The Five Marketing Mistakes that Every Exporter to the USA Must Avoid


Signs of Growth

With domestic demand in Spain projected to remain low for the foreseeable future, exporting to the United States is an attractive opportunity for any Spanish business. American purchases of foreign goods and services are up over 50% in the last 4 years, and new free trade agreements that promise to further liberalize trade with Europe are creating more opportunities in the United States than ever before.

But taking advantage of those opportunities takes a good understanding of the American market. And even when a company has met regulatory requirements, secured a customs broker and settled on a distribution strategy, there are five easily-avoided marketing mistakes that can prevent Spanish companies from succeeding in the US.

Mistake #1: Delegating the Business to a Novice

Exporting successfully requires developing a deep knowledge of the target market: of prospective customers and how to reach them. Of potential partners and how to collaborate with them. Of competing products and services and how to position against them. It’s not something that can be done by a junior associate. It demands the attention of an experienced professional – ideally one with local market experience. If a company already has that type of person in the organization and that’s who is overseeing the export effort, then that’s a promising start. If not, it’s critical that the company hire or partner with someone who can bring that expertise to the table. Otherwise, the push to export is likely to stall before it ever gets off the ground.

Mistake #2: Hiring a Translator instead of a Marketer

Unfortunately, much of the English translation by non-native English companies today doesn’t meet business grammar or vocabulary standards. But even a perfect translator doesn’t have the experience or skills to help you sell to American buyers. Translators play many important roles, but marketing is not one of them. That’s because marketing is about persuading a specific audience, and translators are experts in language—not persuasion. Marketing to the United States takes more than good grammar. It takes experience creating value propositions for commercial buyers and consumers, and crafting marketing that communicates clearly to an American audience.

Mistake #3: Thinking Your Website is Done

The first place any potential partner or prospect will go once they hear about your company, product or service is your website, and your website’s look, feel, functionality and content make an instant statement about your company’s capabilities. Usage statistics and our own boardroom experience tell us that your site must be mobile-friendly, and it must be optimized for both tablets and smartphones. It must feature a contemporary interface and graphics. The site must be available in perfect American English, and it should have a blog that is updated at least once a week to help with SEO. The most forward-thinking companies are also implementing content marketing best practices to capture and nurture leads, and future changes are sure to come. Websites are never finished—they must evolve on a regular basis, and keeping them current is a cost of doing business.

Mistake #4: Spending Too Much Money on Tradeshows

Tradeshow organizers are under significant pressure to recruit more sponsors, more exhibitors and more attendees. As a result, they vigorously pursue many companies with promises of exposure in event brochures, on giveaway items and out on the tradeshow floor. Unfortunately, this kind of exposure gets next to no attention. A sponsorship can make sense if it’s packaged with an opportunity to deliver a demo or a well-crafted presentation to a highly-targeted audience. Simply going to a tradeshow as an attendee can pay dividents if the person attending has a clear plan of who he or she wants to meet, is armed with a clear sales pitch to them and has compelling material to share with the prospective customer or partner. But if the plan is simply to get a booth and wait for prospects to show up, save that money and use it to fund an email marketing campaign instead.

Mistake #5: Trying to Position the Same Way Abroad that You Do at Home

Your products or services may be seen as innovative, or reliable, or low-cost, or many other possible ways in your home country, but the competitive landscape in the United States is likely much different from the domestic market. And the moment “Made in Spain” is associated with that product or service, a new set of associations enters the psyche of partners and prospective buyers. While in general terms Spain is seen in a positive light, recent research indicates that the country’s reputation for technology and skilled workers is weak compared to other European countries. Spain’s businesses are innovative, and workforce productivity is rising, but you’ll need to tell that story effectively in order to overcome predispositions that exist in the United States and other foreign markets.

Exporting to the United States offers significant opportunities to many Spanish businesses, but success requires communicating an attractive value proposition to American buyers. Avoiding the marketing errors described above will help current or potential Spanish exporters present themselves appropriately, compete successfully and capitalize on opportunities in the world’s largest market.

To explore how BrandCulture can help you position your business for success in the United States, contact us today.

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