This is one of the first questions global businesses wanting to expand in a new market ask themselves. So how do you find the agency that best fits your needs? As a marketing consultancy with 30 years’ experience of paving the way for companies to successfully enter the German market, we can certainly single out the key aspects to consider before hiring an agency.
Companies looking to enter a new market are often content to just find an agency that provides work by native speakers who know the local customs, routines and language. These are important enough criteria. Translations, texts and slogans created by fluent speakers will sound good and get the messaging right. Moreover, an agency’s activities and grasp of current topics will allow it to more easily identify trends, themes and events that can be used in marketing communications.
A good start but certainly not enough. Knowledge of the market should not be reduced to just being in the market. For a public relations agency, the most important factor is how strong are its contacts to the media. Does the agency maintain ongoing relationships with publishers, editors, journalists and bloggers in the industries relevant to the client, and does the agency have experience in creating PR initiatives and promotional campaigns that adhere to the criteria accepted in the industry?
What are the disadvantages of working with an agency in Germany? Potentially, there may be fundamental difficulties communicating resulting from the language barrier but also from cross-cultural misunderstandings which can leave people on both sides totally baffled. At ITMS, we provide clients with an account manager that speaks their language and knows their culture which makes life so much easier, especially during the important first meetings. The notion of “communicating in the client’s language” should be understood more broadly than just speaking the language. An agency should fully understand their international customers and be able to anticipate all obstacles and problems that they may encounter in their new venture.
Is the presence of an agency in the target market enough to ensure a client’s success? The key criterion for choosing an agency should start with the agency’s experience and know-how. What type of activities and projects does it specialize in? Does it take on complex or simple tasks? Does it have enough experience to provide support in crisis situations and does it have any experience in the industry in which the company operates? Does it have strong and direct contacts to the media, what about bloggers and influencers? Does it know to deal across different media channels, and does it have experience in developing and running multi-disciplinary campaigns? Too many PR agencies take a passive approach to their vocation and end up just translating, writing and distributing press releases instead of proactively identifying and creating media opportunities for the client.
It’s the agency’s know-how and business acumen, which should reach beyond just the creative, that will ultimately determine its ability to localize strategies and develop effective campaigns for its international clients. At ITMS, we place great importance on planning, based among other things on a profound understanding of business realities, the client’s operating model, market research, an analysis of the competition in the market, and the marketing environment of the industry. We specialize in developing multi-disciplinary strategies across a range of platforms to create successful campaigns. An approach that crosses a range of in-house specialisms from data collection and collation to design and social media marketing.
An approach that we deem essential in achieving our client’s marketing and business goals in the long term. It results in effective campaigns and limits misguided marketing expenditures.
An added value that we often point out in conversations with prospective clients is our agency’s strong success record in steering global clients into the German market. Without the proper considerations, marketing to a foreign audience can have disastrous outcomes. Sending the wrong message can not only discourage consumers from buying a new product but could lead them to shun a foreign business altogether. Over the course of three decades, we have launched and helped establish diverse brands from Asia, the United States and Europe by developing the right strategies, creating perfectly suited brand messages and executing impactful campaigns to enamor German audiences. In so doing, we don’t alter the brands that are already successful in their own markets but maneuver within their established narratives to entice new audiences.
Our agency’s services are based on four key pillars: advertising, events, public relations and sponsoring. These categories encompass a broad set of skills and techniques including media buying, social media marketing, influencer marketing, creation of print and digital advertising, the organization of traditional and online events, and the development of sponsorship programs. Retaining a full-service agency allows global companies to take advantage of valuable skillsets that they would otherwise not come across, or that would be too complicated and expensive to implement when working with specialty agencies operating with a narrow scope of services. Taking a tactical approach, a full-service agency is best equipped with the talent and resources to bring a company’s international expansion efforts to fruition successfully.
The Berlin Marathon campaign for Taiwan Excellence is an example of a campaign that very effectively combined advertising, event marketing, public relations and sponsoring to achieve the client’s objectives
Embracing the opportunities offered by both long-established and new media channels, ITMS presents another key advantage for its clients. Only an agency that is truly media neutral can look at what business challenges a client is facing and decide the best course of action – rather than focusing on what the specialty agency’s specific discipline can do for them. A mobile marketing agency will come up with a mobile strategy and an advertising agency will create an advertising strategy, but what if the best way is neither of the above?
Clients also appreciate the extra support a full-service agency can provide in unexpected situations. This may for example, be the need to create a promotional video for an important event next week, organize a customer event or develop a presentation during an ongoing trade fair, or even a local radio campaign to take advantage of a developing market situation.
ITMS communicates with its clients in German, English, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Turkish. This is appreciated by clients, who feel more at home and better understood when communicating their requirements, plans and challenges without having to fear misunderstandings resulting from language but also differences in mentality and unfamiliarity with the culture, market or everyday life in Germany or client’s homeland.
Starting a company in a foreign market in itself takes a lot of time and effort. Choosing a trustworthy agency to partner with can be just as tricky. Which agency can you trust? Clues can be found in the agency’s client portfolio and the length of its client/agency relationships. ITMS can boast of working with global brands and companies from more than a dozen countries. Many of them have been satisfied clients for over a decade, which is significantly higher than the industry average of three years.
Trust is also built through honest and open conversations, the ability to listen, and by offering useful advice. This is how new ideas are born. Account managers at ITMS are always open to dialogue and willing to examine a potential client’s situation and plans, before waiting for the signature on the dotted line to dry. Something that’s worth taking advantage of.
Contact us in English, German or Polish: +49-6032-3459-0, firstname.lastname@example.org