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5 min read

Mistakes American companies entering the Swedish market do

Entering new markets

I have been a fortune to see, follow and experience some great brands entering this market over the years. They all share a few things if not a lot but my view today will only cover what I believe matters from a Yext perspective.

Fail to enter the Swedish Market

The following logos/brands are all successful business and all driven by leaders, founders and management across all markers that I deeply respect. Having said that I believe they all failed in this local market and it took 24-36 months on average to realise and acknowledge that fact. If you feel you have failed and if you haven’t passed the mark of 24 months you’ve successfully achieved what Dan Springer and Josh James couldn’t manage within the same time frame.

The following logos are just examples but the main contributors to my analysis and statements in this part of my document.

  • Webtrends
  • Omniture
  • Responsys
  • Exact Target
  • DoubleClick (before Google acquisition)

In the first part, I will focus on Responsys.

 

Responsys

I am starting with Responsys who had significant global growth on the message of “New school marketing”.
What’s a bit funny about this is that Pardot at the end of the day did email marketing. It was advanced for sure but still early in marketing automation and all honesties through a quite complex platform from a user experience perspective. So the market could easily have challenged the main message “new school” as a core message, but it wasn’t challenged, it worked. Deeper underneath that message they spoke about understanding individuals, the importance to adapt to local markets, languages and being close to the end consumer.

For years they never published anything in a local language, never adapted to local markets, and it was all driven with a US tone of voice – I’m the most significant “Mohammed Ali.”
I will revisit my analogy to Mohammed Ali later in this document.

 

The American

The American brand went to market under many different slogans, but one that stands out and that was used most frequently was “you’ve got the data, why don’t you use it.”
Underneath this headline, they educated the market in usage and cases to prove the value of understanding prospects and customers. They created great e-books about the importance of adaptation to local markets, to support regional differences, languages and to offer and market in a personalised perspective all the time. This was quite often referred to as the hidden values of being relevant making sure to communicate the right message to the right audience all the time.

 

The importance of relevance

As a sales rep both employed and as a partner working with these brands you entered almost every conversation struggling uphill. Customers and prospects laughed about the message and the fact that none of them was drinking there on champagne, and it’s friction any sales rep would like to avoid initiating a conversation. I would say all people in the market making comments about this obviously understand the challenge of producing content in all languages, they consume and understand the message so its not a language issue but it didn’t stop them from making a comment and in my opinion the market hasn’t change one bit when it comes to this.

Actions:

  • Translate and launch Yext.se
  • Cherry-pick the most relevant content and start communicating with the local market
  • Retarget and nurture the pipe in social channels with local content

This will have an enormous impact in not just volume but also the quality of the pipe and support sales in the local market in a completely different way.

Customer and prospect meetings

I mentioned Mohammed Ali earlier and what I mean with this and the famous statement “I am the greatest” is that vendors sometimes enter this market with this tone of voice.
Please don’t make this mistake it is devastating and will take years to reset.
Even if people living in this market can be fascinated by international markets, brands and in some cases admire standards or success that comes with it. The old American swagger or the tone of being the biggest, fastest and most reliable is sometimes a bad thing.  We have our word for this, and I think that’s a unique word that I hope only exist in this market cause it is so dumb, it is so stupid, and it doesn’t make any sense.
The unimaginable stupid word is “Jante”, and in short it means we hate to see other people/brands almost anything being successful. Don’t mix this with being competitive or a bad looser cause this is different. This is different and nothing worth spending more time perusing be aware of this strange conceptual way of thinking

Sales

I know I don’t need to educate you on how to sell, but it’s important to consider this in regards to how we communicate with prospects throughout the sales process.
This is why the local tone of voice is so critical and why you need the local presence and why they need a certain amount of freedom in how they operate.
This might be completely irrelevant, but in the past, we’ve seen organisations with local resources operate as if they worked from the US or the UK.
I have said this before, businesses in the Nordics may still be behind when it comes to being mature buyers of software, but they have enough experience to understand they need to invest in a partnership, not just software.
With local resources, you have the power to message that story and with the right approach articulating all those benefits in combination with the power of your brand.

Consensus and decision

Consensus and decision units are also something that defines this local market. Finland is slightly more a single voice while the other countries often allow a bigger team to agree on how or when to engage with vendors. This is the main reason why international vendors sometimes feel a complete lack of urgency. The process and time to organise and agree on the proper next step are why you sometimes experience weeks passing by without response or feedback from a meeting.
This is why local content not and marketing is so critical as this will indicate the level of engagement from prospects behind the scenes.

Being present in this market requires that you understand the differences and understand how to navigate around this.
You can hate it but never change it

  • I ´am the greatest – Don’t work
  • The unimaginable stupid word of “Jante” exist so be aware
  • Consensus across the decision unit – rare and unlikely a single voice
  • Culture and language needs to be addressed properly
  • A message, marketing, education and content in local langue
  • Hustle its not part of our vocabulary
  • Ten weeks of vacation will impact the sales cycle so plan accordingly
  • 8.30am to 4.59pm sharp, it’s a fire drill on the dot five days a week

Summary

To put it only I think all examples above can be summarised in a few bullets.

  • Crossing the chasm mentality
  • Reflection on the current situation
  • Reset the GTM & and increase noise in local marketing with local language
  • Add the missing components of the story
  • Adapt to regional challenges in culture

This is how I would summarise the changes made by other vendors in the past and what truly made a shift for them in becoming more successful in this local market.
If you can agree on a few actions around this and create a plan for everybody to execute on it will start to impact your performance.

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