Direct Marketing to Europe
The 10 Most-common Mistakes Americans Make
By Klaus Piske
Marketing to Europe just got easier. On Jan. 1, 2002, 12 member countries of the European Union (EU) abandoned their national currencies and began circulating a new currency, the euro.
Although three countries, including Great Britain, elected not to participate in the new currency, this development represents a significant step forward. And U.S. marketers stand to benefit handsomely from the change.
But as the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." While the money may be easier, potential pitfalls remain for U.S. direct marketers who don't come prepared.
With this in mind, the following is a list of the 10 most-common mistakes U.S. direct marketers make when entering Europe, and how to avoid them.
Thinking Europe is a single entity.
Legally, Europe is a single market. Culturally and linguistically, it is extremely diverse. Tastes vary from country to country—sometimes dramatically—and marketing should be done on a local, not a pan-European, level. There's always the temptation to simply translate your direct marketing piece into the local language and mail it.
It's much more complex than that due to local nuances. The look and feel of your piece must work within the cultural context of the country. For example, Germans tend to like to see benefits listed, but you're less likely to see side-by-side comparisons as in the United States. The Spanish prefer a more emotional touch and fewer facts.
Best bet: Err on the side of going native instead of strictly imposing your own standards and tastes.
Trying to start a European campaign all at once.
Most direct marketers wouldn't initiate a U.S. campaign across all 50 states without some testing first. Why do the same in a market of millions and with myriad languages and cultures?