Mistakes to avoid when marketing in the US

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Mistakes to avoid when marketing in the US

  • brand equity, digital marketing, marketing, premium brands

Marketing in the US is easy, right?

Marketing your Danish products or services in the US is not as easy as you might think, and our Digital Marketing event April 13 made it crystal clear to the 60+ members and guests who attended at Danfoss in Copenhagen.

From Sean Duffy, founder of DuffyAgency, we learned that it’s not just about translating your tag line or website.  Using Hofstede’s scale, he showed how different Danes and Americans are, and the importance of understanding these differences.

Hofstede US Canada Denmark

Also, most companies start out wrong by focusing only on SALES, but that can backfire in the longrun. You need to ensure you are building a premium brand, so that you have margin and can defend against the many competitors you’ll face.

Duffy Sales Margin Brand Equity

Sean had many great examples of failures, including IKEA’s initial marketing of mattresses that didn’t fit standard US king and queen-sized sheets in the US – “We’ll Learn the Americans about Mattress Sizes!”

Steen Rasmussen from IIH Nordic‘s key message was to be realistic about the budget needed for the US – take the US seriously or don’t start marketing there!  He gave an interesting comparison of the size of the US states to the size of various countries around the world, and talked about “eating the elephant” in snack-sized bits.

IIH Nordic US States compared to country sizes

His key points included that you need to learn which channels your specific target audience uses, and be there – too expensive to be everywhere.  Some other tips included

  • Invest in localizing your site, not just translating it
  • adjust your search keywords to be very narrow
  • use the focusing tools available for digital marketing (geographic areas, time slots, weather etc!)
  • use a US-based server – the server location impacts your ranking and Google pushes you lower if you are on a foreign server.  You really need to invest in getting your technical foundation right.
  • Utilize online PR and content marketing
  • email is no longer the “black sheep” of marketing
  • be sure you understand and start to use Remarketing and Automated Marketing.

Don’t fall into these traps of why businesses fail:

5 reasons businesses fail when moving abroad

Thomas Kolster, Head of Digital Marketing, Danfoss, talked about how Danfoss Refrigeration and Air Conditioning has tackled the US market.  US is now 1/4 of Danfoss total turnover!

First focus was on building Awareness, especially among OEM market, but next challenge was to build reputation and preference within the aftermarket (installers and contractors).

Through careful analysis of customer data, Danfoss found 2 segments and realized that there was a segment of Millennials (20 to 29 year olds) who is beginning to replace the older BabyBoomers who are retiring.  Millennials have very different use of internet including social media, than BabyBoomers, and 2/3 use ad blockers, so traditional advertising is out.  Using new LinkedIn Structured Data Danfoss can understand their target’s interests and behaviors much more deeply, and deliver SUBSTANCE and VALUABLE USEFUL CONTENT, not advertising.  One major effort that’s been spread virally by its Millennial target of installers is its innovative app that helps them measure pressure and temperature and simultaneously provides an “owned channel” for Danfoss to push messages and collect behavioral data from its target.  Other examples include promotion of sustainability, which Millennials care about, and How-To guides, which they need as the older generation retires.  All in all, many things that can be done through Digital Marketing to reach your US target efficiently and effectively and build a premium brand image in their minds.

Digital Marketing advice from Thomas Kolster Danfoss

Last but not least we got great legal advice from Barry Jennings, Bird&Bird.   Any company marketing themselves in the US must start by picking the right state in which to establish itself – knowing what compliance is required in case of issues, is key, and it’s important that you use legal help to figure out this important first step.  There is A LOT OF VARIATION in the law, state to state, especially when it comes to Business-to-Consumer B2C marketing.

US contracts are treated very differently than European contracts – very literally, so it’s CRITICAL that you know what’s in all of your contracts and get legal help to interpret anything you are unclear about.  US takes the written word as key, not the “intention”.

Barry gave us an excellent resource: the FTC website – the FTC will come down on you and you’ll have to report what you are doing to comply, so you’d better start by knowing the rules.  Here you go for some interesting bedtime reading:!

The FTC publishes useful guidance on the marketing of goods and services online in the US. Link is here.

Some of his key points included:

  • “Local” law advice is complicated (read: expensive) and entering the US is best viewed as entering multiple markets in one go (both an opportunity and a threat). Choice of law (which state) to apply to contracts is an important decision to research
  • The written language of your contracts will be critical as there is less opportunity to imply sensible terms and less ability to draw on intentions of the parties outside the written language
  • The US has various rules at state and federal level for the marketing of goods and services online that are policed by the FTC. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe so you will need to consider your approach to ensuring compliance
  • In US, indemnity protections can be narrower and more readily subject to any limitations on liability which can benefit suppliers but be wary of scope of indemnities offered by distributors, etc.
  • Companies need to consider what data they are collecting where and whether any state or federal rules on privacy apply. Breach notification is developing in Europe but is more clearly established in the US and you will need procedures in place
  • Your contracts need to be clear whether any third parties benefit from the contract. When dealing B2B in the US there can be complicated group structures with lots of affiliates
  • If you are acting as a supplier, ensure contracts expressly address interest on late payments. If you are the payer under a contract, silence is likely to mean interest is not payable