This is based on an episode from the APAC Marketers Roundtable Podcast. If you’d rather listen to this post, scroll to the bottom of the article.
When doing business across the USA and APAC, you’re going to run into a lot of situations where “what works over there doesn’t work over here.” Once you really start executing, you’ll find that one of those things is messaging and positioning.
The first messaging hurdle you have to clear is making peace with the idea that there’s really no such thing as APAC. One size does not fit all. The messaging you have for a market like Australia (English-speaking and resembles America in many ways) has to be different from the one you use in the Philippines (which also speaks English, but also has many singular qualities.)
The inevitable second hurdle then becomes finding an answer to the question of “well, how different does my messaging have to be?”
Here’s what he found:
The intuitive (but incorrect) messaging for developing markets:
According to Gabriel, familiarity with SaaS in APAC is an “order of magnitude” behind the US. Saleswhale’s initial messaging in the developing markets of APAC was therefore more direct, more practical and hands-on.
The thinking goes something like this: Why complicate things? They’re already less sophisticated buyers, so we have to keep things simple.
The logic chain goes something like:
This makes a lot of sense, but Gabriel and his team found that it played out differently in practice.
For less sophisticated audiences, start by being vague
Strangely, the Saleswhale team found that there was too much confusion when they made things concrete.
The reason for that is less sophisticated audiences need a bit more hand holding. They don’t have the right mental model for your concrete use cases.
The logic chain actually goes something like this:
This is something we saw all the time during my time at HubSpot.
You can’t sell someone “sales acceleration tools” if they aren’t even using a CRM yet. You can’t tell someone about the benefits of marketing automation if they don’t understand the value of having an email database.
We would hear things like:
“I see your website says that HubSpot and inbound marketing helps with lead generation. So, will you cold-call my prospects for me?
This is important: I’m not saying that less sophisticated audiences are “dumber” than those in more developed markets. The point is – if you’re a marketer who wants to be successful in a region like APAC, you have to be ready to adapt your messaging.
In many cases, you have to tell a much longer story than you’re used to, starting from the beginning and taking the audience on a journey with you.