Crafting a comprehensive marketing strategy in a domestic market and your native language is one thing, but as international reach and demand grows, more marketers than ever will be challenged with “local first” campaigns as their business enters new different markets.
Developing a plan for international expansion includes: accommodating diverse languages and unique cultural sensibilities, remaining authentic to your brand identity and core messaging and being held accountable to growing your business. In addition to localizing the entire marketing collateral and communication channels (website, apps, ads, presentations, brochures, etc.,) one key area that all marketers should be looking at is video and audio localization and how that impacts your business perception and the communication with your new local customers, partners and stakeholders.
What is voice localization
Voice localization is the ability to build a native presence, across all audio and video assets and channels, based on a unique understanding of local context, culture, subtlety and consumer behavior while maintaining your brand-voice and guidelines.
Static text and graphic-based marketing remains extremely important in every content strategy. However, the ability to reach new markets with the “same” content requires a separate activation. The right words carry weight and when culture, relevance and other nuances are taken into account along with a compelling visual it means more brand opportunities. In today’s digital marketplace, where an estimated 82% of consumer web activity will be spent on streaming video by 2022, “static” just isn’t enough anymore. Your story needs to move; your brand needs to speak to your audience — literally.
Increasingly, marketers and organizations understand this, which is why websites are so rich with embedded video and multimedia, and company YouTube channels bustle with published content. It is also why corporate training teams invest so heavily in on-demand e-learning modules and presentations. The internet and accessible video creation platforms allow companies of all sizes to create video and audio assets, and for agencies, freelancers and other providers offer video production services of every scale and price point. Those are all great developments.
However, this trend is less exciting when these productions aren’t properly localized and incorporated into a multimarket marketing strategy.
“As the audio impact of voice makes an increasing presence in the social arena, marketers will need to grow and adapt. Just like casting for movies or even video production for YouTube, those nuances help to create alignment and relevance with intended audiences. We will likely see more AI-related elements and innovation too, accompanying video translations for local/regional needs,” Ian Gertler recently told me.
With a little foresight and planning, you can leverage voice content all over the world, maximize your marketing spend, and ensure that your international audience gets the same brand experience as your customers at “home.”
Make all content natively local
On-screen actors and spokespeople play important roles in your multimedia marketing strategy. But if the content is produced in English, your prospects in China will know they’re getting a retrofitted experience, no matter the quality of the post-production treatment you apply. In all productions, you should strive to appear natively local, and the best way to do that is with an in-country voice actor reading from an expertly localized script. A good voice-over production company (ahem) will help you cast the right performer for the project, based on brand tone-of-voice, audience and language to tell your message with credibility and impact.
Road map your voices, languages and localization during the pre-production process
If you have an English-language production that you’d like to localize for international markets, you’re already ahead of the curve. The easiest way to localize is to factor in your plans before you start production. Certain scripting choices like puns and wordplay, idioms and metaphors can be effective in sharing your message with native influence, but they might not resonate in other markets.
Rather than scramble on the backend, make a plan to have your content localized and adapted for your different language audiences. By getting your resources sorted early on you’ll increase your speed to market and optimize your budget on a fully localized suite of launch-ready voice multimedia.
Look for companies who are coming to market to support, manage and expedite these processes.
OK, but that might be wishful thinking (for now). You already have content. How do you get more mileage from it?
A full pre-production localization plan might not be realistic for your business now. But the localization tactics can help you expand your domestic content to benefit your international strategy and growth goals. There are good options for any budget or content duration. Language overdubbing, subtitling and captioning, and, for premium content, lip-synching may be a possibility.
Subtitling and dubbing are widely accepted in many non-English speaking countries; non-English speakers usually see big-budget blockbusters in either of the two formats.
A savvy localization and post-production team can help ensure authentic voice captioning where the new language fits within rigid video timestamps, either replacing the original vocal track or accompanying it. Subtitling is also an effective option, understandable by organizations and consumers alike as a necessity for competing in a global market.
Think outside the box for new content marketing possibilities
While videos are the usual entry point for marketers making a voice localization play, they’re not the only medium. Get a little creative and discover new ways to share your story in international markets and improve your customers’ experience.
- Customer support communications/customer center — Adding people that are fluent in your customer language can make a huge difference to your perception and customer experience. BLEND, a leading localization provider for example, offers staffing and talent services in various countries and languages, in addition to a technology integration with customer service tools like Zendesk, to provide localized answers in real time.
- Audiobooks, podcasts or short-form voice recordings –- Case studies, white papers and other content that usually live in text format can be effective differentiators when reimagined as voice media. Audiobooks, though more costly and involved, can demonstrate unmatched commitment to a new language market, and certainly expertise to an uninitiated audience.
- Ads for terrestrial, satellite or streaming radio and media –- Take control of your messaging with voice-overs for “radio,” a platform as ever-changing as any in the advertising space. A good localization team can assist with cultural considerations, character dialogues, and working within a short duration to make the biggest impact.
- Mobile apps, gaming (or gamification), Alexa Skills and more –- Your imagination is truly the limit. Leverage non-traditional technologies and media to make voice-enabled marketing inroads. Localized the right way, voice will always be an effective way to make deeper customer connections.
With a little foresight, planning and the right partner, voice can function as a vital component of your multilingual marketing strategy. Go global by staying authentically local -– find voices that fit your brand and languages that serve your international goals.