If the recent Comdex/Fall exhibition achieved anything for the 26 Australian hi-tech companies spruiking their wares inside the Austrade booth, it was that the typically Australian "head in the sand" business mental-ity has finally caved in to a more ballsy, in-your-face approach to marketing that has been the bread and butter of US vendors for years.
However there is still much work to be done to export Australian smarts to the US, according to Richard Hunt, Austrade's trade commissioner in the US.
"There are 7500 Australian companies that could benefit in the US from Austrade's help; however, Austrade only gets requests from 200 a year," he said.
This year Australian vendors at Comdex with Austrade paid just $US4800 for their 3 x 3m booth space in a prime location. Going by themselves could have cost them up to $US20,000 - and this may only have bought them an obscure location. However, Austrade will pull the funding plug next year and vendors will have to fork out $US12,000 to reserve a booth.
Comdex proved to be a raging success for two of the exhibitors - NDG Software and Illumni8 - who were both nominated as finalists in their selected categories in the Red Herring/Comdex Venture Forum.
But, it isn't just outstanding technology and innovation that helps Australian IT companies succeed in the US. Marketing, advertising and high-profile promotion are key factors in gaining the acceptance of US buyers and potential partners.
Leonie Cridland, sales and marketing man-ager for online developer Virtual Media Technology, and Bob Waldie, managing director at remote access provider Moreton Bay, both agreed that while owning ground-breaking technology was a must for Australian companies contemplating a move into the US market, the need to show financial stability and a desire for over-the-top product promotion was more pressing.
"It requires huge cultural change, but you have to convince Americans that you are one of them," Cridland said.
"You have to network constantly. Don't be afraid to speak to people you don't know, even produce product brochures with American spelling," she added.
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