The five biggest mistakes US cyber security vendors make when launching in the UK

With the demand for quality cyber security solutions at an all time high, many vendors are taking the opportunity to expand internationally. The UK is one of the most attractive choices to begin an international launch thanks to its shared language and vibrant tech and finance sectors.

Despite these advantages, launching in the UK still presents a number of challenges, and many vendors fall at the first hurdle by failing to account for some important differences in the market.

Below are five of the most common mistakes that can derail a cyber security launch in the UK.

Lack of local market knowledge

Vendors will often approach expanding to the UK as though they were adding a new location on their home soil. However, the market can differ drastically and creating a go-to-market plan without thorough research and local knowledge is a fatal mistake. The level of awareness, demand and competition for a given service or solution can completely alter the required strategy. For example, a vendor entering the market with messaging geared around being a disruptive innovator, only to find a local competitor with a five-year head start will have very little chance of making an impact.

Failing to understand UK distributors

The US and UK have very different perceptions of what a distributor does. Whereas it’s common for US vendors to think of distributors as purely concerned with the logistics of shipping product, UK distributors provide a wide range of value-added services. Their ability to connect the dots and get the right people in contact with the right products at the right time, can vastly accelerate time-to-launch. Appreciating the fundamental differences between UK and US distribution is critical in selecting the best local partners.

No local PR support

PR is an essential part of launching into a new market, with strong media coverage creating awareness and establishing the vendor as a thought leader, helping to build momentum for the sales and marketing teams. Many vendors assume they can simply manage PR in the UK through their existing US-based agency, but while it might seem like a cost saver, this approach will inevitably meet with failure. Local knowledge and contacts are essential for any successful PR campaign, and especially for a field like cyber security where competition is intense. The time difference will also make it impossible for even the earliest risers to take part in any breaking news opportunities – an important strategy for securing coverage and building contacts.

No local content

The UK media can be extremely provincial, giving high priority to any local stories and angles. As a result, US-centric campaigns and announcements that have made a big impact at home will often fail to make much of an impression with the UK press. Local elements such as UK-based statistics in reports, commentary on domestic news and regulatory issues will vastly improve a vendor’s ability to get the attention of the press and make it into the news cycle. In particular, UK journalists will usually prioritise UK-based companies above all else, so the ability to create UK customer case studies or arrange joint media activities with clients is incredibly valuable.

Keeping too much control at the head office

The matter of control is an issue that many vendors struggle with during international launches. It’s common to find the head office trying to retain too much control, with every activity and statement needing to go through a US-based decision maker. While a firm grip on international operations is often a good idea – particularly when strategies and messaging are still maturing – it can be very detrimental to PR efforts. To achieve the status of an influential player in the UK market and get involved in the crucial breaking news and national news cycles, it is essential to trust local representatives to take the initiative in giving interviews and signing off media comments. A convoluted approval process with a five-hour time delay will make it almost impossible to keep up with local competition and establish a rapport with key journalists.

For more advice on how to tackle these challenges and many others, check out the Code Red guide to launching a cyber security company in the UK. Click here to claim your free copy of the eBook for expert insight from industry veterans.

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