This is the second in a series of blogs on digital marketing in foreign countries. In this installment I would like to take a look at what international law can mean for a company looking to expand.
Americans enjoy far more freedom both in speech and what can be shown digitally than citizens in some other countries. We also have more allowances with regards to contests and special promotions than some foreign countries. Therefore, it is paramount for a company entering a foreign market to do thorough research and consult local residents.
The Legal Systems
There are a number of legal systems you will encounter and these are the major players:
- Common Law: Found in the US, UK and most commonly in other English speaking/influenced countries.
- Civil Law: Found in Japan, France and Germany, this law is not found in Marxist or Islamic countries.
- Sharia Law: Found in Islamic countries.
- Commercial Legal System: A combination of this and civil law are found in Marxist-socialist countries like China and former Soviet Union satellites.
The above is just a brief overview, it is important to gain a firm grasp on each country you plan to enter into. More information about these legal systems and an in-depth breakdown can be found here.
Importing and Exporting
Before you get too deep into marketing in a foreign country, remember you need a reliable logistics plan for delivering your product to customers. Many companies struggle with overseas profits due to tariff barriers and too many middlemen. Be sure to consult both with the destination country and the U.S. when it comes to delivering your product overseas. Also be wary of how many middlemen become involved.
Some countries will require you to jump through bureaucratic and administrative hoops before you can sell your product. It is a good idea to consult a local lawyer and the appropriate government agency(ies) to make sure no detail is overlooked. Be aware, while giving gifts or taking officials out to dinner may not be the norm here, in many other countries it is expected. While fulfilling these expectations may get the job done, so to speak, you may also land in a heap of trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Digital & Social Marketing
In some countries you may find certain digital marketing platforms less viable, for example Facebook is banned in China, and only available through VPN. China uses RenRen.com, Kaixin001.com and 51.com; each of these sites has a specific demographic. Make sure you have people who know the different platforms in foreign countries and can maximize their return on investment.
Be sure to check foreign laws and regulations when planning your advertising campaign to ensure the content will not cause issues. It is also important to remember, traits such as humor differ from one society to the next and what is okay to talk about openly here is not accepted everywhere else.
I hope this blog has given you some helpful tips on where to begin looking and what to keep in mind when creating your checklist for expanding into international markets.