The content of Patel’s posts were great as usual, but Beleza realised it wouldn’t be enough to get engagement and trust from local potential clients. Not being satisfied with “good enough”, or even “the customer is happy”, spurred Beleza and his team to find ways to increase that local client trust. They also sought to downplay any inaccurate perceptions of NPAccel as a detached, far-flung ‘outsider’.
“Small business owners have a lot on their minds,” Beleza says. “We wanted our potential customers to focus on what we have to offer, not the distraction of worrying that the company had no local investment.”
While continuing to take their content cues from Patel, the Brazilian team began generating original content. Beleza emulated readers’ native dialect to add a sense of authenticity to Patel’s ideas.
The result? By addressing local Brazilians in a natural and organic way, Beleza played an essential role in helping Patel penetrate the market. Patel’s articles and videos, ‘retooled’ under Beleza’s leadership and knowledge, reached more than 20 million people every year. 20 million!
Impressing Patel by exceeding his expectations is no small feat. He is a serial entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, and was named a Top 10 Marketer by Forbes magazine. Patel’s digital marketing firm has seven offices around the world, with three of those locations in the U.S.
Clearly, Beleza picked the right guy to impress.
Start Small, Get It Right, Then Get Bigger
As opposed to marketing firms that service the needs of a few, big-ticket clients, the NPAccel bottom line depends on establishing and maintaining trusting relationships with thousands of small business owners.
Small businesses are typically looking for rapid, quantifiable results while keeping a watchful eye on expenditures. Therefore trust, especially in a world of online scams, evangelical guru’s, and wise asses selling the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, is hard to win but very easy to lose.
After the success of NPAccel’s foray into the Brazilian market, what most impressed Patel about Beleza’s approach was his ability to replicate that success elsewhere. Emboldened by the results of the Brazilian team, Patel chose to expand the company’s staff. “Do it again,” Patel asked, this time for those whose native language is Spanish or German.
It wasn’t long before Patel’s partner, Mike Kamo, took notice of the success of the Brazilian office. The South America team began acquiring hundreds of new customers, the vast majority of them self-describing as “very satisfied.”
Patel and Kamo felt the time was right to leave the Brazilian team in the capable hands of Beleza’s partners. They had bigger plans for Beleza: chief operating officer at one of the company’s U.S. locations.
To Invest in Yourself You Must Invest in Others
Other established entrepreneurs — those with a lot to lose — might balk at the idea of placing so much responsibility on the shoulders of someone so young. Patel, however, has more than enough reason to invest deeply in Beleza’s win-win approach; the Brazilian team’s success keeps repeating itself.
Beleza encourages others to think strategically about investing in any worldwide market before seeking new business. He resists the temptation to view any local expenditure as a cost sink. Instead, he thinks of opening new markets more like moving into a new home:
Do your homework
Spend time investigating companies that have succeeded in the market you are trying to tap into. Pay less attention to their press releases and more to what their customers say. Ask, “Why did you choose Company X instead of Company Y?” To get that kind of intel, you will need to invest in authentic relationships that foster casual conversation and unguarded moments. One quick cup of coffee won’t cut it.
Develop local points of contact
You won’t be able to master the language of every market you hope to enter. Instead, find someone who has mastered yours and can pick up nuanced meanings in both. This part of the process cannot be artificial or hurried. People everywhere quickly sense when they are being used.
Believe in what you have to offer
If you don’t have a lot of confidence in your offering, stand down. You’ll have enough issues to contend with as you enter any new market. Make sure your product or service meets an authentic need for the target customer.
“People can sense when a business is more interested in revenue than people, and unfortunately there is no shortage of marketing companies operating just like that,” says Beleza. “By appealing to local culture, we cleared away the ambient noise and gave Neil’s business model space to speak for itself.”
Pay attention to disconnects
When your people are stumped by the response of a potential customer, it pays to find out why. Chances are, your pitch got ‘lost in translation.’
Give More Than Information – Give Value
Though Beleza believes Patel’s company offers a valuable service to small business owners, he also knows that it’s tough to translate ideas accurately. Getting the right picture into another person’s head involves choosing your words and sentences carefully, yes — but that’s just the starting point.
Fluency with customers goes beyond just a different language. It requires a deeper understanding of local culture, influences, history, and shared dreams. Beleza encourages others to see that it’s never a waste of time to find out what makes people tick.
While recognizing the enormity of the task set before him as a new executive in Patel’s world, Beleza is optimistic: “It will be a great challenge. Everything I built and learned in Brazil will be fundamental to achieve NPAccel’s global goals. Our focus is to help more entrepreneurs and companies succeed on the internet.”
As the leader of NPAccel, Beleza is eager to help U.S. clients achieve the kinds of success he’s enabled for customers in Brazil. For example, working with Director of Strategy Matthew Santos, Beleza formulated 100 different client programs in SEO, paid media, and conversion rate optimization. This broad array of offerings ensures that NPAccel can both get results for clients and be an affordable option for companies of different sizes.
So sometimes opportunities are not obvious, but as Beleza has proved it’s the perspective you bring to a situation, a job, a business, a problem to untapped potential. Every small business owner can learn from this story, and to echo the words of the Pet Shop Boys song, ‘Opportunities’, “Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities, If you know when to take them; You know there’s a lot of opportunities, If there aren’t, you can make them…”