Launching tech products in the USA – In search of certainty

Just how do you get your products under the noses of Americans?

We hear a lot about trade with the US these days. Clearly it’s a complex beast what with talk of tariffs, deals, compromises and chlorinated chickens. Just how do you get your products under the noses of Americans?

It’s often difficult to see past all of the mechanics of trade and focus of the pragmatics. Yes of course you’ll need to get the infrastructure right, sort out offices, staff, straddle legal hurdles and jump through a plethora of legal hoops.

But often there is a more fundamental issue that gets sidelined when you think about selling in the US that is so fundamental that it should be at the top of your list:

Will anyone buy what I’m trying to sell?

It is a question that should not be marginalized or taken for granted. That your product or service sells well in the UK and/or the EU* is not a guarantee that it will even be of interest in the US. It’s like another planet.

What you really need as a business looking to reach out to the American market is as much certainty as possible before you go ‘all-in’. You should not (indeed MUST not) rely on a hunch.

What you really need to know about the US market is…’what do I really need to know about the US market?’. Yes of course that sounds like a daft bit of grammatical gymnastics, but it’s actually very true.

You need to scope out the opportunity well in advance before committing any serious fiscal and/or staff resources.

And you need to get past the ‘attending a US trade show’ phase. That’s just a bit of window dressing. I mean of course everyone is going to be super-confident and enthusiastic about what you’re promoting (you have met actual Americans, haven’t you?), because that’s why they’re at the trade show in the first place – to focus on the immediate positives and not worry too much about the fiddly details just yet.

But those ‘details’ are vital. Those details will be crucial to your success. Subjects need to be addressed, such as:

  • Who’s my real competition?
  • Who might decide to develop a rival product?
  • What can we say that they can’t?
  • What’s the right sales channel, and who-do-I-need-to-woo?
  • Will I need a local partner, or can I get into the sales channel by dealing direct?
  • How can I be sure they are taking me seriously?
  • What could/should be my price points?
  • How do I eliminate as much risk as possible?

A lot to think about. And it would be silly to try and do that from an office in the UK. So the advice is clear, find someone reliable locally who you can trust who has most (if not all) of the connections you’ll need (or who will know precisely how to lean on those doors you need to open) to get a true and pragmatic appreciation of what your future in the USA might look like. Invest a little upfront to earn a lot down-the-line.

And you know what they say:

To fix a problem correctly, you first need to define the problem accurately.

Doing that is, in fact, an easier path to follow than you might think.

*For the time-being at least

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