How to get new customers in the United States

There are a number of excellent reasons for Canadian businesses to expand to American markets.

The high value of the U.S. dollar, close geographical proximity, a shared language, and common business culture make selling to Americans an attractive prospect – and it may be easier to get started than you think.

Consider these suggestions to open new opportunities for your growing company south of the border.

1. Expand your network

In spite of the weak Canadian dollar, it’s still much more affordable to travel to the U.S. for business meetings than traveling outside North America – and you won't encounter the cultural barriers that go along with networking in other parts of the world.

 

Here are a few online and offline strategies for making connections with new U.S. clients:

  • Attend U.S. trade shows to meet vendors, suppliers and potential customers.
  • Approach the American division of Canadian companies you already partner with.
  • Teach a weekend workshop or speak at a U.S. conference – or just attend a few events in key regions.
  • Create, curate and share useful content in LinkedIn groups where you know U.S. customers are hanging out.
  • Write articles for American trade publications and seek out multi-media promotional opportunities. For example – podcasts, online interviews, and guest blog posts.

As with any networking or expansion strategy, the key is preparation and patience. Reach out to prospects online or with a phone call before you travel, and always follow up promptly with new business prospects.

2. Set up a U.S. base

Strategically expanding operations with an office or retail store in a U.S location can hold unlimited growth potential because it’s a much larger market than Canada. Planning is therefore vital to your success south of the border.

Start with a well-researched plan for your U.S. sales strategy by identifying your ideal markets for location. Apply the same research techniques you used to set up shop in Canada: you’ll want to be close to your target customers, accessible to key suppliers, and be able to find affordable commercial space. Complete a separate business plan for your U.S. plan.

Along the way, seek advice on the most advantageous business structure and state location for your U.S. operations (because the tax rules vary from state to state).

3. Reach customers online

Marketing to a U.S. audience on the internet is a simple and affordable way to attract more business from American customers. With a few adjustments to your website you can let U.S. customers know you’re open to their business. You can do that by adding a U.S. flag button to customize their online experience and accepting payment in U.S. dollars, for example.

Another cost-effective way to increase web traffic from American customers is through targeted ads.  A Facebook ad can increase online reach and accuracy by letting you narrow down your customer profile by detailing demographics such as age, gender, interests, behaviours, and location.

It’s an exciting time for Canadian small businesses eager to jump in to the large U.S. market. Just be sure to take the time to plan your moves and consult with experienced advisors.

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