A Promotional stand at an Overseas Business Risk service launch aimed at giving SMEs the info they need to help them do business abroad safely and successfully. Photo: ForeignOffice/Flickr
Small and medium-sized companies still face many obstacles and various risks when making their first forays in foreign markets or adding to the countries in which they operate.
However, thanks to modern technology and the advent of digital marketing, promoting and growing your business overseas need not be fraught with devastating failures or burns.
There are important things you can take care of from the start to avoid common pitfalls in new markets and ensure marketing success overseas, whether it is in digital or offline marketing.
The term 'overland marketing' is described as a cross-border exchange of products and services to satisfy customers' demands. It includes consumer insight and recognition of the target market in international countries. By doing your homework well you can expand overseas and succeed.
Here’re are top tips to help you do just that—market your business overseas successfully:
1. Carefully pick your market
There are many developed markets with suitable business environments that present significant opportunities companies often neglect. In 2017, for example, over 2,200 UK companies were reportedly exporting to America from Yorkshire and The Humber.
Still, the developing market is also valuable and often a viable option for many businesses as well. In fact, more than 1000 Yorkshire and Humber companies reportedly shipped to the United Arab Emirates in the same year. This was a prevalent decision with UK exporting countries.
It can take you tons of time and money to research a new market, but do it thoroughly. And make sure you're ready to leave if you find your company is not right for a given market abroad. There are much better restricted sunk costs than if you opt for the wrong market.
A Foreign Trade Advisor can help you identify and select your company's best options and provide personalized assistance for start-ups abroad.
2. Make a comprehensive analysis of the market
The next step is to conduct comprehensive research of the selected market once you have identified the right overseas market for your business. This will help you to establish an effective marketing strategy.
What’s their buying habits and price sensitivities, competitiveness, product life cycle, logistics, levies, and regulations? Your target customer will need to be profiled here.
For your market research, you can use such useful knowledge sources as trade reviews and journals, trade associations, and statistical websites. However, note that some of these websites have limited access for non-paying subscribers, so you may need to invest a bit of money to acquire this useful information in full for your research.
Additional competitor research can be conducted for free through Google. Google the big players in the market overseas, paying close attention to the goods, services, values, strengths, and weaknesses your likely competition in the market provides.
When researching the competition in a new market, useful tips and tricks you can use to make a strong entrance in the market include:
- Know why a business is essential. Write down reasons for a dealer relationship rather than explicitly contacting the client. Know precisely what advantages you and your organization would have before meeting a prospective partner. In that way, different choices can be easily compared.
- Identify at least three best partners. Choose the correct partners to work with in the new market, considering their reputation, sales figures, diversity, retail affiliations, charges, marketing expertise, and more. If this is done well, you can identify a partner who knows the market well and inspires confidence.
- Engage overseas partners in-person. If you’ll be shipping to the new market, it is necessary to meet a potential distributor in person. This gives you a real chance to look straight into their eyes and gauge if they are trustworthy. It will also help you confirm if they have offices and outlets in their respective locations.
- Make sure partners/distributors are excited. Working with an overseas partner who is not excited about or does not believe in your business is a recipe for disaster, regardless of how knowledgeable and well suited they are. Find partners who are excited and enthusiastic about the business you’ll be doing together. Someone who wants it to work and can go for the extra mile.
- Be able to meet the costs of operating in a new market. You have to be able to pay for business licensing and operating permits, for example. If you have a shoestring budget, it might not be appropriate to find an overseas distributor or partner at the moment. You must show you are serious and put your money where your mouth is. But that doesn't mean you should go splashing money anyhow. Instead, make prudent use of your money and do due diligence to ensure your investment is worthwhile.
3. Plan your distribution strategy carefully
You don't have to do it alone when it comes to moving your product. There can be advantages to guiding an overseas buyer to come to you, including creating customer relationships and selling your entire range of goods online and in one location.
Still, there are people in markets overseas, such as brokers, consolidators, or distributors, who have the expertise, experience, and channels to help you succeed.
Before meeting a potential partner, you should have a clear idea of what you want with your relationship and how you want it to work. This will allow you to compare various distribution options and implement appropriate marketing strategies, such as providing complementary goods to be distributed in the market in order to rival competitors.
4. Tailor and localize customers service
Wherever you go, customer service is critical. You want simple and effective ways to reach your clients, and they should also be able to do so in their respective languages.
One of the best options to tailor and localize excellent customer service is to use a native of that country to handle this part of your business, even if it’s on a contractual basis. Customer question, queries, and issues can be translated and you can provide quick answers to help your customers in overseas market solve their queries.
It best to find a native who understands and appreciates the cultural and social nuances particular to that market. For example, while some cultures respect patience, they don't practice it. In this case, it is your responsibility to respond accordingly such that you see to it that your team responds quickly and swiftly to every customer in order to build a positive brand reputation in the market.
5. Build your online presence in the market
It is exciting to move your company to a new country overseas, which can bring broad new sources of revenue. But once you’ve entered the market, you want to start marketing your business in the country and building your online presence in the market.
Implement local SEO and digital marketing tactics to ensure your business shows up whenever locals are doing online searches for the products or services you offer. This may include building a new business website specifically for that market, creating local profiles of your business on platforms like Google My Business, publishing web content based on local news and honing in on local keywords.
Your business should be "found" and visible when potential customers are searching for what you offer online, and you must make sure your website and business experience are fantastic to leave a positive impression on the customers and win their loyalty.