Emerging Markets - How to Execute for Success

by Sat Duggal

Emerging markets clearly offer the best opportunity for growth in most business sectors. Since the 1990s, IMF estimated rates of real GDP growth have trended upward in emerging and developing economies while declining in advanced economies. Emerging markets are expected to be responsible for 76% of projected growth in global GDP between 2009 and 2025. However, most marketers lack experience executing in immature markets. This month, we discuss the common challenges we've seen and outline our proven strategies for overcoming them.

Common Challenges

Finding strong sales and marketing talent in emerging markets is difficult. Retaining talent is even harder. Because of the talent gap, companies are forced to broaden their search criteria and typically end up with employees who have diverse skill sets and backgrounds, all trying to implement in their own ways. While outside perspectives can be useful in small doses, too many viewpoints result in inconsistency and thwart the development of a successful team.

This leads directly to the challenge of finding a balance between giving marketing managers autonomy and handing them processes, tools, and templates. Due to the talent gap and the desire to ensure best practices, companies may not feel comfortable empowering teams in emerging markets. But if local commercial teams are not able to take initiative, quality execution is unlikely and retaining talent is all the more difficult.

Action Principles

EMM Group has helped clients successfully adapt or launch marketing programs in Russia, India, Brazil, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Based on our experience, we have crystallized the following action principles.

Focus. Rather than trying to build out your entire competency model, focus on a smaller number of critical competencies. Doing a few things exceptionally well will yield better results than doing a few things adequately.

Invest in training. Training is critical to establishing consistency, competency, and results. It also helps retain good people, as they will value the investment you make in them.

Contextualize. Adapt your training approach to include relevant market examples and case studies, ideally delivered in the local language.

Train via dual paths. Remember that people learn differently. Traditional classroom-style training combined with active team facilitation tends to drive the fastest returns by allowing team members to apply new principles in real work situations with support from colleagues and experts.

Involve local leaders. Training marketing and sales teams alone is not enough. Local leaders need to understand the commercial process, so they can ask the right questions, model the right behavior, and prioritize marketing goals.

Empower. Local initiative and flexibility are essential. Once skills have been built, local leaders and teams must be encouraged and managed to believe in the process and own their success.

Maintain momentum. There is usually a lot of initial demand for training and development in emerging markets, but getting busy teams to commit the necessary time can be more challenging. Setting clear expectations at the start and keeping the momentum going is critical.

To learn more about how EMM Group can help you succeed in emerging markets, please contact us.

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Keywords: Newsletter, Custom Marketing Framework