Apple’s international marketing campaigns have always been highly effective. How else does a business get to be the most valuable in the world? Now, the tech giant has moved its focus away from the translation and transcreation of global campaigns to the development of numerous smaller campaigns created specifically for regional markets.
Here, we’ll look at some of the lessons we can all learn from Apple’s approaches to international marketing.
What’s changed at Apple?
Apple’s advertising agency, TCWA\Media Arts Lab, announced that the business is moving away from localising global campaigns and is instead focusing its attention, and its cash, on creating regional campaigns specifically for its international markets.
The agency spoke to AdWeek about the changes, stating: “This will result in a reduction in areas such as localisation and further investment in areas such as digital, social, data analytics, content creation and a more diverse set of strategic skills.”
Previously, Apple was highly successful at adapting its global marketing and advertising campaigns to local markets using highly effective transcreation and translation services. Although the recent change in approach appears like a move away from this, in fact, Apple is simply delving even deeper into the idea of localisation, to the point where a campaign is designed specifically for one particular international market.
The bulk of its marketing budget will now be spent on developing mostly online ads for social media, as opposed to TV. It’s also reducing its marketing spend overall and is working with agencies local to its markets in the process.
Although the approach has shifted a little, their strategy remains consistent. Here are the lessons we can all learn from Apple.
1. Focus on delivering customer value.
Apple has always had a way of making its customers feel valued, regardless of where they are. Their success relies on them understanding what matters to their customers and then striving to deliver on this brand promise with everything they do.
It’s true that Apple does value its customers outside the US – after all, well over half its business comes from overseas markets. However, many businesses still struggle to convey this message to their global customers.
Apple achieves this by customising its content to specific markets. As well as ensuring its marketing campaigns are culturally adapted and specific enough to feel natural, it has even included market-specific changes to its products, such as Chinese instruments in the local version of its music creation software.
Apple has ensured that anyone looking for customer service help on its website can get the answers they need in their local language. These little things are easy to achieve with the help of professional translation services, but they are enormously effective in reassuring customers that they are valued by the company, and their custom and culture are celebrated by the brand they love – which makes them love the brand even more!
How can you make your international customers feel valued?
- Offer customised features to local markets
- Translate knowledgebase, FAQ’s, manuals and customer service information
- Consider adapting your products and services to be culture-specific
2. Concentrating on your core…
Adapting your marketing campaigns for international markets is a great way to engage customers all over the world, but your brand needs to remain solid to be effective.
Have you ever noticed how Apple’s branding is clear and visuals are always clean and minimal, and their campaigns are simple and unfussy?
Do you know what your brand stands for?
Now that Apple is working with local agencies and creating campaigns uniquely for its various markets, it will need to focus on its branding more than ever. It helps that Apple’s products have such a strong visual identity. They are designed to work in the same way every time and carry a certain amount of prestige.
Also, they are reassuringly expensive, suggesting high-quality technology, and customers all over the world covet the iPhone and the iPad thanks to strong international branding.
How can you convey a strong brand internationally?
- Work on creating a clear, strong brand aesthetic
- Keep this aesthetic and your core values consistent through all international campaigns, even when adding localised campaigns
- Ensure a consistent style, feel, ethos and tone of voice runs through your local marketing and advertising
- Work on adapting or creating products and services that enhance your brand position in each market.
3. The holistic customer experience
Apple’s move towards creating regional campaigns will further reinforce its reputation for delivering services that are targeted and adapted to each individual market.
It’s not just it’s marketing that speaks in local languages, its stores and its website also deliver services to locals in their own language and with culturally-specific adaptations that help to engage customers and meet their needs.
Apple’s Vice President of retail development and sales, Bob Bridger, told Brand Quarterly: “Once a location [for an Apple store] is picked, it’s all a matter of working towards making sure the store has an inviting appeal that matches its surrounding culture and environment. It’s about ‘getting out into the street’ and feeling what the local feels.”
Pretty much any local market you can think of is catered for specifically through Apple’s website. Click on the market-specific page link and you’re taken through to information about the products available in your market, in your own language and with links to campaigns and even what’s going on in Apple stores near you.
It’s fair to say that without these localised services, attempts by Apple to create their marketing campaigns for specific regions would fall flat as they’re talking the talk and selling premium goods without walking the walk of supporting them perfectly.
How can you localise services?
- Work with language translation service providers to create website content and customer service help in local languages
- Ensure you’re meeting the post-sale expectations of your global audience.
- Consider cultural details when designing any customer experience within international markets – this includes websites! This could mean adapting for different devices.
Apple’s change in approach to its international marketing has certainly given many companies some food for thought. Is it best to continue to localise global campaigns or is it better to create region-specific content and advertising?
Either approach can work, providing you have the budget.
However, it’s vital to take a more holistic view of your international marketing and ensure you are providing customers with the tools they need to feel valued, understand your brand and make full use of your products or services – by speaking to them in their own language.