If you’re a successful founder or marketer in Europe, building your business probably went something like this: you took a brilliant idea and turned it into something. Something bigger than just an idea, something tangible, something that adds value. In doing this, you rose to entrepreneurship and succeeded in overcoming many obstacles: you raised money, built a team and perfected your product. You identified the right target for your product and convinced your target audience to try it. You did all of this and you saw growth.

Maybe you did all of this in Germany or France, the UK or the Netherlands. Wherever you found your initial success, you’re likely thinking about what’s next and how you can translate the success you found at home into success elsewhere. And you’re probably thinking that one of the largest and most fruitful markets to jump into is the United States. You would be correct.  The numbers alone tell a very promising story. When looking at how the US compares to Europe’s largest market, Germany, you’ll find that the population is four times bigger, household income is 30 percent higher, advertising spend is 10 times more and retail sales are $5.5 trillion to Germany’s $890 billion.

With such a large population spending so much money, there might be room for you too. There is, but the path to success in the US is paved with challenges and opportunities, so before you leap into the market, let us be your guide. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The US is not the US

Often, the US is talked about as one big golden opportunity, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s important in a market as large as the US, where you can fit four Germanys or 10 Netherlands, to understand that there’s no one entry point and depending on where you land, the differences can be staggering. There are major differences in the north and south, east and west, coasts versus middle America, political parties, racial divides and language barriers. Additionally, there are 50 states in the country, over 19 000 cities, six time zones and 210 locally defined markets that you can specify when buying advertisements. Of course, these nuances exist in every market, but due to the size of the US, these distinctions can mean the difference between hitting or missing your target audience completely.

So how do you enter the market when there are so many options and a million ways to reach your goals? You localize. The best way to make it in the US is to zoom in on what part of the country makes the most sense for your product, audience and budget. These factors will be key to determining which subset of the 325 million people in the country make the most sense for you to get in front of. Maybe your product is best suited for New Yorkers but your budget won’t allow it, so it’s smarter to test in San Francisco or Miami, which are also urban markets, but at a more accessible price point. The data will tell you where to start, so make sure you look at it before you decide to jump into the market.

LET’S TALK SCALING IN THE USA! Reserve your spot for a free masterclass in cracking the US market in Amsterdam on May 21, London on May 22 or Berlin on May 23.

What worked in Paris won’t work in Pittsburg

The way you enter the market can be just as important as where you choose to enter. At DCMN, we take a test, learn and scale approach to everything we do and we strongly recommend it for market entry. Even if Facebook is the best channel for you in your home market, it does not mean it will perform well with your audience in the US. In fact, your audience in the US may not even be on Facebook. You have to consider this before you start and when you do start, you want to start small. Test with a smaller budget, learn from it and take into account what worked and what didn’t. Above all, don’t forget to ask yourself why it did or didn’t work.

We’ve seen time and again that testing and learning can often be what sets apart a successful market entry from those that don’t perform. When it comes to scaling in the US, you’ll have an advantage that you likely wouldn’t have at home with a plethora of tools which will give you a level of access to market data beyond what you might have at your fingertips in Europe. As you grow, you’ll be able to leverage this important data and collect new data about your consumer in ways that you weren’t able to in Europe. For this reason, it’s important to do your research into what tools and platforms are available to you before launch. The more specific you can be with your audience targeting, the better awareness of your product your audience will have. All of this will allow you to test, learn and scale more quickly and effectively.

Timing is everything

One of the most important questions you’ll ask yourself before entering the US market is: how will I know if it’s the right time? You’ll know it’s the right time if you can take a 360 degree approach in the market. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t think a 360 degree approach means having enough budget to run a campaign across TV, Facebook, adwords and on the New York subway all at the same time. If this was the case, no one would ever be ready for US market entry.

At DCMN, we think of 360 degree marketing differently. We see it as the framework between your product and your target audience. It encompasses not just how your audience becomes aware of your product, but also what their experience is when they land on your website, as well as whether manufacturing and production are in a good place so your audience can get the product on time. The full experience of the consumer with your brand is what must be considered in a 360 degree approach, everything from what you have set up to collect the necessary data for retargeting to how your consumer finds your website and what that experience looks like on desktop or mobile when your consumer lands there.  

Some questions you can ask yourself to help you think through a 360 degree approach include:

  • Is my website ready to receive US visitors and handle the potential demand from the market?
  • How will my audience find my website? When they land will it be what they expected to see?
  • Am I set up properly to collect customer data that I can leverage later?
  • Do I have the inventory and infrastructure necessary for my product?

The answers to these questions may very well make you realize it’s not the right time for market entry and that’s OK. It’s better to be prepared for launch than to just move ahead and see what happens.

As you think about US market entry, remember that, though it may look different than it has in your home market, the opportunity is available to you to test, learn and scale your way to success.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to scale into the US, please send an email to team-nyc@dcmn.com.

LET’S TALK SCALING IN THE USA! Reserve your spot for a free masterclass in cracking the US market in Amsterdam on May 21, London on May 22 or Berlin on May 23.