Lots of companies are still under the delusion that they can do business on the World Wide Web (WWW) and still discriminate among the countries they want to sell in. For example, they release a product in one country — and not in other countries.
Or, they put out a press release in one country — and a day later in another country. On the Web, once a news item is out — no matter which country issues it — it’s out for the whole world to read and comment on. Publishing a press release in one country one day after it has been already released in another just does not make much sense anymore in our interconnected world.
I know there are specific country laws to abide by, translations to be done properly, currency conversions to account for — but, that is where a company that claims itself to be “international” in scope can take all these into consideration and coordinate a release that is applicable all around the world. Give your divisions in the different countries enough lead time to do whatever translations and get whatever approvals they need.
More importantly, if you put out a product, especially for online download, you’d better make sure it can be downloaded in every country you do business in.
There are companies who are still very bound to their old ways of doing things. There are consumers who would want it to stay the same. There are dealers who want to restrict distribution channels. This is thinking small. The fact of the matter is, it’s too late. With one tweet, every good deed a company does, every mistake a company makes, every lie a company tells, … is out for the whole world to read and react to. What your company does in Seattle, USA affects what consumers buy in Sidney, Australia. Immediately. Instantly.
The Internet, the World Wide Web, Social Media, … are not just another marketing venue for a company to use to do business on. They ARE your market — because that is where your consumers increasingly are calling HOME. The eyeballs are not on newspapers or magazines, and we are not listening to radio and TV ads to tell us what to buy. We are asking each other on Facebook, Twitter and other online social venues — and then making up our mind. And there, you do not see any separation by country. It is very frustrating to read about something a company has put out — and to realize moment or days later that it is available only in one country and not another. Or that prices are so out of line, even taking currency conversion into account. Or, some features are dumbed out for a country.
Sure, there are larger issues that intervene and bind the hands of companies to progress. Governments have to talk and agree to lower or eliminate tariffs, maintain Net neutrality, allow electronic goods to flow freely, etc. But there are already things a company can do now to tell their consumers that it respects them and listens to them. It’s something our business schools should start teaching about, new leaders should understand, and new companies should make a part of their DNA — that this is the WWW, and the WWW is where business is.