Conquering the American Market: 5 Tips for a Successful US Market EntryKristin Luck
With the US owning over 53% (or $62.6B) of the $118B data, insights and analytics industry, it’s no wonder that many international firms look at the US market as the true measure of global success. However, a poorly planned or under resourced entry into this market can also be the downfall of an undercapitalized company.
With over 25 years of business experience in the US as a founder of firms that successfully expanded into new geographic markets and having spent the last 8 years largely advising internationalization projects specifically with firms entering the US for the first time, I have witnessed numerous triumphs and failures of foreign companies in their entry efforts. As a result, I have a unique understanding of the keys to a successful US market entry, which can also be extrapolated to internationalization in other countries.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to go into a market like the US with a realistic understanding of how long it will take to establish brand awareness and market penetration….and the associated costs for doing so
- Ensure you truly understand your target market and its geography.
The US is a massive market- both in terms of market share AND land mass. Buyer personas and societal norms can fluctuate not only by sector but also by region. Although many B2B service and software companies today are functioning as remote or hybrid office cultures, if you do intend to set up a physical office space, make sure you do so in proximity to the sectors with which you most wish to engage, as traveling from coast to coast is both time consuming and expensive. Serving the entertainment industry? Settle in Los Angeles or New York. Consumer packaged goods? Chicago, Cincinnati or New Jersey. Tech? Look at San Francisco, Seattle, Austin or Salt Lake City (which is now affectionately called “Silicon Slopes”).
- Understand the cultural, legal and work environment.
Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and that means not only hiring the right team (see point 5), but ensuring you understand US culture such that your internal AND external communications are appropriate and you have the infrastructure in place to scale a US business entity. A good in-country corporate attorney is worth their weight in gold. Ping me if you need recommendations for the US….I am a big fan of Stoel Rives.
- Adapt your strategy, marketing and communications….and continuously iterate.
Ensure your strategy, marketing and communications have either been crafted or, at a minimum, reviewed by someone IN MARKET. Case in point, when my firm Decipher was in the early stages of entering the UK, we were preparing to run a print advertisment for an event where dancing was on the evening agenda. The head of our UK office, Richard Collins, suggested substituting the phrase “throwing shapes” (which apparently means dancing in the UK) in the ad….which no one in marketing in our US office would have known! Don’t downplay the importance of localization and always be open to iteration.
- Define realistic timelines and budgets.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to go into a market like the US with a realistic understanding of how long it will take to establish brand awareness and market penetration….and the associated costs for doing so. Under budgeting or budgeting within excessively short timeframes can make market entry a bust, or so catastrophic that it literally takes the entire company down.
- Hire the right team.
I can’t stress enough how important the right team is to the success of ANY new market entry. The US is a highly competitive hiring market and, as such, too many firms bypass essential resources such as recruitment agencies in favor of quick hiring “wins”. Hiring the right people, particularly in the early stages of a market entry, is essential for ensuring positive brand reputation and access to key prospects in the verticals you’re pursuing.