MGI Tipster Volume 1, Issue 15

Do you know how to attract International Members?

Reaching prospective members outside of the United States has always been a challenge. Language, time zone, and currency issues have dissuaded many in the past from actively pursuing prospects in other countries. However, globalization and technology are breaking down barrier. For many organizations international prospects represent fertile ground for attracting members and customers and that is simply too enticing and lucrative to ignore. So how do you reach prospects outside the U.S.? How do you engage them and encourage them to join your organization? Despite our seeming dependence on email, according to the Direct Marketing Association, over 70% of recipients still prefer to receive new offers via standard mail. Of course, international postage costs are higher than domestic U.S. postage, but if you include your international mail pieces with your U.S. mail productions, the additional cost can be as little as 15%.

For mailings produced in the U.S. that will be delivered overseas, here are a few tips:

  1. English is the de facto world language. However, some English words are spelled differently and have different meanings in different countries. Know the vernacular and keep in mind where and to whom you are mailing.
  2. Use address standardization software to make international mail deliverable and to reduce the number of dead letters.
  3. Consolidators who specialize in foreign mail make mail handling simple and speed delivery (they can reduce your postage as well).
  4. Use standard envelope sizes to increase deliverability. When in doubt, consult the International Mail Manual available online at

For large mailings, it makes sense to produce them “in country.” There is an international network of printers and mailers who share work—take advantage of it. A member U.S. company can put you in touch with a foreign supplier who can produce the mailing locally—saving time and reducing the possibility of errors. Again, some tips can be helpful:

  1. Learn the ABC’s of international metric mail – don’t design for common U.S. sizes and try to make them fit. The A, B, and C size metric system for paper and envelopes is logical and easy to learn and use.
  2. Use translators and separate proofreaders. Many excellent translators are available to convert your appeal into one that will readily resonate with your target audience. However, be sure to have a separate native language speaker proofread the final copy.
  3. Spanish is a language not a culture. The Hispanic market is more culturally diverse than the English-speaking world. Find a native speaker for the idioms and meanings that are unique to different Spanish-speaking markets.
  4. The meaning of color (or colour in England) changes by nationality. Although black is the color associated with death in most Western cultures, in Japan, white is a color for mourning.
  5. The pagination for some languages reads left to right or back to front. Farsi and Arabic books are paginated back to front (or that’s the way they appear to U.S. readers).

Significant opportunity awaits those willing to take the initiative and venture the globe to attract new members. The more you understand your audiences and the nuances that distinguish their individuality, the better your chances are for success. Knowing what to take advantage of as well as what to avoid can make your international member acquisition process a highly rewarding one.

To find out more about attracting international members, call 703.739.1000 and ask to speak to a member of our Marketing Solutions Team or email MGI at

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