First of all, you need to know why you are launching in Europe. Are you simply dipping a toe in the water? Do you want just to create some initial noise with the view to ramp up further down the line? Or, is ‘this it’? Your full launch into Europe to build your brand over here, create campaigns to generate sales leads and new customers for local teams.
If your answer is point one, you need to really ask yourself, is it worth it? Over the years, I’ve seen so many companies start too soon, create too much interest that they then can’t support because they don’t have the teams on the ground to follow up the opportunities and leads.
If it’s point two then you need to make sure you are ready. For instance, have you got local people able to provide local knowledge, expertise and convert leads?
Are you game ready?
You need to decide which countries to launch in. When deciding this, you need to consider a few factors:
Is your website Europe ready? Do you have local versions of your website ready from launch? You need a UK version of the site just as much as you need foreign languages. Ideally, you need local case studies to demonstrate that you are already established over here and to provide names that local prospects can recognise. Is the digital aspect of your website set up correctly? For example, driving traffic to the local version of the website and not all going to the US website, which then no one can support (we have seen this happen!).
What budget do you need?
What budget do you have? During my 30 years career in EMEA PR, I’ve watched companies try to spread a budget across far too many countries and then wonder why they got poor return. You get what you pay for. You are far better off, focusing on one country, possibly two, investing in them properly to get good returns. It also gives you the opportunity to test the local market and see what works, and then fine tune the campaign accordingly before expanding to other countries.
Do you have the local infrastructure in place?
Do you have the local teams on the ground? Which countries do you need them in? How many do you need? I have so often seen one European sales person stretched across 5 countries. You have to ask yourself, will that really be enough to achieve the impact you need?
Do you have local spokespeople for the media and industry analysts? This is essential if you are going to get the media and analyst interested in you. It is also vital that they have been trained up, know your corporate messaging and then also, build the local messaging to support it.
What kind of agency support do you want?
What kind of agency do you need? What agencies are on the market? It could be that your own agency has local offices in other countries or partners they could recommend. But are they as good in the local countries as they are in your own country. It’s also about chemistry, do you like the local team, could you work well with them. I recommend meeting/conference calling around five agencies and then get three to pitch. Any more than that and you become dazed and can’t distinguish between who you saw at the beginning of the process compared to the end.
How are you going to measure the success?
Agree at the beginning of the launch what success looks like for your business? Make sure you have all the stakeholders involved, including the local teams, to make this decision. It could be that all you are interested in is coverage in the top 5 publications, or that you want a broader range of coverage that covers a range of trades, industries and business.
Is it important the launch drives traffic to your website and generates leads? If so you need to make sure that the website at a local level is geared up to measure this. It’s quite likely that your local sales teams want to make sure that the results will generate a sales pipeline for them that is of good quality.
And finally, Enjoy! It’s hard work, it’s long hours, but entering a new region is a major opportunity for any business and, done well, can reap huge rewards.
Sue Grant, co-founder of OneChocolate