San Diego Business Journal

San Diego prides itself on its entrepreneurial culture.

For years, innovators, inventors and startup companies have flocked to the digital coast, looking for a place that would provide them with the talent, infrastructure and services they needed to grow and prosper.

Our region is now home to four Fortune 500 companies and literally thousands of companies serving customers and business partners around the globe. San Diego companies that built their nests in our back yard are growing up and spreading their wings.

That transition from a local startup to global corporation, however, requires a whole new set of strategies. It means overcoming language and standards barriers, determining shipping and distribution logistics, establishing pricing equations, securing local talent, vendors and business partners, and , while often overlooked or underestimated , it also means creating specialized marketing and communications plans for each market.

The company that doesn't have a strategic communications plan risks losing its international reputation, customers and privileges.

- Travel Guide For Communications

This short travel guide for the local company going global will help ensure that the communications plan comes together:

o Chart Your Course. If you're going global it's because there's opportunity over that ocean. Presumably, you know which markets provide the best opportunity. Prioritize them and go after them in that order.

Establish your business and sales channels. Then , and only then , should you embark on an aggressive communications and public relations campaign. Don't waste time or money until you've got something to show the local press.

o Use Your Map, Compass and Research Reports. Use solid strategic research, market research, labs, analysts. Test your product concept outside the U.S. market and have customers and local success first.

Be prepared to demonstrate a solid understanding of the market in which you operate, business analysis as to the profitability of expansion and an understanding of the local industry issues , government regulations, laws, industry players. Validation from analysts and customers will provide this foundation.

o Carry Identification. Always carry the corporate ID. Be consistent in your brand images, messaging and advertising. Of course you will have to customize things for each market, but your fundamental product and corporate messages should not be diluted across every border.

- Learn To Work With Insiders

o When in Rome. Seek counsel from professionals living in your target market and show in-country support. Be respectful of language, culture and design differences. Understand different approaches in each of the markets and adapt efforts accordingly. Adapt your Web site , provide information in different languages for each market and consider navigation and privacy rules, regulations and perceptions.

o Keep Control of Your Baggage at All Times. Keep central control of your message while deploying it at a global level and ensure it's a cost-effective, integrated approach to the entire marketing goals.

Ensure consistent positioning, messaging and brand identity in advertising, public relations, seminars, events, trade shows, etc. It will reap dividends if you work with an agency that has presence in the market.

You want local feet on the street who report back to public relations headquarters and who have a solid relationship with the agency. Find someone who takes time to understand your business objectives and can provide counsel about strategy in a particular market.

Hutchens is partner in the San Diego office of NCG Porter Novelli, a subsidiary of Porter Novelli International.