Earning localization managers a seat at the strategy table

Localization has become more indispensable than ever. Big business is increasingly reliant on globalization for growth, and there’s only one way to reach new markets: making the product accessible to new cultures and languages. Given localization’s increased importance, however, how can localization managers earn a seat at the strategy table and due recognition? 

It’s no secret that localization is often isolated from the grander design of global business. That’s in spite of the substantial value consumers place on quality localization.

According to the Localization Consumer Impact Study focusing on the French, Italian, German, and Spanish markets (FIGS), international media is popular in continental Europe, with only 20% saying they never consume foreign-language content. That said, 60% of respondents are completely aware that they are consuming localized content. Yet, only 13% report no quality problems, with 10% having issues every day. This can prompt some to quit watching localized content completely.

Fortunately, there are a few best practices that can amplify localization leaders’ voices—and it’s all laid out in The Definitive Localization Manager Playbook.

Regarding the problem of sidelined localization managers, Rebecca Metcalf, content business analyst at language service provider (LSP) Rubric, illustrates it succinctly. 

“When content is authored in silos, inconsistencies become almost unavoidable,” she wrote. “These weaknesses in the source English are then passed onto the localized versions, undermining the customer experience globally.” 

To pursue a stronger position from the ground floor, it helps to first get a lay of the land. Start by identifying the stakeholders attached to the organizations and projects attached to your team. Separate all vital individuals into primary stakeholders, who have skin in the game and receive services directly, and secondary stakeholders, who aren’t participating in the localization process but need to be up to speed (think legal, compliance, human resources, IT, and more). It’s vital to understand the people you need to persuade and influence before anything else. 

From there, it’s a matter of prioritizing the people you need in your corner. Consider the individuals who both wield high influence and are already interested in successful localization outcomes. They’re your top priority. Alternatively, people with high interest but low influence should be kept close—one can’t underestimate the value of good friends. Don’t spend more time than necessary on those of high influence but low interest, but look for opportunities to persuade them on the value of localization. And low-influence, low-interest people? Well, don’t ignore them entirely, but don’t wear yourself out by expending much effort for little gain, either.  

The Art of Persuasion

Once you know who to persuade—usually high-level business leaders—start persuading. Chances are, your top-priority stakeholders are going to be primarily interested in a strong economic argument for localization value. And considering the strong data supporting the financial worth of localization, that should be an argument that holds weight. 

Rely on trusted third-party research from reliable sources to make your case, beginning with a strategic overview describing your vertical, its relationship to localization, and key trends. Then get into the economic analysis. What do your stakeholders stand to gain from a greater investment in localization? 

Finally, share the experience for the end user. Bring out the human emotion — the satisfaction of a project well localized versus the frustration and disappointment of a shoddy job. People structure their experiences and beliefs through stories, and ending on that note makes your case all the more memorable. 

Localization strategy is all about discovering what we have in common, understanding what doesn’t have to change, and highlighting where a market is completely unique,” wrote Erica Haims, a project manager who worked on Apple’s localization function for seven years. “These details can kickstart high-level discussions on what content, such as language and imagery, must be adapted for smart localization.”  

To learn more on how to secure localization a seat at the strategy table, as well as to get insights into the best localization practices of world-class localization teams, get The Definitive Localization Manager Playbook by Phrase. 




Caroline Gruner
Caroline Gruner is the Junior Marketing Manager at Memsource Group.


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