You have reached a momentous decision: to expand your business into the U.S. market. Now is an exciting time to be venturing across the ocean. The U.S. economy shows promising signs, and the GDP growth rate is expected to hold strong at 2 to 3 percent this year.
Besides economic prosperity, the U.S. holds other charms for business owners. Its single prominent language and relatively relaxed data laws mean that expanding into North America can seem like a smooth sail when compared to venturing into Europe or other continents.
But to dive in headfirst without testing the water could be a costly mistake for your business’s bottom line and reputation. After all, the U.S. is a large and complex market, and a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy will soon fall short. You need a guide to help pioneer your business’s American adventure.
How to Transition Wisely Into the US Market
There are some adjustments that entrepreneurs must make to their marketing and growth strategies to ensure they can thrive in the U.S. market. Here are the top three I learned from my years of experience:
1. Take time to understand the cultural landscape.
The U.S. has a single prominent language, but it also has approximately 325 million people living on its soil. Each state has its own culture and subcultures. The differences between the groups that live there can be vast. So it is vital to understand this cultural landscape in all its diversity before introducing your product to the market.
This includes pitching the tone of marketing materials to an American audience’s sense of humor. There are certain things that might sound OK in Europe but can rub people the wrong way in the U.S. For example, a British customer might love an irreverent jab at his own expense, while an American customer could be offended.
Even basic words and phrases can cause confusion. This woman trying to bring the British dessert sticky toffee pudding to the American market had to explain to many people that her brand of pudding was not the cold custard one would expect.
For a more successful approach, invest ample time in reading and researching, and then compile a set of words and phrases that sing the praises of your business without confusion.
2. Build up a picture through target testing.
In a market as huge as the U.S., you have to get specific about your buyer persona. This means getting close and personal with some actual Americans.
First, figure out where you want to test your product. Maybe your focus is on East Coast cosmopolitan hubs like Boston and New York, families in the Midwest, or health-conscious individuals in California. Whatever the case, test in smaller geographies before going big to make sure your product’s features and benefits are not getting lost in translation.
And if you do not know where you should be testing, that might mean you are not acquainted enough with your buyer persona. This can be resolved by acquiring some guidance to see how your product translates to a U.S. buyer.
3. Get to know your competition.
It is always wise to examine your competition when expanding or diversifying into new markets. It is especially important in a crowded and ever-changing market like the U.S.
Do your homework, and build a profile of competing companies in your industry. Who are the big players? Who are the emerging challengers? And when compared to those companies, what differentiates your product?
When companies fail to assess their competition, the results can be disastrous. For example, a Japanese telecommunications company decided to enter the wireless market in the U.S. It tried to expand to the U.S. by taking the retail and distribution strategy that had worked in Japan and then simply copy and paste it onto the U.S. market. If it had looked at where its target customers were purchasing their phone plans, the company would have realized that a pure distribution strategy is not ideal for its growth.
You have your bags packed for a new frontier, but before you set off on your exciting adventure, take some time to translate your business into the best American version you can, and that might mean changing what was successful in your home country. In addition, having a guide for your move is crucial. Someone to show you the best path for your product and how to tell its story on this new stage can support this market transition in many ways. For help with your international expansion, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a one-hour consultation.
Photo on Foter.com