I have a tailor named James.

Well, I say I have a tailor, but in truth I’ve only commissioned one item – a jacket – and it’s not done yet. I had an initial fitting about 10 days ago, and I’ll collect the finished article next week.

I decided to find a tailor because I was tired of off-the-rack suits that never fit quite right. So James took more than a dozen measurements. We talked in detail about sleeve lengths, and lapel widths, and how I liked my jackets cut. And once he’d made a sample, I tried it on so James could get the details just right. I expect it’ll be a perfect fit.

When you look at your company’s marketing efforts from one country to another, how well would you say those programs fit? In the past year I’ve worked with a bank, a consumer goods manufacturer, and a pharmaceutical company that are all struggling with how to globalize their interactive marketing programs. And while most of them had a couple different issues holding them back, there was one common theme: The global programs rarely fit the local markets.

Local interactive marketing managers tell us they’re also tired of shopping off-the-rack — in their case, being handed one-size-fits-all sites and strategies that aren’t tailored to their markets — and that they usually don’t have enough resources to make the proper alterations. The result is a choice between using ill-fitting global programs that don’t meet local needs or creating cheap one-off local efforts that don’t meet global guidelines or standards.

The solution, of course, is better tailoring. Marketers need to better measure the needs of each local team using a tool like the Interactive Marketing Maturity Model, and the needs and preferences of local customers as well. Then they can fit both the programs they deliver to each local team and the resources they offer each team for local alterations.

Does this cost more, and take more time? Of course it does. If you can’t find more budget – most of us can’t right now – you may wind up with fewer ‘suits in your wardrobe.’ But you’ll find they fit a whole lot better.

If you’re trying to figure out how to best manage your interactive marketing programs in global and emerging markets, register to come see me talk about this topic next week at our 2012 EMEA Interactive Marketing Summit in London – or if you’re a client, have a look at our report on The Right Way To Globalize Your Interactive Marketing Programs.

June 1 update: The Interactive Marketing Summit was great. And my jacket fits perfectly.