-up was killing us (be wary of flash animations, avoid sound, don’t auto-load your videos, etc.) apply since dial-up is still at large in other countries.

Tip 5: Consider Specialized Content

If you’re trying to appeal to specific regions, do not shy away from content that may be less appealing or relevant to your original cultural base, but more valuable to your new target group. This would include news stories or informational articles specific to the region you’re pitching to.

Tip 6: Be Wary of Legality

Laws vary greatly from nation to nation, so it’s important that you do your research and find which claims, contracts, terms of service, privacy policies, and other specifics are a part of business in that country. You might be surprised how you have to modify your site; for example, did you know that Germany has outlawed Google Analytics?

Tip 7: Connect with Recognized Regional Voices

When trying to become visible in another country, one of the best ways to do so is connecting to people or groups who are already recognized. This will include high-profile bloggers and social networkers, among other movers and shakers specific to the various business fields. Research and get linked to those who have voices that are respected in the region or locale you are trying to break into.

Tip 7.5: Get Those Voices to Pitch Your Name!

Once connected to powerful players, make sure that you give them quality content to publicize and an incentive to do so.

There isn’t a single ideal step or method to spreading yourself in other countries, and the specific culture and demands of individual markets will change the nature of the game immensely. By following these tips, however, you can get a start on your company’s global spread.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bfick, Wonderlane, Lori Greig, Chris JL