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Market your business to a non-UK audience

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By François Reynier is Creative Director of Acacia

Pushing your business overseas can open up new sales channels. But how do you go about marketing to a non-English-speaking audience? The following tips will help you:

Don’t just translate, transcreate

It is easy to assume that simply translating marketing which has worked well in the UK will foster similar positive results abroad. 

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing campaigns which might have done exceedingly well in the UK could seriously backfire with a non-English speaking audience.


To engage successfully with a foreign audience, you'll need to tailor carefully your marketing message through the process of transcreation.

Transcreation is the process of adapting a message from one language to another while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. A big part of successful transcreation is positioning.

Position your business effectively

It is critical to accurately assess how best to position your products and services to a new foreign market before making initial approaches. More often than not you will need to position your business offer differently than in the UK market.

For example, a small family-owned brewery in the UK finds itself in direct competition with numerous businesses with similar offerings as well as leading British beers in the UK market with large advertising budgets. 

As a result, to differentiate itself, it might be forced to position itself as a very local producer, emphasising its strong geographical roots and historical heritage.


Also, its pricing will be dictated by the average price competitors charge for a similar product, directly affecting margins and bottom line. Its core UK customer base might be rather traditional and middle-aged, as a younger crowd might shun traditional brands. 

On the other hand, in France; for example, the same product will only need to compete with far fewer family-owned breweries with a similar British heritage.

As a result, it could be seen as rather exotic and will attract a younger crowd which likes to be recognised as discerning drinkers with knowledge of hard-to-find British beers. To attract this market, the advertising message will need to be entirely different than the one used in the UK. 

The same product will be positioned at a higher end of the drinks market and will command higher prices, generating better margins than in the UK with each sale.

Have an unforgettable brand

Your brand is at the centre of how your business is perceived and ultimately its reputation, especially abroad. 

The role of your brand as a business tool to grow sales is even more critical in a foreign market than in your home market, where other factors such as a long-established presence will play in your favour. Once you have established what your business positioning will be in your target market, you’ll need to adapt your brand messaging and brand identity accordingly.


Here cultural differences play a massive role, especially in business to business relationships. If your brand doesn’t resonate with your prospects, they won’t make any attempt to dig deeper to find out more about your products and offer; they’ll just walk away.

Every aspect of how your communication will come under scrutiny, from how you present your business to your website and brochures, but also the quality of the copywriting and the kind of colours and imagery you use.

In some cases the right approach is to emphasise the Britishness of your brand while, in others, you’ll need to do the complete opposite and have the kind of brand a local audience are very familiar and comfortable with.

Make your website truly engaging

Foreign prospects are likely to check your business online before engaging further. Having a professional online presence in the native language of your target market will go a long way in convincing them of your seriousness of intent in working with them.

Also, you need to pay attention to the copy in the English-language version of your site.  It’s easy to forget that the majority of visitors to your English-language site will probably not be native English speakers. It is therefore important to avoid cultural references, idioms or metaphors which aren’t universally understood.


The world ‘Bespoke’ for example is very often used in marketing messages the UK but rarely used abroad. Using ‘a tailored-approach’ instead of ‘a bespoke approach’ will get you better results.