The global payments market is larger and more complex thanever, which represents an opportunity for experienced international processors.By 2020, the global value of cross-border B2C e-commerce willreach $1 trillion. That number, and the double-digit annual growth itrepresents, has the attention of US ecommerce merchants. They want competitive paymentoptions that support evolving customer preferences, serve internationalmarkets, assist with compliance, and provide excellent security and fraudprotection.
International payments businesses can use their offshoreexpertise to win US clients, as long as they optimize their marketing for theUS merchant audience. The most effective approach involves building your brandin the US almost as if you were starting from scratch, by demonstrating yourexpertise, building trust, and establishing your authority in your niche. Youmay be a top player in your home market, but new markets require proceeding asif you were in startup mode—with the advantage that you have existing expertiseand experience to leverage.
Work with a US-based PR and marketing team
Unless your marketing team at home has a US branch staffedwith local talent, you should select a US-based team to craft marketing andsales communications with a US voice, attuned to US merchant preferences. Thesein-country experts can help your brand navigate the nuances of the US marketfor a more efficient and cost-effective campaign. For example, they’ll know whichpublications, social media channels, and trade shows are the best match withyour target audience.
Build recognition and trust among US merchants
A good US PR and marketing team will build brand recognitionand 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 articlesby your principals in the industry publications your market trusts. USmerchants (and US B2B audiences in general) look to prospective vendors forhelpful information that can help them solve or avoid problems. Educationalarticles 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’smessage and helps establish your brand’s authority and trustworthiness.
Another aspect of US brand-building is positioning yourprincipals 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 toselect events where your leaders can stand out from the crowd and connectdirectly with prospects, rather than getting lost in a crowd of competitors.
When done right, social media participation also helps yourUS audience get to know your brand and your principals. Effective social media marketing involvesparticipation and listening, not just posting updates. You’ll also need a richbase of content to share socially, such as blog posts, white papers and casestudies relevant to the US market. As with trade publications and events, socialmedia practices and preferred channels vary from market to market. A US-basedsocial media marketing team should manage your US-facing social media accounts.
Work with your PR and marketing team to develop and sharetestimonials and case studies that align with what US merchants are lookingfor, even if—and perhaps especially if–the clients you feature are basedabroad. This type of content helps prospects decide whether to work with you, putsa 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 doingbusiness with. Did your CEO start her first company at 18? Does your SVP ofsales use his competitive tennis experience to inform his approach to markets?Your executive biographies, press, blog, and social media should include apersonal detail or two to make your leaders and brand relatable.
Do your research
Your marketing and PR programs will be most effective if youbring recent and thorough market research to the planning stages. Know the USpayments market landscape, and analyze the competitors in your niche. Thisresearch will help you clarify your unique market position and help your USmarketing team differentiate you from the competition.
Your strength may be overseas expertise on issues thatcurrently matter to US prospects. For example, EMV adoption is a non-issue inthe markets where it’s been in use for years, but many US merchants are playingcatch-up to the new US EMV liability regulations. Can your experience abroadsave US merchants time and money coming into compliance?
One ongoing research project should be to learn your newaudience’s decision-making habits and preferred communication style. Thisincludes 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 trainyour 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 foraction-oriented business leaders, is to be patient. Nothing—not even your brandpresence in a new market—is built in a day. Regardless of how much money youdevote to your US launch, your campaign will only succeed if you take the timeto establish your expertise and build trust with your audience. That meansworking with, not against, publication and event calendars and industry newscycles.
Too often, market newcomers spend heavily on splashyinitiatives that fail to generate results. The more effective long-termapproach is to spend heavily on the time it takes to establish your brand inthe US market, using the strategies outlined above. Then you can capitalize onthose efforts by spending in ways that will best connect you to prospects thatalready know and trust you.
Bonnie Moss is Presidentand founder of Moss Networks (www.mossnetworks.com), a full service Marketing, PR and EventProduction powerhouse, bringing over a decade of experience in the Payments,Technology and the B2B marketplaces. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.