International marketing, in simplest terms, can be described as the application of established marketing principles to a global market. But, in reality, the concept of international marketing becomes quite complex when one considers the vast differences between the dozens of different national and regional markets around the world, as well as the many challenges associated with researching, targeting and reaching the intended audience within these many markets.
The American Marketing Association has defined international marketing as the multi-national process of planning and executing the conception, prices, promotion and distribution of goods and services to satisfy business objectives.
International marketing recognizes that due to the cultural, religious, economic and political differences that exist between countries, marketing strategies must be altered, modified or reworked to attract a foreign audience and generate sales. As such, analysts with Bloomberg have described global marketing as taking a “commercial advantage of global operational differences, similarities, and opportunities to meet international objectives.”
With free trade deals recently secured between the United States and Korea, Colombia and Panama, in addition to advances in the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru in 2011, the US will soon have trade agreements in place with 20 countries, making the global market more accessible than ever before.
Defining the Role of the International Marketing Professional
International marketing professionals analyze how marketing strategies affect international trade and exports in different countries and explore new avenues for marketing goods and services to a foreign audience. Global marketing professionals must fine-tune marketing strategies so as to be sensitive to and perceptive of the complexities surrounding the issues of foreign culture, politics, technology, religion, law, economics, language, education, values and attitudes.
An international marketing professional may address a number of other marketing concerns, as well, including input costs, price, advertising and distribution, all of which are often remarkably different in foreign markets. For example, foreign countries often grant subsidies to their domestic producers and manufacturers, particularly when their products are in direct competition with foreign imports. A marketing professional must be able to understand the impact of subsidization, tariffs applicable to their product, as well as the specifics of established or pending trade agreements between countries, and ultimately make a determination as to the profitability of a particular marketing endeavor.
An international marketing professional must be able to adapt to differences in often unstable foreign environments and address these differences in a comprehensive marketing plan.
An international marketing professional must be able to:
- Determine which product to market and at what price
- Determine a promotional strategy and on which distribution channels to focus
- Respond to foreign market factors like domestic politics, competition and economic conditions
- Understand the geography, infrastructure, currency and level of technological development in a foreign market
- Remain aware of and sensitive to cultural differences
- Understand the laws and political environment of a foreign market
- Determine target market based on current economic situations, economic development and the per capita gross national product (GNP)
- Ascertain the complexities involved with outstanding trade agreements between countries
- Analyze the challenges created by overseas competition and subsidies applied by foreign governments
- Develop long-term marketing strategies to weather short-term market uncertainties caused by economic or political changes or crises
Education Requirements for International Marketing
There are a large number of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees and programs available today in the field of international marketing. Much of the instruction involving international marketing focuses on international trade control, foreign trade operations, international theories and practices, international marketing integration, trade agreements, negotiation practices, and international public relations.
Many programs require a foreign language and many encourage overseas instruction to improve intercultural awareness and understanding. A degree in international marketing often prepares individuals for positions as marketing managers, market research analysts and public relation specialists.
It is quite common to find Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business, Master of Business degree programs with an emphasis in international marketing, and Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree programs in International Marketing. EMBA programs are typically reserved for professionals currently employed in a management role.
There are also a number of universities that offer graduate certificates in International Marketing for professionals in the industry. Many times, certificates in International Marketing focus on Internet-based marketing skills, such as SEO, SEM and social media. Other International Marketing graduate certificates are designed specifically for U.S. company managers seeking additional training in international marketing, such as market access barriers, market research and market entry strategies.
Classes for certification in International Marketing may include: International Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior and Legal and Ethical Issues in Global Communications.
Doctorate degrees in International Marketing typically include courses in cultural studies, global economics, international legal issues and ethics in international business. Many graduates of doctorate degree programs become professors of marketing, marketing consultants and market researchers.
Continuing Education Opportunities and Professional Association
Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) is a worldwide sales and marketing organization committed to continuing professional development, knowledge sharing, student mentoring and advancing free enterprise. SMEI, which includes over 10,000 members from around the world, has many local chapters, allowing professionals in the marketing and sales sectors from around the world to participate in seminars, lectures and networking opportunities.
SMEI has established certification and marketing programs for professionals who want to further their careers and distinguish themselves through professional designation. To qualify for certification through SMEI, professionals must meet the organization’s standards of education and pass an online certification exam to ensure mastery of all concepts. The certification available for marketing professionals through SMEI is the Certified Marketing Executive (CME).
Earning Potential for International Marketing Professionals
According to Robert Half International’s 2012 Salary Guide, the salary range for a marketing/communications specialist with one to five years’ experience is $43,250 to $60,750 and $60,250 to $82,000 for a marketing/communications specialist with more than five years’ experience. The salary range for a marketing/communications manager is $61,000 to $91,750, while the salary range for a marketing director is $84,000 to $130,250.
According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top paying states for marketing managers are: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, California and Virginia. States with the highest employment level for marketing managers are: California, New York, Texas, Illinois and New Jersey.
Nationally, the average annual salary for marketing managers, according to the BLS, was $122,720 in May 2010. The top 25 percent earned an average salary of $151,260 during that time.
The top-paying industries for marketing managers in May 2010 were oil and gas extraction, securities and commodity exchanges, financial investment activities, pipeline transportation of natural gas and securities and commodity contracts (intermediation and brokerage). The mean annual wage in these industries ranged from $150,090 to $164,790.