GUEST: Talent Inc. CEO Diego Lomanto joins 99Designs CMO Pam Webber and VB Director of marketing technology, Stewart Rogers, for an essential discussion on how localization helps brands conquer global expansion. Register here for free. As a marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in digital products and global marketing, I have never found localization to be more relevant — or more challenging — than it is today, especially at Talent Inc. With more than 35 million people a year changing jobs in the U.S. alone (and hundreds of millions globally), resume writing is a massive business — a core offering of ours. Still, it’s an industry with no clear leader, largely because it’s such a fragmented market. Traditionally, resume writing has been dominated by local, mom-and-pop companies all over the world that can capably market directly to job seekers on a small scale. Although many markets share a similar ripeness for consolidation such as ours, you must first solve for localization. That means, despite the unique challenges that localization brings, it’s essential to customize your message and product to your target market. In our case, our core product is called something different in various countries around the world, and job-search protocol and behavior takes on different forms depending on culture. So, how do you overcome localization challenges as a small startup? It really comes down to operating technology and marketing in lockstep, while acquiring the right intel on how to speak in the language of the locals. This approach will empower you to scale faster and seize market share to drive even bigger market shifts. And the result? For us, it’s opened new markets with the same product, and made our conversion rates go through the roof. When considering your localization strategy, it must consist of three key areas: 1. Technology Technology is the core element that drives this strategy. From the start, start by building a digital platform (website, email programs, order-management systems) to serve a dynamic experience based on segmented data (localization being a primary segment). Our customer experience includes more than 100 variables. When job seekers arrive at one of our properties (TopResume and CVNow), depending on the profile’s origin and other segmented data, they will see different messaging, different prices, and different currencies, all yielding different interactions. With the right digital platform in place, if you want to change a template, price, offering, or really anything about your digital experience, it’s replicated across all relevant iterations. This makes extending a brand to new regions turnkey. Let’s say there’s a sudden demand to start offering your product in Brazil. As a marketer, you can effortlessly customize the experience for Brazil by simply customizing the variables for that region. Choose email sender names that match common, local names. Pick a greeting that is customary in that country. In our case, we can rollout a specific local-brand opportunity in just 10 minutes. So, what assets can be customized? Just about anything you can think of. For example: Product names Logos Pricing Currencies Colors Email greetings and closings Time-zone preferences Being able to quickly adjust all these variables is critical for optimizing conversion rates across different regions. For example, in the UK, our emails convert 10 percent better when we target mailings after workday hours. However, for the rest of the world, mornings are best. That is just one of the settings. However, achieving this level of localization is not easy. It requires making localization a strategic imperative. That said, if your technology is activated early enough, you can build it yourself or layer it over a tool like Optimizely; that requires integrations which can be quite tricky (but possible with the right stewardship). And, when it’s done right, your CTO becomes your new best friend. 2. Partnerships Even if you can customize your product to a local market, gaining entry — and feeling welcomed — can be challenging at best and impossible at worst. Partnering with local market leaders is the best solution. Find the local channel where traffic resides. For us, it’s job boards. We partner with job boards that put us in front of customers in nearly 100 countries. Even though it’s relatively simple for us to launch a local brand, having “boots on the ground” helps us understand how to natively message and reach customers. 3. Customer Service For service-oriented businesses, it’s essential to drive localization into your direct customer interactions, as well. You must communicate using their phrasing, idioms, and colloquialisms — and make sure that extends to both human and digital interactions. For example, the way we greet job seekers in our emails depends on their location; we say “Cheers” in the UK and “Hello” in the U.S. That familiar introduction has had a huge impact on conversion rates. The first week we launched in the UK, we replicated everything from the U.S. except for the messaging. Then, once we devoted time to personalize the message, we instantly saw a 13 percent increase in sales. Localization can build a moat around your business rendering it impossible for competitors to reach your scale, but it needs to be considered from the ground up. If you’re starting a company or are in the early days of tech, make sure you consider how you dynamically serve your brand based on segmented data. If you can bake that into the initial stage, you will be set up to scale rapidly once you have product-market fit. Then, find the right partners and localize customer service. That’s the recipe for localization success. Diego Lomanto is the CMO of Talent Inc., a personal-branding company for career-driven professionals.