Woe The Digital Sale: International

Question from a seller: Does it help when you are selling to show a buyer examples of what their client has done with a site in other countries? I'm about to have a meeting with a team I've been chasing for months. We have several successful case studies from outside the U.S., and management expects it to be a slam dunk since we're already on the plans in other places. Should I make the global deals a focus of the pitch?

Amy says: Seeing what other countries have done is a bit of a sore spot for me personally. I am always jealous of smaller European markets where it's so easy to reach the majority of the country's population online and it's not a fact that is up for debate. This seems especially true in mobile, which is influenced by different telecommunications regulation as well as societal factors, but I digress.

I think overall it is a good idea to share the foreign case studies -- but don't overdo it.  You could consider whether the advertiser is based inside or outside the U.S. I've worked on both types of accounts, and global but U.S.-based clients definitely have an inherent sense of leadership and ownership of the global strategy. They are going to be interested in hearing a third-party perspective on the marketing in that country. But a worst-case scenario would be that you present a program from outside the U.S. that the lead agency was against, and your local clients got slammed for the buy.



Or the U.S. team could think the offering is successful because of some difference in that country which doesn't apply here. Then you've ruined your sale without even realizing it.

When the agency is servicing a client with headquarters overseas, the team is probably used to seeing case studies from other countries. But try to use it more of a device to speak intelligently about the benefits your site brought to that country's campaign. Don't assume that the U.S. executes a global strategy exactly the same as any other country. We are sometimes, but not always, the highest volume nation for any global advertiser. In media planning/buying, size does matter. Also, brand positioning, gender targeting, and messaging may vary greatly based on that country's culture or regulations, as I've begrudgingly described above. Never imply that the U.S. team doesn't understand what they should be doing when they push back or even say no.

And I just invented a new saying: "Number of nights of best friend crashing on your couch, days sushi sits in your fridge, or advertiser's cases studies: only good in quantities of three or less."

Before I keep babbling, Jason, hop in! Tell us, do these global references work to lure buyers?

Jason says: Of course global references are important. How do you think I justify my annual trip to Bali? Research.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of nuances that make it difficult to give a blanket answer. There are so many details when it comes to advertising in the case of the U.S. vs. the world that it really should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

First, the world is big. There are over 17,000 Starbucks! Let's not be so ethnocentric as to kid ourselves into thinking it's the U.S. in one corner and everyone else in the other. Second, it's unlikely that one case study can cover all the facets of device usage, demographic information, enthusiast level (except futbol -- they universally go nuts over that), offline purchase habits, information consumption, etc. In other words, I don't think you should go into this scenario thinking you have a silver bullet.

However, here are the general things you should consider when breaking out the case study: 1) Make sure the company in the case study has goals that are aligned with your prospect. I.e., don't fool yourself into thinking Coke has the same goals as Pepsi.

2) As best you can, make sure that all of the environmental factors are similar to the objective. Timing of campaign can be a strong indicator of success.

3) Try to align the tactics used in the execution of the case study so they are similar to what you are proposing to the new prospect.

4) Don't think that just because you are showcasing excellence in one scenario that the prospect will simply roll over and accept it, universally. No matter what you do, a prospect might still think it is marketing spin.

I don't want to throw water on your pitch. I just want everyone to know there is no such thing as a slam-dunk. If it were easy, this client would have phoned in the order on her own.

Use this information wisely, and I wish you semoga sukses. (That's how we say "good luck" in Bali.)

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