Business Expanding

How Startups Can Expand To Global Markets

David Franzen-Rodriguez owns Naya Marketing. He leads transformational change at companies looking for their next stage of growth.

Marketing is one of the departments that can have the biggest impact in a startup. If you have an amazing product or solution but no one knows about it, or the wrong people are the only ones talking about you, then your startup and product can fail. When a founder lacks go-to-market (GTM) expertise, it impacts their ability to plan business expansion strategies, conduct market analysis and develop customer acquisition plans—all of which are important to grow and sustain a company.

That’s a problem for young organizations operating in a competitive sector—especially when it comes to raising venture capital. I have seen the effects of this lack of knowledge and experience firsthand leading a marketing company that helps startups in various sectors achieve their next stage of growth, as well as my previous role as a chief marketing officer (CMO) for a few fintech-enabled companies. I’ve seen many startups face the challenge of scaling and expanding to new global markets and fintech is one tech sector that has expanded quickly and across borders. In fact, in 2021 a KPMG report found that fintech had strong expansion in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Despite rapid growth and the impact on local and global economies, there are challenges facing companies within the fintech community. These companies are usually started by tech-focused founders who typically have a strong understanding of and background in business, engineering, coding and product, but not necessarily in GTM planning. Founders are often passionate about tech but are also running other departments such as marketing and sales, and acting as CEO. As the company grows, founders have to decide if and when to hire for other roles and step aside to focus on the tech.

As founders decide when to do this, marketing research and GTM planning may take a back seat or borrow tactics that work in other roles but may not lead to successful marketing efforts. For example, a founder mindset may include the mantra “move fast and break things” in order to find what works. When they find something that works, there is a tendency to replicate. In marketing, this replication can make it hard to differentiate.

Similar to other tech startups, there are many fintechs that seem to do the same thing. This “sameness” is evident not only in the services fintechs offer, but also in similar brand messaging and design. If you have seen a fintech website and thought it looked familiar, you know what I’m talking about. Common designs include black and white, 8-bit font and imagery, busy stock motion graphics that look like Sims, and generally trying hard to be trendy. The blurring of the fintech brands means it is even more important to stand out in order to grow globally.

Along with tough competition in a crowded market, companies face numerous other specific challenges that can further impede the success of their marketing efforts. With limited budgets for marketing, there are three priorities that fintechs and tech startups in general need to address:

1. Targeting a skeptical developer audience.

Software engineers can hold bias to their product. As such, marketing and planning may seem unnecessary or even easy to them. You need to develop a marketing strategy that speaks to this audience and get them to embrace marketing to users.

2. Positioning a complex product.

While developers think the product should speak for itself, the users and buyers may be different—each looking for various and oftentimes competing features. This discrepancy will require key messaging for both audiences and specifically explaining the features and benefits in terms users—not developers—understand.

3. Increasing market share in a new vertical or geographic market.

If you want to expand globally, you will need to understand which geographic regions to target first so you can navigate cultural differences, language barriers and marketing norms of various countries.

When users are skeptical to trust and understand a product in any tech vertical, you will need to separate yourself from the pack in order to expand globally. Creating a strong and effective marketing strategy will establish brand identity and reputation while growing popularity among users and the market. This requires marketing talent that understands not only the core basics of marketing but also guerilla tactics to help grow businesses fast.

Tech startups are generally selling software or an API so it’s common to think about offering integration and customer support as services in order to see the product usability soar. We tend to not offer marketing support in order to achieve the same usability expansion. In some verticals such as fintech, where the product may not have anything to do with marketing, buyers understanding how to market and increase usage will allow them to expand and grow brand identity in new markets.

Startups all want to grow to their next level, and if globally, you need to consider how to grow beyond borders. Having a marketing infrastructure in place that allows users to understand the product and champion it, will expand market share. Maybe it’s time to add marketing as part of the go-live or implementation experience.


Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/08/17/how-startups-can-expand-to-global-markets/

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