February 15, 2024

Flex Your Global Marketing Muscles

Expanding into new markets can bring incredible growth opportunities for B2B brands. But how can marketers navigate the complexities of cultural nuances to build successful global marketing strategies? 

Spoiler alert: It’s not easy tying together a global marketing model under different time zones, budgets, languages, cultures, and different sets of resources. A CMO undergoing such an endeavor can’t be afraid to get their hands dirty and iterate as you grow.

In this episode, three such seasoned CMOs share the strategies and best practices that drive success in global markets. Tune in as we explore the power of community building, how to coordinate across borders, and how local experiments can be transformed into global wins.

Our panel:  

What You’ll Learn 

  • How to expand your marketing globally 
  • How to merge local campaigns with the overall brand 
  • How to coordinate an international team

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 384 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 


  • [4:37] Adriana Gil Miner: Iterable’s global presence 
  • [6:17] International expansion: Start with community  
  • [10:21] Norman Guadagno: Mimecast’s international reach 
  • [12:47] The challenge of local campaigns  
  • [18:24] Janet Jaiswal: Expanding Cloudbeds global reach 
  • [20:41] The Center of Excellence: Coordinating HQs & regions 
  • [24:12] AI for translation? 
  • [26:16] On CMO Huddles  
  • [29:27] How to have consistent AND personalized brand  
  • [39:19] Local experiments that worked! 
  • [46:15] Final words of wisdom: Going global

Highlighted Quotes  

Word of mouth and organic give you the biggest presence when developing a territory. You start with community building first, then you get the salespeople in, and then you then you build the local marketing arm.” —Adriana Gil Miner, CMO of Iterable

“One of the things that you have to balance is where a new country or region is in its evolution, and how much autonomy they need at that moment.” —Norman Guadagno, CMO of Mimecast

“Take it in phases when you’re expanding the marketing function globally. You don’t have to have everything localized. Don’t translate the entire website, just do the key pages. Don’t go open a new LinkedIn account unless you know you can support it.” —Janet Jaiswal, Marketing Advisor at Cloudbeds 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Adriana Gil Miner, Norman Guadagno, Janet Jaiswal


Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness, and that donates 1% of revenue to the Global Penguin Society. Wait. Well, it turns out that B2B CMOs and penguins have more in common than you think. Both are highly curious and remarkable problem solvers. Both prevail in harsh environments by working together with peers. And just as a group of penguins is called a Huddle. Over 352 B2B CMOs come together and support each other via CMO Huddles. If you’re a B2B marketer who could share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and dive into CMO Huddles. We even have a free starter program and of course, our robust Leader Program, neither of which requires penguins hat. Thank goodness, join us. And before we get to the episode, let me do a quick shout-out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade, Drew Neisser.  

Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddles Studio, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time we’ve got a conversation centered on building global marketing muscles featuring insights from Huddles Adriana Gil Miner of Iterable, Norman Guadagno of Mimecast, and Janet Jaiswal of Cloudbeds. Let’s dive in. Welcome to CMO Huddles Studio, the live-streaming show dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness. I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. As experienced marketing leaders we know that expanding into new markets can bring incredible growth opportunities for our companies. But how can we navigate the complexities and cultural nuances to build successful global marketing strategies? On today’s episode, we’ll explore the fascinating insights we’ve gathered from these global conversations. From understanding the unique challenges of marketing across borders to tailoring our messages for diverse audiences. We’ll discuss the strategies and best practices that CMOs employ to drive success in global markets. With that, let’s bring on Adriana Gil Miner, CMO of Iterable. And  a returning guest who previously appeared on the show to discuss martech and AI. Hello, Adri. How are you? And where are you today?  

Adriana: Hi, how are you? I am live from our headquarters in San Francisco and this is such a topic close to my heart because as an international citizen myself from Venezuela living in the US, have lived in multiple countries. This is such a great topic. Thank you for having me.

Drew: And you know, as we were talking in the prep show, you’re doing a global roadshow right now, right?  

Adriana: I am. I’m on the road. Here at Iterable, we’re on with our conference Activate On Tour. So last week, we were in Chicago and then Amsterdam, and next week, we’re going to New York. So we still have and then we have two more cities to go. So we are very much on the road. I am accumulating all these miles, hoping to accumulate enough to go on vacation.  

Drew: We’ll talk about that in a bit. All right. So talk about Iterable’s overall global presence and how many countries you’re doing business in.

Adriana: We operate globally. We really do have customers all through Latin America, Australia. We have customers all across Europe and the United States. We do have offices now like officially operating. We have offices and people in the US, we’re headquartered in San Francisco, Denver, New York, London, Australia, which is our most recent office.  

Drew: Cool, okay. And how is the marketing team set up for that?  

Adriana: One of the great things, we’re a hybrid culture. So here in the US, my team is spread throughout, I’d say about 30%, maybe 40% of them are in the Bay Area. But we’re all spread out. I, myself am a remote employee, I’m based in Seattle, but our headquarters are in San Francisco. So that gives you an idea of our remote culture, organizationally, we’re set up essentially by region. So we have a team that’s dedicated to North America. And that includes Canada and LATAM. And then we have a team that’s international marketing, even though it depends on where you’re sitting, that’s our International, which is basically outside of North America. And the reason that we’re organized that way is that you have to think about where the majority of the markets are, obviously, you know, we’re a US-based company. So most of our revenue, most of our customers are in the US, or you want to have that, that is a much more mature market. You know, from a brand awareness perspective, there’s a lot more similarities when you think about a BAC, as well as EMEA and LATAM. And so grouping those under one team that can work a little bit more independent, like think globally, but act locally. That’s how we’re structured.

Drew: So as a US-based company, is it easier, for example, in Australia, they speak English, in England, they speak English. And do you find that those are sort of the next in the easiest sells in terms of expanding the business? I mean, haven’t really thought about this in a while. So we’re really curious, how do you sort of expand? You know, if your team is here and everybody’s US-based. You’re kind of US-English-centric?  

Adriana: For sure. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with organizations like Tableau when we were in heavy international expansion. So typically, yes, you will see, and then it’s has to do of course with the language. And also, you know, even from a product perspective, right, so when you start to do international expansion, it’s natural to think about the next biggest market is, if you’re in the US, like UK, you want to go to Canada, you want to go to Australia. And I think people underestimate, you know, you’re like, oh, they speak English, it’s the same. You know, you have to start to think about local support, local customer references, those are really important things. And so one of the core strategies that I would advise for any B2B SaaS company that’s expanding is don’t go it alone. A lot of people I think, put a bunch of salespeople first and like, forget about the rest. Think about your marketing and particularly think about how can you build your community that gives you the biggest presence of helping you develop a territory. And actually, well, at Tableau? That was our strategy. You know, you start with community building first, and then you get the salespeople and then you build the local marketing arm.

Drew: Yeah, every time I think of Tableau, I think of community-led marketing. I mean, I interviewed Elissa Fink, probably seven years ago, on that topic. And it was all that and certainly, as I’m thinking about this, I’m wondering, is there a transition when you know, you’re doing well in a country when they no longer think of you as an American company? I mean, or is it just, you’re still an American company, but they’ve sort of adopted your product or service as their own?

Adriana: I think there’s some variations, but in general, and as someone that’s worked in many countries, throughout my whole career, and in global brands, I think we focus a little bit too much on that, and no, so I think you have to be true to yourself, if you’re an American company like Iterable, that has its advantages. You have to be respectful of the local culture, but you have to be authentic to who you are as a brand and as a culture. And so no, I do not think that is that people need to think you not as American but success is like, “Hey, this company has the advantage.” Maybe being honestly a Silicon Valley company has a lot of cachet internationally because we’re known as the center of innovation. So of course, you want to lean into that. But are you a company that understands and respects the local culture, the local way of doing business? Can you adapt to that, and honestly, one of the biggest things that I see, actually, I was just talking to one of our customers, Walt, who’s a European, essentially the DoorDash, of international all of Europe. And they really appreciate when you take the time to be on the road. And so that would be like another core strategy of how you develop a brand locally. You have to have your team, your executive, your leaders, you have to go, like there’s nothing that will substitute you understanding the nuances and like paying the respect to the local culture, than to go and visit your market go and visit and your customers in their own area.

Drew: Yeah, I have so many questions on this rhat I want to go deeper on but we’ll do it when we’re all together because I imagine there’s so many commonalities with it, but we’re gonna move on and talk to Norman now. So we’ll be back in a second. So let’s bring on Norman Guadagno, CMO of Mimecast, and an industry expert who has graced our stage before to delve into the topic of digital spin. Hello, Norman, wonderful to see you again.  

Norman: It’s great to be back, Drew. Always love having a chat.

Drew: And so how are you? And where are you today?  

Norman: I am in my home in Boston today. I’m doing great. Thank you.

Drew: So fill us in on Mimecast’s international reach, how many countries are you in? And to what capacity?  

Norman: Yeah, for sure. So Mimecast operates as a global company, we were actually founded originally in the UK. And so even today, we have sort of a dual headquarters between the US and the UK, which are our two largest offices, we have offices in 14 countries around the globe. And we have customers across many countries, although I will say that even with that scope, and we have about 44,000 customers around the world, we’re still not in as many countries as I imagined we want to be, right? There’s so many countries where we don’t have customers and that’s often driven in our business by things such as data privacy, and where the data can live. And because we’re in the email security business, primarily at the core of our customer base, we have to be thoughtful about where we can be based on local data storage data privacy issues.  

Drew: Right. So there’s just some countries where it would be just too hard to do it.  

Norman: Exactly. Although we’re always looking for solutions, right?  

Drew: And when you have them, you’ll go. So talk a little bit about the structure of your marketing team, and how you do it, because you said you have offices in 14 countries or a presence in 14 countries.

Norman: We do have a presence in 14 countries. Some people, the way we’re structured is based here in Boston. My core corporate marketing team is headquartered out of our Lexington office, we are in a hybrid situation. So we do have people scattered across the US. And then we have a media marketing leader. And underneath him, he has teams specifically for the UK, and specifically for the DAC region. We have an APEC marketing leader. And then he covers all of APEC, which includes ANZ and ASEAN countries as well. And then I have a North American marketing leader, she’s actually based in Chicago. So the model is, each of the three regions, North America, EMEA, and APAC have a marketing leader, they partner with their sales counterpart. And then I have a set of corporate marketing functions that work with support and interact with the specific regional teams.

Drew: And so how does campaign development work actually, right? Because I know that in the old days, I mean, when I worked on IBM, and we would do global things, there would be a ad arm and would set the position and the messaging in that structure. And then you’d execute similar thing, possibly in different languages everywhere, except for Japan, because they said, “No, we got to do a completely different there.” But again, this was back when we were actually doing something called advertising. And I’m just curious, how does it work now, because so much of marketing, particularly in the demand capture are these local, micro, highly targeted campaigns? So how does that work?

Norman: Absolutely. And then you must have found your way into my notebook because that’s actually the topic that we spend a lot of time thinking about. And we’ve actually been working very diligently on that when I joined Mimecast, a little under a year ago, part of what I did was I built a strategy and planning team responsible for the campaign model, and we reinvented the campaign model. And we did that with an eye towards being able to build core campaigns that then get executed appropriately within region. And we found after a number of months of doing that, it still wasn’t working quite right. And my leadership team and I were together in London, four weeks ago. And this was the topic of our discussion. That’s what I said, you’ve been reading my notes was how to fine-tune the models so that the region’s can execute campaigns in a way that is both going to have impact and can work within their budgetary envelope. And we can create core assets and campaign themes that can be used on a more global basis. And it is an iterative and really difficult process. And I’ll be frank that I think our teams in region do a great job executing marketing. And I think our teams in corporate do a great job creating marketing assets and executing them. But tying it all together is one of the hardest problems we face as a team and it’s one that we have to work on constantly, because of timezone differences, budgetary differences, language differences, cultural differences, resources available, each of those things makes it that much harder to keep the model running smoothly. And if there’s one thing that comes out of this, for me, Drew, it’s that this is not a set-and-forget, you can’t do good global marketing without a lot of hands-on capabilities and fine-tuning and review and communication.

Drew: You know, it’s funny, because at first I thought you were gonna say you had four campaigns in the local markets, you could sort of pick the one that was appropriate for them. And then as I was thinking that through, it also occurred to me, you could be in France, in Germany, and in France, you might have a really strong share and a really good position and lots of core customers, and you could be in Germany, and you can have really low share, and no real high profile customers to lean on. And the business problem that you’re solving may be completely different.

Norman: Again, the reality is we just, for example, expanded into an official presence in France, we’ve been there with customers, but we hadn’t had a full team, we just hired a country leader, we’re investing heavily to have a presence there. And we’re trying to build our presence overall, which is different than Germany, where we’ve had a presence for a number of years. It’s the business situation, it’s the market landscape, it’s the competitive situation, there are lots of regional competitors who are strong in different market, that we have to make sure that we are prepared to battle. They’re also global competitors that we have to compete against. And then even the customers we serve in the US and the UK, maybe Germany, enterprise as exceptionally large. But as you get to other countries, there’s fewer and fewer of those truly exceptional large enterprise. And there are a lot more in that commercial and SMB space, that become the primary focus, and you have to address them differently. So this is why I said maybe the most difficult thing we do in our marketing organization right now is figuring out how to balance all of these factors to land the right marketing in each country.  

Drew: While doing it cost-effectively, well, we’re going to have a great group discussion, because we are going to try to get through some guiding principles, because the variables that you just outlined, it’s this massive matrix. And by the time you do it is a different country, different language, different proposition, different thing. It’s almost a different brand, going to market and everyone in the country, and that’s when it really starts to fall apart. Anyway, we’re gonna come back to that. All right. With that, we’re gonna move on to Janet Jaiswal, who is the marketing advisor and former VP of Marketing at Cloudbeds. Hello, Janet.

Janet: Hi Drew. 

Drew: Great to see you. And so how are you? And where are you today?  

Janet: Excited to join and share my knowledge as a way of introduction, I’m in the San Francisco Bay area. So where Adris is but a little bit south. I currently advise two companies, in addition to recently leading the global marketing function at Cloudbeds, which is a vertical SAS provider in the travel and hospitality space. And all of our employees are 100% remote.

Drew: Which is amazing. And I always love it when you share some of the history and some of the success that you had at Cloudbeds. So we did see that on Cloudbeds website that has a presence in over 40 countries. And that’s a pretty big presence, talk about the history of that over the last two years and what role you played in expanding globally. 

Janet: Sure. So Cloudbeds has customers more than 150 countries. As I mentioned, we’re 100% remote. So that allowed us to disperse our workforce across a lot of different places. So we have employees in more than 40 countries that speak more than 30 languages. And the majority of our revenue comes from non-US countries. And so I built the marketing function that was initially very reactive. Now it’s proactive, and it’s a true partner to sales and customer success. And so the way I did it is I formed centers of excellence around each focus area, including product marketing and market intelligence/research. The marketing department supports a sales team that’s more than 150 strong, and a customer support and success team that’s even larger. So we targeted the SMB and mid-market and fast-forwarding today, the marketing function is a well-oiled machine that’s sourcing more than 60% of our revenue, and a share of voice that globally is more than 30%. Certainly, we measured share of voice in strategic countries as well, but we wanted to make sure that we had awareness with our ICP.  

Drew: I just want to put a sort of big punctuation point. You didn’t hear Janet wrong, she said marketing is responsible for 60% of revenue. Now, the reason why I would call the attention this often when we talk about marketing source numbers, we’re talking about, say leads, or we’re talking about opportunities. This is revenue, which is amazing. And so when you’re targeting small businesses, in many ways, marketing is you’re not only attracting people, but you’re doing most of the work to close them. Because you can’t afford necessarily the value per customer might not be there to have a long sales cycle. So marketing has to play a profound role. Is that fair?  

Janet: Yeah, that’s fair. It was all sales, lead growth, or salespeople were involved. But absolutely, when you’re targeting smaller customers, it’s a lot more marketing-driven than enterprise, for example.

Drew: Okay, so let’s get into the center of excellence idea because I think that starts to get to what Norman and I were talking about, which is this massive matrix, and you have so many different potential problems, by customer by market, by region, and so forth. I’m imagining, there’s campaigns that you tried. And if you’re in this situation, and you do this kind of campaign, it will have this kind of results. So talk a little bit about that some of the lessons that became excellent.  

Janet: The centers of excellence are really just around making sure that we had all functions that were represented. But we also had to be as local as possible. And so a couple of things. One is by default, we market it in three languages. So English, Spanish, and Portuguese, that covered the majority of the staff that’s in the lodging industry. Of course, our sales team spoke many more languages. But that required the entire team to come together. Because everything was in three languages, the website, emails, demos, tradeshow booths, the content, or pricing was in a lot more than three languages. But we had to localize pricing for every single country. And so translations and localization was mostly done through employees, for short-form content, certainly, we had to have a translation partner for long-form content. Our default language was English, which means everybody we hired had to speak English, many spoke many more languages. And that was amazing because that allowed us to do a lot of that localization. And because they were located in a lot of different countries, it made it a little bit easier to have a more localized presence. And so that definitely helps. But we still did the majority of the work out of the global team, if you will. So the majority of the people will focus on not a specific country. But doing everything out of a centralized area. Some activities, certainly locally managed churches, trade shows, small group events, association, PR, and things like that. But the majority was done in English. And then we would always roll out everything in those three languages, English would always go first. And more often than not, we launched all three languages in multiple countries all at the same time.

Drew: So let’s talk about this headquarters versus regions. How much autonomy did a region have in terms of their go-to-market motions and messages,  

Janet: We were a little bit lucky in that we were able to lean on our partners in sales and CS to do a lot more of that localization. And so they were kind of our eyes and ears because they were in country. We as a team, toyed with the idea of having local people and more often than not, we got lucky because we happen to have an employee that was in Canada or in Brazil, or in Spain, or in Thailand. But that was more by a happy accident, because we’re remote that’s happened to be where I come to talent. So we rely very heavily on our sales folks and RCS folks to sometimes be not just the eyes and ears but sometimes have a local presence. So they would physically drive over to support an event or something like that. So we did a hybrid approach where it made sense. We had a large enough presence that we had employees in all functions and in other countries where it was smaller, we did a hybrid approach, which is, “Hey somebody happens to be located there, go help out.”

Drew: Interesting. We have a comment from one of our listeners watching the show live on LinkedIn. They say in a prior role, my team shifted to using AI for most translation work, it worked well for the majority of the languages, with some minimal oversight, of course, saved us a ton of money in dollars, because you did mention that you are working with a translation partner. I’m curious in the last few months, did you see that AI could be reliable?

Janet: Yeah, we are quickly moving to AI-based translation software, but only for the first round. Right? Nothing. And I want to emphasize nothing goes out without a human being looking at it. Definitely, the software is getting better and better. And we’ve tested many different software providers to see what works but in all cases, everything was reviewed by a human being. There could there’s still nuances, there’s more than one way to say something, and we needed a native speaker to be able to do that review before it went out.  

Drew: It’s funny, I consulted with a global translation company and they were working with AI. But there’s so many nuances in language, if you just think about homonyms and English, any number of words that sound the same, but are different, have completely different meanings, or even spelled the same, but have different meanings in the context that if you don’t have human oversight, but it does speak to the fact the importance of – there is a recognition, I think we’ll talk about this with the group – that if you can do business in language, particularly customer service in language, that’s a huge up, a good thing for the company.  

Janet: Let me add to that. What we found out since then, is that our translation company also used AI, they always had it as part of their process. We didn’t realize it until later, but they kind of like what we intend to do is always have a native speaker. So if it helps with some of the first round, I think that’s fine.  

Drew: Well, what it’s enabling is particularly the customer service context, incredible response time, because now it can come in, the bot can do an initial translation, the human can quickly review it and see if it’s okay, boom, out it goes. And so it’s really radically changing response times. Okay, so now it is time for us to talk about CMO Huddles, launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is a close-knit community of over 250 highly effective B2B marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. If you’re a senior B2B marketer and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second to sign up for our free starter program at cmohuddles.com. So Adri, Norman, Janet, since you’re all incredibly busy marketing leaders, I’m wondering if you could share a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you.

Norman: What I have found is CMO Huddles now that I’ve been part of this since you formed it, Drew. So I feel special, I do have a special mug somewhere where you reminded me of that. And what I found values come out of it from connections when I’ve been both hiring and helping place people, vendor references have been very important. And sometimes just seeing that my peers are struggling with the same things I’m struggling with. It gives me comfort, sometimes cold comfort, but it gives me comfort all the time to know that we’re all dealing with the same type of problems. And we can have an open discussion about  

Drew: Yeah, I love it. And it’s true, it is a challenging moment in marketing, budgets are not going up but goals keep going up. So Janet, any thoughts you want to share?

Janet: Yeah, similar to Norman, the people in the network are very helpful. And so I’ve received help with advice on vendors, martech, I also get a lot of ideas from other CMOs, they might have a similar problem, but they’re approaching it differently. And it’s nice to be able to see a different perspective. But back to advice on martec-specific examples of solution where we were considering a certain vendor for sales enablement, from the advice from the CMO Huddle community, I was able to obtain some insights that helped me to restructure the contract, such that it helped us going forward. 

Drew: Awesome, I love that. Okay, and Adri? 

Adriana: I’m gonna cite a recent one – all of those things I’ve experienced, but two reasons. One of the great things of having access to a community like this, and for a platform like Iterable, that we’re martech, as you know, very passionate about building communities being able to partner with you to get together at different events in different locations. So that’s been a really great help for us and great collaboration with you. But also, you know, on a personal level, like in our last podcast, I got a chance to connect with Andrew Bennett, the CMO of Smartsheet, who turns out to be in Seattle, as well, a very known brand in the B2B community, and of course in Seattle. So we’ve actually struck up a pretty good friendship and thinking about doing testing, OTT, and things like that, and so great when you like, find these really great connections, and I feel like I’ve been building and flourishing into a friendship. So thank you, Drew. 

Drew: Oh, that’s awesome. Okay, well, if you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor, check out cmohuddles.com. Okay, let’s all come back. And I want to sort of wrestle with this topic that Norman and I started to get to, which is this massive matrix, different countries, different languages, different business situations, even your own structure within that country. And yet, you as a CMO have a responsibility to try to have a cohesive brand story everywhere you go. So I’m gonna start with you, Janet, because you talked about you had all these people and you were already dealing with three languages from the beginning but which was more important effectiveness in the market or consistency?

Janet: I think both, you have to be effective, but you also have a brand. And so there has to be some level of consistency. We didn’t necessarily expect that everybody knew who Cloudbeds was. We wanted them to at least be aware, or at least had heard of us. And so having consistency, whether that’s that elevator speech, what the brand looks like, and so forth, globally, it was important, because, over time, we started to get enough repetition. And for us, we only wanted to be known within our ICP, we did not need to be all things to everyone. So we were very disciplined, but within our ICP, we were well known. And oftentimes we’d have competitors who would imitate us, we won’t go into detail. But the point is, that definitely helped in having that consistency. But we also had to be local, we could not be this US-based firm, because we had a lot of local competitors who are like, well, I rather purchase locally. And so that’s where having a global 100% remote team helps. That is why we made sure we hired especially sales and support people, because those are the folks that our customers and prospects would interact with the most we made sure they were local and as close as possible to our customers, because that did make a difference. Being able to share whether it’s the same language or the culture or even talk about local trends made sense. So it’s a balance of both. But I do think both were necessary.  

Drew: You made me think about and I’m going to ask me Adri about this, because you’re in these countries as well is if you have a local competitor, and of course they’re going to say we’re local, and maybe you don’t but how in those cases, do you adapt your strategy sort of to say, “Well, yeah, there’s a local but ours it better and global?” And, you know, I mean, what is the approach to dealing with the local versus global brand?

Adriana: I’m a big fan, this is a hot topic because really, what you’re talking about here is the ability to essentially personalize and you want to have that perfect message for the right person. And the problem with that, which is absolutely true, you end up in this very fragmented world. I agree with Janet. And this is not an ‘or’ conversation consistency or relevancy. Like you have to have both, it’s an ‘and’ conversation. And to me, the way that you do that is that you need to focus on a) the commonalities. So your brand story, your positioning general in the market at that level, that has to be consistent. And the way to do that, by the way, is you have to have a really simplistic, easy-to-understand, and to internalize brand, not just colors and stuff, but brand narrative. What is your story? What is your personality, like your tone, really think about a celebrity, not a car and stuff but like a celebrity? Like what’s your personality? What do you sound like? You want to invest in your team and your partners, if you work with agencies, for example, into really internalizing that brand narrative. And I say that because then you have to give the freedom and the trust for the local teams to execute locally now, because then the question is like, okay, if I’m in Germany, yeah, you’re gonna have probably different competitors. By the way, you were talking about languages, but you have to think if you’re a company like ours, that we have different segments, you know, SMB mid-market enterprise, and then you have different verticals. And by the way, then you have different personas. And then you have different language, that matrix is five-dimensional, seven dimensions that you have to check that’s impossible to manage. So really, you have to divide and think about traditional old school like above the line, what needs consistency, it’s the above the line positioning and brand narrative. What needs adaptation of freedom, is, for example, how you’re going to compare. So if you’re in Medellin, you’re going to have that person, whether it’s a marketer, or it’s salesperson, that person has to have the general framework, but they have to have the freedom to be able to adapt to that particular case, if you don’t empower the individuals and I literally mean the individuals, again, your sales team, because in B2B, you know a lot of marketing is enabling our sales team, your sales team, or your marketers to be able to adapt to this specific case, then you are not going to achieve that relevancy. But if you’re not disciplined, like Janet was saying, and drive the rigor at the brand level at the brand narrative level, then you’re not going to achieve that consistency in that brand building, which is so important where you’re an emerging brand like us, you have to drive that consistency. So, to me, it’s like you have to operate at those two levels. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work. You cannot scale to different places.

Drew: Well, yeah, and you also have the risk of just that you dilute because you have a million stories versus one big one. So okay, so what I’ve heard so far from Janet and Adri is that we have a big brand idea and a big brand voice and a narrative that we’re speaking with that we’re just gonna hope carries the way on an international level.  

Adriana: Sorry, I’m not gonna say like we hope, no, you have to be disciplined. For example, what I do here at Iterable is that there is an internal certification program for the brand narrative. My first project, I thought it was great from a visual standpoint, but it did feel like there was lack of consistency as I’ve talked to different stakeholders, that lack of consistency on how we talked, how we position. And so the big project here was like, Hey, let’s build this narrative, which by the way, you have to take time, it’s not like, Oh, let me just get a consultant and do it, you really have to, like emerge it, like, uncover it from the reality of it. And then everybody has to be certified every single employee, not just salespeople, it’s HR people, you know, our recruiters, some of our leaders, it’s everybody, our engineers, our product, everybody needs to be certified in the brand narrative, everybody at some point, you’re going to have to pitch the company. And so I want that consistency. And so you drive rigor internally, to achieve that. And you don’t just hope it happens, you definitely have to put the processes for it to happen.

Drew: Really, thank you for that. And I didn’t mean hope that in the sense of getting consistency, because you’re right, that by getting everybody certified, and boy, and if you’re listening, that’s a big idea there for you. What I meant was that you decide on a brand narrative that may or may not work in every culture. That’s what I met. So Norman, jump in here.

Norman: I think we’re all certainly as marketers, we appreciate the power of a brand narrative. We appreciate consistency. But earlier on, I think when you were speaking with Janet, we talked a little bit about autonomy. And one of the things that you have to balance is where a new country or region is in its evolution, and how much autonomy they need at that moment. And we saw this long before I came to Mimecast. But I’ve seen this in other companies as well, where when you spring up a new region or country, you want to give them a fair degree of autonomy because they have to learn the landscape, they have to understand what’s going on. And over time, you have to continuously evaluate, have they gone too far? Or is it just right, and we had this with one of our countries where they had brought up a website that was a website specific primarily to that region because they felt that the corporate website didn’t convey the nuanced messaging that they had in that region for the audience they were speaking to. And that went on for a number of years. And then actually, in the last year, we evaluated is it time to bring that content appropriately into our corporate website, and shut that website down, which we did. But you had to let it go on for a period of time, or else if you had just enough to turn it off, that wouldn’t have been effective. And it does come down to this autonomy issue. I have this discussion with my team on a regular basis, they’ll never feel like they have enough. And I’ll always feel like they have too much. It’s a constant tension of trying to find that middle ground on, hey, go do this. But remember, here’s the larger story for the company, for the brand, for what we’re trying to achieve at a global level. But remember, here’s how we’re trying to be efficient with the finite budget that we have. And we have to spread across multiple regions and multiple programs all the time. And I think finding these balances becomes the path to success, right? Knowing where you have to push hard, and knowing where you have to pull back. And I heard that even as I was listening to both the other conversations like it’s always that balance that you have to strike because there is no right perfect plan.  

Drew: I’m imagining that you all have brand pillars and things that are non-negotiable. But I’m also thinking in the moment if you’re in 40 countries, what an opportunity that creates as test markets, it is quite possible that a little country over here that you’re trying something in Spain, and these guys did it and it’s consistent with a brand but it’s there, you know what, they stopped doing events, and they started doing only this and it’s working like gangbusters, it feels like this is a chance if you do give them the autonomy that you’re talking about that you could in fact, experiment. And I think that’s the tricky part in all of this right? And I’m just curious, am I pipe dreaming there or have any of you experienced where out of nowhere a region tried something with or without permission, and it worked like gangbusters and you translate it into other markets? Anybody have a story like that?

Janet: I’ll jump in. We have local folks trying different things all the time. And I’ll give you an example of one that worked really well. So basically, South Latin countries are very sociable. And in the past, we were doing a bunch of trade shows and not necessarily a lot of small group events. The sales folks just decided, hey, I’m just gonna go do a small local event. And it worked really well. They said, oh, we’re offering lunch or light snacks, and a ton of people showed up. And we’re like, okay, we’re getting a huge amount of response. So then we started expanding that to other South Latin countries because they all value a one-to-one personal touch. Whereas in Europe, and in the US, we couldn’t get such high turnout rates, we would have maybe 50 people that would RSVP. And if you’re lucky, you get half of them to show up. And so that was one of those serendipity, which is like, oh, wait a minute, we have other countries and other regions that are similar. So like in AIPAC, same thing, people tend to show up to these small group events, they like to do face-to-face rather than remote. And so we expanded that to AIPAC, then we experimented with Europe and US. But our turnouts were never as high. But that was one example, whereas we just didn’t think it would work so well. 

Adriana: I was gonna say, I’m a big fan of experimenting in smaller local markets because to your point, one is generally teams are smaller so it’s easier to experiment, again, both at Tableau and here. And it’s empowering, like what Norman was saying is so true, like, you know, there’s problems to solve, and then there’s problems to manage. The whole thing about like global versus local, it’s a problem to manage, it like, never goes away. And you know, if you’ve talked to the marketers that are not in headquarters for US base, it’s like constant pool of them. And one of the most empowering things that you can do for your teams, for your global teams, is to give them a little bit of autonomy with the right guidelines, and all that stuff and the right support, and then take an idea that they’ve had, and I mean, we’re saying like, I’ve had so many, like event formats come come out of LATAM, because most of the time, they have smaller budgets, smaller teams, they have to go scrappy, they have to like come up with it. And some of the best format ideas honestly, came from them. And then when you make it globally, that is such a rewarding experience for the marketer, you kind of have to think about, like the multiplying effect, not just for marketing, but also for how you’re forming those people. So actually, this was very real. When we came out of the pandemic EMEA came back socially, way before the United States. And I’m sure you all experienced the same thing. There was a lot of nervousness like, are people going to show up to events? Again, how are we going to do events? I’d like there were so many questions. And so our first in-person events after post-pandemic started in EMEA, it started in London, and we tested it out a lot. And honestly, after two-plus years, it was just really awkward. I think that was like a real thing for us to come back to figure out going from completely digital to like back and rebalancing the portfolio. We started working all that out first with our media team, and then brought it to the United States, even the evolution to our ABM strategy, that was another thing that, again, because they have a smaller target list, and like ICP and all that stuff, it’s just easier to work this out in a smaller environment, test it out, and then bring it out. So those are some of the recent things that I’ve done with that experimentation mentality you were mentioning.

Norman: That’s a great point you mentioned there, just because great ideas can come from anywhere. And we should celebrate that. Even when you look at things like ABM, for example, right? We’ve seen different pockets of testing, we found we actually have to use different data providers in different countries, right? So you can’t even get the same tool in one country that you have in another country, that’s going to give you the right data, and you have to be able to get to that level of granularity to figure out, hey, this isn’t a global solution. Just because they say they’re the best provider of data about your ICP, you may need a different one in the media, you may need a different one in APAC, even as we started to standardize and try to get more global consistency. We found there are pockets where we can’t do that. When I arrived at Mimecast, we had at that time, I think 10 Different PR agencies around the globe. Now we have one. But that was a necessary evolution for the spring-up in a country, you need a local partner, you want to be fast and scrappy, we reach a point of growth where it’s like this isn’t efficient. We’re spending half of our time just managing the 10 agencies. Maybe if we move to a global model, we’ll then have more time to do the work that we want to do. Was it easy? No. But it was a necessary part of the evolution to get us better prepared for the growth we see in the future. That’s also one of those things that is underlying this whole conversation. Today, you’re in X countries, you want to be in X times two in five years. How are you preparing your organization for that without sacrificing the ability to execute today and that’s part of what you have to take into consideration. I think that’s a burden on us, as the marketing leaders to not only be building for what we want to do this fiscal year but for building what we want to do out two and three fiscal years in the future and being set up for that success as well.

Drew: I love it. And there are several things, I’m just going to encapsulate that I heard that I want to emphasize. One, this is a problem to manage, not to solve. And thank you for sharing that, too. There’s a certain amount of humility that you’re hearing here today that you don’t always hear in these conversations. And part of it is 30 years ago, that wouldn’t have happened, the CMO from the US would have said, I got the idea. I’m exporting it globally. And it could have been, you know if it was a Japanese company, they do exactly the same thing. There’s the notion that whatever works here is going to work globally, may or may not, it’s just, there’s a humility that goes into programs like this, there is a desire for economies of scale to the extent that you can and to the extent that it works. So if I were to ask Ben Franklin, what he might say in this, probably the most important thing for CMOs at this moment is “resolve to perform what you ought perform without fail what you resolve.” Which means we’re going to make some commitments and we’re going to follow through on them. All right, well, this is a subject we need another hour for, because there’s so many things happening in areas like, you know, the Spotify announcement that they’re going to release podcasts and all these languages, what could be cooler than that. And for anybody who has podcasts in the market, it’s exciting. Anyway, we need to get to your final words of wisdom for other CMOs when it comes to building Global Marketing Muscle. All right, so let’s start with Janet, what’s your words of wisdom?  

Janet: Sure, I would say crawl, walk, run, meaning take it in phases, when you’re considering expanding the marketing function to a more global one, you don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to have everything that’s localized. I’ll give you an example, website, you don’t have to have the entire website translated into whatever language is next, you can do just the key pages. Same thing with like social media, don’t go open up a new Twitter LinkedIn account unless you know you can support it. And if you can’t support it, stick with one language. But main point is you don’t need to get there overnight. You do it in phases. Another word of wisdom, at least that we learned is just be careful with AI, it can do a great job on the translating, it’ll get you 90% of the way there, but you have to have a native speaker review it before it goes out the door. Because oftentimes, locals can smell when something’s not authentic. And they’ll often penalize you for getting it wrong than if you had just stayed with English for example so just tread lightly.  

Drew: Do it well, got it. Okay, let’s see, Adriana, final words of wisdom. 

Adriana: I would say focus on the commonalities, were like 90%, the same. And then there’s like 10%, of adaptation and variation. So I think when we work with different cultures, we tend to get really stressed about how different we are. But we’re sort of talking to humans that are looking for solutions that are looking to solve a problem. And so there’s a lot more in common than you think. So focus on the commonalities as you go and grow into and then start to think about, okay, how do I adapt that next 10 20% That is different in that market?  

Drew: I love that just because it helps simplify your thinking. Because if you’re thinking I’ve got to do it, it’s 90% uncommon, and you’re really into a matrix that is beyond control. Okay, Norman, final words of wisdom.

Norman: You have to listen carefully to all of the country’s people. And that includes your corporate team. And you don’t have to agree with everything you hear. That’s part of this job is being able to listen, evaluate, and then have to make decisions that not everyone ultimately may agree with, but drive the business forward. But if you don’t listen, you can’t really make those informed decisions.  

Drew: And such a great point of listening. We don’t have to agree with everything. And we’re gonna make a decision. And one of the decisions that’s already been made on this show is you’re gonna go global, and you’re gonna figure out how to do it through this sense of humility and constant iteration. Okay, well, thank you, Adri, Norman, Janet, you’re great sports. Thank you to the audience for staying with us. To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddle Studio, we stream to my LinkedIn profile that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, Ishar Cuevas, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!