How to market your startup in Germany (and why you can’t treat it like any of your US marketing) Part 2

In the first section of this blog post, we discussed the first batch of tips for preparing your marketing strategy to conquer the German market. If you missed it and you want to catch up, you can find it here.

In this second part of the blog, we will discuss channels, marketing tactics and privacy issues.

1. Throwing away some of your most basic marketing conventions

In German marketing, the print is not dead. If you thought you could go completely digital and never print another word, think again – the notion that everybody throws away company brochures after a glance is not necessarily true; the printed document is still alive and kicking in Germany. In fact, a “real” document is even more appreciated. For example, when corresponding with Germans via email, they feel much more comfortable getting attached documents rather than hyperlinks to a website.

Also, you may need to take a different approach regarding your success stories. If one of your strongest marketing tools is Israeli and American success stories, you will soon find they will only take you so far. Because though these may be perfect examples from where you stand (same industry, same challenges), foreign success stories are often meaningless to Germans, unless we’re talking about well-known brands. If you had to choose between presenting a potential customer with a case study that is very much like their own, but is unknown to them, and a brand that has very little in common with them, but is well-known to them – it’s best you go for the latter.

2. Data protection and privacy are for real

Europe, and Germany in particular, take protection and regulation of personal data very seriously. In fact, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be effective as of May 25, 2018, will affect any organization intending to conduct business in Europe. From a marketing perspective, this means that many of the tactics you are used to will no longer be eligible. If email marketing is an important channel for you, you should prepare for a big change; for example, there will be no more checked-in boxes, and no additional data usage allowed unless otherwise expressly indicated. In other words, to avoid unnecessary fines, preparing for GDPR should be an essential part of your marketing strategy in Germany in the upcoming year.

3. Have you ever heard of Xing?

Xing, the German social network, is pretty much the “German LinkedIn.” The main difference is that Xing relies on offline meetings more than LinkedIn, reminding us a little bit of the popular Meetup. To be credible, you should manage a company page in German on Xing, and create profiles for executives in your startup. As far as posting goes, the same LinkedIn rules apply in Xing.

4. Where are your customers?

Dreaming of a Berlinian nightlife? It might not happen. Berlin’s startup scene is hot, and it is exactly where you want to be. However, is it where your customers are? You should probably prepare to spend your offline marketing and sales efforts someplace else such as Munich, the center of the German automotive industry, or Frankfurt, where financial and more traditional German businesses reside.

To conclude, marketing in Germany is significantly different from your North American experience and requires more than a quick adaptation of the US-centric marketing materials.

Are you already making your first steps in Germany? We would love to hear what is working for you and what isn’t-
Want to take the discussion a step forward? Let’s chat.