Let Authenticity and Empathy Drive Global Content Effectiveness In 2018

Mar 19, 2018

Article ImageWhat are the keywords of advice you would share with anyone who needs to accelerate the introduction, adoption, and profitability of digital content and products globally in 2018? While I have been asked this question several times for the last couple of months, my answer has been very similar regardless of industry and background. Think about investing in meeting the level of authenticity and empathy that your local customers require!

I am aware this concise answer to such a broad question might surprise or disappoint some people, especially if they belong to one of the three groups that I have identified based on recent reactions and discussions. The first group expects recommendations around process optimization, technology implementation, and organizational alignment to go global and grow at the speed of their international audiences. Actually, these people tend to focus a lot on specific enablers that will serve their purpose at the expense of major drivers or the purpose itself.

The second group agrees with these considerations but feels skeptical, or reluctant to put them at the top of their list of priorities. These people understand such high-level factors as they appreciate the challenges tied to global content and product leadership. Yet they hesitate about how to take them up by viewing them primarily as layers of complexity. The third group is willing to move ahead but does not know where to start, how to get out of trouble, or even sometimes where to go. In other words, these people do not know how to position authenticity and empathy in a factual and rational way.

Here are some perspectives to bear in mind for anyone who agrees or disagrees with these words of advice which are tied to value creation and business expansion:

  • Authenticity and empathy pave the way to cost and time effectiveness. By articulating content and product leadership around these requirements you are in the best position to invest your time and money in the creation of emotional value for local customers. Talk to the hearts and the minds of customers to make them feel as individuals--rather than part of a large group of buyers. It brings you much closer to what they really want and eventually makes your incremental innovation efforts increasingly agile.
  • Authenticity and empathy help support better customer understanding and dive deeper in experience granularity. It may seem natural to consider local customers first and foremost. However, they have multiple facets, which require customizing content and products linguistically, culturally, and functionally. Think about your own experience if you were to look for a product on your preferred e-commerce site and end up finding information in poor language quality, including inappropriate visuals and based on functionality that you cannot use where you are.
  • Authenticity and empathy solidify the crossroads between content, product, and technology, which are at the center of digital expansion. Many leaders--who have to execute global content strategies and deliver products accordingly--know how difficult it can be to stand on center stage. It is the place where technology enablers in the market meet business goals and content aspirations. It may quickly become a minefield where stakeholders have to choose between one-size-fits-all solutions and very specific tools to deliver on customer needs across international markets. Incorporate local authenticity and empathy drivers in selection processes and decision-making sessions in order to get the balance between content reach, resonance, and reaction right in every location.
  • Authenticity and empathy reveal unspoken wishes and boost untapped relevance. Content relevance is the main ingredient of local customer success recipes. Proactively anticipating and going beyond what customers consider as the experience baseline pays off as it facilitates differentiation and loyalty. Digital competition crosses physical locations and time zones and pushes the limits of uniqueness further. Customers value content that they have not seen (yet) or not expected to see any time. They remember it more easily and as a result are more willing to look forward to what is next, i.e. your products and services. Stand out from the digital crowd and landscape by making your content surprising, moving, and binding for locals. It is the glue that keeps marketing localization together but it should be applied to any content and product localization effort.
  • Authenticity and empathy are values shared by true business partners. Business starts with people and grows when people manage to best connect and collaborate beyond mere transactional operations. Obviously, you may consider this perspective in a client-centric approach. But you should also apply it to how you work with your agencies. In both cases, you deal with business partners whether they embrace your business or they help you win business. Interestingly, it may also be a nice way to turn vendors into value-adding partners. So you may want to call them business partners too.

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