The ROI of Adding More International Experience to Your Marketing Department

hiring marketing staff international

With every passing year, business becomes an increasingly global activity. Even small, locally focused firms are influenced by international cultures, supply chains that wrap around the world, and the ebb and flow of global market forces.

As we’ve been hiring marketing staff and leadership for the last 20 years, we’ve watched businesses and marketing departments of all kinds evolve into increasingly international entities. We’ve seen firsthand how important it is for marketing teams to adopt a more global mindset even when focusing primarily on domestic markets. It’s a trend that’s not going away any time soon; PwC predicts the amount of workers expected to take on global assignments will grow another 50% through the next decade.

One of the best ways you can improve the productivity and resilience of your marketing is to integrate more talent with significant professional and/or cultural experiences in other countries.

However, surprisingly few organizations put any additional value on marketing professionals with international experience in their marketing recruitment strategy. It’s not something they prioritize when seeking out new talent, or something they value as a key consideration when comparing candidates.

How Your Business Benefits

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Hiring marketing staff with international experience and perspectives strengthen your business in multiple ways.

Improving Flexibility

Greater diversity of background and talent makes your organization more robust and adaptable. When everyone in your marketing department thinks the same and has similar backgrounds, you’re in critical danger of becoming stagnant and slow. It happens all too often; leaders get complacent, innovation stalls, outdated processes and strategies are maintained far beyond their usefulness.

The international experience among your marketing team will introduce new ideas to help you innovate and avoid getting stale. The American business environment is an extremely insulated bubble; if you never look outside it, you’ll probably miss out on clever ideas and strategies you’d never have considered otherwise. And when a change in the market or society inevitably comes, you’ll be better equipped to adapt.

Targeting Specific Markets

You’re probably familiar with KFC’s famous slogan; “Finger lickin’ good.” When the restaurant chain was first trying to break into the large-and-growing Chinese market, it tried to translate its brand directly over to the new language and culture.

Unfortunately, the translation the company settled on for its new slogan had a different meaning than intended. Chinese audiences read it to mean “Eat your fingers off.


Language is complicated. Cultures are even more so. It’s incredibly common for well-intended marketing messages to be interpreted as nonsense or to carry some unintended secondary meaning. You can easily confuse or even offend the people you’re trying to attract.

The more international and multicultural experience your marketing team has, the less likely you are to commit a critical mistake and the better equipped you’ll be to serve your diversifying customer base. International experience doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert on the respective countries and cultures they’ve lived in–but they can help you avoid critical faux pas, translate your message appropriately, and suggest a good starting point if you’re trying to break into a new market.

How to Start Hiring Marketing Staff with More International Experience

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Be honest. When you look at your roster of full-time and interim marketing professionals, does it have appropriate cultural and professional diversity to strengthen your business and serve current and potential customers around the world? If not, it’s time to take action.

As Neil Lenane, Business Leader of Talent Management for Progressive said in an interview, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude.”

Start at the top.

Filling key marketing executive jobs in your organization with experienced, effective marketing leaders sets a standard of diversity and a global mindset throughout the department. Consider working with marketing search firms that have a strong track record of recruiting international talent to get your needs met. Not every senior marketing position needs to be filled with an immigrant or someone who has worked abroad–but having more global perspectives at the table will improve your strategy and leadership.

Audit internal recruitment standards.

If asked, many managers will say that they value international experience. However, few make it a point to include it as a plus in job descriptions or ask their HR/recruitment team to make it a key consideration in their marketing recruitment experience. Less than half of businesses even require a diverse slate of candidates for open positions, according to a report by McKinsey and Company.

Set the right expectations with your marketing staffing and recruitment partners

When working with an executive search firm, recruitment specialist, or marketing staffing agency, make sure to inform them that international and multicultural experience is highly valued so they know to keep an eye out for relevant candidates.

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