Marketing success in the USA: Your planning checklist
1. Analyse the radar screen. Make sure you know who your competitors are in your US market as it is likely they will be quite different to those in your backyard at home. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis your own is key, as is considering the radar in the BROADEST possible sense: don’t just spot the other firms similar to your own on the map but also consider how other US service businesses you may not have thought about might offer your services too (example: US accountancy firms and legal firms co-locating and sharing clients).
2. Remember that marketing is not only about selling or public relations. For many UK organisations doing business in the US, marketing is generally perceived purely as a range of public relations activities or sales promotions. However, you should – now that you’ve read the sections above – have the advantage of knowing that marketing is (and can be) significantly broader, taking into account your pricing strategies, the product or service mix and composition, the ways you distribute your products or services and the way you promote them.
3. Give your executives in the US freedom to act. Why not use your US colleagues as door openers, marketers and ambassadors for your UK company? Allowing them to interpret the business development brief in a way that suits their US environment, in ways that will be supported by your UK head office, allows your talented executives to be as effective as possible.
4. Know what you want from your US market in terms of results. It may be that your UK expectations are not going to be easily met in the US because of the cultural, language and business differences between the two markets. Many marketers (on both sides of the Atlantic) often aren’t prepared for the question from their opposite number “What do you want from your relationship with us?” If you can’t articulate what you want from your US customer, client, buyer or supplier relationships, then you may never know when you’re getting what you need.
5. Analyse results on a milestone, ‘per customer’ or ‘per project’ basis. It could be that a US customer you acquire is either unprofitable or too costly to serve effectively or efficiently, sapping your valuable UK talent that could be deployed more profitably elsewhere (such as here at home). By conducting these reviews and analyses, you are able to identify weaknesses in your international organisation clearly and correct them quickly. The old axiom “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” goes for transatlantic expansion too!
6. Import or hire local marketing expertise from outside your sector. Sometimes an organisation needs to find, and implement locally, the best practices from any industry, not just its own sector in which it finds itself. By applying marketing thinking that’s “outside the box”, you minimise the risk of applying insular, repetitive and uncreative solutions where more innovative ones are needed, especially if your sector may not be highly differentiated (eg legal services, IT, financial services).
7. Market throughout the financial year, not just when US business seems slow. The benefits of this approach include not only minimising your cashflow fluctuations and sales fluctuations, but maintaining a constant level of awareness of your company in the US marketplace. Often this forces the company to create a US marketing strategy and agenda where, hitherto, none existed.
8. Assume you’re in an international knowledge-based (or information-based) business and manage accordingly. Centralise databases about your US clients and prospects so everyone in the organisation – regardless of location – can track your US contact histories, while simultaneously destroying internal fiefdoms.
9. Apply new, international solutions to your current US clients, rather than old templates to new clients. It’s better to have many repeat US customers or clients who use your products or services because they are global, innovative and sophisticated rather than repetitive and predictable. By exposing your team to as many industry sections and US business approaches as possible you spot and apply best practice, and your customers benefit, regardless of the nationality or roots of your solutions.
Last but not least…
10. Know when to walk away from a US opportunity. Not every customer or client is fulfilling or profitable, even if they have the cachet of being a certain size, or are in a glamorous industry or location. Not every US customer deserves your time or attention. Not every US customer appreciates the VALUE of what they are getting from your organisation. However, the majority of clients should be accounted for in your US marketing strategy and the direction in which you’re trying to lead your organisation.
Topics: Getting Started and Sales & Marketing