As U.S. based catalogers look to expand overseas, the United Kingdom 
	offers an ideal testing ground for international strategies. The lan-
	guage is the same--or nearly so--and the culture well known to gen-
	erations of U.S. Anglophiles. As British direct-marketing consultant 
	Geoff Cotton explains, the British Isles can be a green and merry 
	paradise for savvy catalogers and a gloomy moor for those unprepared 
	for foreign shores. 
	For the past four years or so, the most frequently used phrase in 
	British Mail Order must have been, "The Americans are coming." Given 
	that the U.K. and America share the same language, similar cultures 
	and, we are closer geographically, Britain seemed the ideal place for 
	American catalog companies to start their invasion of Europe.  
	Lands' End tested in September '91 with apparent success and by 
	January '92, it was rolling out a campaign that was impressive for both 
	its size and its audacity. "We are Lands' End direct merchants from 
	America" screamed the headline on the double-page spreads throughout 
	the national press in the United Kingdom. The copy, beautifully con-
	structed in typical Lands' End style, then went into great detail 
	about the history of Lands' End and their quest to build a range of 
	products that embodied every level of quality and comfort backed by 
	the now legendary Lands' End guarantee--"Guaranteed Period."  
	The results were fantastic. Within the short period of about three 
	years, Lands' End had opened an entire facility in Britain, including 
	warehousing, telemarketing, and a UK-based marketing team. One thing 
	that shines through Lands' End's operations is its staff's friendliness
	and professionalism, from the tea lady to the managing director. 
	Surely, this is the best tribute to their philosophy, culture and most
	importantly, training.  
	After this success story, we in England waited for the onslaught. 
	True enough, along came L.L. Bean. Unlike Lands' End, however, L.L. 
	Bean was not successful and they quickly withdrew back to the States 
	to lick their wounds. It speedily became public knowledge that, unlike 
	its main American adversary, L.L. Bean had failed. This immediately 
	caused many other U.S. catalogs to shelve their plans for European 
	So what did L.L. Bean do wrong? Well, their recruitment campaign 
	was so low key, it would have been easy to miss. The ads themselves 
	carried a confused message, and as such did not seem targeted at any 
	specific market. Any potential customer would have been very hard-
	pressed to work out exactly what products would be in the catalog, 
	and no particular expectation was set in their minds, so apathy had 
	already set in even before the catalog arrived.  
	When it did arrive, even if you found a product you wanted among 
	the mass on order, ordering was a nightmare. Prices were in dollars, 
	not pounds. You had to calculate your own shipping costs. And you even 
	had to calculate the taxes and the duty required for importing the 
	merchandise. Oh, and by the way, your order went to America, or you 
	phoned an American number to place it. Needless to say, not as many 
	people ordered as was expected.  
	So, what lessons can we learn from this case study? Perhaps the 
	most important one is that Europe, starting with the UK, can still 
	learn a lot about cataloging from America. Also, our markets are ready 
	for their wonderful specialty catalogs, but you have to follow some 
	basic rules.  
	1) Do not assume people know your catalog and products well enough
	2) Advertise clearly and accurately what you're offering and why-- 
	using both pictures and copy.  
	3) Run a smaller catalog featuring your best products, not your 
	entire range of merchandise.  
	4) Price your products in local currency.  
	5) Fulfill your orders in the home country.  
	6) Make ordering simple and easy.  
	7) Employ a local guide. I would recommend an agency that can 
	handle the entire project--strategic and creative.  
	8) Listen to your local guide. They should fully understand their 
	own market and how best to reach it.  
	Once Americans understand why L.L. Bean failed in their test, I am 
	sure that they will once again view Europe as their most significant 
	development opportunity and once more we will hear the cry, "The 
	Americans are coming." 
	This resource is (c) 1996 by, and excerpted from,
	The Catalog Marketer, a newsletter from Maxwell Sroge Publishing.