Global Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Business Owners

Global Marketing… What is it? How does it work? What are some global marketing examples and case studies?

Are there pros and cons of international marketing, and if so, what are they?
Is a global marketing program right for your business?…
or is it something only huge global brands can participate in?

We’ll dive into these topics and more in this in depth analysis of how AND what global marketing is.

What is Global Marketing?

Global marketing is the systematic planning and implementation of a global marketing strategy (GMS).

Okay, so what does that mean?

Basically, when a business of any size decides to expand into an international global market, it falls into the category of global marketing.

This process allows a company or brand to market on a worldwide level, thus increasing their market share, sales,  and profitability.

Simple Definition: Global marketing is simply marketing on a worldwide scale (1)

Why Global Marketing?

There are many reasons a company may want to expand their brand in this way.

If they’re a publicly traded company, their shareholders expect financial growth month over month, quarter after quarter, and year after year.

This can be a quite a difficult feat to achieve.

Once a company has tapped out their local or regional consumer base, the next logical step is to market globally to countries all over the world.

However, getting growth year after year isn’t as simple as adding more marketing dollars to the equation.
This is due in part to the law of diminishing returns.

Law of Diminishing Returns

This video explains diminishing marginal returns when it regards to economics in general.

While you’re watching it, view it through the lens of marketing. Instead of adding workers, you’re adding marketing dollars while keeping your fixed resources the same.

The law of diminishing returns states that all things being equal, when the amount of profit, growth, or benefits yielded is less than the energy or money invested, then you have diminishing returns.

Okay, that’s about as clear as mud.
Let’s take a moment to unpack it.

When there is less results (output) regardless of the input (marketing), then you have diminishing returns.

Let me try to explain it in marketing terms with a graph.

For example, let’s say you’re a small business and you’re marketing locally on Facebook.

In the graph above, you spent $5,000 (month 1) and bring in $10,000 worth of sales. That yields you a profit of $5,000 (i.e.- you doubled your money).

Let’s assume over time you continue to increase your ad spend (keeping the same ad, demographics, etc.). When you spend $10,000 you get $17,500 in sales (month 2).

Diminishing returns has started. 

The first time you spent $5,000 and doubled it to $10,000. You would think that if you spent $10,000, you’d end up with sales of $20,000 (doubling your money again).

However, the second time you only made $7,500
($17,500 – $10,000 = $7,500).

You spent double on marketing but didn’t make the same profit percentage as the first time.

With the law of diminishing returns (when applied to marketing), there’s a point when you make less and less even though you are spending more and more.

Eventually, the spending will outpace the return and you’ll go negative.

If you don’t understand this basic concept, you may accidentally undermine your marketing efforts while pursuing growth.

Let’s say you put the pedal to the floor after your first two successful months and spend $50,000 (month 3) thinking you’ll make $50,000 in profit.

To your dismay, your $50,000 ad spend only brings in $45,000 in sales. Instead of a profit, you have a $5,000 loss.

That’s the law of diminishing returns and it can be a painful concept to learn the hard way.

Benefits of Global Marketing

Global marketing can help solve this problem.

By utilizing global marketing strategies, you can do more of what works before the law of diminishing returns takes effect.

Global Marketing Allows a Business to:

  • Expand market share and customer base worldwide
  • Diversify income streams and increase revenue
  • Continue to capitalize on profitability before being affected by diminishing returns
  • Take advantage of economies of scale to drive production prices down
  • Protect against localized economic downturns
  • Enhance your company’s image and brand
  • Explore cultural specific opportunities

Disadvantages of Global Marketing

If you’re considering the implementation of an international or global marketing strategy, it’s important to take a moment to think about some of the disadvantages as well.

Depending on your company’s current position, it may (or may not) be a good time for global expansion.

Potential Pitfalls of International Marketing

  • Can be cash intensive & expanding too rapidly can deplete financial reserves
  • Navigating the laws of multiple countries can be tricky
  • Brand can suffer due to inconsistencies in marketing
  • Shipping Costs, Rules, and Regulations of each country can vary
  • Language and Cultural Barriers need to be addressed
  • International politics can affect revenue and sales
  • Market research becomes more difficult and more expensive

Pro’s and Con’s of Global Marketing

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Examples of Big Name Globalization

Below are just a few examples of global marketing on a large scale, but they paint a pretty good picture of what can be accomplished through worldwide branding.

All of the examples below have carved out (and continue to carve out) a piece of the global economic pie for themselves.

And it’s a BIG PIE.

The Coca-Cola Example

Coca-Cola: Perhaps the most iconic brand in the world, Coca-cola has made a name for itself by putting out a consistent product in even the most remote of locations.

Some of the best bottles of Coke I’ve sipped down were made from real sugar, came in a glass bottle, and enjoyed while taking a break in a 3rd world country.

Honduras, Haiti, Vietnam, Costa Rica… I’ve taste tested coca-cola in over ten countries around the world and trust me when I say… a coke is a coke is a coke.

Their consistency is unreal.

They’ve also shown consistency in advertising. Their global coke website and their “brother” commercial (shown below) are great examples of a thoughtful effort to market to the entire world.

Coca-Cola’s worldwide brother commercial tugs on the heart strings and Coke rolled out the same commercial for multiple countries and cultures.

This is one of the best examples of how a large company tweaks it’s advertising to hit their international audiences.

The Worldwide Reach of Airbnb

Airbnb: This one I haven’t personally tested around the world.

However, it’s a brand that is known worldwide in over 190 countries.

They’re masters at the art of global marketing.

Not only do they book rooms all over the world, but they’ve convinced the world that it isn’t weird (or at least not too weird) to rent a couch and crash in someones living room.

In fact, they’ve done a good job positioning it as better. You get to feel the local flavor, experience the culture, and feel like you belong because you’re “never a stranger”.

Check out this example of one of their worldwide campaigns.

McDonald’s Global Real Estate Empire Uses Local Food as a Strategy

McDonald’s: This company owns more real estate than any other company on the planet.

They’ve mastered moving into the international market, while at the same time delivering a consistent product that increases the value of their brand.

They’re also a good example of why a company might choose to start going global.

I mean, if you’re city is like mine, at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, “how many McDonalds can my city support?”.

So to keep stacking those profits for shareholders, McDonalds must increase revenue and/or decrease operating costs (or both).

A solid global marketing strategy focused on expansion is a fantastic way to do both those things.

One way McDonald’s has expanded into international markets is to bring local foods, flavors, and cuisines to their menus.

It’s a strategy that has paid dividends for them over the years.

Apple crowned The King of Global Marketing

Apple: Okay, so they weren’t really given a title as the king of global marketing.

But as of today I’m crowning them the king (If you’re from Apple, have the CEO contact me and I’ll send out the certificate).

Can you say… Worlds First Company worth 1 Trillion Dollars?

Apple is a great example of how globalization can increase revenue and profits. 55-70% of Apple’s revenue comes from outside the US.

This is no small feat considering their products are on the high end of the price spectrum and not easily affordable to most the world’s population.

How did they do it?

They focused on painting a picture of their ideal user and making their customers think… “wow, that’s me”.

A user who:
– Likes to Create
– Pays attention to Detail
– Wants only the Best
– AND Thinks Differently (in a good way)

A great example of their message can be seen in the marketing video below.

The Internationally Recognized Nike Swoosh

Nike: Is it a checkmark? No. It’s a swoosh.

Nike has built their brand by using emotionally charged advertising coupled with well known athletes.

They’re selling the dream.

The dream of achievement.
The dream of no limits.
The dream that anybody can “just do it”.

This global strategy has positioned their brand as the epitome of achievement in sports.

However, in a genius move over the last decade, they have pivoted that message to bleed into other areas.

Nike has successfully positioned their brand and message in such a way that it now represents success, achievement, and greatness any worthwhile endeavor.

Don’t believe me?

Check out these ads and take note of how their message of greatness is tied to our emotions… and their brand.

Other Companies Known for their Global Market Reach

  • RedBull
  • Starbucks
  • Ikea
  • Dunkin’ Doughnuts
  • Domino’s

Global Marketing for the Small Business Owner

All this is just great. But how can a small business owner market globally and take advantage of international branding?

You don’t have the budget, the production, or the infrastructure to market on this scale.

Or do you?…

This video is an oldie but goodie.

It explains the main ways a business can get started with global expansion (Exporting, Franchising, Strategic Alliances, Joint Ventures, and Direct Investment).

These strategies require capital, planning, and a significant amount of risk. If you’re business is in the position to take advantage of one or more of these, it may be a good time to move in that direction.

If you’re not in the position to do any of these, there is good news IF you’re willing to think outside the box.

The world is contracting (meaning it’s getting smaller) due in large part to the digital economy. It’s easier than ever to reach other markets and make sales around the world.

The question becomes: How do you pick a strategy that minimizes your financial risk while still allowing you to capitalize on the global economy?

Answer… Global Marketing Online

The internet has connected the world in a way that is unprecedented.

I’m literally sitting on my couch in my living room while my kids watch some silly TV show.

The words I type have the ability to reach across states, countries, and even across time.

This is an incredibly powerful concept if you understand it. I may have written this yesterday or 5 years ago.

Heck, the internet is so young, we don’t know the long-term effects of building an online asset.

Depending on how long I’m around and if I pass this site on to my family, you could be reading this 50 or even 150 years from the day I wrote it or even after I’m dead.

It’s quite remarkable really.

The best way for small businesses to begin marketing to other countries is to take their marketing to the internet.

SEO and Search

While we’re on the topic of a website, let’s start with SEO and search as a global marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization takes quite a bit of time to kick in. Most of my articles take over a year before they really start to draw in organic traffic (if they rank at all).

Search engine optimization is not a fast strategy that brings immediate returns. It’s a long term strategy that becomes more effective with time.

It’s perfect for small businesses because if you think you may eventually be marketing globally, you can start to produce content for the search engines now.

Later, when that content is ranking, you can figure out how to monetize that traffic coming in from around the world and the logistics of doing business worldwide.

If you can write (or have a team member who can write), this is one of the most cost effective ways to begin marketing globally.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has grown into a giant in it’s own right.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and a host of others have users around the world.

As a small business owner, you can find and establish strategic relationships with other business owners all over the world.

These relationships can lead to opportunities to market your products and services in other countries.

They can also be quite valuable in terms of learning how things operate abroad in different countries, so never underestimate the relationships that can be built using social media.

Google Translate and Multiple Languages

The world is shrinking and so are the language barriers.

A relatively new global marketing strategy that online marketers are experimenting with is creating different versions of their website in different languages.

For example, maybe you have a Spanish and German version in order to reach those respective target audiences better.  At one point, I considered doing that myself.

However, it’s unnecessary. As technology continues to advance, this problem is being solved automatically.

I’ve noticed people landing on translated versions of this website. Apparently they’re using Google translate or another program to translate entire pages to their own language so they can read it.

Is it a good translation? I don’t know. But I know if it’s not, it will be in the near future. Technological advances and artificial intelligence practically guarantees it.

So if you haven’t adopted a global marketing plan for your business (or portions of your business), then you’re leaving money on the table and your competition is going to grow faster than you.

But what if your products or services are inherently geared to a local market?

For example, what if you’re a service provider such as a painter, contractor, massage therapist, or carpet cleaner? How do you profit from a global market economy?

Other Global Marketing Options

If you’re not in a position to scale your primary business, you can get creative with how you tackle your international marketing strategy.

One way would be to create additional products or services that are aligned with your primary business, such as digital information products.

If you own a carpet cleaning or pressure washing business in North Carolina, you can’t sell your services to somebody in Europe.

However, you can create content and information to help people with do-it-yourself (DIY) projects or teach people how to build their own business. You can even teach them all about the industry.

You have the experience, just put it together, package it up as a digital product, and sell it online.

For those who don’t want to mess with their own products, there is another option.

As a business owner, you already know that profitability is the main objective of any serious business endeavor. It’s the reason you’re in business.

Are you aware that you can actually capitalize on the global market by partnering with a company who already has the infrastructure in place for worldwide marketing and distribution?

And you can do it with very little financial risk to yourself.

This business model is growing in popularity with small business owners all over the world as more and more entrepreneurs seek out ways to create additional income streams.

I like to call it Leveraged income generation (LIG), and it offers many options to increase a business owner’s bottom line in a way that their traditional business cannot.


In this article we’ve covered:

  • What global marketing is and why it’s important
  • The Law of diminishing returns
  • The benefits and drawbacks of international marketing
  • Specific examples of how large companies market to the world
  • How a business owner can start marketing globally by going online
  • Some unconventional ways small business owners can take advantage of the global economy by using leverage

If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it on social media.

If you’d like us to help you create additional income by partnering with a company who already has the global infrastructure in place, please reach out to us by clicking on the picture below.

And remember, If Nothing Changes… Nothing Changes. 

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