European marketers and business owners: are you interested in B2B (business-to-business) opportunities in the United States? I'm guessing that places like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago spring to mind, right? Of course, these are huge metropolitan areas filled with every kind of business you can imagine. Yet, allow me to direct your attention to the southwest for a moment. Texas, to be more precise. What springs to mind now? Cowboys, longhorn cattle, and rodeos? Oh, but there's so much more.

This year's ranking by CNBC crowns Texas as the top state in the USA for business in 2010, citing Texas' strong economy as an important factor. In fact, the study describes the Texas economy as "the 15th largest in the world, according to government figures; larger, for example, than all the Scandinavian nations combined."

Now, Texas is my home state and I'm certainly "Texas Proud" about a lot of things the Lone Star State has to offer. But when it comes to business opportunities, I'm not unduly biased. The evidence is clear.

Here are just a few of the characteristics that make Texas a top place to consider for B2B marketing and other business opportunities in the USA:

Business:
Since 2008, Texas has been home to the most Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States. (Tied this year with California — each has 57.)

Location:
Texas is centrally located, making communication and travel across the USA's four time zones very convenient. Texas is home to two of the world's busiest international airports: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), with DFW ranking 3rd in the world for operations.

Cost of Living:
Business and living costs in Texas are relatively low. For example, you can buy a 4,000+ ft² (370+ m²) home in a Dallas suburb for less than $400,000 (300,000 Euro), while a comparable home near Los Angeles, California could cost millions of dollars.

Technology & Innovation:
Texas has a strong presence in technology research and education. My own alma mater, Baylor University, ranked among Tech's 29 Most Powerful Colleges this year along with the University of Texas. Also, Austin (the state capital) hosts the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals in March, which include a world-renowned Interactive Festival highlighting emerging media and creative technology.

Population/Workforce & Land:
Texas is 268,820 mi² (696,241 km²) — larger than any country in Western Europe. As of 2009, the state has an estimated population of 24.7 million — 2nd largest in the USA. Yet, in population density, Texas ranks 26th. (I.e., It's a big state with lots of room.)

Amenities:
Texas has a lot to offer — from friendly people and fantastic food to outdoor adventures and a sparkling social scene. You'll find sandy beaches in the south, pine forests in the east, prairies and rolling hills in the middle, and deserts, mountains, and canyons in the west. And, of course, big cities like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio offer everything you could want in dining, entertainment, arts, culture, music, education, high tech facilities, and more.

More Fun Texas Facts

► Interested in learning about effective B2B marketing, communication, content marketing, corporate communication, and copywriting for Texas and the rest of the USA? Please leave a comment or contact me with specific questions and/or topics.


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How to Avoid the Stereotype Trap in International Marketing & Communication

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A study by Alterian earlier this year revealed that only 16% of people surveyed in the US and UK thought companies were "genuinely interested in them." That may not surprise you. However, this might: the number more than doubled for those using social media — 33%. Then again, that shouldn't be surprising either.

As customers, we want to be heard. We want to know that our concerns matter. We want to feel as if we have some connection and influence. We like the idea of having the inside track on deals and information.

Social media — including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs — are meeting those needs in ways other marketing and communication vehicles don't, driving more and more consumers and businesses to seek online social interaction and influence when making buying decisions.

So, if you've been wavering about whether your company can benefit from social media involvement, maybe you should look at it from another point of view. Will your customers benefit from you engaging with them via social media? That question seems to have a clear answer, which means companies that use social media in smart, genuine, and engaging ways are gaining an edge.

If you're worried about biting off more than you can chew and not being able to sustain an appropriate activity level, take little bites. There's no rule that says you have to use every available social channel. Look at what others in your industry are doing. See where their customers are responding and how. Then decide what best fits your own client base.

Resources:

Hubspot has put together a useful ebook (Online Marketing Opportunity Report: Social Media, Blog and Search Engine Activity by Industry) to help you evaluate online activity within your specific industry. (Thanks to Sarah Mitchell — who, by the way, is doing fantastic things with social media — for her helpful blog article highlighting this resource.)

This in-depth article about Social CRM from Mashable is a great place to start if you want to know more about using social media for Customer Relationship Management.

Social Media B2B is, you guessed it, a wonderful resource for business-to-business (B2B) companies using social media.

Social Media Marketing Magazine is a new online publication filled with information from some of the brightest minds in social media for business.

If you're using LinkedIn, check out the Social Media Marketing group. There's a wealth of knowledge shared there daily.

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9 Things European B2B Professionals Should Know About Twitter

 

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As a business-to-business (B2B) professional in Europe, does the pervasive use of Twitter in North America mystify you? Do you think of it solely as the domain of bored American teenagers and Hollywood stars? I understand. I did, too, until I tried it — and now it's a vital component of my marketing strategy and business development.

After reading the smart discussion on Twitter's #B2Bchat last week about best practices for professional and corporate Twitter (transcript), I was inspired to share what I've learned from great minds like theirs as well as my own experiences.

I hope this will convince some of you who are wavering about Twitter to give it a try — and to do it with the right mindset.*

* It's difficult to write something about Twitter without using jargon. If you need definitions and instructions, read Mashable's excellent guide to Twitter.

1. Twitter is a Good Investment of Your Time. Really.
I know what many of you are thinking, because I thought it, too: "Isn't Twitter just a glorified Facebook status — a place to drone on uselessly about what music you're listening to and where you're meeting your friends for dinner? It's not useful for business, right?" Wrong. Surprisingly, it's been one of the best time investments I've made this year — yielding new contacts, an endless supply of industry news, and the opportunity to interact directly with leaders, influencers, and prospects. Of course, it all depends on the people you follow... and who's following you.

2. Don't Worry if You Don't Find Your Clients on Twitter. Focus on Industry Influencers & Thought-Leaders.
Since there aren't as many Twitter users in Europe as there are in the USA, it seems logical to say you won't try Twitter because you won't find your clients on Twitter. But there are other ways to reach your clients. Don't underestimate the power of influencing the influencers. Follow industry leaders, critics, journalists, researchers, and others who influence your clients, competitors, and the media. You can gain an incredible amount of knowledge from these people as well as position yourself as an industry leader by sharing your own knowledge. And being among the first in your region to adopt social media is a real advantage. You'll have an established presence and influence while others are playing catch-up.

3. Realize It's Social: Follow and Interact.
Twitter is social media. If it were only about broadcasting information, we would call it news media or advertising. Twitter offers people something different — something immensely valuable — a chance to instantly and personally interact with and influence people, brands, policy-makers, and more. Don't be afraid of negative comments. Everyone makes mistakes. How you respond can boost your reputation better than you'd imagine. Seek to be inclusive, not exclusive. Follow those who follow you (within reason). It's ok to ignore the spammers, get-rich-quick schemers, and those who only care about numbers. But for those who sincerely want to follow you, it's important to reciprocate.

4. Twitter Success is About Consistency of Value and Interaction.
Twitter is a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" kind of place. In the Twitterverse, information is here and gone almost instantly. You can't hang your laurels on one incredibly smart, poignant, and timely tweet. On Twitter, your reputation, influence, and reach are based on your averages. It's not who you are on your best day, but who you are everyday. It's your consistency of value and interaction that counts. Be prepared to offer a steady stream of useful, helpful, interesting information.

5. Don't Feel Pressured to Perform or Conform. Find Your Voice. Be Yourself.
The pressure of producing consistent value and interaction holds a lot of people back from trying Twitter — especially if it's just you running the business or the social media efforts. I understand. I felt the same way. However, I get great ideas from reading others' posts, and many threads evolve simply from interacting with people. For inspiration, follow other professionals in your industry to learn from what they're doing successfully and not so successfully. Then, try to create something that is uniquely you.

6. Have a Plan or You'll Get Sucked into a Twitter Time Warp.
We all know social media can be addictive. (How many hours I wasted when I first discovered Facebook flair, I'll never tell.) However, with a good plan in place, you can avoid a lot of the time drain, keep your focus, and get better results faster. Kent Huffman (CMO of BearCom Wireless) wrote a fantastic blog piece to help you plan an effective and efficient strategy for creating a B2B community on Twitter.

7. If You Want Global Reach, You Will Need to Use English — at Least Part of the Time.
Unless you have absolutely no business dealings outside your own country, you will need to use English for Twitter — at least part of the time. And even if you do only operate domestically, I'd still recommend using English. It will enable you to interact with others in your industry around the world. That's one of the advantages of Twitter: instant global interaction. Consider writing your Twitter bio in English and translating important tweets.

8. To Interact with an International Audience, Use Scheduled Tweets.
Obviously, you can't be on Twitter 24/7. That means the majority of your U.S. audience won't notice the tweet you sent at 9:00 am central Europe time. So, if you have an important message for people in a different time zone, use a Twitter scheduler to automatically send the tweet at a specific time. (Try free services like TweetDeck or HootSuite.) Just be careful not to spam. Sending the same or similar tweets repeatedly throughout the day is annoying and a good way to get dropped by your followers.

9. Give it at Least 3 Months of Concerted Effort before Forming an Opinion.
Twitter is not an overnight project. It takes time to gain a quality following, test the features, show up on influencers' radars, and build relationships. I've been at it 3 months and I've only scratched the surface. Give yourself at least one full quarter before doing an evaluation — and make sure you go "all in" during that time.

► If you're an experienced Twitterer, what other advice would you give someone who isn't convinced Twitter is good for business?

► If you're in B2B, what questions do you have about Twitter's usefulness for your business?

► If you're ready to create a Twitter profile, be sure to follow me @useglobalreach. I'd love to hear from you.

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