USA to UK and UK to USA
A real understanding of the British and American marketplaces
“England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
The quotation often used to highlight the difference between the two countries. It was true when Shaw wrote it and it’s true today. Indeed, it is surprising how many organizations fall into the trap of assuming that the US and UK marketplaces are very alike.
If an American company wishes to launch into, say, Italy, research will be undertaken to ascertain the nuances that should be noted in product make-up, packaging, and marketing and promotion. Yet, because the US and the UK speak (vaguely) the same language, it is often assumed such preparation is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the realization of that mistake can be very expensive and very damaging to the product or service…there often being only one chance to mount the launch against specific competitive activity.
Reliable hands-on experience in America and Britain when you need it
Adrian Fox and BFT International—with its core team of 18—brings a unique level of experience to American and British organizations ready to move across the Atlantic but who might find some aspects of that process a little daunting. Working closely with our British affiliates we provide real knowledge and hands-on assistance in America for US companies entering the UK marketplace, and a depth of understanding for UK companies who require reliable on-site marketing assistance in the US Our network of affiliates in America supports the BFT, Sarasota, Florida, team as required. Our extended hours of operation greatly assist the time differences across the Atlantic.
We have a proven history of successfully assisting American companies (of all types and sizes) to avoid marketing pitfalls and hit the foreign ground running. Our experience, since 1972, has seen very many successful trans-Atlantic launches and, we are proud to claim, that we have been closely associated with some of the most famous brands—a few examples:
BFT International’s Managing Director has a broad base of UK and US marketing experience—from regional start-ups to major blue chip companies
Adrian Fox founded BFT International in London, in 1992. He positioned the company as the full service marketing and advertising agency specializing in assisting US marketers to launch into the UK, and for UK marketers to launch into the US. The intent being that BFT’s clients should be able to work transatlantically “with as much confidence as they would have in their own country.” This was a very successful positioning as no other UK agency took that market niche. It was, perhaps, an idea right for its time as recent years have witnessed many American brands move into Britain and many British brands move into America.
When BFT transferred its headquarters to Portland, Maine, in January 1999, and subsequently to Sarasota, Florida in 2014, this market positioning was continued and was supported by our US stance of providing (what we call) a New York/ Chicago/London style of service to regional American organizations—often enabling such organizations to benefit from major metropolitan knowledge and experience while paying local charge rates.
For a US or UK organization to embark upon a trans-Atlantic launch it might be assumed that its sales have reached a critical mass. While that might be true, it does not necessarily mean that the company would be considered large. Many product and service companies work across international markets without being major corporations. BFT International works with organizations of all sizes from regional start-ups to major blue chip companies.
Specific recommendations for each brand—no cookie cutter answers
Sometimes the brand or product name must change—perhaps because of company purchases, legal reasons, brand name confusion or target audience acceptance. P&G’s ‘Mr. Clean’ was launched in 1958. In most of mainland Europe, it is known as ‘Mr. Proper’, but the name was changed to ‘Flash’ in the UK to avoid confusion with existing products called ‘Mr. Sheen’ and ‘Mr. Muscle’. Kellogg’s ‘Frosties’ just works better in the UK than ‘Frosted Flakes’. When T.J. Maxx launched into the UK in 1994, the company found that it couldn’t use its name because it was already partly in use, so in the UK it is T.K. Maxx (BFT International launched T.K. Maxx in the UK. Other major brands we launched included New England Tourism, United Artists Cable Television and Xyplex computer peripherals).
So it is much more detailed and complicated than knowing how to use various US/UK idioms. It is all about having a deep understanding of each country’s marketplace and its idiosyncrasies. BFT International delivers that understanding via a simple and pragmatic approach.
Our approach to make your brand famous on both sides of the Atlantic
Depending on each individual circumstance, we work with you to ensure the key aspects of the marketplace have been carefully considered.
RESEARCH THE REGIONS THAT HOLD MOST POTENTIAL
This is fundamental because even a country as compact as the UK has many varied and diverse regions that may or may not be the most suitable for a brand roll-out launch…and America, of course, can almost feel like 50 separate countries. Research need not be expensive because sensible and proven intuition can help as an economic short cut to gaining quick and actionable decisions. We must also review recent marketplace trends to enable precise positioning for the product or service versus the competition.
REALLY GET TO KNOW THE TARGET AUDIENCE
Psychographics not just demographics—what they are like as people, what aspects of everyday life they relate to, what influences them, where and how do they shop—basically, what makes them tick. This is invaluable data that saves time and expense and enables all areas of promotion to engage from day one.
ESTABLISH THE CORRECT TONE OF VOICE
The way the product or service (brand) ‘speaks’ to its target audience in the US or UK will not necessarily be correct in the opposite country. This is largely linked to the created positioning in the marketplace and often depends on what the identified competition is claiming and how it is being claimed.
COMPARE COUNTRY COMMUNICATION
When all aspects of the UK or US target audience is established it will be necessary to compare the existing brand’s values to the new country’s. They might match, but they might not, and that will mean realignment in marketing communication execution. The brand logo is likely to be retained but (if it has one) the tagline may need to be altered (and if there is not a tagline a new phrase may have to be written to help establish the brand).
TEST THE MARKETING MESSAGE
Market testing can be long-winded, expensive and time-consuming. But it need not be. We have seen complicated product and communication testing fail and we have seen intuitive and economic testing succeed. Once again, it is often about being pragmatic, realistic and being dependent upon proven experience. In reality, testing for success is invariably a balance between solid dip-stick research and ‘beat-of-the-street’ knowledge. BFT provides both.
KEEP ALL ELEMENTS OF THE COMPANY IN THE LOOP
For precise and accurate marketing to work to the fullest extent it relies on the total support of all levels of the workforce in both countries and particularly the new one. We listen carefully to a company’s sales team ‘on the ground’ (often joining them on sales visits) to ascertain the way in which the product or service is being received. Such data is fed back into the Marketing Plan to heighten its impact. We place strong importance in making regular presentations to all elements of the organization.
CREATE A REALISTIC AND AFFORDABLE MARKETING MESSAGE
An ongoing budget is certainly needed. And it certainly need not be unrealistic or unaffordable. Part of the brand’s price should incorporate a percentage to be allocated to marketing promotion (the advertising to sales ratio), so what needs to be spent on marketing will not be a separate overhead, but will be a pre-planned expense.
Even if a project seems daunting, it can certainly be made manageable
The move into a trans-Atlantic market can be easily summarized.
Shape the product
Shape the marketplace
Shape the organization
By careful and pragmatic planning, the organization can think ‘transatlantically’ and act locally; can create precise marketing communication to deliver the brand message to a carefully identified target audience; and can coordinate all the relevant elements of marketing, sales and distribution. As a result, the initially daunting task of moving into an unknown foreign marketplace becomes a successful extension of the known and familiar.
BFT International works on both sides of the Atlantic. We know the turf. We make the process very manageable. We ensure that all activity works towards a successful international launch.