So your business has made it big in your home country. Your products or services are widely recognized as among the best – if not the best – on the market, and your brand has become a household name. The next obvious step to take is expanding your business overseas, but marketing to the US and other countries isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it looks. There’s more involved in establishing a business presence abroad than just putting out a few commercials and expecting to duplicate your success: you may also need to adjust your brand to match your target market.
Your brand, whether you’re aware of it or not, is a collection of everything that the public sees and thinks about your business and what it has to offer. You can think of it as your business’s personality, as defined by the content it produces: commercials, articles, brochures, even its logo. Your brand is everything that defines you as different from your competitors, and it’s vitally important that your customers find it appealing – or else they won’t so much as look twice at your products or services. Take note: this is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, especially when marketing overseas!
You might already be aware of the language barrier in play: you can’t take the marketing materials you already have and use them to promote your business in your target market if they don’t speak your language there. What you might not be aware of is the cultural barrier – the idea that language isn’t the only thing that can keep two different countries from understanding each other. Take the US and the UK, for example – “two countries separated by a common tongue,” as some might say. While you could reasonably expect an American citizen and a British citizen to be able to understand each other’s language well enough to carry on a conversation, they might not understand each other’s culture well enough to do so without some embarrassing misunderstandings slipping in – like how Americans use “pants” to mean “trousers” instead of “underwear,” or “torch” exclusively to denote an old-fashioned flame-on-a-stick light source rather than a modern lightbulb-in-a-tube one (they call that a “flashlight” over there, by the way). Now amplify that potential for miscommunication times an entire marketing campaign – and put it on the other side of the language barrier – and you can see how important adjusting your brand for the US market can be.
So what recourse do you have, as a foreign entrepreneur? Simple: do your homework. Research your target market thoroughly. Get a handle on all the idioms and idiosyncrasies that can sabotage your chances of establishing a long-lasting business relationship. Hire people who are fluent in both your target market’s language and culture. And if all that seems daunting to you, don’t panic: there are professional advertising companies that can help you start marketing to the US with a minimum of hassle. They can provide the knowledge and expertise necessary to adjust your brand, along with the market experience necessary to maximize your chances of turning your business ambitions into business success.
If you’re a business owner in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or elsewhere in Western Europe and you’re interested in expanding your business to the North American market, feel free to contact us.
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