For most global content and product leaders, financial discipline implies doing more with flat budgets—or more painfully—with reduced budgets. There are two sensible cost management guidelines in global business:

  1. Money should be invested in an agile way, i.e. more/less in some areas and activities, more/less at certain times. A linear cost cutting approach may lead to many missed opportunities and eventually not allow you to hit all your expected targets.
  2. There is a cost to doing the right thing, doing things differently and doing nothing. Investing efficiently is always an important decision but avoiding some investments may have consequences that are not visible immediately and not by the people making such decisions.

Here are a few recommendations to make the most of your digital content budgets at various levels of your organization.

  • Know your audience(s):—Meeting expectations and requirements for international audiences is not optional. Knowing them, understanding what they are looking for, and therefore speaking their language will guide you through your funding journey and help you make customer-centric decisions from content design to final product delivery. By investing in the creation of personas, driving content creation and localization, and setting up focus groups allowing you to ensure and measure customer experiences, you will enhance it and save on costs resulting from numerous corrections and unnecessary iterations. It will make you aware of what speaking the language of customers really means. Beyond linguistic standards, you’ll need to grasp their cultural sensitivity and functional dependencies—how they live and breathe at work or during leisure time and behavioral patterns making or breaking satisfaction.
  • Look at the big picture from the outset—While the devil is in the details, you should have the big picture of product management and information lifecycle in mind from the outset. It will help you anticipate challenges and avoid issues. In other words, it will address all “details” that will ultimately create great customer experiences. You will see more clearly where and when costs will come up and how they may be reduced, by addressing what must be done each step of the way. Putting such a cost analysis in perspective will highlight where funding will be needed first and foremost to create value and drive growth. Global leaders have to make sure that localization is planned in a timely fashion, while local leaders must ensure that engagement with global teams is secured and local tasks are resourced as needed.
  • Invest in world-ready content creation—Money well-spent at the early stages of product and information lifecycles will enable you to make savings at later stages. Great customer experiences start with effective content design and development, and with targeted audiences in mind. This is very relevant of course for global marketers who must ensure that translation, localization, testing, validation, and deployment is cost and time efficient activities. Another cost leadership driver is the creation of content that may be re-used or re-purposed in multiple markets or for multiple customers. It will be a source of savings as you will not have to pay for similar or identical content several times, and customers will benefit from the same levels of quality and consistency
  • Leverage internal business expertise and external experience—When resourcing your content supply chain, it may be tempting to outsource all activities or to keep everything in house—assuming it will cut or avoid human capital costs. There is no silver bullet and the most cost efficient approach will often be based on finding the right balance between both options. On the one end, there should be much expertise on your business within your organization and it should be valued by assigning project, program or marketing leaders who can make the most of their knowledge. On the other end, a number of suppliers offer services (development, localization, globalization, analytics, experience management, etc.) your stakeholders can tap into in addition to other benefits, such as competitive and discount rates for tasks that are not in your core business, flexibility, and capacity for agile management or experience with other clients and other projects which may be relevant for your business. Finally, considering external suppliers as partners by “embedding” them in your business processes at some point will also generate savings in terms of internal productivity and accelerated cycle times coming from optimized engagement and workflows.
  • Bear competition in mind—Whether you are involved in globalization leadership or in local execution, you have to face and keep up with competition. This often means actually differentiating your company, products, and brands from competition. For global or local markets, localizing products and information is a great source of competitive advantage and increased value for customers. In light of international experience standards, avoiding localization would be a mistake and investing in poor localization would be a waste. People do not buy what they do not understand or do not consider as “done for them.” Therefore, planning localization and defining the appropriate funding model with regional or local organizations upfront will save quite a lot later on, by addressing competition proactively rather than reactively.
  • Measure local content effectiveness as seriously as global brand health—Testing, validation, and certification have been part of product and information management for a long time. As you must select your investments in current and future content and as customer requirements evolve faster than ever before, going beyond the usual metrics will take cost efficiency to the next level. Measuring the actual impact of content on your audiences will enable you to adjust your processes and spend according to performance indicators. Methodologies and tools are available to detail what drives satisfaction and may be combined to increase accuracy and efficiency, especially in the area of usability and neurosciences. When it is applied to online campaigns or e-commerce properties for example, it clearly shows that content effectiveness leads safely to brand effectiveness.