With a statement from Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan announcing, “The U.S. Postal Service is pleased to participate in the historic direct transportation of mail service with Cuba,” the USPS resumed providing mail service to Cuba on March 17. For the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. citizens are able to send direct mail to the island nation.
Some businesses no doubt see this as an incredible opportunity to market their goods and services to a significant number of people they were previously unable to reach. But what does this decision mean for you? Is it as great an opportunity as it seems? Should your company be among the first to seize the opportunity?
Politics aside, the big question to ask is whether entering into this market really makes sense for your company. Taking on a “new market opportunity” such as the one Cuba represents should raise some important questions, such as:
How well do we know this market?
It might be tempting to look at Cuba as a large Spanish-speaking market hungry for goods and services that have been out of reach for them for many years. Simply translating your marketing messages into Spanish, however, won’t get the job done. You have to ask yourself if you understand what this market really wants. Is what you offer truly a good fit for Cubans? What do you really know about their needs—or even their ability to pay? If you had to create a marketing persona for your target audience there, what would it look like?Do you know what motivates a citizen of a socialist Caribbean country? Do you have any idea what appeals to them—or what might turn them off in a heartbeat?
Can you fulfill your promises?
It’s one thing to stir up interest, generate response and even get some orders—but do you have the ability to fulfill those orders? Are you prepared for a whole new kind of red tape when it comes to getting your products and services to this new audience?
Will you be able to monitor your results?
A key component of direct mail success is being able to test what works and what doesn’t. It’s how you learn what to repeat and what to avoid in future marketing efforts. Do you know enough about the Cuban market and infrastructure to have confidence that you’ll be able to track your mailings accurately to determine delivery rates and times?
Not all opportunities are created equal. And thatnotion doesn’t apply only to the (potentially) emerging market in Cuba. The questions raised here really apply to any direct marketing effort you undertake. It’s important to have a solid marketing strategy and to make sure you know your audience—and what they want—whether that audience is in the Caribbean or right in your own neighborhood.