• Ben Karl

Four key benefits of localization for successful market entry

When entering new markets, companies often prioritize their financial strategy at the expense of their communications strategy. If increased sales are the ultimate goal, can you count on earning new business if customers can’t understand what you’re selling?

There is no question that cross-border trade and exchange will play a key role in revitalizing the global economy in the coming months and years, which means many companies are seizing the opportunity to sell in new international markets. Localization, or the adaptation of a product or service to make it suitable for a new market or region, is a key component of successful market entry. Companies often prioritize their financial strategy, namely making sure they have enough runway and a path to profitable growth, when aiming a move abroad. Where they sometimes go wrong is elevating their financial strategy and neglecting their communications strategy, thinking that what they’re selling will just sell itself.

Where companies sometimes go wrong is neglecting their communications strategy, thinking that what they’re selling will sell itself

I recently spoke with Sophie Lechner, a certified cross-cultural trainer, market entry specialist, and the founder and CEO of Global Commerce Education, Inc, a training and consulting firm specializing in helping mid-size European companies successfully enter the US market, and Jim Good, founder and CEO of CC & T LLC, a market entry consulting firm specializing in advising companies seeking to enter the US market on all aspects of sales and business development leading to actual client acquisition. I reached out to Sophie and Jim after watching their informative webinar, 5 Steps to Your First US Clients, to ask them about what successful market entry looks like from a localization perspective and what advice they give their clients. Read on to learn four benefits of successful localization and valuable insight from Sophie and Jim’s combined 60+ years of experience.

Benefit 1: Overcome cultural differences

Sophie’s multi-decade experience at Fortune 100 companies on both sides of the Atlantic has taught her that, despite the best planning and intentions, when cultures meet, misunderstandings occur. When working to enter a new market, everyone—from the founder to the most recent hire—needs to anticipate these differences and plan accordingly. This is especially true of verbal and written communications, from conducting sales calls to drafting marketing materials. Working with experts who are aware of these differences can make a huge difference.

Working with experts who are aware of cultural differences can make a huge difference

“German companies are likelier to highlight the features or qualities of a product,” Sophie said, “whereas in the US, buyers want to know how the product will benefit them or exactly which problems it’s going to solve for them.” Expert localization helps companies go beyond words to overcome cultural differences and convey information in a way that will appeal to target customers.

Benefit 2: Show stakeholders you’re serious

Putting the effort into your new image and message in a new market shows your stakeholders you take them, and yourself, seriously. Arriving on the scene with a poorly worded website or sales materials will not inspire confidence or start your relationships off on the right foot.

One of CC & T’s clients, the founder of a high-tech augmented reality company, translated their website into English leading up to the company’s US launch. Despite being advised to adapt it, the founder didn’t believe there was an issue until his first US sales call, during which the president of the company said that the website made no sense. The founder hired a professional the very next day to fix it. Imagine how differently the sales call might have gone if the website had been stellar from the start.

Benefit 3: Earn your customers’ trust—and their business

Business runs on relationships and reputations. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Speaking your customers’ language, both literally and figuratively, goes a long way. The best way to target a particular industry or type of customer is to speak to them directly, in words that they themselves would use. When cultural differences and communications “click” for companies, you can see it in their websites, pitch decks, and sales materials: they speak like their prospects do and appeal to their needs using familiar terms, phrases, and jargon. These results are impossible if you don’t rely on a professional.

Conveying your value in a new market in a way that inspires trust and confidence is critical for success

Said Jim: “One of my clients drafted a very proficient website that highlighted the technical side of his product, thinking that was enough. But the site entirely missed the marketing, sales, and business aspect, and he had to fix it to increase his sales.” Conveying your value in a new market in a way that inspires trust and confidence is critical for success.

Benefit 4: Increase your sales

The biggest benefit, and the culmination of the previous three, is that, with proper localization, you will increase sales and grow your revenue more quickly because your customers will see your value more clearly. “Customers aren’t going to buy if they can barely understand your website,” Jim said. “Throw in the idea of trying to get after-sales support from a company with unclear sales materials, and potential customers will run in the opposite direction.” If customers are confident that a product or service will meet their needs and that they will be able to get after-sales support, they will be likelier to open their wallets.

Final tip: Be proactive about language strategy, not reactive

If you only realize that your localization efforts need improving at your first meeting with a potential customer, you’ve realized too late. In English we say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (en français : mieux vaut prévenir que guérir), and identifying room for improvement well in advance will help protect your image and ensure you put your best foot forward when expanding into new markets.

If you’re ready to discuss your communication needs for your US market expansion, contact me today.

To learn more about Sophie and Jim’s training and consulting services, please contact them directly using the links below.

Sophie Lechner is a certified cross-cultural trainer, market entry specialist, and the founder and CEO of Global Commerce Education, Inc (GCE), a US market entry consulting firm. After 25 years in global strategy and marketing at Fortune 100 multinationals, including Bouygues, BP, and Pfizer, Sophie founded GCE to accelerate the US expansion of mid-market European companies. Reach out to her on LinkedIn.

Jim Good is a communications and business development executive and the founder and CEO of CC & T LLC. Drawing on his experience as an international banker and business development leader for a number of boutique firms, he specializes in advising companies on all aspects of sales and business development, including messaging and pitching, leading to actual client acquisition. Reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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