Recession. Stagnant growth. Low consumer confidence. These are very real business headlines we have been seeing for some time. Business is difficult for most of the companies here in the
Many countries in
There are numerous advantages to expanding your business to reach new international markets. And there has never been a better time to do so. It used to be that post offices and postal agencies worldwide were state-owned agencies, which were politically controlled, heavily regulated and protected monopolies. They had limited competition, especially in the delivery of letters, and virtually no technological threat. People sending mail experienced very little customer service since there were few options in getting their packages and letters from place to place. That has changed dramatically in the last 30 years due to key events like the liberalization of the postal markets, adoption of the Internet, lowering of customs barriers and the introduction of the Euro, a common currency for most of
With these changes also come new opportunities for direct marketers. Economic barriers are coming down. More and more companies are looking to do business globally. And as postal operators have become less political and more focused on the customer, there has been an increase in innovation and service quality. Direct marketers can maximize these innovations to drive their businesses as well.
Private operators who offer logistics expertise, transportation and high-value, business-to-business delivery are teaming up with public operators who have unequaled residential delivery capability and unparalleled retail infrastructure. The future is in the creation of global one-stop transportation, logistics and delivery solutions. ·
For US businesses, there are many compelling reasons to take on the global direct mail market. Foreign mailboxes generally have significantly less clutter than mailboxes in the
And with the advent of the Euro in 13 countries, doing business in
However, before embarking into international direct mail, there are a few things to check out in the country you plan on targeting:
1) Economic strength and stability
2) Regulatory environment
3) Political situation
4) Fiscal and tax policy
5) Infrastructure development
6) Population spread
7) Cultural factors
The more you know about the target country, the greater your chances of success with a direct mail campaign. For example, if you know that 70% of the population is concentrated in major cities with easy access to the products you are selling through the mail, perhaps your mailing list should focus on the 30% that can't run to the corner store for your widget. Or if the regulatory and tax policies are strict for foreign companies, perhaps you need to work with local distributors or agents rather than selling your product directly.
Also, remember that the world is full of people that are not Americans. Do not treat them like they are. This statement applies to American companies, but it could just as easily be, "The world is full of people that are not Irish. Do not treat them like they are." Always be sensitive to cultural differences and market to them. Remember, you are not always the same as your target customer.
Just like politics, all marketing is local. Use local experts, if not as staff, then as consultants at least. And local means native. Just because someone studied French in high school in
Choose your target audience, focus on one country and do your homework. Multi-country rollouts are very difficult. Start gradually. Learn things as you go and apply them when you are ready to rollout in a new country. There are too many details specific to each country to successfully and effectively rollout in multiple countries simultaneously. It's better, and usually cheaper, to work out the glitches one country at a time.
There are several steps to getting started in a country. First, do some local market research. Understand the buying behaviors of your target customers. What are their typical payment methods invoices, COD, postal money order, debit cards, credit cards or personal checks? What type of direct mail lists are available to marketers? Are there processing fees related to using the lists? What are the privacy statutes that are in place? In some countries, cold calling and acquisition fax or e-mail may be prohibited. Are there any advertising restrictions that will impact your campaign? What's the best media mix for an advertising program direct response, Web, direct TV, direct mail, telemarketing? Is a local look or an international look more desirable for a campaign? Regardless of whether you integrate international cachet with local comfort, at a minimum you'll still need to put purchasing instructions and pricing in local currency, have an in-country return address, a response center and Web site in the country's native language.
You should strive to appear very international. You'll have a hard time finding customers in
Whether companies choose to work with a re-mailer, an authorized agent of a foreign postal administration, a wholly-owned subsidiary of a foreign postal administration, a U.S. Postal Service consolidator or a full-service provider, foreign markets offer many opportunities and business advantages to the aggressive direct marketer.
Rainer Hengst is vice president of Public Affairs for Deutsche Post Global Mail