Many Americans are at a disadvantage when it comes to the global marketplace. The US is increasingly insular – even when something looks "international," it was often created with us in mind (usually by other Americans). Opportunities to learn about the rest of the world are not in ready supply. Access to a non-American perspective is too rare for many of us.
One organization, Global Voices, is changing that. Asking the provocative question, "The world is talking. Are you listening?" Global Voices intentionally maintains "a focus on countries and communities outside the U.S. and Western Europe…that will help all voices everywhere to be heard." Indexed by country and topic, Global Voices provides unfiltered articles, blogs, editorials, podcasts, business stories, and the like from all corners of the globe.
Investing the time to explore and understand foreign markets can play a critical role in business expansion. Marketing textbooks are full of examples of Corporate America’s blunders as those legacy businesses went global. The launch of the Chevy Nova in Latin America is a perennial favorite ("no va" translates to "no go" in Spanish). More recently, Wal-Mart forgot that Germany was full of Germans – not American consumers raised with big box retail – and was forced to cede the market to European rivals. It seems to have learned the lesson in China, but the company will have to further adapt to local market factors as it rolls out to second tier cities.
But I digress.
Thanks to the Internet, exploring international markets has never been easier. Media is one of the few industries that is truly global – literally spanning the globe without regard to time zones or borders. News reported half a world away reaches us with startling speed. But, are we hearing from someone "over there" or are we looking through an American prism? Most news consumed in the US is created expressly for this market – creating a cultural filter between the world, our view of it, and our ability to understand it.
Global Voices puts us face-to-face with reporters, pundits, analysts, consumers, and thinkers from around the world. This is a remarkable source of information…and inspiration. The "village square" metaphor springs to life.
If you are Going Global, these are the voices of your customers. Take the time to listen.