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How to make your marketing firm ready for US expansion

By Mike Kerans, founder

March 22, 2016 | 4 min read

C.R.O. Partners, based in New York, has helped dozens of EU digital companies expand in the US over the past 10 years. The US opportunity is easier and more realistic than often thought. Here is our checklist of issues to consider as you think about moving your company to the US.

EU Traction

The first thing to look at is your traction in EU. Are you solving a clear problem in your category vs. jumping in as yet another option “hot space?” Do you have successful client relationships that can be used as case studies? Are you working with any “global brands” in EU?

The EU experience does not need to be perfect. If you have a unique approach and visible customers have validated your solution, you have an opportunity in the U.S.

Solid team

In a move to the US, the CEO and top executives will be visiting the US often. It is important that a CEO has confidence in the EU team to keep growth and momentum going while management spends time in the US.

US expansion does not mean that the CEO has to move to the US. In fact, we recommend hiring bottom-up, with sales and operational hires to validate the model and secure and manage early clients. Your country manager should be the last, not the first hire.

The management team can make monthly trips to the US. Our clients fly in Monday, have meetings Tuesday through Thursday and are on a Thursday evening flight home.

US analysis

Analyze your category in the US. That said, the issues, customers, and competition are different here. There will inevitably be tweaks and changes required to adapt to local conditions successfully—from marketing to product to implementation and success measurement.

If possible, visit the US and talk to prospects. Analyze the competition. Understand the pain points and determine if solution can alleviate that pain. You don't need the exact answers; that requires market engagement here. The point is to be market driven, not product driven, and to focus on a top-level understanding of your category.

US investment

Traction in the US can facilitate US investment. There are many more potential investors in the US than the EU. Further, a successful EU business with traction in the US can be every bit as attractive to foreign investment as its US competitors.

It is important that the EU company has a solid foundation. Current funding should be clean and transparent. Investors and advisors should be visible where possible. Legal and accounting should be airtight. Avoid short cuts. Company administration should be buttoned up.

The opportunity to attract investment for U.S. expansion is real. Working with Grapeshot, a UK-based adtech firm, C.R.O. Partners created enough success in nine months for the Company to raise $3.3m for US expansion. More on fundraising strategy later in the series.

Michael Kerans is founder of C.R.O. Partners

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