Don’t start thinking about communications and marketing issues until you have studied and understood the local business issues in each new market.
Take the European Community. Just as U.S. federal law has great impact on your business even if you operate in only a few states, so does EC law affect you even if you only do business in a few European countries. As various directives are being discussed by the European Parliament, it is crucial that your business get its views across to the decision-makers before new laws are enacted. Yet in many European countries corporate lobbying is not accepted. Governments want to hear from trade associations rather than from individual corporations. The prevailing view seems to be, “Do your lobbying within your association and then come to us with a composite industry view.”
When we opened for business in Russia the staff of our local Reader’s Digest magazine didn’t arrive at work until 9:30 or 10 in the morning. It’s not that they are lazy. They’d been up since 5 a.m. standing in lines for food. Three hours for butter. Another two for milk. Another three hours for a scrawny chicken. One of our editors quit because we required her to work a 40-hour week. She couldn’t spend that many hours on the job because she had no babushka to stand in lines for her.
Today the problems are reversed for the average Russian worker. The shelves of once-empty stores now carry Danish hot dogs, German biscuits, American soda pop and computers. But who has the money to buy them when 20 to 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and the gap between rich and poor has grown to Latin American levels? And security is a major issue, especially for employees paid in hard currency like American dollars and German marks.
Tip #2 – Do your research early so you have time to recover from surprises.
People in many international markets probably have