Going Global: How To Be Useful
Abandon any snobbery about multi-market work being lowest common denominator stuff. Remind yourself that Shakespeare and Lady Gaga are both global phenomena, and that they’re both (in their own different ways) pretty good.
Subscribe to the belief that while lives and cultures may differ, the stuff of story, myth, and human biography – love, sex, war, politics, jealousy, altruism, heroism… is enduring and universal.
Recognize the truth that if you go looking for differences (between people, cultures or markets), you’ll find differences. And if you go looking for commonalities, you’ll find commonalities.
Know when to seek differences, and when to seek commonalities.
Abandon any lingering thought that your experience, values, assumptions, or reality lie at the center of the world.
Bear in mind that most people you’re creating stuff for haven’t seen that campaign (or case study) that everyone back home is talking about.
Be patient. It’s a long process. You will need to be able to sustain your enthusiasm - and that of people around you over the long haul.
Build strong relationships of trust quickly - creating global work often involves getting the support and endorsement of a lot of people.
Create a common language for global work. You will have an easier time getting global buy-in to a campaign, idea, or whatever you want to call it, when you can be precise about how the campaign works, what the idea is, etc. A lot of global clients are effectively salesmen within their own organizations, so arming them with the right language and helping them getting their own internal stakeholders to embrace it is critical. It doesn't have to be too clever or too complicated – but don’t underestimate the amount of help people will need to understand and effectively merchandise the work you are asking them to buy.
Let go of your reliance on fancy words and keep things simple. You will not speak all the languages your audience speaks. Most people you will be making stuff for will not speak your language. And many people you work with will not speak your language fluently.
Great global work doesn't exist without strong relationships and the trust that they foster. And you don't create strong relationships through email alone. Invest in human contact.
Above all, treat globalism as an exercise in generosity, not (self)aggrandisement. I once heard somebody liken global marketers and adfolk to seagulls: “They fly over, shit on everything, and then leave.” Don’t be a seagull. Your role is not to control and impose, but to enable people to succeed. We don’t create global strategies, insights, ideas to benefit people with ‘global’ in their job titles or roles, but local markets and their customers.