October 11, 2011
Global business is big business. Sure, global business sounds glamorous. One minute you’re jet-setting to Mumbai and the next minute you’re dealing with suppliers in the Philippines. But these days many small businesses are foregoing the travel and operating global companies from their local city, state or province. These types of small businesses have what it takes, more so now than ever, to go “Glocal.”
You read that right — Glocal. The term ‘Glocal’ refers to global innovation that is streamlined for local consumption. While it seems to work well for corporate behemoths, it doesn’t appear to have gained measurable traction in the small business and entrepreneurial community. But it is in fact the new ‘business as usual.’
Think Globally, Act Locally
Emerging from its Japanese roots, glocalization is a readily familiar business practice here in the West amongst enterprise level companies. But in the small to medium size business (SMB) space, there are even more long-term benefits to top down innovation — “thinking globally and acting locally.”
It’s quite possible, you’ve engaged in glocalization without even realizing it. Do you have a local website that has received queries and sales from other parts of the world? Have your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) attracted a global following? It may seem small … but it’s an excellent start.
In today’s business climate, entrepreneurs really can’t ignore the increasing opportunities that a global landscape provides. To that end, it also presents you with an interesting challenge – to deliver on local needs. The notion is confounding — it appears ridiculously hard to meet the needs of consumers outside of your zip code. But let’s be honest, you really can’t afford to guess what your customers want.
A Simple and Effective Approach to Glocalization
Developing a large scale mindset for your business and interpreting it for local benefit can appear to be a daunting task. More than likely, your business was built with a local, regional or national strategy in mind. As you begin to do business in more than one market, you soon realize that there are a myriad of local idiosyncrasies that drive consumption habits and sales.
For that reason, a simplistic small business approach to glocalization starts with observation. Here are five steps to help your business adopt a Glocal approach in less than 24 hours.
1. Review your company’s historical sales data and identify the top markets or localities in which your customers reside. Then seek to better understand the local markets. If you understand the profile of your customers, intrinsically you’ll be able to serve them better.
2. You don’t need expensive research to get started. If you run an online business, or capture basic business card data from your customers, download your sales data into an excel document and create a simple pivot table of your customer’s zip codes for a defined period. Make a list of the top 10 zip codes and review the correlating sales data.
3. Armed with historical data, you don’t need local intelligence on the ground to make a Glocal impact. Work smart and utilize a zip code lookup tool to discover valuable demographic and market information, including your customer’s household type, income, employment, vehicle preferences, and leisure activities.
4. Get started by using Esri’s Tapestry Segmentation, a system for classifying U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Cross reference your findings with Nieseln’s PRIZM Segmentation System to fine tune your local market assumptions.
5. Armed with these new powerful and profitable customer insights, you can fine tune your marketing strategy. For example, if a majority of your marketing budget is placed in online marketing – email marketing, lead generation, SEO/SEM, social media, pay-per-click or content marketing you can easily begin to tailor your communications to geographically target these localities better, and possibly drive additional revenue from like-minded customers.
Glocalization is not just for behemoth multinational corporations. Every startup and small business should begin to build local roots.
To better understand the theory in practice, McDonald’s markets a popular menu item – the McLobster. While many people across the U.S. are unfamiliar with it (including myself) – it’s a highly popular menu staple in New England and Canada. This is a prime example of a global company, “thinking globally and acting locally.”
Don’t delay. Test the tactical steps mentioned above and the results will astound you. Don’t seek to overhaul your entire business plan in one fell swoop. Implement mini testing campaigns that can be tracked and then rollout the changes that make the most sense for your business and industry.
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Photo Credit: © Ana de Sousa