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Understand the business culture to get ahead in a new market

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Face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, contracts and informal agreements – any and every method is brought into play in order to seal that ever-so lucrative deal. But when UK businesses wish to spread their wings and expand into a new market overseas, do they always know the best way? Understanding the business culture  for your target market is crucial in getting ahead.

Is written communication the key, or does success depend on building vital relationships with business contacts? Let’s look at how this plays out in various business cultures overseas:

Middle East

The Middle Eastern culture places a great deal of value on someone’s word. Contracts are seen as memorandums of understanding, rather than binding agreements, while a person’s word is connected to their honour.

Latin America

In many Latin countries business communication is also predominantly oral. If you choose to send a contract via email, you’d be expected to follow it up with a phone call. And in Mexico, face-to-face meetings are preferred over telephone conversations.


Pakistani businessmen place a huge emphasis on building relationships. It’s not unusual for business itself to not be discussed for the first few meetings until relationships have been developed.


Germans do not need a personal relationship to do business. Decisions and discussions are generally communicated in writing. Prior to a meeting, ensure that all of your printed materials are provided in English and German, and confirm your attendance in writing, and in German.


For Australians, personal relationships and emotions are not important in business dealings. Instead, you should present your case with facts and figures and should expect business to be done quickly, with a minimum of small talk.


In Denmark, you should always have a presentation complete with facts and figures to back up what you’re saying. You should also confirm business appointments in writing and send a written agenda beforehand, which you adhere to rigidly on the day.

The verdict

So, what can we learn from these examples? Quite simply, when planning to do business overseas, know your audience! It really is essential to fully research the cultural preferences of your potential business partners before expanding into a new market. Expansion plans are often exciting but can also be daunting. Effective communication plays a major role in the success of market penetration and an excellent product or service can be hindered by an incorrect of potentially offensive approach.

If you’re looking to expand into a new market overseas and have any questions about how to approach communication requirements with new markets, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

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