Marketing to Enter & Scale in the US
Marketing is as much a science as an art. It combines evidence-based, scientific methodology with creative thinking from experienced professionals. This is particularly true for early- and growth-stage international companies looking to penetrate and grow in the USA.
We asked one of our NUMA mentors, Matthew Sawyer, Managing Director of Rocket Market Development and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and NYU, to provide advice on marketing to enter the USA market. Here are some key take-aways from our conversation:
1. Get it Right from the Start
Do your homework utilizing a disciplined approach and local market experts, as the USA is very different from other countries. Start with doing “discovery” research along with competitive analysis to fully understand the current situation, relevant trends, and the market dynamics.
Matthew recommends mapping all of the pieces, including the market’s customer segments, competitors, and important market factors and trends. As he told us, “Just like you wouldn’t go on a trip without a map, why would you enter a new market, or look to expand in a market, without a clear map of where you are going.”
2. Understand Your Audience
It’s critically important to understand your customers — not just who they are, but what they see, feel, hear, and care about. Personas and Empathy Maps are good tools to uncover unmet needs and craft messages that resonate with your audiences of potential buyers, users, and influencers.
In addition, Matthew recommends creating a Customer Journey that maps customers’ behavior before, during, and after purchasing the product. This provides insights on when is the best time to reach potential customers and what messages will make an impact at that stage.
3. Create Compelling Messages
Once you understand your audience, the next step is to create compelling messages that will catch your audiences’ attention and stimulate them to act. The messages must be:
Different from what competitors are saying
Something that consumers care about
Is truly something the company can deliver
4. Focus on VALUE
People are bombarded with advertising and marketing messages, so they are skeptical and cautious. This is particularly true for international and early-stage companies who are relatively unknown in the USA. Therefore, it’s critical to focus on the value that you will provide people, such as how you will solve their unmet problem or need. or solution to a problem.
As Matthew explained, “Marketing has to be about a “value exchange.” If a potential customer is going to listen to your message, provide an email address, or take the time to read an ad, you have to give them something of value back.”
5. Test and Learn
It’s important to test at every stage of the market development process. First start by creating several different messages and marketing tactics. Then test these to learn what are the best ones to introduce into targeted USA markets. Monitor the early results for additional learning to refine the messages and tactics going forward. This is where the scientific and discipline aspects of marketing are important. As Matthew said, “Sometimes it’s best to test your way into a market to see what works the best.”
6. Measure, Measure, Measure
A well-planned and disciplined measurement approach is critical for success. Entering new markets is difficult, and managers need to closely watch their progress and be ready to act in order to ensure the product’s trajectory is moving in the right direction.
Also, choosing the right metrics for measurement is key. As Matthew explained, “It’s important to measure leading indicators, such as traffic to a website, that can be impacted with immediate actions as well as to measure lagging indicators of performance, such as sales.”
While the effort to enter and grow in the USA may seem overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. There is a long list of international companies that have been successful in gaining traction in the large and lucrative USA market. At NUMA New York, we connect our startups with +250 local market experts, like Matthew, who work with our companies on strategic campaigns that put them ahead of their competition.
We are currently in selection for our Summer 2020 cohort. Check out our website to learn more about the program!