Excerpt from Chapter 3 of “Pond Business: How to Succeed Across the Atlantic” by Mark Sutherland, available from Dunrobin Publishing on Amazon and Amazon UK and in bookstores in the UK and the US.
There’s a great organization spread across the globe, run by the British Government, called the Department of International Trade or DIT for short. Many of the experts in that group work with British and American companies on a daily basis as these companies invest in and trade with the other country.
US businesses may, at times, have a tendency to think a bit bigger from the word go. “US companies are aiming for a certain scale and rate of growth, whereas British businesses can be a bit more measured in their approach,” a senior member of Her Majesty’s Government told me recently. “There are pros and cons to both approaches, of course.”
I can certainly concur with him. In my experience, UK companies also seem to have less appetite for risk as well as underestimating how much planning is needed to make a good entry into the US market. There is also a lack of understanding, many times, about the US federal system and how doing business in Missouri for example is far different from doing business in New York. In fact, British companies should look at each US state as a separate territory and approach each one with a specific plan to operate within that state’s cultural and business environment.
New York is more of a snappy, straight-down-to-business type environment, whereas Missouri is more relational, and more vested in the success of companies that choose to invest there. Missouri would be the place for coffee or tea to get to know each other first, or even a meal. You will actually find this working well in many places outside of New York.
Marketing materials are also a matter of difference. British companies who are experienced with working in the US have some phenomenal marketing materials, some of which I have gleaned inspiration from over the years. However, British companies who are venturing into the US for the first time are, more commonly, lacking in marketing materials, and even a marketing strategy. I highly recommend you engage with a US-based marketing agency who understands your target audience in order to produce materials that capture the essence of your company, in a British way, but at a level of production expected in the US. And don’t feel that has to be a New York or Los Angeles agency. You can find some amazing firms all across America, including in my current home town of St. Louis, Missouri, at a much lower price point. Another thing for British companies to be aware of …
You can read more about my cross-Pond experiences and insights on how to succeed in your cross-Pond business ventures from corporate, governmental and organizational leaders in both countries in “Pond Business: How to Succeed Across the Atlantic.”