How To Market Your Startup In Germany – 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.

How To Market Your Startup In Germany – Part 1

Your startup is doing well in North America – the funnel is working, the leads are coming, and it seems that your marketing and sales efforts are finally paying off. You can pat yourself on the back (when no one else would). Another sign you are doing well is hearing your CEO tell you it is now time to conquer a new territory – Germany. Considering this is Europe’s largest economy and the world’s 4th largest economy, and keeping in mind Germans speak English – what could go wrong?

Well, many things. Ask Walmart, which failed miserably in Germany after losing a billion dollars in the process, trying to apply the same US formula that made it the largest retailer in the US.

Your startup is no Walmart; you can’t afford the time, and you certainly can’t spend billions of dollars. So, we have collected a few basic tips to support you in your initial marketing efforts in Germany. And because we wouldn’t want to wear you out, we split the list into two parts. Here’s the first one –

1. The German culture plays a role in your marketing

For once, the German thoroughness, punctuality and precision are not a myth. Germans research and compare competitive solutions, even if the solution they are looking for is inexpensive. There is hardly any buying impulse, so you should prepare in advance; Germans would expect you to hold to the same principles.

If you tell Germans a certain feature is “on the roadmap (the Israeli way of saying: “Good idea! We have no clue when we are going to have it!”),” they will expect to know exactly when they will be able to see it live. You should keep your promises!

As for your marketing efforts, English is not enough. Germans do know English; however, they expect you to make an effort for them, at least at the beginning of your relationship. So at the very least, have your landing page and product brochure in German.

2. Your funnel and sales cycle are about to change

You will need to rethink your funnel. If you have a low-touch-funnel, where conversion happens with hardly any offline efforts, you may need to rethink your approach; as you get closer to conversion, it is highly likely that you will need a face-to-face interaction to close a deal in Germany (we are talking B2B, of course).
Brace yourself. It is not going to be a quick sales cycle. Germans tend to have a long decision making cycle, which is no surprise considering their thoroughness. Prepare for a long lead nurturing process, and adjust your content marketing strategy accordingly. The upside is that Germans are considered loyal customers, and are not likely to switch easily.

3. Your product value proposition may need a facelift

You may also need to rethink product value proposition “Free” is not a good value proposition in Germany. Free product demos or free consultations might not work well with German customers, and may even cause you damage. Germans usually don’t trust free offers, and would rather pay more for higher value, rather than get something for free. In other words, in order to market in Germany, you need to rethink your value proposition. For example – improving workflow and efficiency; increasing value from existing investments; optimizing a business process; etc.

We hope you found some helpful and practical tips in this article. If you have any comments, please share them – we would love to hear what you think!

Stay tuned for the second part of this list.