Everyone wants to climb the ladder. But few in business achieve such a meteoric rise, or start as much from scratch, as Caio Beleza. For any company looking to expand its reach into international markets, Beleza’s approach to building customer trust is worth paying attention to.
When online marketing guru Neil Patel began expanding his considerable business interests into South America, he decided to partner with the young Brazilian businessman to translate his existing blog posts from English to Portuguese.
To his delight, Patel ultimately ended up with a promising new executive in the bargain. Beleza would, in just a few years, be put in charge of expanding Patel’s interests not just in Brazil but worldwide.
“Caio helped increase our revenue, boost our margins, and obtain better results for our customers,” explains Patel. And it all began with better blog content.
Want to learn from Beleza’s success? Take a look at the steps your business can follow to get there:
Speak the Language — Fluently
When he responded to Patel’s initial request, Beleza did more than simply meet NPAccel’s stated need to extend its influence into the Brazilian market. Beleza quickly realized that mere translation was not going to be sufficient for Patel to reach his goals.
Beleza downplays the importance of his role, saying it was a simple matter of recognizing an opportunity to do a better job of bridge-building.
“I wanted to encourage every member of our team in Brazil to think about how they would prefer to be approached by an online marketer,” says Beleza.
Though the content of Patel’s posts was strong, Beleza realized it wouldn’t be enough to engage local readers. Not being satisfied with “good enough” — or even “the customer is happy” — spurred Beleza and his team to find ways to increase local client trust. They also sought to downplay any inaccurate perceptions of NPAccel as a detached, far-flung outsider.
“Small business owners have a lot on their minds,” Beleza says. “We wanted our potential customers to focus on what we have to offer, not the distraction of worrying that the company had no local investment.”
While continuing to take their content cues from Patel, the Brazilian team began generating original content. Beleza emulated readers’ native dialect to add a sense of authenticity to Patel’s ideas.
The result? By addressing Brazilians in an organic way, Beleza played an essential role in helping Patel penetrate the market. Patel’s articles and videos, retooled under Beleza’s leadership and knowledge, reached more than 20 million people every year.
Impressing Neil Patel by exceeding his expectations is no small feat. Patel is a serial entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, and he was named a Top 10 Marketer by Forbes. Patel’s digital marketing firm has seven offices around the world, with three of those locations in the U.S.
Clearly, Beleza picked the right guy to impress.
Start Small, Then Expand
As opposed to marketing firms that service the needs of a few, big-ticket clients, the NPAccel bottom line depends on establishing — and maintaining — trusting relationships with many small business owners. This type of client is typically looking for rapid, quantifiable results while keeping a watchful eye on expenditures.
Trust, especially in a world of online scams, is hard to win but easy to lose.
After the success of NPAccel’s foray into the Brazilian market, what most impressed Patel about Beleza’s approach was his ability to replicate that success elsewhere. Emboldened by the results of the Brazilian team, Patel chose to expand the company’s staff. “Do it again,” Patel asked, this time for those whose native language is Spanish or German.
It wasn’t long before Patel’s partner, Mike Kamo, took notice of the success of the Brazilian office. The South America team began acquiring hundreds of new customers, the vast majority of them self-describing as “very satisfied.”
Patel and Kamo felt the time was right to leave the Brazilian team in the capable hands of Beleza’s partners. They had bigger plans for Beleza: chief operating officer at one of the company’s U.S. locations.
Invest in Others
Other established entrepreneurs — those with a lot to lose — might balk at the idea of placing so much responsibility on the shoulders of someone so young. Patel, however, has more than enough reason to invest deeply in Beleza’s win-win approach; the Brazilian team’s success keeps repeating itself.
Beleza encourages others to think strategically about investing in any international market before seeking new business. He resists the temptation to view any local expenditure as a cost sink. Instead, he thinks of opening new markets more like moving into a new home:
Do your homework. Spend time investigating companies that have succeeded in the market you are trying to tap into. Pay less attention to their press releases and more to what their customers say. Ask, “Why did you choose Company X instead of Company Y?”
To get that kind of intel, you will need to invest in authentic relationships that foster casual conversation and unguarded moments. One quick cup of coffee won’t cut it.
Develop local points of contact. You won’t be able to master the language of every market you hope to enter. Instead, find someone who has mastered yours and can pick up nuanced meanings in both. This part of the process cannot be artificial or hurried. People everywhere quickly sense when they are being used.
Believe in what you have to offer. If you don’t have a lot of confidence in your offering, stand down. You’ll have enough issues to contend with as you enter any new market. Make sure your product or service meets an authentic need for the target customer.
“People can sense when a business is more interested in revenue than people, and unfortunately there is no shortage of marketing companies operating just like that,” says Beleza. “By appealing to local culture, we cleared away the ambient noise and gave Neil’s business model space to speak for itself.”
Pay attention to disconnects. When your people are stumped by the response of a potential customer, it pays to find out why. Chances are, your pitch got lost in translation.
Exchange More Than Information
Though Beleza believes Patel’s company offers a valuable service to small business owners, he also knows that it’s tough to translate ideas accurately. Getting the right picture into another person’s head involves choosing your words and sentences carefully, yes — but that’s just the starting point.
Fluency with customers goes beyond language. It necessitates a deeper understanding of local culture, influences, history, and shared dreams. Beleza encourages others to see that it’s never a waste of time to find out what makes people tick.
While recognizing the enormity of the task set before him as a new executive in Patel’s world, Beleza is optimistic: “It will be a great challenge. Everything I built and learned in Brazil will be fundamental to achieve NPAccel’s global goals. Our focus is to help more entrepreneurs and companies succeed on the internet.”
As the leader of NPAccel, Beleza is eager to help U.S. clients achieve the kinds of success he’s enabled for customers in Brazil. For example, working with Director of Strategy Matthew Santos, Beleza formulated 100 different client programs in SEO, paid media, and conversion rate optimization. This broad array of offerings ensures that NPAccel can both get results for clients and be an affordable option for companies of different sizes.
Not that Beleza’s hard work will stop there. He and his team hold great promise to help other companies in the U.S., adding to the growing list of the company’s client success stories.
If Beleza’s initial results in South America (and elsewhere) serve as any indication, Patel can count on continued growth. And Beleza can count on not just a seat at Patel’s table, but at the head of it.