Seven Marketing Mistakes by UK Companies Doing Business in the US

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Seven Marketing Mistakes by UK Companies Doing Business in the US

I have had the pleasure of working with scores of UK companies doing business in the US. Here are seven – easily remedied – marketing mistakes that I have repeatedly encountered.

1. Posting prices inclusive of sales tax. In the UK, prices are posted inclusive of VAT. In the US, prices are never posted inclusive of sales tax. Since the sales tax rate varies based on customer location, Americans are accustomed to sales tax being added at checkout, after a shipping address has been entered. If, on your US website, you are posting prices inclusive of sales tax then you are missing potential sales.

2. Posting prices in GBP. Very few Americans would know the GBP-USD exchange rate. Prices posted in GBP will be meaningless to them.

3. Unfamiliar terms and spellings. Many UK companies use British spellings or terms (both on websites and in adverts) with which Americans are unfamiliar. At worst, this contributes to confusion about your goods or services for American customers. At best, it contributes to a sense of discomfort with your brand. It is best to use a US dedicated website specifically tailored to the US audience.

4. Not having a US address and phone number. The overwhelming majority of Americans would not know how to call an overseas phone number, nor would they know how to post a letter to another country. Even if your communications with US customers are non-existent or by email, the presence of a US address and phone number on US marketing materials (including your website) will reassure US customers, who are accustomed to dealing only with US companies.

5. Using a foreign merchant services provider. For US customers, 1 in 5 ecommerce transactions are declined simply because the merchant services provider (or, using UK terms, the payment service provider or merchant account provider) is attempting to charge a US card from abroad. This represents a substantial loss of revenue, including future revenue from potential customers who choose to buy elsewhere. Avoid shopping cart abandonment resulting from such declines by using a US merchant services provider.

6. Not having a US registered trademark. If there is a risk that others will infringe your trade or service mark, you need a US registered trademark to strengthen your legal position. Moreover, if you sell on Amazon, you will need a registered trademark to use Amazon’s brand registry program, with all of its marketing benefits (including the ability to control pages that use your brand name).

7. Using .us as a domain name extension. Although businesses in other countries may use country specific domain name extensions (e.g.,, American companies do not use .us domain name extensions. Try to find a .com extension, if possible, since it will be more memorable for US customers.