Marketing to a global audience requires more than just translating domestic marketing materials into another language. Customers in different parts of the world have different needs and preferences and respond to different kinds of marketing. That’s why companies that do business around the world hire global marketing managers. It’s not easy to take a product or service tailored to consumers in one country or culture and market it effectively to another. Language barriers; different rules, regulations, and standards governing advertising; and the existence of established local brands with a loyal customer base can all make designing global marketing strategies and advertising campaigns tough.
Global marketing managers (or international marketing managers) don’t just create advertising campaigns, launch them, and call it a day. Every time a company moves into a new market, the global marketing manager has to put themselves in the shoes of customers who may live and think very differently. This is an excellent role for marketers who love research, talking to people, and travel.
So, what does a global marketing manager do? In this article, we’ll answer that question and address the following topics:
Global marketing managers are marketing executives who handle a company’s marketing interests abroad. This can include creating and launching promotions that are regionally or culturally appropriate, as well as identifying new markets and determining which will generate the most sales.
This is harder than it sounds, and many international marketing campaigns hit the wrong note. Translation errors can be a huge problem: when KFC opened its first Chinese restaurant, the famous “Finger-lickin’ good” slogan was mistranslated as “Eat your fingers off.”
Imagery can cause problems, too. When Procter & Gamble launched Pampers diapers in Japan, their image of a stork delivering a baby caused a lot of confusion among customers because storks don’t deliver babies in Japan-—giant peaches do. One of the most important things global marketing managers do is to assess all branding and messaging to ensure it’s not offensive, culturally insensitive, or just plain confusing.
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There’s no one answer to the question “What does a global marketing manager do?” because the exact responsibilities of marketing managers vary from industry to industry and from employer to employer. In general, though, a global marketing manager handles the promotion of brands, products, or services in foreign nations.
Their responsibilities can include:
Global marketing managers typically achieve a graduate level of education. They spend seven years or more in school earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing, followed by a master’s degree (often after a few years spent working). Technically, global marketing managers could probably do what they do without a graduate degree, but employers tend to prefer applicants with marketing master’s degrees or MBAs.
Why MBAs? Possibly because there aren’t many marketing master’s degree programs focused on international marketing in the US. There are barely any focused on international marketing management. Boston University, with its online and on-campus MS in Global Marketing Management, may actually be the only school in the country with a graduate degree program designed for aspiring international marketing managers.
Boston University’s program offers students the knowledge and skills they’ll need to do things like:
Aspiring global marketing managers should also look at marketing MBAs, international management, global business, global communications, and international marketing programs. These degrees can also prepare marketers to take on the role:
Future marketing professionals targeting international careers should consider studying abroad. Overseas study provides opportunities to network with other global marketers as well as the chance to complete business internships at companies headquartered outside the US. There are strong MBA in International Marketing at colleges and universities in Europe and Asia like:
A master’s—either a Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration—is typically the highest level of education achieved by most global marketing managers.
Global marketing managers are senior managers. This means they often have ten or more years of experience. It’s not unusual for employers to ask that candidates have at least five years of experience in global marketing, international business, or industry-specific marketing, along with several years in a management position. Before taking on this role, a global marketing manager may have spent some time working as a marketing assistant before becoming a marketing analyst, communications specialist, or marketing specialist.
Global marketing professionals and advertising managers don’t necessarily need to be bilingual. Some employers prefer that their global marketing managers have fluent, well-developed written and verbal communication skills in two or three languages other than English. Even so, most job ads for this position don’t specify that applicants must be polyglots. However, being able to speak multiple languages may give you an advantage when you’re looking for work. Apps like Duolingo can help you learn Mandarin, German, Arabic, and other languages useful to know when you’re developing marketing plans for an international target audience.
All businesses that operate in multiple countries need professionals who can oversee multicultural marketing activities. Global marketing managers can be found working in healthcare, finance, technology, and pretty much every other industry you can imagine. Thanks to e-commerce and the expansion of global supply networks, even smaller companies that once might have kept their operations local are expanding to sell products and services in foreign countries.
These are some examples of well-known companies with robust global marketing strategies:
Yes, that’s the nature of this role. One of the things global marketing managers do is travel from office to office—and from country to country—frequently. You might be away from home for more than two weeks per month if you become a global marketing manager. Skype and virtual meeting platforms have made it easier to stay in touch with colleagues around the world, but in marketing, actual face time is usually better than virtual FaceTime.
Because global marketing managers do a lot, they earn quite a bit. It’s telling that global marketing manager made Glassdoor’s list of the highest-paying marketing jobs while the generalist position, “marketing manager,” did not. According to PayScale, the average salary for marketing managers in the US is about $64,000 per year, while the average salary for global marketing managers is about $99,000. The top ten percent of international marketing managers can earn around $141,000 annually.
Your actual salary will, of course, depend on many factors, including the company you work for. Global marketing managers at the following companies earn the most, according to job listings on Glassdoor:
Other than pay? You’ll love working in global marketing if traveling is your jam and you love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. Working with international colleagues will help you develop more agile cross-cultural communication skills to keep up in a multinational setting. Also, you’ll be exposed to different working styles when you have colleagues from all over the globe.
You may also have an easier time finding better, more lucrative positions in marketing after working in international marketing because the global perspective you bring to the table makes you a much more attractive applicant. Knowledge of foreign markets and different cultures can definitely be a substantial advantage when you’re applying for new jobs.
Finally, global marketing managers work in all kinds of companies and in different industries. In this role, you won’t be limited to working in one field or in one locale for your entire career. You’ll be able to live and work in different nations and transition among companies in areas like manufacturing, banking, construction, and tech.
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