Market Entry between Turkey and the United States: Approaches that build Trust and decrease Risk


first published on LinkedIn, October 7, 2015

Many U.S. companies want to enter the Turkish market, and Turkish companies the U.S. market to offer their products and services or to establish a regional presence. Initiating the market entry or even organizational thinking about the market entry, however, can be challenging. Bridging the geographic distance, reconciling market differences and assessing market opportunities Vs. risk are some of the top complexities of market entry. A carefully crafted market entry planning system tailored to your unique business and effective global leadership skills will help address these complexities and facilitate discussions.

How can you make your market entry a success?

1 – Understand who is most likely to be interested in your products and services, and who will share your vision, early in your market entry efforts. Contrary to the usual belief and also due to advancements in the field, market research does not have to be exceptionally costly. It also is an ingredient for success rather than an item to shop for when attempting to achieve a successful market entry. Therefore, if you can utilize cost-effective ways of getting data unique to your market you will be able to account for this as an investment rather than an expense. Most important questions will be “who will buy”, “what will they buy”, “what will they pay”, “what should your company do better than anyone else” and “what should your company say for your customers, their communities and societies to trust in/love your offerings and business”. Early in your market entry efforts, establish data collection and analysis systems that help you care about your users, customers and stakeholders, and increase your revenues. Simply commit yourself to continuously understanding your customers and delivering your unique promise. This is going to be critical to mitigating risk before, during and after your market entry and help you enter the market in a fast, efficient and lasting way.

2 – Invest in yourself and your employees. It is you and the human capital of your organization which will make the market entry a success. You are the visionaries and the drivers. You will be the initiators of influence, builders of trust and managers of risk. Hence you need to master three important leadership areas:

  • Strategic thinking to inspire and build competitive advantage in new market – Turkish and U.S. markets are governed and regulated differently, host different competitors and supplier options, respond with different kinds of consumer behavior, have different levels of technology penetration and enjoy different world outlooks.
  • Emotional readiness to lead with confidence, energy and resilience – market distance and differences can be challenging; you will need to experience and enjoy the nuances of these two countries, become aware of your sources of presumptions, enthusiasm and discomfort when working in each other’s markets; ask why the Turkish or U.S. market is important for your business, what do you think about past, present and future affairs between these two countries, what do you think about Turkish or American cultural differences, who do you know to talk about their experience in the market you are interested in.
  • The ability to build trust across cultures to lead effectively and efficiently- Turkish people have a long-term view on relationships while U.S. Americans like to get together to achieve specific goals quickly; to work productively it’s important to fully understand these two worldviews and build on cultural/historic similarities. Reflect on how you build trust, how important it is for you to keep promises for the task at hand and what your vision might be on what could continue the relationship.

The Global Mindset® leadership concept developed by Thunderbird School of Global Management is the most comprehensive global leadership concept in the field due to its scope relating to business strategy, emotional readiness as well as trust building skills, and an excellent way for identifying your strength and development areas. Global Mindset levels can be easily assessed with the Global Mindset Inventory® (GMI). The concept was validated in 62 countries and is positively correlated with results, thought, people and personal leadership in international business. Entrepreneurs tend to have high Global Mindset® levels. If you are a business owner explore your Global Mindset capital and help others in your company succeed.

3 – Find joy in diversifying your repertoire of business conduct. Understanding different cultures is not only important to build trust, relationships and the right types of networks but also to gain input for your product and service design. Hence it is best to become culturally curious early on in your market entry journey.

Firstly, it’s a skill also validated by the Global Mindset research, to look at things with a sense of humor. Americans who go on Blue Cruises in Turkey say that they had no idea that one could make so many dishes with eggplants. Many Turkish people living in the United States experiment with making cranberry jam because cranberries are native to the U.S. and widely available, and they deliver a similar taste to the sour cherry jam which is very popular in Turkey. As they would say…the taste sort of reminds them of what they are used to…

Secondly, it’s important to commit to “in-depth” cultural understanding. GlobeSmart®, an extensively researched global business tool developed by Aperian Global shows significant differences in aspects of culture that are critical for achieving results in Turkish/American relationships. American respondents to the GlobeSmart Profile survey emphasize their task orientation, their way of communicating directly, their willingness to dive into dealing with ambiguous situations sometimes even with people they don’t necessarily know all too well, their pursuit for equality and the importance of individual expression rather than group harmony. Turkish respondents emphasize the value of relationships, social roles, group decision making while enjoying initiative takers and extensive considerations in communications.

Here are two experiential exercises you can do to reflect on and learn more about either culture in addition to reading books and attending educational events. To gain a deeper insight into the Turkish culture, have a cup of Turkish coffee, if possible, with a Turkish friend or your Turkish waiter. To gain a deeper insight into the U.S. American culture, go to a football or baseball game. Observe and ask as many “why” questions as you can. Why do Turkish people care if somebody drinks coffee without sugar, little, some or a lot of sugar? Why does a Turkish proverb say that one cup of coffee will be remembered a thousand times? Why do American football players huddle, something not common in soccer – a passion for many Turks? Why does an American proverb say “time is money” and which Turkish proverb does this remind you of? How can you explore metaphors like these for further understanding? These activities will not be sufficient to gain a full grasp of either culture but they will give you a good start and traction for asking more questions. Beware for instance that each U.S. State complements the U.S. history with its unique experience, operates with its own rules and regulations and is likely to have a special economic focus.  Turks tend to be proud of the town or even village where their families are from and each Turkish city enjoys a strong reputation for a historic expertise ranging from cuisine to a manufacturing sector like textiles.

If you have experience in either country still challenge your assumptions, have an inquisitive mind as a continuous effort for deep cultural understanding is necessary for working well together, and we are often blinded not only by our national but even our personal cultural lenses.

Finally, good organizations to follow and join in order to start building networks on the U.S.-Turkey commercial highway are the American Turkish Council (ATC), the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) as well as local organizations like the Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce in addition to embassy services. Turkish American relationships are rooted in strong common history and there is plenty of experience. Please feel free to share additional resources via this blog post, too.

At StrategicStraits, Inc. we help clients learn from extensive leadership studies to identify critical global business attributes and fine-tune skills for success. We also assist them in developing a unique market entry system that helps seize maximum market opportunity and reduce market entry risk. To learn more about our approach email us at and schedule a one-hour online “Grow your Business Globally with Confidence and Finesse” presentation.

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