So how have UK companies like yours achieved their success in North America?
Carefully. Because of the massive size of US markets compared to the UK’s home market, successful companies tend to do their homework well in advance in order to avoid the most blunders and the most embarrassment. Similarly, successful UK companies take care in choosing their marketing partners abroad, assessing their business philosophies, gracefulness, reputations and deftness in managing the market.
Methodically. By carving up this vast geographic market in order to target (and thus manage) a series of smaller ones, or segments, many small and mediumsized companies coming into the US can focus on using their resources to best effect. Like an orange, it’s much easier to digest in smaller bites than one large one.
You might consider defining your segments in a number of ways:
- By the products/services you wish to market
- By the different mix of benefits sought by each distinct group of customers
- By where your product/service is available for purchase
- By the time of year your product/service is available (if it’s seasonal)
- By the method of payment (standing order vs credit card vs retainer etc)
- By industry sector
- By customer size or type (industry sector, number of employees, turnover, number of offices etc)
- By consumption patterns (heavy user/light user)
- By geography, by targetting certain states that are most relevant to your offering.
Each segment can then be prioritised and treated as a distinct market (for your marketing and sales budget are finite), at which your pricing strategy, product mix, promotions and points of distribution can be aimed in a logical way – in line with the benefits each such market expects from your product/service.
Indigenously. Many UK firms enjoy the benefit of hiring American marketing expertise in America – whether in the form of management consultants or hired management. Generally, this is a more common way forward than it is for US firms expanding into the UK and hiring UK managers for key positions. The advantages of having knowledge of US business practices and customs, social and professional ‘networks’ and marketing practices are increasingly recognised as a valuable asset to the budding UK company in the States.
Unobtrusively. UK firms sometimes try to play down the fact that they are not of US origin in order to integrate in their new market. Often, use of the word ‘American’ in the company name is seen as a way to minimise any possible prejudice that comes with being a foreign company.
Strategically. UK firms also often use the US as a stepping-stone for Southeast Asian markets, or as an export base generally for other parts of the world. ( e.g. Miami as the gateway to South America). UK manufacturing companies who have made their way into US markets are now consolidating and working smarter with fewer people.