After a couple weeks in the U.S. and at Two Rivers Marketing, I got used to the new surroundings and my job. And of course, I noticed some differences between the United States and Germany.
Today I will familiarize you with facts you definitely need to know about doing business and marketing in Germany!

Are there differences between American and German executives in a company? Do you want to do business first and drink a beer with your associate afterwards? Almost every German will answer both questions with a straight “Yes.” Compared to the rest of Europe, the German mentality is probably the most similar to the American, although there are several important differences. Americans are usually known for their empathy and their openness. Germans are often regarded as reserved, serious, skeptical and also sometimes a little bit too straight. Undoubtedly these characteristics can occasionally make overseas business relations complicated.

“Shoot first and ask questions later” characterizes the American decision-making process. Americans are spontaneous; they want to get to the point quickly and get the essential information needed to come to a quick decision. “Ask questions till they drop dead” is more the German way. Germans have an inclination to plan everything extremely precisely, gather as much information as possible and take their time making important decisions.

Basically, these are the most important facts you need to know about business in Germany. But what does that mean for entering the German market with a new product?

If an American agency wants to do marketing in Germany, there are a few things you should notice. The Germans love online services, as do Americans, but they are pretty skeptical about foreign shipping addresses and even more so if there are translation mistakes on the website. Make sure you hire a German native speaker. Also, if you open an online shop, you should do some research about the ways of payment in Germany. Unlike Americans, not all Germans own a credit card. A more popular way to make a payment is a bank transfer.

Furthermore, Germans absolutely love quality products. You have probably heard the slogan “Made in Germany,” which is very prominent in my country. You probably shouldn’t use the slogan “Made in America” for an American product in Germany. However, there are different opportunities to prove you are a respectable business with good and quality products. Very well-known organizations are called “TÜV” or “Trusted Shops.”

What medium should you use when marketing an American product in Germany? It depends on which target group you want to reach. For younger people, the Internet and TV are definitely the best ways to advertise, while older people love printed newspapers and magazines. Of course, everyone has a different taste regarding the design of an advertisement or a whole marketing campaign. But in general I would say that Germans prefer simple and meaningful advertisements, totally focused on the product or service.

What I really like the most in the U.S. is the customer service — whether I need help to find a product at the grocery store, find the right bus or book a flight, I send an email to get help. The customer service in the U.S. is exemplary, and I wish this would also exist in my home country — it is known as a “service desert!” If an American company can make this work in Germany and analyzes the target group carefully to start a successful marketing campaign, I’m sure this will be more than half the battle!

About Alice Schröer

Alice Schröer came to Two Rivers Marketing from the University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden, Germany, where she studied marketing. She spent a semester in the U.S. learning about the industry and our culture. During her internship with Two Rivers, she wrote a few blog posts about her experiences.