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Launching a product in a new, global market is difficult. While some may think that positioning a product in Argentina versus Chile would be similar, the tactics for success were surprisingly different. After making mistakes and learning along the way, here are the five biggest lessons I learned from launching a global company.
1. Let the product shift.
I initially launched a payment system in Argentina. It was, and arguably still is, very difficult to make non-cash payments in the country, so I decided to try to solve this problem with an online solution. The biggest problem was paying rent because paying in cash was risky and a pain for many people. After moving this system to Chile, I realized that in that market, it was not only difficult to pay rent, but it was also difficult to find properties to buy or rent. So the product shifted.
After a few years, we entered the U.S. market. I realized the problem wasn’t on the consumer side (finding properties) when renting properties. Instead, real estate agents had a hard time getting the right property in front of the right consumer at the right time. I then launched my company to solve that problem.
The product underwent three massive shifts to fit consumer needs. In each country, I aimed to solve a problem, which meant tweaking the offerings. Don’t be afraid to shift the product because, in the end, it must fit the market’s needs.
2. Look at the problem you solve across borders.
Each market does not have the same problem. For example, the U.S. market did not have a lack of online payment options. That problem wasn’t global. And in Chile, real estate agents took a more traditional approach to find clients, whereas in the U.S., using social media is absolutely crucial.
The problem in each market will be different, so prepare for that. Brands that think they can enter each market without solving a new problem will find themselves underprepared for their launch.
3. Keep the core team but add locals.
Though the product shifted, my core team stayed the same. I had product managers and developers that stayed with each shift, learning along the way. This core team understood the product and helped it remain a high-quality offering. What helped in each market was hiring a local. Adding someone to the team who has a unique sense of the local market can take the product to the next level.
Companies often make the mistake of entering a new market without a local person to explain the customs and habits of the market. This is a recipe for failure because, although there is plenty of research, talking to people in the market is key.
4. Listen to locals.
Hiring a local is one step. The next step is really listening to what they have to say. When I launched in Chile, the locals essentially told me to take a step back. The local team noted that a payment system would be really helpful, but first, they need a site to help find properties to buy and rent. That site, with the payment system integrated, would be much more valuable in the region. It might mean more work, but listening to the local team will ensure a product fit for the market.
5. Translate everything.
One problem we had when we entered the U.S. market is that everything we had ever done was in Spanish. We had robust sites that worked well, but our U.S. investors didn’t speak Spanish. We found that before translating everything, we weren’t taken seriously in a new market.
While this may seem obvious, preparing everything before the launch is crucial. And language isn’t always the same. Just like British and American English vary, so do Chilean and Argentine Spanish. We found that our customers took the product more seriously when translated to local dialects and wording.
Take a step back.
A global launch can prove highly successful, but before rushing to a new market, take a step back. It’s vital to thoroughly research the new market, visit, if possible, and talk to as many potential product users as possible. The research and development phase is crucial and will likely result in a product shift. And this product shifts means meeting consumer needs more accurately in the market, which gives the product a higher chance of success.
April 1, 2019 at 08:08AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs