All markets are not created equally.
No really, it’s true!
Despite an ongoing fascination for some, typically in America, to want to “market to Europe” each country has its own unique challenges and opportunities. The big global brands figured this out many years ago. Which is why the experience of McDonalds might be the same in all countries, but the menu does vary. It is also why (I am told) Starbucks didn’t work in Israel—Israeli’s don’t like American coffee generally and Starbucks apparently didn’t adapt.
But what about if you are a service company?
We are going through this very issue today as we reconcile some of our service areas to come up with a consistent go-to-market in each geography. Since this is a work in progress and we are a public company, I will refrain from talking specifically about our situation, instead I will write a few notes in the abstract.
It’s important never to forget that market dynamics vary widely from country to country and region to region. It is a fact that many of the countries that made up the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union are just plain behind in their technology maturity, in some cases 20 years behind. This is both cautionary, and opportunity. In some cases the big companies may be only on their second or even first generation ERP system. But the mobile network applications skipped right to the current generation.
As a marketer, when we examine market opportunities we have to consider these nuances. So even if we are selling application services to banks in the US and in Russia, and even if the core application is centered on customer care, the situation is very different in each country.
Further HOW items are purchased can vary widely. Purchasing and procurement processes in the US have matured over the past 10 years. Large global companies have entire teams of people focused on managing the purchasing process, and work toward getting the most for the least. In other parts of the world this function may not exist or is far less sophisticated.
Even how the web is used varies by country. It’s often not easy to replicate a successful pay-per-click campaign from country to country. The language nuances are one factor but the buyer behavior isn’t the same either.
So in the end, rationalizing a service portfolio and aligning around a set of core competencies that transcends regions makes for good business strategy. But when it comes time to build the go-to-market strategy for those services, I suggest adding just two words to that time honored marketing axiom:
Know your customer by country.