Sunday, October 29, 2006

Customer Relationship Management article

Today I continue publishing articles that I wrote as an EMAdvice consultant. I believe that proper customer relationship management is crucial for any organization because very often it makes the difference bewteen losing the customer and customer retention. I wrote this article after I came to USA and frankly had a cultural shock in this respect. In my job I have noticed that understanding of CRM, its meaning and importance is so much lower in America than in Europe where I come from.

I based this article on my personal experiences and I hope it helps my Blog readers to get insights into the essence of CRM concept and its successful implementation.

The article can be viewd at , 2nd article in the list.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Market Entry Strategy article

As I have promissed in one of my earlier posts I am starting to post articles that I worte as an EMAdvice consultant in relation to various business topics.

The first article is New Market Entry Strategy. This is a step-by-step guide on planning a New Market Entry irrsepetive of the geographical region you plan to expand to. It consists of 2 parts: Analytics and Implementation and draws your attention to the factors not present in your standard local marketing plan, such as: country risk analysis, unfair competition, stakeholder management on government level, etc. Special attention is devoted to Exit strategy in case things are not going according to plan. These are the basics of International Marketing you must know before expanding your business overseas.

The article is 1st in the list of EMAdvice articles at

Your comments on the article will be very much appreciated.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Photos of USA

With all the difficulties of doing business in America one has to admit: it is a VERY beautiful country. Of course, its location and wide territory provided this richness of nature but we should give credit to Americans who are still manageing to preserving these riches very well. I haven't been to many places yet but here are some of my impressions from Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Doing Business in USA

Here in USA businesses are interested to expand globally, therefore, the rest of the world has to learn to deal with Americans. This story is about my own experience of doing business with Americans in America.

Usually, building international business starts with the 1st business visit to the country and one can understand a lot about the nation just from dealing with its customs authorities. I am no longer surprised that I am being held in a detention center (for documents check) every other time I cross US border. But I am surprised with the tendency: I was NEVER stopped by an American who was born in US, but I am nearly ALWAYS detained by a former immigrant. How do I know? I can tell from the accent that the guy is Mexican or Polish but not born and raised here, he was in my position, probably, a couple of years ago and then he got the passport and now he’s “the king”.
The same thing you’d notice anywhere here while dealing with business people or authorities: the ones who were once in a disadvantaged position themselves now tend to over-exercise their authority and make your life miserable.

The next thing you do (if you are let into the country) is getting acquainted with potential customers, partners, etc. I often feel uncomfortable in this situation because most likely the dialogue goes like this:
- So where are you from?
- Russia
- Oh!!!! My great-great-great grandmother was from POLNAD!!!!!!!

And then I am confused: I see that the person is over-excited by the fact that he met someone, as he believes, from his homeland. But I cannot share his enthusiasm: I have nothing to do with Poland, Russia doesn’t even have a boarder with Poland (or Czech Republic, or Slovakia or Croatia, etc.) We are two different countries!! But at the same time I don’t want to upset him. So at this point I just smile for about 20 seconds and then try to change the topic of the conversation.

The discussion of the potential business opportunity is the most difficult bit. Most Americans are sure that they know everything about other countries or rather they think they don’t really need to know anything about other countries because for them selling their products from Illinois to California seem to be the same thing as selling products from USA to UK. They don’t see why the process/product/price/advertising campaign etc. should be any different. And if they ever sold a product abroad, say to UK then they believe that the whole world will be at their feet because they already know how to do business internationally. They don’t have a slightest doubt that you cannot approach the Russian market the way you approach the UK market. By the same token the Brazilian, Chinese, French, etc. markets will be totally different. You would think that by now they should have learnt something from their mistakes but NO! Just recently I heard from a potential customer who never worked with Russia and was looking for some consulting advice: “We don’t need market research, we just want to sell”.

And this case is not exception it’s a RULE. At a certain stage I was so upset with American approach to doing business that I wrote a series of educational articles on how to do business with other cultures, which I will be publishing on my blog soon (please, come back to read!). The first of them is New Market Entry Strategy where I talk about steps a company must take when deciding on entering a new market. Some of the steps should be taken before entering the market to avoid mistakes in the process.

After the meeting there is time to follow up. Americans almost never follow up. And if you do follow-up yourself they are not likely to respond. Generally, they are not likely to respond to about 90% of correspondence sent to them. You won’t believe how many e-mails, postcards, letters and faxes that I sent were left unanswered. If it is a “cold call” - 99% of your correspondence will get no response. But even if you met with a person before, your chances of getting an answer are very slim too. Many times I was sending people I know information that was beneficial to them (articles, links, invitations, etc.) and I never even got a “thank you” note. Most of the time they even don’t call you back when you leave them a voicemail! This is very frustrating. In my culture it is disrespectful and if it were up to me I would never deal with such people, but I have no choice: then I would have to cross out the majority of American customers and colleagues. The funny thing is they all admit with regret that this is true about their way of dealing with people and still they don’t change it.

The only way to fight with this approach is continuous education, I guess. So the second article I wrote is about Customer Relationship Management, which I will also be publishing in my blog too.

This is a snapshot of what I learnt about American business culture during the 9 months of my living and working in USA. I don’t want to sound negative, though, but I guess this was an outlet for my frustration that built up over a period of time. In reality it is not all “doom and gloom” here. The best part of doing business in US (if you have your business registered in US) is a great support for small and medium size businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives of all sorts. Especially if you a minority, say, a woman. The amount of support groups, associations, government programs, etc. is just phenomenal! And all of them exist with the sole purpose of helping you to develop your business.

I guess it’s been a bit difficult for me because I am foreigner and I need to adjust to this new culture and this is why I am sharing my experience with you – so that you are prepared if you want to business in USA.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Photos of Ukraine

The photos are from a wonderful site with much more pictures and useful info.

PS I especially like that these photos represent the diversity of of Ukraine: here you can see Greek (Chersones, the Crimea), muslim (Bahchisarai, the Crimea), catholic (Lviv) and Russian orthodox (Kiev) legacy - all in one.


I would like to finish my Eastern European sketches with the one of Ukraine. There is so much to say but I cannot find the right words. The story of our 2 countries is the story of love and pain that lasts for centuries. We were together and apart and then togther and then apart... For those of you who know TV series "Friends" , from my point of view the story of Russia and Ukraine is the story of Ross and Rachel: "I love Ross - I hate Ross! I love Ross - I hate Ross!"... Even the names sound very similar :-))
Ukraine is very close to evry Russian heart because most of us have relatives and friends there. Historically, Ukraine, Russia and Beylorussia (being Slavic nations) were most close to each other which led to very close cultural, social and economic interchange. And frankly, now if someone blindfolds me and takes me to a city in Ukraine, I would hardly be able to tell that I am not in Russia. We are so similar from traditional, cutural, historical, social, religious etc. point of view. And if a person were walking along the street in my home city I would never be able to say if he is Russian or Ukrainian.

I mean, when you cross a border from England to France you KNOW you are in France or by the same token from Bulgaria to Greece. You most definitely can tell an Englishman, from an Italian, a Greek, a Finn. And even if some Ukrainians will not like me for that, but I have to say it: I don't see much difference between us, we started as one country more than 10 centuries ago, then we drifted apart but we were constantly drawn in together... So I cannot see a reason (except for political ambitions of some people) why we cannot be together...

But to be fair to Ukrainians, I would like to draw your attention to some things that are particular to them, some unique pecularities (I understand that they might be offended that every single foreigner calls them "Russians" not seeing any difference whatsoever). If you respect these you will be very welcome in Ukraine:
1. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev and it is very different from Moscow, much older and thus has a lot of historical heritage, especially from religious point of view. That's where our orthodoxy comes from. The famous Sofia Kievskaya cathedral is one of the most important and sacred monuments in orthodox relegion.
2. The Ukrainians have their own language - Ukrainian. And though it is very similar to Russian, it has some pecularities in vocabulary and spelling.
3. The famous Russian borsch (soup) actually originates from Ukraine and Ukrainians are very proud of that. And these guys do like to eat good food and a lot. And they like people who eat a lot. So if you happen to visit a Ukrainian home you will be "fed to death" in a good sense. This is the famous Ukrainian hospitality.
4. As Kent is the garden of England, Ukraine was the garden of the USSR and it still has the best wheet, vegetables and fruit due to its southern location relative to Russia. Great wine too: the Crimea produces one of the best wines I ever tasted.

And when I say that Ukraine is very similar to Russia I by no means want to say that if you saw Russia you saw it all. Definitely go to Ukraine! There are so many spectacular places there: Kiev, Lviv, the Carpathian mountains, the Crimea and so much more! Just see the photos I posted!

For more information on Ukraine you can visit This site is really good because it gives you not only information on Ukraine you can get in Ukraine but Ukraine-related links in your country!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

International Business resource

Here is a new International Busines resource where you can find a lot of useful information on various countries from maps to real estate to local newspapers to businesses etc.:
It is good for country intelligence as well as just for being up-to-date with world's current affairs. It also has some interesting links that regular international busienss websites usually don't have, such as: international book store, translations, travel advisories, etc.
Definitely worth exploring!