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What International Payments Businesses Need to Know about Branding in the US

 The global payments market is larger and more complex than ever, which represents an opportunity for experienced international processors. By 2020, the global value of cross-border B2C e-commerce will reach $1 trillion. That number, and the double-digit annual growth it represents, has the attention of US ecommerce merchants. They want competitive payment options that support evolving customer preferences, serve international markets, assist with compliance, and provide excellent security and fraud protection.

 

International payments businesses can use their offshore expertise to win US clients, as long as they optimize their marketing for the US merchant audience. The most effective approach involves building your brand in the US almost as if you were starting from scratch, by demonstrating your expertise, building trust, and establishing your authority in your niche. You may be a top player in your home market, but new markets require proceeding as if you were in startup mode—with the advantage that you have existing expertise and experience to leverage.

Work with a US-based PR and marketing team 

Unless your marketing team at home has a US branch staffed with local talent, you should select a US-based team to craft marketing and sales communications with a US voice, attuned to US merchant preferences. These in-country experts can help your brand navigate the nuances of the US market for a more efficient and cost-effective campaign. For example, they’ll know which publications, social media channels, and trade shows are the best match with your target audience.

Build recognition and trust among US merchants 

A good US PR and marketing team will build brand recognition and authority among prospective payments clients with “show, don’t tell” tactics that establish your principals as experts.

One part of this process is placing thought leadership articles by your principals in the industry publications your market trusts. US merchants (and US B2B audiences in general) look to prospective vendors for helpful information that can help them solve or avoid problems. Educational articles help your audience get to know your brand and view it as a resource; earning a spot in a US trade publication reflects the quality of your brand’s message and helps establish your brand’s authority and trustworthiness.

Another aspect of US brand-building is positioning your principals as speakers who engage with your US peers at events and conferences. A US marketing and PR team with payments-industry knowledge will be able to select events where your leaders can stand out from the crowd and connect directly with prospects, rather than getting lost in a crowd of competitors.

When done right, social media participation also helps your US audience get to know your brand and your principals. Effective social media marketing involves participation and listening, not just posting updates. You’ll also need a rich base of content to share socially, such as blog posts, white papers and case studies relevant to the US market. As with trade publications and events, social media practices and preferred channels vary from market to market. A US-based social media marketing team should manage your US-facing social media accounts.     
           

Work with your PR and marketing team to develop and share testimonials and case studies that align with what US merchants are looking for, even if—and perhaps especially if--the clients you feature are based abroad. This type of content helps prospects decide whether to work with you, puts a human face on your brand, and validates your expert status.

Be people, not just a brand. This is important in the US, where merchants and consumers alike want to know about the people they’re doing business with. Did your CEO start her first company at 18? Does your SVP of sales use his competitive tennis experience to inform his approach to markets? Your executive biographies, press, blog, and social media should include a personal detail or two to make your leaders and brand relatable.

Do your research 

Your marketing and PR programs will be most effective if you bring recent and thorough market research to the planning stages. Know the US payments market landscape, and analyze the competitors in your niche. This research will help you clarify your unique market position and help your US marketing team differentiate you from the competition.

Your strength may be overseas expertise on issues that currently matter to US prospects. For example, EMV adoption is a non-issue in the markets where it’s been in use for years, but many US merchants are playing catch-up to the new US EMV liability regulations. Can your experience abroad save US merchants time and money coming into compliance?

One ongoing research project should be to learn your new audience’s decision-making habits and preferred communication style. This includes localizing your site and messaging to reflect US language and culture. Your US marketing and PR team can oversee this, but it’s a good idea to train your staff and leaders to get into the mindset of your US audience, too.

Prioritize patience and be selective with spending 

The biggest expansion challenge, especially for action-oriented business leaders, is to be patient. Nothing—not even your brand presence in a new market—is built in a day. Regardless of how much money you devote to your US launch, your campaign will only succeed if you take the time to establish your expertise and build trust with your audience. That means working with, not against, publication and event calendars and industry news cycles.

Too often, market newcomers spend heavily on splashy initiatives that fail to generate results. The more effective long-term approach is to spend heavily on the time it takes to establish your brand in the US market, using the strategies outlined above. Then you can capitalize on those efforts by spending in ways that will best connect you to prospects that already know and trust you.

 

Bonnie Moss is President and founder of Moss Networks (www.mossnetworks.com), a full service Marketing, PR and Event Production powerhouse, bringing over a decade of experience in the Payments, Technology and the B2B marketplaces. Email info@mossnetworks.com for more information. 

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