So you wanna sell your software to the Yanks, eh?

"So ... you want to market your software in America, do you son?" "Yes Doctor, I really do. Can you help me?"

“So ... you want to market your software in America, do you son?”

“Yes Doctor, I really do. Can you help me?”

“Well son, I’ve had my team do a bit of research, and there are some things you might not have thought of ... . Perhaps you should hear them before we proceed with your treatment?”

“Uh ... okay Doc, whatever you think is best.”

“Good, son, good! My team has organised the list into a set of helpful bullet points for you: shall I read them out to you?”

[pause] “Sure”.

“Excellent! Here we go then.

1: Get a translator: Americans don’t speak the same language as you and me — it only sounds as if they do. If you spell “colour” properly, an American will simply look blankly at it and not understand what you mean (they have a very short attention span). You will need the services of an experienced translator who can handle the conversion of complicated words and phrases, like “fanny”, “jandal” and “thru” between the two languages. Like most American consultants, these people start at around $US1000 per hour.

2: Americans think only in American dollars : if you try to price your software in anything other than the holy USD, you simply won’t sell anything there (we believe that this is because the math required to do the currency conversion is too complicated for them). This unfortunately means that you become subject to the whims of the USD EXCHANGE RATE, and any software developer who has done this will tell you that it has cut into gross earnings by over 30% in the last 18 months. In essence, you become the harem slave of the US Dollar, because it can screw you at any time.

3: Switch your operation over to a midnight-to-noon basis: by 9am, a typical American has normally run out of things to do with his day and is bored: it is at this time that they will think of calling for tech support on their software. “Noo Zealand? What state is that in? Ahh, who cares, I’ll call ‘em anyways”. The call will reach your switchboard at around 4am: you will need to have staff eager and ready to accept it, because Americans still naively believe that the customer is always right, and will be offended if their call goes unanswered.

4: Prepare for a very short product life: if your product is actually good enough to make it in the lucrative American market, then American companies will notice it and will steal the best ideas from it to make them their own (one company in particular has built an astonishing empire by doing this). Even if you have your ideas patented, the cost and length of time it will take to enforce them through the tragicomic farce that they call a “justice system” over there will bankrupt you.

5: Grow your advertising budget: Americans are so saturated with advertising that only the costliest and most repetitive campaigns have any chance of getting through to them. The “science” of advertising has attained an almost religious significance in America, and it charges in much the same way that American religions do too: expect to pay at least 100 times more than you think is reasonable to establish a worthwhile advertising campaign. You might consider bribing some Senators while you’re at it — this appears to be completely legal there and American corporations have proven repeatedly just how effective the practice can be.

Finally, when marketing in America, you can’t rely on the “local disaffection” effect you always encounter in New Zealand: where a New Zealander believes at the core of his being that any imported product must by definition be better than a locally-developed equivalent, Americans feel no such lack of confidence in their nation. Indeed, you will probably find that your product will have to be twice as good as an American equivalent to be considered merely half as good by a typical American customer.

“So, son: do you still want to market your software to the Yanks?”

“Oh yes, yes, yes Doctor! Yes! All those lovely yankee greenbacks... Yes!”

“Don’t struggle against the restraints son, you’ll only hurt yourself... Son? Calm down! NURSE! GET IN HERE WITH THAT SEDA—”

[End of recording]

Harris is a Dunedin developer.

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