While more than half of b2b marketers are increasing their international marketing budgets this year, many report challenges when it comes to entering new markets, handling different languages and coordinating global efforts, according to an exclusive survey by BtoB.
BtoB conducted the online survey of 274 marketers during the last week of July and the first week of August.
Of respondents expecting to increase their non-U.S. marketing bud-gets, 60.0% plan increases between 1% and 10% this year over last; 24.8% plan increases between 11% and 20%; 8.8% plan increases between 21% and 30%; and 6.4% plan increases of more than 30%.
For companies decreasing their non-U.S. marketing budgets, the largest group (87.8%) said they are decreasing them just slightly, by 1% to 10%. Only 12.2% said they are decreasing non-U.S. budgets by more than 10%.
One of the most surprising findings was that despite increased international marketing, 69.7% of marketers surveyed said they do not currently have a multilingual Web site; 58.4% do not have multilingual marketing materials.
Kevin Keyes, director of international operations at Phoenix Software International, which develops software for IBM Corp.'s mainframe computers, said one of the biggest international marketing challenges is language translation. “It gets to be a bigger and bigger challenge with each country you go to,” Keyes said.
Phoenix, which is among those marketers without a multilingual Web site, nevertheless has a sizable international footprint. It sells its software through dealers in more than 120 countries. Between 31% and 40% of its total revenue comes from outside the U.S.
“We split royalties with our dealers, and they have to do their own local advertising, marketing and translation services,” Keyes said.
Keyes said Phoenix is increasing its marketing budget in the single digits this year and will continue to expand its international marketing.
Companies that have established global marketing operations stress the need to work closely with regional offices and local partners.
Gates Corp., a Denver-based manufacturer serving the automotive and industrial power industries, garners about 45% of its total revenue from outside the U.S.
“We are growing in the same areas of the world that are showing rapid expansion—the Middle East, CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and Asia,” said Meg VanderLaan, VP-corporate communications and public affairs at Gates.
“Our marketing functions are very decentralized and are handled in the various regions,” she said. “It is important to have representation from different regions of the world so you can understand as much as you can about the various cultural and language nuances.”
Gates is in the midst of a new brand initiative involving global positioning, messaging and communications. It is working with branding agencies Siegel+Gale, New York, and Identity Circle, Westport, Conn., as well as partner agencies around the world.
Other companies see the overseas business opportunity clearly but have trouble budgeting for it.
“Like any small-to-midsize company, one of the biggest challenges is resources—financial and people,” said Tom Watson, director of global marketing at Goellner Inc., the parent company of Advanced Machine & Engineering Co.
“You want to expand your marketing and expand your revenue growth, but there is a tension between growing your marketing fast enough to accelerate that growth [while] also being able to fund it,” Watson said.
Goellner manufactures machine tools and accessories for large industrial equipment. Between 31% and 40% of its total revenue comes from outside the U.S.
The company—which has increased its global marketing budget 1% to 10% as it has expanded its international network in Europe, Asia and South America—is relying on more digital marketing for its global efforts, including an electronic download library for its products.
Of all the companies responding to BtoB's survey, 25.9% said non-U.S. business makes up between 1% and 10% of total company revenue; 9.1% said non-U.S. business makes up between 11% and 20% of total revenue; and 11.7% said non-U.S. business makes up 21% to 30% of total revenue.
Of the remaining companies, about one-quarter said none of their revenue comes from outside the U.S., and about one-quarter said more than 30% comes from outside the U.S.