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March 06, 2009


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David Quin

From another small country, Ireland: Yes, driven by both entrepreneurialism and necessity, Ireland became the most globalised economy in the world. But this also means it is highly vulnerable to the global slowdown (especially in the high-tech and financial-services sectors). The lesson? Combine, as far as possible, looking in with looking out. Go global, but also make sure you're standing on firm ground at home.

David Link

As an Aussie selling ICT products across Asia from American and European vendors I can not agree with you more!

I can not tell you how many times I have had American VP's of Sales and Marketing tell me "We know how to market our products, we have 15% of the US market place, that customer base is bigger than your entire country. So don't try and tell me that we need to alter our product, processes, and systems for your tiny market!"

Making a living in a small market place means you need a larger portion of that market to have the numbers add up. You need to think about having your product be applicable to international markets to get a decent living.

Steve Buchholz

It can be difficult to maintain that outward focus since it seems so much time is spent justifying what you do. As all marketers know, everyone in the organization thinks they can do the job better than you, and they enjoy complaining about your every step.

Maybe that means you should increase your outward focus so you can produce more success, but I feel a requirement to maintain those internal relationships.

Tomas Paplauskas

Really nice comment from Ireland and other comments above.
I am of the opinion that current technologies and economic situation is a perfect opportunity to start thinking out of the box. For instance Lithuania has only 3.5 million people (1.2 million internet users) - rather small market. Ecommerce, great worldwide payment solutions, effective logistics solutions empowers you to sell your goods worldwide. If you reside in a small country - build your brand and open your services globally instead of focusing on the small local market.

Greg Digneo

I work with small businesses and I have worked inside a big business. I completely agree that marketers in small businesses spend much more of their time trying to connect with the marketplace than marketers in big businesses. In the company that I worked for, it seemed like that was the job for the sales department.

Elliot Ross

I think you can even leave countries out of it.

Many of you here probably know the name of the Mayor of New York City.

But ask any one in NYC the name of the mayor in a smaller area in the NY region.

We seem to have a tendency to look up to the larger watershed areas - and the reverse often happens - within those watershed areas - no one looks out.

We have all seen those jokes with either LA, NYC (or here in Canada Toronto) where a map of the world consists of the CITY and then here be dragons! :-)

Tom Gibson

David, love your phrase:

"Do you market to your ego? Or to the external marketplace?"

Tom @tomwgibson

Nick Shepheard

It's not about country size - it's about market size.

A restaurant in Latvia will market to a few city blocks, same as a restaurant in NYC, whilst a company selling airliners anywhere will sell them ... everywhere. A country and a market are not the same thing.

The whole big company little company thing. Is it really big=bad/slow/stupid/inward looking, and small=good/fast/smart/outward? (Not that I don't love the smell of a good generalisation in the morning.)

I'm sure all of us have spent time working in the Department of Justifications but we surely know what our real work is about.

I think you're right that successful companies (everywhere) have something to teach us but I'm sure it's not that we should copy them.

The two Davids and Tomas are all saying there are opportunities out there AND we still have to do the basics right.

Marketers should bring the outside inside and bind the two together. It's when we forget this that we get in trouble.

Neil Edwards

I agree with the point about managing and marketing upwards in large organisations. I resigned from a global company last year to start my own business and it is only from the outside that I can see how much energy is wasted on manouvering and politics.

Now I am at the sharp end, providing marketing services to business that can't rely on government bail-outs for survival. Many of these businesses have to accept that their traditional markets are shrinking and focus on finding and reaching new ones. This means getting out there, being visible and being intelligent about how it is done.

Now is judgement time for many marketers, we need to step up to the plate and prove that the ideas and theories we have developed over the good times really can help our clients and employers through the tough times.

David Meerman Scott

Thank you all for your terrific comments. This is an area I am very interested in, I live in Asia for ten years working for a large American company, so I have seen many sides of this issue.

Nick -- I hope I did not imply that big is always bad. THat was not my intention. Rather, I wanted to point out that when one works in a large market or a large organization, it is that much more difficult to have an outward looking focus. But great rewards come to those who can do it.


Rodney Johnson

Mayabe its more intuitive to think outside the box when you're forced to think outside the country in which you live for your success.

Peggy M. Jordan

Wow, David, you really nailed it with this question: "Do you market to your ego? Or to the external marketplace?"

Thanks for the insight!

Jeff Krueger

You hit the nail on the head when you mention "ego". In general, the larger the company, or country for that matter, the more egos a marketer has to navigate. In a large company this navigation can be in the form of selling the value of a tactic or educating/overcoming ignorance of senior staff.


I worked at a multinational 's local affiliate where presentations to bosses and colleagues occupied most of my productive hours. There were endless hours spent at post-presentations Q&A and brainstorming sessions. I was mentally drained most days and left with little time for creative thinking and looking at the needs of the market.


Good one David,

Last week I heard from a marketing person (who by the way is not a US citizen but works in US) that US is the most important market and he doesn't care about the rest of the world. I just laughed:) I am really glad that there are other people in our organization who look at this more broadly.
I always try to look at the world as one big marketplace and spend lot of time arguing with people why we should think about international customers when we develop products - not an easy task though.
At this point of time I would say kudos to those small companies in Eastern Europe.

Brad Majors


I think you raise two excellent points: 1) companies in smaller countries MUST try harder in casting their marketing net and 2) the larger an organization, the more politics and the more people looking over the shoulder of the marketing department.

Ted Page

I agree with Greg's point about inwardly facing regions. I work in Boston, a city that - despite its small size - tends to think of itself as the center of the universe. Half the streets have no signs (heck, if you don't know what street you're on, you don't belong here!).


The bullet points at the end of your post should be the mantras of any firm.

They are very true and I would agree that we tend to market to our egos and internal audience. With the benefit of hindsight, I see I've been guilt of doing these very things.

Why do you think we fall into this pattern. Is it because we have too many distractions or luxuries that smaller countries don't have?

Peep Kuld

you are writing about Baltic States, e-commerce, internet-marketing etc. I am from one of them-Estonia. You are writing how amazingly we are plugged in to the internet. It's great to read something good about my country.

It seems you are interested in the Baltic countries, so I wanted to send you a link about a innovative service for e-commerce logistics, we implemented recently in Estonia. It's self-service parcel terminals for receiving the goods ordered in internet. These parcel terminals are also plugged in to internet, amazingly :) http://www.smartpost.ee/eng/index.php/parcel-service

An as you suggested, we are looking for market for our product in other countries.


Best regards

Jared Young

David, I don't know that I agree that living in a larger area makes you less likely to market internationally. I think marketing internationally is frightening for a lot of people regardless of where they live--most people struggle to market locally, let alone nationally--so thinking internationally is very difficult.

You also have to have a product that crosses borders. For audio equipment it isn't too difficult. But if you sell auto insurance in the US you might have a difficult time in Latvia.

I do think we have a natural tendency to stick with what works and avoid too much risk. But we all know the saying: "High Risk, High Rewards." Is the reward worth the risk? That depends on the business.

David Meerman Scott

Jared, I totally agree that some businesses are only local. Nick (above) suggests a restaurant. Or a car repair shop and the like.

But having seen global businesses from many angles in the early part of my career (I lived in Asia for nearly ten years working for US companies and was also the global marketing manager for a US company based in US), I can say that Americans, in general, don't think much outside their boarders. Of course, there are tons that do. I'm just saying in general.

Now, in my current gig traveling to speak in many countries, I see the same patterns.


Louis Motek

Of all the emails we receive from our global clients, suffice it to say that, indeed, some 90% or more of the emails from the US do not even mention their location. 100% of everyone else from anywhere else do make a point to provide their location.

Now, granted, this may of course have to do with an initial attitude of "its none of your business where I'm from." Nevertheless, the statistics are astounding and clearly point in the direction in which David is speaking, albeit from the standpoint of the client.

Very often, simply the fact that a site's web design follows the latest trends and that emails are replied to in proper English is sometimes enough to mislead a perspective US client into thinking that the business is indeed located in the US. This has happened on quite a few occasions. Never, mind you, has this happened with anyone writing from any other location.

I think the root of this "not thinking outside their borders" lies simply in the fact that rarely does one see another country when living in the US. In Europe, you bump into all types of cultural influence without needing even to search for it. You can't avoid it.

Because today in our internet-based businesses we are living in a global village, we must remain extremely considerate of the many viewpoints out there. One practice I can share with you, which I believe has had influence on our success, is to "be the client's neighbor before he/she has a chance to ask where you're from." In other words, I never expect a client to make any effort to extend an understanding gesture towards our business. It is as simple as the old Domino's Pizza tactic, just gone global. Domino's said: "Delivered in 20 minutes or it's free". That worked in your local neighborhood. Now, in today's global information age, we have to say: "We cut to the chase within 20 minutes and then anticipate the next question and answer that one as well".

Louis Motek
Owner and Founder
LessLoss Audio Devices
Kaunas, Lithuania

David Meerman Scott

Louis - Many thanks for the comment. I really like what you are doing!

Authority Networker

The combination of internet network marketing and social media is a perfect attraction marketing strategy to reach potential customers anywhere in the world. Besides, many marketers are attracted to social media because of the reduced costs compared to expensive television, radio and newspaper ads. Social media marketing taps into a familiar concept called attraction marketing and lets you build relationships with your targeted audience. Social media sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter and Digg can help establish your presence in a number of different places on the Web. Traditional marketing will never be able to target as precisely as social media marketing. Just imagine the social media profit you can have in being able to recruit people from different places.

Mergen, WebGuru Co Ltd

David, thank you again for the informative post. I live and work from Mongolia which has population of 3 million people. Of that, 70% live in cities and can have some sort of access to the internet. Probably only about 400,000 or so have constant internet access.

@davidquin, I really appreciate your quote. We try to target the US and international market, but I think it is better for us to have a solid footing here in Mongolia. We are in the process of relaunching one of our websites for the Mongolian marketplace to have a more "solid footing at home" first.

Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat

I mainly spent a lot of time focused inward. But in the small organizations in which I worked, I was focused on the marketplace.

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