Posted by Kristine Jacobson

With a long history of tech innovation, vibrant startup culture and sprawling customer base, the U.S is a land of opportunity for companies with tech-focused products and solutions, no matter where in the world they are from.

U.S consumers and businesses accounted for more than a fourth of global information technology (IT) spend in 2023. While the U.S leads the world in fields as diverse as artificial intelligence (AI), aerospace development, life sciences and manufacturing, it also leads the world in demand for software as a service (SaaS), data science talent, cybersecurity solutions and more.

That doesn't mean it's easy to succeed here: thanks to its unique culture, public sector and regulatory landscape, the U.S can be a challenging market to penetrate for companies in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and European Union (E.U.). Strategies that worked well on one side of the pond can fall flat with American customers, and products that met with high demand can fail.

But none of this means it isn’t worth trying: on the contrary, even hurdles can be opportunities for foreign businesses with the right guidance. In this article, we'll discuss key strategic differences between the U.S and European tech markets and explain how digital marketing can help you get your foot in the door.

A Different Culture

Some business principles transcend culture. Ironically, the importance of culture is one of them: to market effectively, companies must understand their audience. With centuries of history and thousands of miles separating the U.S from Europe, understanding an American audience can be difficult for businesses in the U.K. and E.U.

To compound this problem, the U.S. is not a monoculture: it is a vast nation spanning fifty states, six time zones and a population so diverse that even U.S.-based companies regularly fail to expand beyond a few cities. Still, some high-level differences between Europe and the U.S. are consistent enough to describe them.

The Importance of Branding

From Apple to Disney and Coca-Cola, Americans love their brands, and they are more brand loyal than their European counterparts. There’s good reason for this: Americans are inundated with marketing messages all day long. Good branding sets one company apart from another, and reduces the mental energy required to choose between different options.

A strong brand not only incorporates consistent design elements – including a logo, color palette, website and typeface – it also includes more ephemeral elements, like voice, values and personality. The strongest brands in America are storytellers who build narratives, incorporating their products and services into the lives of their target audience.

Advertising Preferences

In the U.K. and E.U., advertisements are subject to heavy regulations. Companies strive for subtlety in their marketing approach, avoid bold promises, and often differentiate themselves with a sense of humor.

In the United States, Americans expect several things from advertisements, no matter what form they take. These include:

Professionalism – while humor has a place in American advertising, consumers expect organizations to project authority and expertise in their marketing efforts. Especially in the business to business (B2B) market, companies who don’t take themselves seriously may be perceived as incompetent and untrustworthy.

Relevance – while Britons are more likely to unsubscribe from emails based on frequency, Americans are more likely to unsubscribe based on a perceived lack of relevance. Americans respond favorably to more personalized marketing messages, reflecting their demographic and unique needs.

Boldness – Americans don’t mind the direct sell. In fact, anything else will often leave them less than impressed. While subtlety is a useful branding tactic, boldness is better for direct advertising and calls to action (CTAs).

American English

English is the main language spoken in the U.S., but it differs from U.K. English in both its spoken and written forms. While some of these differences are trivial (aluminum vs. aluminium), others are more profound, especially when you only have seconds to make an impression.

When crafting a website, email campaign and other marketing materials geared towards an American audience, marketers must utilize familiar idioms, phrases and cultural references. This is especially true when translating from a non-English language: an awkwardly worded sentence or odd turn of phrase is an instant turn-off for American customers who value relatability and personalized messaging.

A Different Market

Even on a consumer level, American technology habits differ from those in Europe. When it comes to social media platforms, for instance, Facebook and Instagram dominate in the U.S, while WhatsApp dominates in the U.K. Meanwhile, iPhones are the most popular choice of mobile device in the U.S., while Android phones prevail in Europe.

Likewise, demand for software, services and skills can vary between companies in the U.S and companies in Europe. In some cases, these differences create business and collaboration opportunities: for instance, while the U.S. leads the world in AI development, Europe leads the world in open-source AI startups.

In other cases, foreign businesses striking out in the U.S may find that there is less demand for their products and services than they assumed. But this can be misleading, especially for businesses providing IT solutions that incorporate many elements. Sometimes, rebranding and repackaging those solutions to emphasize high-demand skills in the American marketplace can make all the difference.

A Different Public Sector

As in the U.K and other European countries, the U.S. has a thriving public sector where businesses compete for high-value contracts with the federal government. In fact, the U.S. government is the largest single spender on technology products in the U.S., with a $65 billion IT budget for civilian agencies in 2023 alone – and that doesn’t count defense agencies or their vast industrial base.

Some contract opportunities are open to businesses around the world, and even when they aren’t, foreign companies – within specific limitations – can often benefit indirectly by offering their products and services to contractors located in the U.S. Nevertheless, the U.S. has a distinct policy approach to IT and cybersecurity that can differ from European counterparts, especially when it comes to regulations.

A Web of Regulations

European countries incorporate both nationally specific and E.U. wide technology policies, ranging from ISO/IEC 27000 for cybersecurity standards to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for consumer data privacy.

Meanwhile, cyber standards in the U.S. are determined by a complex web of domestic organizations and publications, including:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – especially special publication (SP) 800-171 and SP 800-53.

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) – required for businesses working with the Department of Defense (DoD).

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – CISA offers guidance that becomes standard practice for developing areas of cybersecurity compliance.

The Executive Branch – occasionally, the President hands down direct executive orders that shape IT strategy throughout the government for years to come.

U.S. cyber regulations can sometimes create business opportunities out of thin air. In 2021, for instance, the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity directed U.S agencies to adopt Software Bills of Material (SBOMs), creating a demand for software composition analysis (SCA) tools that didn’t previously exist.

Start With Digital Marketing

While foreign businesses seeking to establish themselves in the U.S. understand the importance of conducting market research, there is no replacement for experimentation. But rather than launching a subsidiarity in the U.S. only for it to falter, businesses should begin with cost-effective, multi-channel digital marketing efforts that allow businesses to:

  • Establish a preliminary customer base and gather valuable data
  • Map industries and areas with a high demand for their product or service
  • Discover effective approaches for future iteration and refinement
  • Investigate the viability of further growth

All of this without costly moves that depend on a guarantee of success. With a U.S-based partner to help you craft your messaging, identify a target audience, and build a brand tailored for Americans, digital marketing is a no brainer with low risk and high reward.

A Guiding Compass

Located an hour from the nation’s capital, Conveyance Marketing Group provides U.K. and E.U. businesses a compass to navigate the U.S tech market. With years of experience serving clients across diverse tech industries in the U.S. – including cybersecurity, AI, SaaS, enterprise IT services, life sciences and more – we provide all the services you need to make it in the Land of Opportunity:

  • Comprehensive market research
  • Strategic branding and messaging
  • Regulatory compliance expertise
  • Cutting-edge digital marketing techniques
  • Networking and partnerships
  • Engaging content for Web, social and email marketing
Want to learn more? Schedule a discovery session today.
Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience with notable corporate leaders as well as emerging market contenders. She offers expert marketing strategy with a touch of creative flair. Her extensive knowledge of strategic marketing, marketing plan execution, and branding illuminate the big picture without losing sight of the details.