How to develop your business in new, international markets.
Selling your products – or services – internationally is not just for big businesses. With the modern world being more connected across borders than ever before, through technology and ease of communications, your business can have appeal to consumers in foreign markets. Expanding globally can be a positive step for many small and medium sized businesses. It allows for your business to grow successfully by multiplying the number of markets you participate in, without having to sacrifice your founding values or niche market appeal that business development through product extensions or diversification may bring. So how can a small to medium sized business ensure successful integration into international markets? Here are six tips and strategies.
This goes without saying, yet still businesses frequently expand into countries where a sustainable market does not exist. Firstly, do your research. Understand your current position, analyse the costs that will be associated with expansion and how this will impact your cash flow and seek to understand not only whether a market exists, but the characteristics of the particular market. As we always hear; failing to plan is planning to fail. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your potential markets and undertake extensive contingency planning as a safeguard.
Utilise Universal Communication Channels
A major benefit of the rise of modern communication and technology, particularly through social media, is the ability to communicate with a global audience seamlessly. Even when operating in various international markets, there must remain a consistency of branding and the messages your brand portrays. Utilise social media to control your brand communications, and where necessary, control the targeting mechanisms each platform allows to hound in on one particular location.
Explore Digital Marketplaces
Twenty years ago, this luxury did not exist for businesses. The emergence of global e-commerce platforms makes testing the market a lot easier and cheaper than ever before. Consider engaging with digital marketplaces to distribute your products or services, and garner the insights developed through this trial period of selling. Utilise the e-commerce networks to directly communicate with customers in the potential markets.
Be Strategically Adaptive
The reality is, no two markets are the same. Whilst there may be strong similarities between various international markets, the underlying values and motivations of the consumers can be starkly different. Therefore, your business and marketing strategy must be adaptive without sacrificing your core brand persona. Consider different communication channels, communication objectives and even distribution channels in order to best appeal to each respective market.
On some occasions, partnering with a local firm could provide a more effective way to enter a new market. However, considering partners does not necessarily mean giving up control of your business. It could be as simple as finding the best exporter or local distribution company to supply your products to local businesses and retailers. It could also mean finding the best shipping partner, which leads to our final tip…
Strategise your Logistics
If in the past your business has only operated domestically, logistics may have been a function of your business that hasn’t required extensive planning and strategizing. But if you are moving into new markets, the logistics of your business has the potential kill your expansion efforts even where successful marketing strategies exist. Shipping and transportation costs must be considered and a strategy adopted that seeks to make this process as efficient as possible. Whilst some businesses may have the expertise and inventory control capable of implement a just-in-time strategy, your business may be better suited to a wholesaling strategy incorporating contractual shipping agreements.