For more than 20 years, marketing and communications firm Stephen Donnelly & Associates has been helping businesses at all stages make a name for themselves through branding, marketing, and public relations efforts. In 2022, SD&A Founder and President Stephen Donnelly joined Soft Landing New York as the program’s marketing manager. Donnelly and his 15 subject-matter experts maintain the program’s website, manage its social media channels, and develop marketing assets to communicate Soft Landing offerings and achievements.
From graphic design and copywriting to video production and social media management, the team at SD&A is well-versed in everything it takes to market a business in the United States in 2023. We recently sat down with the team to gather their top five pieces of advice for helping international companies foster success with U.S. audiences.
Develop branding that can quickly make an impact.
A high-quality product or service is not enough to drive sales in the United States. Businesses must communicate what makes their product or service unique. Explain to potential customers why your product or service exists: What hole in the market does it fill? What environmental, social, or money-saving benefits does it offer compared to your competitors?
While you may be fortunate enough to discuss these advantages with a potential customer during a sales meeting, you may also be fighting for their attention in a social media post.
This is where branding comes in. Establishing a powerful visual and verbal identity for your product or service can help you communicate your value proposition quickly and effectively. Visual branding accounts for your company’s logo, color palette, font choices, and how you use photography and other graphical elements. Verbal branding refers to how you write and speak about your product or service. Think about the feelings you want to evoke in your audience and the words that will help you do so.
If you already have branding in place, keep in mind that what captures the attention in your home country may need to be updated or refreshed to capture attention overseas.
Americans are known for multi-tasking, simultaneously scrolling on their phones, checking their smartwatches, and sitting behind their laptops at a given moment. Ensure that your brand can stop them in their tracks and make them interested enough to read your social post, watch your video, open your email, or visit your website.
- Understand that building brand awareness takes time–and be patient.
When your company’s branding is ready for U.S. audiences, you’ll share it across marketing channels, including a website, social media pages, and email. It may take some time to find your audience online. Maybe you’re used to receiving dozens of leads every week. When you enter a new market, it will take time to build those numbers up. You may find that U.S. audiences need time to build trust with your brand through repeat exposure to content they find valuable. Instead of getting discouraged by numbers that don’t match what you’re experiencing at home, focus on benchmarking and celebrate month-over-month increases in website traffic, leads, social media followers, and so on. If you aren’t gaining traction, visit your digital marketing strategy to ensure that you understand your target audience and know where and how they spend time online.
- Make your website the cornerstone of your marketing efforts.
Whether you’re passing out business cards at a networking event, sending a monthly newsletter, or sharing an exciting announcement on social media, these marketing assets will lead potential customers to your website. Make sure it’s ready to represent your brand.
Your website should be well-designed and easy to navigate. It should also be mobile-optimized and load quickly. Copy should be well-written, concise, and appropriate for your target audience, and all photos, videos, and graphics should have a professional look and feel. You’ll also want to give prospective U.S. customers a way to contact you without placing an overseas call. Supply your email address or add a contact form or automated chat feature.
- Hone in on the geographic locations that make the most sense for your business.
With 50 states and six time zones and New York and Los Angeles separated by a 5-hour flight, the United States is a big place to do business. If you’re setting up meetings in the U.S., think about the geographic areas you could pursue in one trip–East Coast cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, for example.
From there, work backward to put a geographic focus on your marketing efforts, too. Instead of spending advertising dollars to reach the whole United States, narrow your ad targeting to professionals in specific metropolitan areas where you can see yourself taking meetings in the months ahead.
- Be ready for success–it could come at you fast!
When you’ve dedicated time and resources to marketing efforts, be ready for what’s next. Ensure your website can handle high-volume traffic and that your team is available for frequent sales meetings.
Also, take note of American business culture. Americans take deadlines and meeting times seriously and tend to form business relationships first and friendships second. Don’t be offended if a prospective customer doesn’t want to talk about your family or last vacation. These things come later on after you’ve built trust professionally.
Americans also like to have options. Be ready to discuss a variation on your product or service that best serves your prospective customer’s needs. It could be as simple as offering a pilot program or free trial.
For meeting with investors or prospective customers, be ready to discuss more than your market entry plan. You may also get asked about your growth plan for the coming years. Describe your strategy as one they should want to play a role in bringing to life.
Have questions? The team at SD&A would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Stephen Donnelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the conversation started.